James Donald Hittle
Brigadier General, United States Marine Corps
Brigadier General James Donald Hittle, who served as Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, in the Office of Legislative Affairs, in the early 1960s, died on June 15, 2002 in Arlington, Virginia.
General Hittle was born June 10, 1915, at Bear Lake, Michigan, and graduated from high school in East Lansing, Michigan, in 1933. In 1937 he graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree; and in 1952, while stationed with the Naval ROTC Unit at the University of Utah, he earned his Master’s degree in Oriental History and Geography. He was commissioned a Marine Second Lieutenant on July 28, 1937.
After completing Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Lieutenant Hittle began a year of sea duty with the Marine Detachment on board the USS PORTLAND in June 1938. Following this he served at Quantico, Virginia, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the 1st Marine Brigade. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in September 1940. In April 1941, he joined the Marine Detachment on board the USS WASHINGTON, and the following February was promoted to Captain.
Captain Hittle commanded the WASHINGTON’s Marine Detachment while the ship was taking part in Arctic operations under the British Home Fleet until July 1942. He was promoted to Major in August 1942, and entered the Division Officers’ Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. On completing the course in October 1942, Major Hittle returned to Quantico to serve two years as an instructor at Marine Corps Schools. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in May 1944.
In November 1944, Lieutenant Colonel Hittle was assigned to the 3d Marine Division on Guam as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, Logistics. For outstanding service in this capacity on Iwo Jima, from February to September 1945, he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”. Sailing from Guam to Tientsin in December 1945, he commanded the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, during the occupation of Northern China.
On his return to the United States in July 1946, Lieutenant Colonel Hittle was stationed at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, as Secretary of the Academic Board. In June 1949, he was transferred to Salt Lake City where he served three years as Executive Officer of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps unit at the University of Utah. While there, he was promoted to Colonel in November 1951.
Assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps in June 1952, Colonel Hittle served as Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, through January 1960. He served in this capacity under General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., General Randolph McC. Pate, and General David M. Shoup, respectively. He assumed his duties in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in February 1960.
General Hittle was placed on the retired list March 1, 1958, and was immediately recalled to active duty. He was advanced to Brigadier General on the retired list that same date, having been specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat.
The general’s medals and decorations include: the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”; the Purple Heart; the Presidential Unit Citation, the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp’; the European-Africian-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze star; the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star, the World War II Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
The author of numerous articles on the art
of war and general staff development, he also wrote the book, “The Military
Staff—Its History and Development”, and edited and prepared a condensed
version of Baron Henri Jomini’s text, “Jomini and His Summary of the Art
Brigadier General James Donald Hittle, USMC
Son of Harry F and Margaret Jane (McArthur)
Second Lieutenant 1937
Student, The Basic School 1937-38
Assistant Chief of Staff G-4 (Supply), 3rd
Director of National Security & Foreign
Affairs, VFW 1960-67
Written during the Second World War by then-Lieutenant Colonel J.D. Hittle, USMC, this work presents an American-spin on the history and evolution of what is commonly called "the General Staff" in Prussia/Germany, France, Great Britain, the United States, and Russia up to the end of the 1940s.
Hittle is also the author of Jomini and his Summary of the Art of War: A Condensed Version, in which he noted that Civil War generals went into battle with a sword in one hand and Jomini's Summary of the Art of War in the other.
J.D. Hittle joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1937. In May, 1941 he reported aboard the USS Washington at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The Washington was assigned to be part of British Home Fleet, based at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys. With the duty platoon from the Washington, he would put down mutiny on SS Ironclad when the Washington sailed as covering force for PO 17 and the SS Ironclad was in convoy.
Later he participated in operations in Guam and was G-4 for the 3rd Marine Division on Iwo Jima. As a Lieutenant Colonel, after the war, Hittle was temporarily assigned to the staff of the House Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments while it was drafting the legislation that would create the new Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that position, Hittle's influence with committee members is credited with helping guarantee the independence of Marine Corps aviation in the face of Air Force pressure to be the sole air arm among other successes for the Navy and Marine Corps.
After his active Marine Corps service, Hittle was for eight years Director, National Security and Foreign Affairs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Having written his first article on The Basic School, published in the June 1938 Marine Corps Gazette, he became a columnist for Navy Times during the 1960s and '70s, served as correspondent for the Mutual Broadcasting System, and was a columnist for Copley Newspapers. He served as director and founder of the D.C. National Bank and as a Senior Vice President of Pan American World Airways.
His decorations and medals include the Purple Heart, Legion of Merit with combat V for Valor, Murmansk Commemoration, North China Medal, Asiatic-Pacific, North American and Atlantic, EAMF, two awards City of Paris (Gold and Silver). J.D. Hittle died on June 15, 2002 and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Edna Jane Hittle (1917-1969) is buried with him.
Posted: 15 May 2004 Updated: 27 June 2004 Updated: 11 November 2007
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 23 April 2004