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Quantico honored by hosting Lt. Gen. Lawrence Snowden’s memorial service

By Valerie O'Berry/Editor | Marine Corps Base Quantico | April 18, 2017


Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Lawrence F. Snowden was honored during a memorial service at the Marine Corps Memorial Chapel aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico April 8.  Snowden passed away Feb. 18.  His service in the Marine Corps spanned more than 37 years, during which time he fought at Iwo Jima in WWII,  as well as in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.


His memorial service was attended by James Mattis, secretary of defense, as well as the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller, who presented the traditional folded flag to Snowden’s family members in attendance.  A reception followed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.


Enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve in February 1942, Snowden was called to active duty in May 1942 and attended Officer Candidates School at Quantico where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation.  He rose through the ranks quickly, being promoted to first lieutenant in March 1943 and to captain in October 1944.


From February 1944 until March 1945 he saw combat as a company commander with the 23rd Marines in the capture of Roi-Namur in the Marshall Islands, the capture of Saipan and Tinian and the assault on Iwo Jima. 


In February 1945 he returned to Quantico to attend the Administrative School and afterward, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, where he served on the staff of G-4, Plans and Policies Division.  In August 1950 it was back to Quantico where he served as a member of the Testing and Evaluation Unit until March 1953.   It was in 1951 during his service at Quantico that he was promoted to the rank of major.


He was ordered to Korea in April 1953 where he served until April 1954.  For his service in Korea he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V.”  He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in January 1955.  The following year he was assigned for two years to be on the staff of the commander in chief.  In September 1958 he was assigned to Quantico again where he attended the Senior School.  His career continued with assignments throughout the Marine Corps.  He wasn’t assigned to Quantico again until 1970, where he took on the job as director of the Development Center, Marine Corps Development and Education Command, earning a Gold Star in lieu of a fifth Legion of Merit.  He was promoted to major general in April 1972.


In June 1972, he was ordered to Tokyo where he served for three years as chief of staff, U.S. Forces, Japan. For his contributions to Japan’s security interests, he was awarded the Second Order of the Sacred Treasure by the emperor of Japan. He advanced to lieutenant general in 1975.  He retired from the Marine Corps on May 31, 1979.


Snowden is well-known and lauded for not only his service at Iwo Jima, but also his creation of the annual Reunion of Honor in 1995, honoring the veterans and fallen at Iwo Jima.  The ceremony has been held in both Japan and the United States. 


He is quoted as saying in an article entitled “Oldest surviving Battle of Iwo Jima Marine veteran” about the ceremony saying, “I decided that after my service in Japan that we ought to have this ceremony together because we had transitioned from being enemies to friends.”  His goal was to participate in the ceremony for 20 years, then pass the tradition on to future generations, which he did.


He was 95 years old when he passed away in February and a congressman from Japan traveled to the United States to speak at and attend his memorial service in honor of all that he did on Japan’s behalf. 

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