Brigadier General | Marine Corps


All ammunition on the U.S.S. San Francisco was removed or in storage, and engines had been dismantled with the parts strewn about waiting for replacement pieces from the mainland.  The cruiser awaited dry docking and cleaning of her heavily fouled hull.  Many of the guns had been removed, some had not yet been installed, and the .50 caliber machine guns were being overhauled.  All that remained available were small arms, two .30 caliber machine guns, and the glorious Marine Detachment commanded by Captain F. P. Henderson.

Equipped with muskets and cutlasses, sea-going Marines fought the Barbary pirates in North Africa, inspiring the Hymn line 'to the shores of Tripoli.'  Since that time, Marines at sea were lauded as having the professional pride of the Marine Corps, with precision close-order drill, snappy appearance, and the embued traditions and celebrated duties of storming exotic shores and keeping battleships and cruisers secure.

However, Henderson wanted nothing to do with sea duty - he wanted to see China, and with high hopes he put in for assignment to Shanghai, Peiping, or Tientsin.  Already he was an outstanding officer having worked his way through college with the help of his brother and sister - no easy journey during the depression - graduating Purdue University in 1934  and receiving a commission to Second Lieutenant in the Army.  Because of the hard times, the Army was also suffering, and financially could not bring many of their young officers to active duty.  The Marine Corps took advantage of this and swept the top Lieutenants under its wings.

So began his most interesting career - from duty at the Little White House where he came to know President Roosevelt personally, through Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Islands, to peace negotiations in Palestine, a regimental commander in Korea, and years of ideation and development for his beloved Corps, Henderson was the embodiment of a Marine officer and gentleman.



(1) Smith, Charles R., ed. U.S. Marines in the Korean War. Washington, DC: History Division, U.S. Marine Corps, 2007. Print.


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