Marine Corps Legends: General Charles E. Wilhelm

Carl | January 8, 2013 

General Charles E. Wilhelm, who served from September 1997 to October 2000 as the Commander, U.S. Southern Command, Miami, Florida, retired from the Marine Corps 1 November 2000. General Wilhelm, born on 26 August 1941, is a native of Edenton, North Carolina. He graduated from Florida Southern College in 1964 and also holds an M.S. degree from Salve Regina College. He is a graduate of the Army Infantry Officer’s Advance Course and the Naval War College.

General Wilhelm held a variety of command positions. He commanded a rifle platoon and company during two tours in Vietnam; served as a company commander in Headquarters Battalion and 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division; was the Senior Advisor to a Vietnamese Army Battalion; Inspector-Instructor, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion; Deputy Provost Marshal, U.S. Naval Forces Philippines; and commanded the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

General Wilhelm’s staff assignments include Assistant Battalion Operations Officer; Operations Officer and Executive Officer, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. He served on the staffs of III Marine Amphibious Force; Logistics, Plans, and Policy Branch, Installations and Logistics Department, HQMC, and J-3, Headquarters, U.S. European Command.

In August 1988, while assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, II Marine Expeditionary Force, he was promoted to brigadier general, and was subsequently assigned as the Director of Operations, HQMC. In July 1990, he was selected to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy and Missions, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. General Wilhelm assumed duties as Commanding General, 1st Marine Division, in July 1992. He served as Commander Marine Forces Somalia from December 1992 to March 1993 as part of the U.S. led coalition in Operation RESTORE HOPE. General Wilhelm was confirmed for promotion to lieutenant general and assumed duties as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, 15 July 1994. In August 1995, he was assigned as Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic/Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic/Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe/Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South/Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force/Commanding General, Marine Striking Force Atlantic, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was confirmed for promotion to general and assumed duties as the Commander, U.S. Southern Command on 25 September 1997.

General Wilhelm’s personal decorations include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; the Distinguished Service Medal; Silver Star Medal; Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster in lieu of a second award; Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”; Army Commendation Medal with Combat “V”; Joint Service Achievement Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; and the Combat Action Ribbon.

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