James F. Amos

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James Amos
General James F. Amos.jpg
Amos in October 2010
Nickname(s) "Jim", "Tamer"[1]
Born (1946-11-12) November 12, 1946 (age 72)
Wendell, Idaho, U.S.
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1970–2014
Rank US Marine 10 shoulderboard.svg General
Commands held Commandant of the Marine Corps
Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
Marine Corps Combat Development Command
II Marine Expeditionary Force
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Marine Aircraft Group 31
Battles/wars Iraq War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal

James F. "Jim" Amos (born November 12, 1946) is a retired United States Marine Corps four-star general who last served as the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps from October 22, 2010, to October 17, 2014. As a Naval Aviator, Amos commanded the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and 2004. He served as the 31st Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps from July 3, 2008, to October 22, 2010. He is the first Marine Corps aviator to serve as commandant. He retired from the Marine Corps with 42 years of active duty service.

Early life and education

The son of a career Navy pilot, Amos, who was born on November 12, 1946 in Wendell, Idaho,[2] graduated from the University of Idaho in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and economics and commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy through NROTC on January 23, 1970.[3] He was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade in December 1971, and subsequently was granted an inter-service transfer to the Marine Corps in 1972. Attending Navy pilot training in Pensacola, Florida, he was designated a Naval Aviator on November 23, 1971.[3]


Joining Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212 (VMFA-212) in the spring of 1972, his ensuing operational assignments included tours with VMFA-235, VMFA-232, and VMFA-122 where he flew the F-4 Phantom II. In the fall of 1978 Amos left the active Marine Corps to become a commercial pilot for Braniff International Airways. He was employed with Braniff for 25 months, returning to the Marine Corps in January 1981.[4]

After a three year posting as a Flight Instructor in Advanced Jet Training, attendance at the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia as a Major, and a 13 month overseas staff assignment to the III Marine Amphibious Force, Okinawa, Japan, he was transferred to Marine Aircraft Group 24, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, he assumed command of Marine Air Base Squadron 24, later re-designated as Marine Wing Support Squadron 173. Joining VMFA-212, in 1987, Lieutenant Colonel Amos deployed to the western pacific as the squadron’s Executive Officer for what would be called "Operation Last Dance,” the last overseas deployment of the Marine F-4 Phantom before it was phased out and retired.

Transitioning to the F/A-18 Hornet in the spring of 1990, he assumed command of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 VMFA-312, and took delivery of 12 new F/A-18C aircraft, becoming the Marine Corps’ first single-seat Night Attack Hornet squadron. In the summer of 1992, he and his squadron joined Carrier Air Wing Eight on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The squadron’s strong performance was recognized in 1993 with the awarding of the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Hanson Trophy, recognizing 312 as the Marine Corps’ top Fighter/Attack squadron. Following a two-year staff instructor assignment at Quantico, Virginia, where he was promoted to Colonel, Amos took command of Marine Aircraft Group 31, Beaufort, South Carolina in May 1996.

Promoted to Brigadier General in 1998, General Amos was assigned to NATO as the Deputy Commander, Naval Striking Forces, Southern Europe, Naples, Italy. During this tour, he commanded NATO’s Kosovo Verification and Coordination Center in Skopje, Macedonia, and later served as the Chief of Staff, U.S. Joint Task Force Noble Anvil during the air campaign over Yugoslavia and Kosovo. Transferred to the Pentagon in the summer of 2000, General Amos’ other one star assignments included posting as the Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation in 2000, and the Assistant Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations in 2001.

In August 2002, he was promoted to Major General and assumed command of the of the 15,000 Marines of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based out of Miramar, California leading them in combat twice between 2003 and 2004 during Operations IRAQI FREEDOM I and II. Receiving his third star in 2004, Lieutenant General Amos assumed command of the 45,000+ Marines and Sailors of the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, NC. In 2006 he was reassigned as the Commanding General, Marine Corps’ Combat Development Command, and as the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, at Quantico, VA, where he was responsible for the training of all Marines, their combat units, their continuing education, and for the identification of all Marine equipment requirements.

Receiving his fourth star in July 2008, he assumed duties as the 31st Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, based at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.[5] In June 2010, Amos was recommended for nomination by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates to become the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corp. He was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 20,[6] who interviewed him for the job on June 17.[7][8] and confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 21,[9] and confirmed shortly thereafter. On October 22, 2010, at a ceremony at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. he assumed the position as Commandant.[10] This marked the first time a Marine aviator has held the position of Commandant, and the first time since 1983 that a sitting Assistant Commandant had moved up to become Commandant.[citation needed]

File:. James Amos exchanges the Battle Colors of the Marine Corps.jpg
Gen. Amos exchanges the Battle Colors of the Marine Corps with incoming Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford on October 17, 2014.

During his tenure as Commandant, he completed the Corps’ combat mission in Afghanistan. Facing sequestration and the significant effects of the Budget Control Act, he fought to re-balance the Corps during the period of marked fiscal austerity, all while ensuring the combat readiness of the Marine Corps for its continued role as our nation’s Expeditionary Crisis Response Force. Responding to multiple global challenges that had been critically acclaimed as “the new normal,” he established Special Purpose - Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response commands in both Africa and the Middle East, while adding 1,000 Marine Security Guards to America’s embassies around the world.[11][12] Additionally, during his final two years as Commandant, he shepherded the Corps’ considerable efforts to address head-on its many challenges in recruiting and maintaining a diverse and talented body of Marines.[13] Lastly, he significantly raised the requirements and capacity within the Marine Corps University for all Marines to attend resident Professional Military Education. .[14]

On October 17, 2014, at Marine Corps Barracks Washington, Amos relinquished command to General Dunford, who became the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus awarded Amos the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for his service as commandant and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel awarded him with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for his 42 of distinguished service. General Amos retired from active duty on 1 December 2014 after over four decades of active service. His personal decorations include the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal with Gold Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Significant events and achievements as commandant

F-35B, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

In November 2010, shortly after becoming Commandant, Amos, along with the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, were notified of an over $4 billion shortfall in the JSF Program. Reacting to this and the steadily rising costs and delays in the program, Secretary of Defense Gates called a meeting with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and General Amos, ostensibly to cancel the Marine variant, the F-35B. General Amos was successful in convincing Secretary Gates of the Corps’ need for the aircraft, choosing rather to place the F-35B on a two-year probation to allow the program to mature and right itself. Amos’ detailed and hands-on actions over the next 18 months ensured positive progress on the Marine variant in most areas of concern, resulting in Secretary Panetta removing the F-35B from probation six months early. As a result, the Marine Corps was the first service to be able to stand up and operationally certify a Joint Strike Fighter squadron within the DoD.[15][16][17]

Shipbuilding and amphibious ships

After a decade plus of declining amphibious ship numbers in the U.S. Navy inventory, and increasing operational requirements for Marines around the world, General Amos partnered with the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy Secretariat, and industry to reconfirm amphibious ship requirements, acceptable readiness levels, and total hull numbers. Working closely with the United States Congress, in the Senate and the House over two years of budgetary efforts, Congress authorized and appropriated monies to buy a, not-programmed, 12th San Antonio Class LPD amphibious war ship. Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Chief of Naval Operations, the Secretary of the Navy, and General Amos agreeing to recapitalizing the Navy’s more than 40-year-old LSD amphibious ships with the new, and proven, San Antonio Class hull design. This single agreement alone will result in millions of dollars saved over the lifetime of the LSD replacement effort, and will accelerate the completion and delivery of the ships years ahead of schedule.[18]

Montford Point Marines and the Congressional Gold Medal

In 2012, Amos partnered with key legislators In the House and the Senate to bring national recognition to the service and sacrifices of the Corps’ WWII African American “Montford Point Marines” with the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal. African American men were recruited into the Marine Corps by Presidential order beginning 1942. Establishing a segregated Boot Camp on a swampy point of land in Jacksonville, NC known as Montford Point, the Marine Corps trained some 20,000 African American men between 1942 and 1949. Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alexander Vandegrift, rightfully closed down the segregated training in1949, stating “The experiment with the negro Marines is over. They are Marines …Period!” The Montford Point Marines served with distinction in the Pacific during WWII, and again in 1951 during the Korean War. Their service and faithfulness to our nation had never been successfully recognized at the national level until General Amos initiated service-level efforts to have them awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Final authorization was signed and the medal struck on November 23, 2011, bringing much deserved recognition to these American patriots.[19][20]

Ethically re-grounding the Marine Corps

Sensing that 10 straight years of sustained combat may have begun fraying the edges of the Corps’ moral fabric, General Amos, with full support of the Corps’ leadership, initiated an effort to morally and ethically “reground the Corps.” The effort, named the “Reawakening,” targeted the Corps’ central leadership cadre, the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO). General Amos and Sergeant Major Michael Barrett, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, spent the better part of 2013 travelling to most every Marine base to personally challenge the Corps’ NCO leadership with getting back to the basics. The sole focus of the Reawakening was simply to remind Marines of their higher calling. Amos reinforced ‘who they were’ as Marines, ‘what they did for the nation,’ and ‘who they were not.’ [21]

Repeal of don't ask, don't tell

As Commandant, Amos opposed the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding homosexuals openly serving in the U.S. military.[22] After President Obama signed the legislation setting the conditions for repeal, Amos led the Department of Defense in carrying out the will of the nation's civilian leadership.[23] In late November 2011, Amos stated that his opposition to gays openly serving in the military has proven unfounded and said that Marines have embraced the change, describing the repeal as a "non-event."[24]

Personal life

Amos graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia and the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

Awards and education

Amos holds the rifle sharpshooter and several pistol expert marksmanship badges.

Naval Aviator Badge.jpg
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
150px USMC Pistol Expert badge.png
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Naval Aviator insignia
1st row Defense Distinguished Service Medal Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 award star Defense Superior Service Medal
2nd row Legion of Merit w/ 1 award star Bronze Star Medal Meritorious Service Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal
3rd row Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Navy Presidential Unit Citation Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 1 oak leaf cluster Navy Unit Commendation
4th row Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Kosovo Campaign Medal w/ 2 service stars
5th row Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Armed Forces Service Medal
6th row Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 1 silver service star Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon w/ 1 service star 1st Class Order of the Rising Sun, Grand Cordon[25] NATO Medal for Yugoslavia w/ 1 service star
Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

See also


  1. Walker, Mark (4 February 2011). "MILITARY: Changes loom for the Marine Corps". San Diego Union Tribune. The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. Retrieved 24 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps". USMC TECOM.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Register of the commissioned and warrant officers of the Navy". Dec 1970.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Bacon, Lance M. (10 October 2014). "Marine Commandant Faces New Questions".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. United States Marine Corps History Division Marine Corps Assistant Commandants
  6. Cavallaro, Gina (20 July 2010). "Obama nominates Amos for commandant post". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 21 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Ackerman, Spencer (June 21, 2010). "Gen. Amos Will Be the Next Marine Corps Commandant". The Washington Independent. Retrieved July 5, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Defense Secretary Gates Announces Recommendations to the President on Senior Marine Corps Leadership Positions" (Press release). U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs). June 21, 2010. Retrieved 2013-06-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Cavallaro, Gina (September 21, 2010). "Amos faces panel in confirmation hearing". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 21 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Shea, Sgt Jimmy D. (22 October 2010). "Taking the Reins: Marine Corps Welcomes New Commandant". Headquarters Marine Corps. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 22 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. U.S Central Command. "Marines stand up Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force". Retrieved 1 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Amos, James. "2014 REPORT TO CONGRESS ON THE POSTURE OF THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS". Retrieved 2 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. McMillan Portillo, Caroline. "Four-star general tapped Sheryl Sandberg to help Marines grow women in ranks". Retrieved 2 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Gatlin, Martin. "MARADMIN explains new PME requirements for enlisted Marines' promotions/". |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Butler, Amy (29 May 2013). "Marines Outline F-35B IOC Plans". Aviation Week Network. Retrieved 1 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Martin, Lockheed (20 Nov 2012). "Lockheed Martin Delivers Three F-35Bs To The U.S. Marine Corps". Retrieved 2 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Granger, Kay. "GRANGER, DICKS APPLAUD SECRETARY PANETTA'S DECISION TO LIFT F-35B STOVL PROBATION". Retrieved 3 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Freedberg, Sydney (9 May 2014). "HASC Puts Down Payment On 12th LPD — But Will Industry Ever See The Check?". Breaking Defense. Retrieved 6 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Sanchez, Marcy (16 Oct 2014). "MONTFORD POINT MARINE WIDOW ACCEPTS CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL". Marines.Mil. Retrieved 4 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Maurer, Kevin (4 Nov 2014). "The Marines of Montford Point". Our state. Retrieved 2 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Amos, James F. (14 October 2013). "Document: USMC Commandant's Plan to 'Reawaken' the Marine Corps". Retrieved 5 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Bumiller, Elisabeth (3 December 2010). "Service Chiefs Tell Panel of Risks to Repeal of Gay Ban". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Martinez, Luis (January 31, 2011). "Marines step out smartly in DADT repeal". ABC News. Retrieved 31 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Robert Burns, Marine commandant: End of gay ban a non-event, Associated Press (Nov. 28, 2011).
  25. "The 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, receives Japan's Order of the Rising Sun Award". April 15, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

Military offices
Preceded by
James Conway
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.