Lieutenant General Pedro A. del Valle, who led the First Marine Division through the Okinawa operation in the closing months of World War II, died 28 April 1978 in Annapolis, Maryland. For his outstanding leadership as Commanding General of the First Marine Division, during the attack and occupation of Okinawa from 1 April to 21 July 1945, General del Valle was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. His citation reads in part, “Undaunted by the deadly accuracy of enemy gunfire, he repeatedly visited the fighting fronts, maintaining close tactical control of operations and rallying his weary but stouthearted Marines to heroic efforts during critical phases of this long and arduous campaign. By his superb generalship, outstanding valor and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming opposition, Major General del Valle contributed essentially to the conquest of this fiercely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire.”
Pedro A. del Valle was born 28 August 1893, at San Juan, Puerto Rico. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in June of 1915, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on 5 June 1915.
After finishing a course of instruction at the Marine Officers’ School, Norfolk, Virginia, he went on foreign shore duty with the First Provisional Marine Brigade in the Republic of Haiti. In May, 1916, he landed from the USS Prairie and participated in the capture of Santo Domingo City and the subsequent campaign in the Republic of Santo Domingo.
A tour of sea duty followed as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Texas, serving with the British Grand Fleet under Admiral Beatty. He participated in the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet. In February, 1919, he was detached to the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia. After another tour of sea duty, on this occasion aboard the USS Wyoming, he was assigned as Aide-de-Camp to Major General J. H. Pendleton and accompanied the General in an inspection tour of the West Indies.
In 1924, he went to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. While stationed there he was Marine Corps representative on the Federal Traffic Board.
In 1926 he was ordered to foreign shore duty with the Gendarmerie d’ Haiti for three years and upon his return to the States in 1928, attended the Field Officers’ Course at the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia. Upon graduation, he became an instructor which position he left twice on temporary duty with the U.S. Electoral Mission in Nicaragua.
After a tour of sea duty as Squadron Marine Officer aboard the USS Richmond, during which he participated in the operations resulting from the Cuban Revolution of 1933, he was ordered to Headquarters Marine Corps.
From October 1935, to June 1937, he was Assistant Naval Attache, attached to the American Embassy at Rome, Italy, and on duty as an observer with the Italian Forces during the Ethiopian War.
He returned to the United States to attend the Army War College, Washington, D.C., and following graduation was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps where he was Executive Officer of the Division of Plans and Policies.
He became Commanding Officer of the Eleventh Marine Regiment, Artillery, in March 1941, in which position he was found upon his country’s entry into World War II. He remained as commanding officer of the regiment and led it overseas in 1942 and participated in the seizure and defense of Guadalcanal as part of the First Marine Division, Reinforced, from 7 August to 9 December of that year. For his outstanding achievements in this operation he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
From May to July 1943, he served as Commander of Marine Forces, less aviation, on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Russell and Florida Islands. He returned to the States to become President of the Marine Corps Equipment Board.
Again he went to the Pacific on 1 April 1944. This time as Commanding General, Third Corps Artillery, Third Amphibious Corps, and took part in the Guam Operation in July and August of 1944, for which he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit.
He next became Commanding General of the First Marine Division and was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership of this organization on Okinawa from April to 21 June 1945.
Upon the termination of the war he was ordered back to Headquarters Marine Corps to become Inspector General, which post he held until assigned his final duties as Director of Personnel on 1 October 1946. He retired on 1 January 1948.
In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit with Gold Star, his decorations and medals include the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Ethiopia 1935-36; Presidential Unit Citation, Guadalcanal 1942 and Okinawa 1945; Expeditionary Medal with Bronze Star, Haiti 1916; Dominican Campaign Medal, Dominican Republic 1916; Victory Medal, 1918; Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, Nicaragua 1930; American Defense Service Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with five Bronze Stars; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Order of the Crown of Italy, Italy 1936; East African Medal, Ethiopia 1936; Colonial Order of the Star of Italy, Ethiopia 1936; Italian Bronze Medal for Military Valor, Ethiopia 1936; Cuban Naval Order of Merit, Second Class, Cuba, 1936; Ecuadorian Decoration of Abdon Calderon Star, First Class, with Diploma, Ecuador 1942.
Source: USMC History Division