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Major General James E. Livingston

Year Inducted: 2024

Using his engineering ability and mindset, MajGen James E. Livingston served his country through 33 years of active duty in the United States Marine Corps. Problem-solving skills he developed while pursuing an engineering education were a direct factor in the decisions and actions that earned him the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor on the battlefield, in 1970.

Livingston retired from the Marine Corps in 1995 after his last post as commander of 100,000 Marines in the newly created Marine Forces Reserve in New Orleans, capping a distinguished service career.

After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in civil engineering, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1962. Initially intending to serve three years before pursuing a civilian engineering career, Livingston instead stayed in the military, earning the rank of captain in 1966. He served as the commanding officer of the Marine detachment aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp, before joining the 3rd Marine Division (Reinforced) in the Republic of Vietnam in August 1967.

On May 2, 1968, while serving as the Commanding Officer, Company E, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, he distinguished himself above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy forces and received the Medal of Honor. During the strategically critical Battle of Dai Do, his specialized structural knowledge was reflected in the tactics the 180 men under his command employed. They drove the North Vietnamese army’s vastly superior numbers from a complex of more than 100 connected bunkers, which Livingston and his men then destroyed. After relieving the pressure on the First Company and only 35 Marines remaining, another Company almost immediately became surrounded, and with the remaining Marines in his Company he joined the attack to help this surrounded Company. During this engagement he was seriously wounded by an enemy machine gunner. He offered to cover the Marines during a withdrawal but was helped from the battlefield by great young Marines.

After his second tour in Vietnam, Livingston served as an instructor at the Army’s Infantry School, as director of Division Schools for the1st Marine Division, and later, as theS-3 for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. In 1975, he returned to Vietnam and served as the operations officer for the Vietnam evacuation operations that included Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon.

He then held posts in the United Kingdom and South Carolina. During this period, he earned a master’s degree in management from Webster University. Livingston then served with the 2d 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 in 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, Livingston commanded the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California and developed the Desert Warfare Training Program. After commanding the Marine Expeditionary Brigade, he was advanced to Major General in 1991 and assumed command of the 4th Marine Division (Reinforced). His final assignment before retirement was as the commander of the newly organized Marine Forces Reserve.

He is the only Auburn graduate to receive the Medal of Honor, and Auburn honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Among his many awards is the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor.