John Archer Lejune was born in Louisiana in 1867 into a family that was recovering from the aftermath of the Civil War. Lejune's father served as a Confederate captain. After graduation from Louisiana State University, he accepted an appointment to the Naval Academy. Lejune graduated in 1888.

After the obligoatory two years of sea duty, Lejune decided that he would accept a Marine Corps commission. He served in Cincinnati during the Spanish-American War and then took a battalion into Panama. After the excursion into Panama, Lejune was in charge of the 1st Advance Base Brigade in Veracruz.

After spending time in Veracruz, he returned to be assistant to the commandant, George Barnett. Lejune was responsible for most of the planing for Marine involvement in World War I. Barnett placed him in charge of setting things up at the new base in Quantico. As a brigadier general, Lejune was given command of the U.S. 2d Infantry Division, which fought at St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont, and Meuse-Argonne.

Many believed that Lejune was the strongest commandant since Archibald Henderson had led the Corps. He believed strongly in the power of the Marines and worked to keep a strong growing force. Lejune foresaw a war with Japan and had his planners work accordingly. He also thought the Corps would be helpful in amphibious assualt, when the war stretched across the Pacific.

Lejune retired from his position in 1922 and became the superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute.

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