Bruno Arthur Hochmuth (May 10, 1911 – November 14, 1967) was a United States Marine Corps major general who was killed in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He was the first and only Marine Corps division commander to be killed in any war. He was also the first American general officer to be killed in Vietnam, although U.S. Air Force Major General William Crumm had been killed on July 24, 1967, in a B-52 bomber collision over the South China Sea.[1] Hochmuth, four other Marines, and a South Vietnamese Army aide were killed when a UH-1E Huey helicopter they were riding in from VMO-3 exploded and crashed five miles northwest of Huế.

Bruno Arthur Hochmuth
Bruno Hochmuth.jpg
Born(1911-05-10)May 10, 1911
Houston, Texas
DiedNovember 14, 1967(1967-11-14) (aged 56)
Huế, Vietnam
Place of burial
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchSeal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service1935–1967
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major general
Commands held3rd Battalion 4th Marines
MCRD San Diego
3rd Marine Division
Battles/warsWorld War II Vietnam War 
AwardsDistinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit w/ Combat "V"
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2)
Purple Heart Medal (2)

BiographyEdit

Hochmuth was born on May 10, 1911, in Houston, Texas. He graduated from high school in 1930 and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Education from Texas A&M University in June 1935. He was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant in July 1935, upon resigning a U.S. Army Reserve commission.[2][3]

After completing The Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, he joined the Marine detachment at the Texas Centennial in Dallas, Texas, in June 1936. In December 1936, he was transferred to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines in San Diego, California. Departing for Shanghai, China, in August 1937, he served briefly with the 6th Marines, then served two and a half years duty with the 4th Marines. While overseas, he was promoted to first lieutenant in July 1938. He remained with the 4th Marines in China until 1940.[2]

Upon his return to the United States, Lieutenant Hochmuth was attached to the 7th Defense Battalion in September 1940. In February 1941, he embarked with the 7th Defense Battalion to American and Western Samoa. He was promoted to major in May 1942. He remained in the Pacific Theater for two years, returning to the United States in March 1943, where he was assigned to the Antiaircraft Artillery School at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until June 1943. From June until May 1944, Hochmuth served as assistant director, Command and Staff School, Quantico, Virginia, prior to embarking again for the Pacific area.[2]

In May 1944, Major Hochmuth deployed again as assistant operations officer for the III Marine Amphibious Corps and participated in the Battle of Saipan and Battle of Tinian. He then commanded 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines during the Battle of Okinawa. For his service during Okinawa Campaign, Hochmuth received the Legion of Merit with Combat "V".[4]

Following the surrender of Japan he was the executive officer of the 4th Marine Regiment when they landed in Japan on August 29, 1945. As executive officer of the 4th Marines, he made the initial landing on Japan August 29, 1945, and on September 2 of the same year attended the formal surrender ceremony at Yokosuka. He then commanded the Marine Barracks at Yokosuka for almost two years. For his service there, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal.[2]

Returning to the United States in August 1947, he served at Headquarters Marine Corps for three years, then entered the Industrial College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. He graduated in June 1951, and returned to Camp Lejeune as commanding officer, 2nd Marines. In July 1952, he was named G-1 Officer, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in August 1947 with rank from October 1942, and to colonel in January 1951.[2]

Ordered to Kingston, Ontario, in September 1953, he served as instructor, Canadian Army Staff College, for two years. He again went to the Far East in August 1955 and served as G-4 Officer, 3rd Marine Division, Japan and Okinawa. In August 1956, Colonel Hochmuth was assigned to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, as a member of the Advanced Research Group, Marine Corps Educational Center.[2]

In July 1957, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and served as chief of staff through October 1959. While stationed in San Diego, he was promoted to brigadier general in November 1959 and served briefly thereafter as commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and, later, as commanding general of the Recruit Training Command.[2]

In January 1960, General Hochmuth reported to Headquarters Marine Corps, where he served as deputy chief of staff (research and development). While serving in this capacity, he was promoted to major general in August 1963. That November, he assumed duty as commanding general, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. For meritorious achievement from November 1963 to February 1967, General Hochmuth was awarded a gold 5/16 inch star in lieu of a second Navy Commendation Medal.[2]

Vietnam and deathEdit

Beginning on March 19, 1967, Hochmuth served as commanding general, 3rd Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam. On November 14, Hochmuth and five others were riding in a helicopter on an inspection tour. The helicopter exploded and crashed soon after it took off.[2] At the time of his death, he was the most senior U.S. military officer to be killed in the war.[5]

The details of his death were later described by his subordinate and commanding officer, 4th Marine Regiment, Colonel William L. Dick. Dick was located at his headquarters at Phu Bai, when he learned of the crash around 1400 on 14 November. Since he had a helicopter sitting on a pad at his headquarters, Dick, accompanied by his operations officer, Major James D. Beans, and the regimental sergeant major, quickly reached the crash scene. Colonel Dick described the rescue attempt:

After several passes, I spotted the Huey Helicopter upside down in a rice paddy filled to the brim by the heavy rains which had been falling for several weeks. I directed the helicopter pilot to land on the paddy dike nearest the crash site from where the three of us walked through about 200 yards of paddy water until we reached the wreckage. There were flames on the water's surface around the aircraft. While the sergeant major attempted to extinguish these, Major Beans and I commenced diving beneath the surface, groping through the water for possible survivors. We had no idea just how long it had been since the crash had occurred. This was a difficult task, as you can imagine, since the water was full of silt, not to mention leeches, and impossible to see through. The three of us were joined by a Vietnamese farmer who refused to identify himself and could be distinguished only by a small gold crucifix around his neck. The four of us, after getting rid of the aviation fuel flames, repeatedly went below the surface into the helicopter cabin and by touch, finally found the bodies, one by one, of the six who had died in the crash. The helicopter had turned upside down just before impact which made the situation even more difficult. The last body recovered was General Hochmuth. I found him in the rear seat of the helicopter, the spot where he usually traveled when visiting the various command posts.[6]

For his service during this period, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and Purple Heart. Hochmuth was buried with full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California, on November 18, 1967.[2][4]

Awards and decorationsEdit

A complete list of General Hochmuth's's military awards includes:[2]

   
   
   
     
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit w/ Combat "V" Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 1 gold 5/16 star Purple Heart Medal
2nd Row Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 2 service stars China Service Medal American Defense Service Medal w/ Base clasp American Campaign Medal
3rd Row Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 3 service stars World War II Victory Medal Navy Occupation Service Medal w/ Asia clasp National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star
4th Row Vietnam Service Medal w/ 1 service star National Order of the Republic of Vietnam, 5th Class Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ Palm Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

HonorsEdit

Hochmuth Hall, MCIA headquarters building at Marine Corps Base Quantico is named in his honor.[7]

An avenue is named after him at MCRD San Diego.

See alsoEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Wood B. Kyle
Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Division
18 March 1967 – 14 November 1967
Succeeded by
Louis Metzger
Preceded by
Thomas A. Wornham
Commanding General of the MCRD San Diego
27 October 1959 – 30 November 1959
Succeeded by
Victor H. Krulak

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "Fallen Stars". TIME. November 24, 1967. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Major General Bruno A. Hochmuth, USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  3. ^ Pacific Stars and Stripes, Vol.23, No. 319, Thursday, Nov. 16, 1967, page 1
  4. ^ a b "Valor awards for Bruno A. Hochmuth". valor.militarytimes.com. Militarytimes Websites. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  5. ^ "November 14, 1967: Marine general killed in Vietnam". This Day in History. History.com. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Telfer, Gary. U.S. Marines in Vietnam: Fighting the North Vietnamese 1967 (PDF). USMC Military History Division. pp. 345–7. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  7. ^ Duncan, PFC Christopher (November 27, 2009). "Hero honored at annex with Medal for Valor". Marine Corps News. Marine Corps Base Quantico: United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2009. ... Hochmuth Hall, the MCIA headquarters building named in commemoration of Maj. Gen. Bruno Hochmuth, who was killed in Vietnam.

ReferencesEdit

  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Marine Corps document "Major General Bruno A. Hochmuth, USMC".

Further readingEdit