He was on duty with the Legation Guard in Peking, China, from September 1905 to September 1906. He was appointed a captain May 13, 1908 and from December of that year to July 1910, he again served with the Legation Guard at Peking. He continued on duty in Peking as Attache on the Staff of the American Minister for study of the Chinese language and remained until May 1911. In December 1911, he was again ordered to the Legation at Peking to continue his study of the Chinese language and continued in that capacity until May 1914.
Captain Holcomb served as Inspector of Target Practice in the Marine Corps from October 1914 to August 1917. While serving as such, he was promoted to the rank of major on August 29, 1916.
In recognition of his distinguished services in France, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star with three Oak Leaf Clusters, a Meritorious Service Citation by the Commander-in-Chief, AEF, the Purple Heart, and was three times cited in General Orders of the Second Division, AEF. The French Government conferred on him the Cross of the Legion of Honor and three times awarded him the Croix de Guerre with Palm.
From August 1927 to February 1930, Col Holcomb commanded the Marine Detachment, American Legation, Peking, China. In June 1930, he went to the Naval War College as a student, Senior Course. He graduated in June 1931. He was then ordered to the Army War College, graduating a year later.
From June 1932 to January 1935, prior to his appointment to brigadier general, he served in the Office of Naval Operations, Navy Department. He was promoted to brigadier general on February 1, 1935. He served as Commandant of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, Virginia, until November 1936.
On December 1, 1936, Holcomb returned to Headquarters Marine Corps to assume the office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. With his advancement to lieutenant general on January 20, 1942, he became the highest-ranking officer ever to command the Marine Corps up to that time.
On August 5, 1943, when LtGen Holcomb reached the regular retirement age, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced he was continuing LtGen Holcomb as Commandant of the Marine Corps, in recognition of his outstanding services in that capacity. Holcomb continued as Commandant until December 31, 1943. He was succeeded by LtGen Alexander A. Vandegrift.
During LtGen Holcomb’s seven year tour of duty as Commandant, the Marine Corps expanded from 16,000 to about 300,000 Marines. Also, on February 13, 1943, he officially announced that women were eligible to serve in the Marine Corps; a date that is recognized and celebrated as the anniversary of women in the Marine Corps.
On April 12, 1944, Holcomb was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his outstanding work as Commandant.
Following a serious illness in the spring of 1964, he returned to his native New Castle. General Holcomb died in New Castle, Delaware on May 24, 1965, aged 85. He was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Preparing for victory; Thomas Holcomb and the making of the modern Marine Corps, 1936-1943.(Brief article)(Book review)
Jun 01, 2011; 9781591149033 Preparing for victory; Thomas Holcomb and the making of the modern Marine Corps, 1936-1943. Ulbrich, David J. Naval...