Charles Mize, Marine Veteran in 3 Wars, Dies at 77

 

 

By Richard Goldstein,, December 27, 1998

Maj. Gen. Charles Mize, a combat veteran of three wars who won the Navy Cross with the 1st Marine Division in the Korean War and was the division's commander a quarter-century later, died on Dec. 10 at Inova Alexandria Hospital in Alexandria, Va. Mize was 77 and lived in Falls Church, Va.

The cause was pneumonia, his family said.

Mize wanted to be a country lawyer, but he was a Marine for 32 years, fighting in epic campaigns from the battle for Okinawa in World War II, to the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War, to the rescue of troops in the Mekong Delta in the Vietnam War.

Mize and his son Maj. Gen. David Mize, commander of the Marine Forces Reserve, were the sixth father and son in Marine Corps history to have both worn a general's stars.

Charles Davis Mize, whose father was a farmer, was born in Cave Spring, Ga., and joined the Marines after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1944.

Serving as a rifle platoon leader on Okinawa in April 1945, in the last great battle of the war in the Pacific, he was shot in the upper arm by a Japanese soldier he was flushing out of a cave.

Early in August 1950, five weeks after North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel and captured Seoul, the South Korean capital, Lt. Mize arrived in the port of Pusan with elements of the 1st Marine Division sent from California to bolster besieged Army troops.

Serving with Company G of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Mize took part in defending the Pusan perimeter and in the amphibious landing at Inchon, operations that led to the drive to recapture Seoul.

Taking over Company G after its commander was wounded, Mize was shot through the leg while battling North Korean troops in the hills northwest of Seoul.

Later, after heavy fighting in the streets of Seoul, he and his men stormed the grounds of the Capitol, which had housed the South Korean National Assembly. Marines tore down North Korean flags flying over its dome and ran up American flags, then routed the enemy troops, moving room by room.

For his role in the retaking of Seoul in late September 1950, Mize was given the Navy Cross, the Marines' second-highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor.

Late in November, Mize was deep inside North Korea at the mountain village of Yudam-ni, near the Chosin Reservoir, when Communist Chinese troops entered the war, threatening to annihilate American forces that were approaching the border with China.

Only 40 marines were left in Company G, and they were exhausted, hungry and suffering greatly in the subzero cold. But Mize roused them with a pep talk that he recalled decades later in an interview with the military historian John Toland for his book "In Mortal Combat" (Morrow, 1991).

"We are in a hell of a mess," he recalled telling his men. "But you and I together have gone through many battles. We've always done the job and I know we can do it again."

His men made it to the port of Hungnam in a retreat in which thousands of Marines overcame the frigid Korean winter on a 10-day, 70-mile journey, taking their wounded with them and inflicting heavy casualties. Mize was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions in the evacuation.

He saw action again, in 1968 and 1969, serving as operations officer of the IV Corps command in the Mekong Delta and winning another Bronze Star for a helicopter rescue of wounded troops while under enemy fire.

From 1971 to 1973, Mize was commander of the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va. He then returned to his old outfit, commanding the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in 1975 and 1976.

After retiring in 1976, Mize was a partner in a home construction firm in northern Virginia.

Besides his son David Mize, he is survived by his wife, Martha; another son, Randy, of San Diego; two daughters, Sally Ekfelt of Falls Church and Ann Cuseo of Kailua, Hawaii, and eight grandchildren.


Go to: Vietnam Medal of Honor Citations

Go to: Obituaries

neil@mishalov.com

© 1999 by Neil Mishalov