James Livingston was born on January 12, 1940 in Towns, Georgia. He graduated from Lumber City High School in 1957. He entered North Georgia College and State University (The Military College of Georgia) in 1957 and was a member of the schools nationally recognized Corps of Cadets until he transferred to pursue a major that the school did not offer. In 1962, Livingston earned a B.S degree in civil engineering from Auburn University. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in June 1962.
In retirement, Major General Livingston is serving on the Board of Trustees of the National World War II Museum.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Commanding Officer, Company E, Second Battalion, Fourth Marines, Ninth Marine Amphibious Brigade in action against enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On 2 May 1968, Company E launched a determined assault on the heavily fortified village of Dai Do, which had been seized by the enemy on the preceding evening isolating a Marine company from the remainder of the battalion. Skillfully employing screening agents, Captain Livingston maneuvered his men to assault positions across 500 meters of dangerous open rice paddy while under intense enemy fire. Ignoring hostile rounds impacting near him, he fearlessly led his men in a savage assault against enemy emplacements within the village. While adjusting supporting arms fire, Captain Livingston moved to the points of heaviest resistance, shouting words of encouragement to his Marines, directing their fire, and spurring the dwindling momentum of the attack on repeated occasions. Although twice painfully wounded by grenade fragments, he refused medical treatment and courageously led his men in the destruction of over 100 mutually supporting bunkers, driving the remaining enemy from their positions, and relieving the pressure on the stranded Marine company. As the two companies consolidated positions and evacuated casualties, a third company passed through the friendly lines launching an assault on the adjacent village of Dinh To, only to be halted by a furious counterattack of an enemy battalion. Swiftly assessing the situation and disregarding the heavy volume of enemy fire, Captain Livingston boldly maneuvered the remaining effective men of his company forward, joined forces with the heavily engaged Marines, and halted the enemy's counterattack. Wounded a third time and unable to walk, he steadfastly remained in a dangerously exposed area, deploying his men to more tenable positions and supervising the evacuation of casualties. Only when assured of the safety of his men did he allow himself to be evacuated. Captain Livingston's gallant actions uphold the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and United States Naval Service.
Livingston's early assignments included service as a platoon commander, intelligence officer and as a Recruit Training Regiment series commander.
Promoted to captain in June 1966, Capt Livingston served as the Commanding Officer of the Marine detachment aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Wasp, before joining the 3rd Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam in August 1967.
On May 2, 1968, while serving as Commanding Officer, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, he distinguished himself above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy forces, and earned the Medal of Honor. He returned to the U. S. in November 1968 and completed the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia. He was presented the Medal of Honor on May 14, 1970 by President Richard Nixon.
After his second tour in Vietnam, he served as an instructor at the U. S. Army Infantry School, Director of Division Schools for the 1st Marine Division, and later, as S-3 of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. In March 1975 he returned to Vietnam and served as Operations Officer for the Vietnam evacuation operations which included Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon.
He then commanded the Marine Barracks, United Kingdom, London, and served as Commanding Officer, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion and then as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Training at the Marine Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. During this period, he earned a master’s degree in Management from Webster University (1984). He then served with the 2nd Marine Division and commanded the 6th Marines before joining the Joint U.S. Assistance Group in the Republic of the Philippines.
Following advancement to brigadier general on June 10, 1988, he served as Deputy Director for Operations at the National Military Command Center in Washington, D. C. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Gen Livingston commanded the Marine Air Ground Combat Center, 29 Palms, California and developed the Desert Warfare Training Program. After command of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, he was advanced to major general on July 8, 1991, and assumed command of the 4th Marine Division. In July 1992, he assumed command of the newly created Marine Reserve Force, and continued through its reorganization in October 1994, with its new title, "Marine Forces Reserve".
Livingston is a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the Air War College.
Medals and Awards
Medal of Honor
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze Star with Valor Device
Purple Heart with 2 Award Stars
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with 1 Award Star
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor Device
Combat Action Ribbon with 1 Award Star
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Navy Unit Commendation with 2 Service Stars
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation with 1 Service Star
National Defense Service Medal with 1 Service Star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with 2 Service Stars
Vietnam Service Medal with 6 Service Stars
Humanitarian Service Medal with 3 Service Stars
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon with 1 Service Star
Vietnam Gallantry Cross with 2 Gilt Stars
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation
Vietnam Campaign Medal
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