General Merrill B. Twining, USMC (ret.)
“was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1923. During the next
two years, the lieutenant completed the Marine Officers' Basic School, served at Quantico, participated in Caribbean maneuvers
with the 10th Marines, and was stationed at the Marine Barracks, Pensacola, Florida.
In November 1941, Major Twining joined the 1st Marine Division at Camp Lejeune,
North Carolina. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in January 1942 and moved with the Division to the Pacific area in May
1942. He earned his first Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for meritorious service from 25 June to 10 December 1942
as the Division's Assistant Operations Officer and later, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3. In that capacity he helped prepare
and execute plans for the Guadalcanal campaign.
During the planning phase, Lieutenant
Colonel Twining and Major William B. McKean were flown over the then Japanese-held island on 17 July 1942, for the first sighting
of Guadalcanal by U.S. Marines in World War II. Following the Guadalcanal campaign, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff,
G-3, of the 1st Marine Amphibious Corps, then commanded by General Alexander A. Vandegrift.
Upon leaving Camp Pendleton, General Twining joined the 1st Marine Division in
Korea in March 1952. For outstanding service as Assistant Division Commander from March through May 1952, he received a Gold
Star in lieu of his second Legion of Merit with Combat "V." He returned to the States that June, and subsequently
served in the Office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was promoted to major general in September 1952. In January
1954, he was named Deputy Chief of Staff at Headquarters Marine Corps.
General Twining returned to Korea in
January 1955 as Commander of the 1st Marine Division. In March of that year, he accompanied the division to Camp Pendleton,
where he served until August 1956. In September 1956, he was promoted to lieutenant general and assumed duties as Commandant,
Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, the twenty-fifth Marine officer to head the Schools. He served in that capacity until his
retirement 31 October 1959.” (Marine Corps Legacy Museum) General Merrill B. Twining is the author of No
Bended Knee: The Battle for Guadalcanal.
Publisher’s Weekly said of No
Bended Knee: The Battle for Guadalcanal, “The author of this candid and revealing memoir served as the
1st Marine Division's operations officer during the 1942 battle for Guadalcanal, one of the major campaigns of WWII. The
literature of the campaign is based largely on his after-action report, which, as he now discloses, was written under severe
handicaps, including malaria and the lack of an operations log. Setting straight the historical record, Twining here reveals
that the division's commanding officer, Maj. Gen. A.A. Vandergrift, ordered the log to be burned when he thought the unit
was going to be forced into the island's interior for a last-ditch stand. Twining expresses resentment over the faintheartedness
of the operation's overall commander, Vice Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher, for his decision to withdraw the fleet only two days
after the Marines' amphibious landing, leaving them stranded and taking with him a large part of their supplies and equipment.
He also discusses the inept interference of Rear Adm. Kelly Turner, commander of the amphibious forces, and the bone-deep
hostility toward the Marines by Army authorities who later campaigned to abolish the corps. Twining retired in 1959 with the
rank of general.”
One reader said of No Bended
Knee: The Battle for Guadalcanal, “General Twining's account is more than first-person as that portends
one who witnessed history. He made it on Guadalcanal. This book is a superior account for one who desires to understand how
war plans are made, how to train a unit and how to motivate men to do what is not normally done. He treats us to an excellent
first-person insight of how one plans, equips, trains, and leads in combat. It is not a book from someone who sits in an ivory
tower and has a better way of doing business. Finally, he reminds us of why we have Marines. A force that truly is ready to
do our nations dirty business so we can stay free and secure.”