The USS Russell,
DDG-59, is named for two men:
Rear Admiral John Henry
Russell (1827-1897) and his son, Major General John Henry Russell, USMC
RADM John Henry
Russell, sr. (July 4, 1827 – April 1, 1897):
Russell was born
at Frederick, Maryland on 4 July 1827. He was appointed midshipman 10
September 1841 and served in the sloop of war Cyane in the Pacific until
1843. He returned in the frigate United States in 1844 and served in St.
Mary's in the Gulf of Mexico from 1844 to 1846. He participated in operations
at Galveston, Corpus Christi, Brazos, Resaca, and Vera Cruz.
After duty in
Allegheny in 1847, he graduated at the United States Naval Academy in 1848.
Briefly assigned to coast survey duty, he made a cruise to Brazil in 1849,
then served on the New York-West Indies mail line from 1853 to 1856, and served
as navigator in Vincennes during explorations of the North Pacific and Arctic
Oceans. Assigned to the Mediterranean Squadron at the end of the decade, he
returned to the United States and ordnance duty at the Washington Navy Yard
just prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
In April 1861, he
assisted in preventing ships at Norfolk from falling to the enemy; and, in
September, he led a boat expedition into Pensacola Harbor to destroy the
Confederate privateer Judah. He next assumed command of Kennebec and in that
gunboat participated in operations on the Mississippi River up to Vicksburg
and served in the blockade of Mobile. Commanding Pontiac in 1863, he returned
to ordnance duty at Washington in 1864 and to the Pacific Squadron to serve
as commanding officer of Cyane in 1864-65.
afloat and ashore, on both coasts, Atlantic and Pacific, followed, and he
completed his last assignment, 3 years as Commandant Mare Island Navy Yard,
in 1886. Appointed rear admiral 4 March 1886, he retired on 27 August, and
resided in Washington, D.C. until his death 1 April 1897.
In 1938, the
destroyer USS Russell (DD-414) was named in his honor.
Major General John
Henry Russell, jr., USMC (November 14, 1872 – March 6, 1947):
Major General John
Henry Russell, Jr., 16th Commandant of the Marine Corps, was born in Mare
Island, California, on 14 November 1872. He was appointed to the United
States Naval Academy by President Grover Cleveland in May 1888. He graduated
from the Academy in June 1892 and after two years at sea, passed his final
examinations and was transferred to the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant
on 1 July 1894.
Upon appointment as an officer in the Marine Corps, he attended the School of
Application at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., graduating in 1895. He
was retained for another year at the School to conduct a class for
Promotion to successive grades in the Marine Corps followed: first
lieutenant, 10 August 1898; captain, 3 March 1899; major, 6 June 1906;
lieutenant colonel, 29 August 1916; colonel, 26 March 1917; brigadier
general, 1 January 1922; major general, 1 September 1933, and Major General
Commandant on 1 March 1934.
To mention but a few of the outstanding tours of duty performed by MajGen
Russell during his service in the Marine Corps the following are selected:
In 1896, he joined the USS Massachusetts, North Atlantic Squadron, serving on
board until after the Spanish-American War. The Commanding Officer of the
vessel addressed a letter to the Secretary of the Navy commenting favorably
on the conduct and performance of duty of John H. Russell in action and
recommending recognition thereof by the Navy Department.
He next performed duty on Guam and upon his return to the United States was placed
in charge of the School of Application for Officers at the Marine Barracks,
Washington, D.C. Following this tour of duty, and also duty at several navy
yards, he was ordered to command the Marine Detachment, USS Oregon, remaining
on board from September 1902 to March 1904. His next shore duty was in
command of the school for young officers established at the Marine Barracks,
Annapolis, Maryland. In 1906, he was transferred to the Marine Barracks,
Naval Station, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii. From that duty he was ordered
to Camp Elliott, Panama Canal Zone, to command the Marines at that station.
In September 1908, he joined the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island,
for duty as a member of the staff of that college, remaining there until
1910, and it was during this tour of service that the “applicatory method” of
instruction was put into effect.
He commanded the Marine Detachment, American Legation, Peking, China, from 14
November 1910 to 30 April 1913. The change in the Chinese government from an
empire to a republic, which took place during this period, and the attendant
disorders in and around Peking made this tour of duty particularly
interesting and difficult.
Upon his return to the United States, he was assigned duty in the Office of
Naval Intelligence, Navy Department, where he served until 1917, with the
exception of a tour of duty (temporary) from 30 April to 5 December 1914,
commanding the 2d Battalion, 3d Regiment, U.S. Marines at Vera Cruz, Mexico,
being detached to the U.S. Army during the period.
Early in March 1917, he assumed command of the 3d Regiment, with headquarters
in Santo Domingo City, Dominican Republic, and within a short period of time
he was detached and ordered to command the 4th Regiment of Marines with
headquarters at Santiago de los Caballeros, where he remained until October
1917, when he was detached and ordered to the Republic of Haiti to command
the Marine Brigade serving in that country. He served in that capacity until
7 December 1918.
His repeated efforts for a transfer to detachments serving in France during
World War I were finally successful, but delay in arrival of his relief in
Haiti did not permit transfer from Port-au-Prince until after the Armistice
Upon arrival in Washington, he was ordered to duty in command of the
“Planning Section” at Headquarters Marine Corps and served in that capacity
until September 1919, when he again was ordered to duty in Haiti to command
the 1st Brigade of Marines, serving in that capacity until February 1922, when,
upon the unanimous recommendation to the President by the U.S. Senate
Committee that had been investigating affairs in Haiti, he was appointed
American High Commissioner to Haiti with the rank of Ambassador
Extraordinary. MajGen Russell served with distinction in Haiti as High
Commissioner until November 1930.
Upon his return to the United States, he was assigned to duty as Commanding
General, Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California, and was transferred to
command the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, in December 1931. He was
detailed as Assistant to the Major General Commandant at Headquarters Marine
Corps in February 1933. MajGen Russell was appointed Commandant of the Marine
Corps on 1 March 1934, and remained in that position until his retirement 1
During MajGen Russell’s tenure as Commandant of the Marine Corps, the old
system of seniority promotions of officers was changed to that of advancement
by selection; the 1st Marine Brigade was withdrawn from Haiti; the Fleet
Marine Force assumed a new importance; the Reserves were given more
attention; and the number of ships carrying Marine detachments continued to
Major General Russell continued in an active career as a military journalist
after his retirement. He died in Coronado, California, on 6 March 1947 and
was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
In addition to numerous letters of commendation on his excellent performance
of duty during his long and varied career, MajGen Russell was awarded the
Distinguished Service Medal; Navy Cross; Haitian Medaille Militaire; West
Indes (Sampson) Medal; Spanish Campaign Medal; Expeditionary Medal with West
Indies Clasp; and the Haitian Campaign Medal.