William J. Van Ryzin

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William John Van Ryzin
Born (1914-04-20)April 20, 1914
Appleton, Wisconsin
Died July 1, 2002(2002-07-01) (aged 88)
Washington, D.C.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1935-1971
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Service number 0-5143
Commands held Chief of Staff, HQMC
Deputy, III MEF
2nd Marine Division
18th Defense Battalion

Yangtze Patrol
World War II

Vietnam War

Awards Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal

William John Van Ryzin (April 20, 1914 – July 1, 2002) was an highly decorated officer of the United States Marine Corps with the rank of Lieutenant General. He is most noted as Chief of Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.


Van Ryzin was born William John Van Ryzin on April 20, 1914 in Appleton, Wisconsin.[1] He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1935. Van Ryzin married twice and had two children, one of whom became a colonel in the military. He was also active in the United Way of America, the Forty and Eight, and was a member of the Trinity Episcopal Church. Van Ryzin died on July 1, 2002 in Washington, D.C.


Van Ryzin was commissioned an officer in the Marine Corps in 1935 following his graduation from college. He served with the Marine Detachment at the American Embassy in Peiping, China, during the 1930s. At the outbreak of World War II, he was serving with the 1st Defense Battalion on Palmyra Island and received a Bronze Star with Combat “V” for meritorious service there. He later served as the commander of 18th Defense Battalion during the Battle of Saipan and the Battle of Tinian. Following World War II, he participated in the occupation of North China. Afterward, he served in a variety of staff assignments, including several billets at Headquarters Marine Corps, and later, as chief of staff for the Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. Gen Van Ryzin commanded the 2d Marine Division from 1963-1965, and during the Vietnam War, served for three months as Deputy Commander, III Marine Amphibious Force. He retired from active duty with the Marine Corps in 1971.[1][2]

Following retirement, he was involved in various professional and charitable activities in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. He was a founding member of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission and helped restore the historic Entler Hotel. For his volunteer work with the Jefferson County United Way, he was awarded the Tocqueville Award.[1]


Here is the ribbon bar of Lieutenant General William J. Van Ryzin:

Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal with one 516" Gold Star Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and one 516" Gold Star
2nd Row Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" Joint Service Commendation Medal China Service Medal with one star American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp
3rd Row American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one 3/16 inch service star World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal with one star
4th Row Vietnam Service Medal with two 3/16 inch service stars National Order of Vietnam, Grade Knight Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Vietnam Campaign Medal


  1. ^ a b c "Lt General USMC William Van Ryzin's Dog Tag Returned to Son, Retired Col Peter Van Ryzin". Vietnam Dog Tag Project. Retrieved 2012-01-03. 
  2. ^ Aquilina, Robert V. (2003). "LtGen William J.Van Ryzin Passes" (PDF). Fortitudine. Marine Corps Historical Center. XXIX (4). Retrieved 10 March 2015.