While thousands of heroes have emerged since the inception of the U.S. Marine Corps on November 10, 1775, James E. Livingston has earned the title, “Leatherneck Legend.” Growing up in the 1940’s on a 3,000 acre dirt farm in Towns, Georgia, Livingston learned the importance of hard work and determination at a young age. After college, Livingston received an Army draft card, but instead chose to enlist in the Marines in 1962. Livingston’s career advanced through the ranks of command to Captain, and he was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam as Commanding Officer of Company E, the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, known simply as E Company, in 1968.
With one devastating battle after another in Dai Do, E Company was sent in to assist another Marine company, which had been isolated the night before, when enemy forces seized the village. Skillfully employing screening agents, Livingston maneuvered his men to assault positions. Despite being wounded twice by grenade fragments, Livingston refused medical treatment, and instead shouted words of encouragement to his men as they continued across the 500 meters of open rice fields, where they destroyed over 100 mutually supporting bunkers, driving the remaining enemy from their position and relieving the pressure on the stranded Marines. Having reestablished contact with the surrounded Marine Company, Livingston then learned of a third Marine Company leading an attack on nearby Dinh To village. Marshalling his resources, Livingston consolidated the two companies and led a support effort to halt the aggressive enemy counter attack from Dinh To. After being wounded a third time and rendered immobile, he remained in the combat zone and supervised the evacuation of these men.
Three days of a relentless battle of attrition with 800 Marines battling 10,000 North Vietnamese soldiers was finally coming to a victorious end for the United States. Livingston was dragged from the battlefield by two Marines as he continued to shoot at the enemy. Only after he was assured of his fellow Marines’ safety did Livingston allow himself to be evacuated.
For his gallantry, bravery and selflessness, he was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Richard Nixon in 1970. After 33 years of service, Livingston hung up his service uniform. Taking the expression: “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” to heart, Livingston looked to write the next chapter of service to America through his public service career. He authored the novel: “Noble Warrior: The Story of Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston.” He also serves on numerous volunteer boards and speaks on leadership and service to country.
We honor you, James E. Livingston.