Marine Lieutenant General James L. Underhill, who was born 12 June 1891, at San Francisco, died at the age of 100 on 7 October 1991 in Pacific Grove, Monterey, California.
Following his graduation from the University of California with B.S. degree, he was appointed a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in November 1913. He was commissioned a first lieutenant in August 1916; a captain in March 1917; major in 1925; lieutenant colonel in 1934; colonel in 1938; brigadier general in 1942; and attained the rank of major general in May 1944 with rank from 1942.
General Underhill served at sea and aboard USS Arkansas and USS Minnesota, and commanded the Marine Detachment aboard USS Connecticut in 1917 and 1918. He served in France, Nicaragua, the Philippine Islands, China, and at various Marine Corps posts throughout the United States.
In October, 1918, he went to France in command of the Eighth Separate Battalion of Marines. He served in Nicaragua in 1919-21; in the Philippines, 1924-26; in China as Commander of the Third Battalion, 4th Marines, 1927-28. He returned to China for service in 1937-38 as executive officer, Sixth Marines, and succeeded to command the regiment when its commanding officer was detached to the United States due to illness. General Underhill served as Division Marine Officer on the staff of the Commander Battleship Division Three of the United States Fleet.
He commanded the Marine Barracks at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, during 1938-39 and subsequently was made Executive Officer of the Adjutant and Inspector's Department at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, DC. Later, from April 1942 to March 1943, he was Commanding General of the Marine Corps Base at San Diego, California.
General Underhill took command of Camp Lejeune in April 1943, where he also joined the Fourth Marine Division in command of its East Coast Echelon and was made Assistant Division Commander in August of 1943. After serving one year in the latter position, during which the Division participated in the Kwajalein operation, he became Island Commander of Tinian, serving there until November of 1944. During November, he was made Deputy Commander, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.
On 21 March 1945, he became Inspector General of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. He was serving as President of the Post War Reorganization Board at Marine Corps Headquarters at the time of his retirement on 1 November 1946, and was appointed to his rank at that time for having been specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat.
General Underhill held the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal with one bronze star, Cuba 1917; Nicaragua 1919-21; Victory Medal with France Clasp, France 1918; Yangtze Service Medal, China 1927; China Service Medal, China 1937-1938; Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Ribbon with three bronze stars, the Presidential Unit Citation; and the World War II Victory Medal.