Bruno Arthur Hochmuth (May 10, 1911 - November 14, 1967) was a United States Marine Corps major general who was killed in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He was the first and only Marine Corps division commander to be killed in any war. He was also the first American general officer to be killed in Vietnam, although a U.S. Air Force major general had been killed on July 24, 1967 in a B-52 bomber collision over the South China Sea. Hochmuth, four other Marines, and a South Vietnamese Army aide were killed when a UH-1E Huey helicopter they were riding in from VMO-3 exploded and crashed five miles northwest of Huế.
Hochmuth was born on May 10, 1911 in Houston, Texas. He graduated from high school in 1930 and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Education from Texas A&M University in June 1935. He was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant in July 1935, upon resigning a U.S. Army Reserve commission.
After completing The Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, he joined the Marine Detachment at the Texas Centennial in Dallas, Texas, in June 1936. In December 1936, he was transferred to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines in San Diego, California. Departing for Shanghai, China, in August 1937, he served briefly with the 6th Marines, then served two and a half years duty with the 4th Marines. While overseas, he was promoted to first lieutenant in July 1938. He remained with the 4th Marines in China until 1940.
Upon his return to the United States, Lieutenant Hochmuth was attached to the 7th Defense Battalion in September 1940. In February 1941, he embarked with the 7th Defense Battalion to American and Western Samoa. He was promoted to major in May 1942. He remained in the Pacific Theater for two years, returning to the United States in March 1943, where he was assigned to the Antiaircraft Artillery School at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until June 1943. From June until May 1944, Hochmuth served as Assistant Director, Command and Staff School, Quantico, Virginia, prior to embarking again for the Pacific area.
In May 1944, Major Hochmuth deployed again as Assistant Operations Officer for the III Marine Amphibious Corps and participated in the Battle of Saipan and Battle of Tinian. He then commanded 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines during the Battle of Okinawa. Following the surrender of Japan he was the executive officer of the 4th Marine Regiment when they landed in Japan on August 29, 1945. As Executive Officer of the 4th Marines, he made the initial landing on Japan August 29, 1945, and on September 2 of the same year attended the formal surrender ceremony at Yokosuka. He then commanded the Marine Barracks at Yokosuka for almost two years. For his service there, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal.
Returning to the United States in August 1947, he served at Headquarters Marine Corps for three years, then entered the Industrial College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. He graduated in June 1951, and returned to Camp Lejeune as Commanding Officer, 2nd Marines. In July 1952, he was named G-1 Officer, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in August 1947 with rank from October 1942, and to colonel in January 1951.
Ordered to Kingston, Ontario, in September 1953, he served as Instructor, Canadian Army Staff College, for two years. He again went to the Far East in August 1955 and served as G-4 Officer, 3rd Marine Division, Japan and Okinawa. In August 1956, Colonel Hochmuth was assigned to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, as a member of the Advanced Research Group, Marine Corps Educational Center.
In July 1957, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and served as Chief of Staff through October 1959. While stationed in San Diego, he was promoted to brigadier general in November 1959 and served briefly thereafter as Commanding General of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and, later, as Commanding General of the Recruit Training Command.
In January 1960, General Hochmuth reported to Headquarters Marine Corps, where he served as Deputy Chief of Staff (Research and Development). While serving in this capacity, he was promoted to major general in August 1963. That November, he assumed duty as Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. For meritorious achievement from November 1963 to February 1967, General Hochmuth was awarded a gold 5/16 inch star in lieu of a second Navy Commendation Medal.
Vietnam and death
Beginning on March 19, 1967, Hochmuth served as Commanding General, 3rd Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam. On November 14, Hochmuth and five others were riding in a helicopter on an inspection tour. The helicopter exploded and crashed soon after it took off. At the time of his death, he was the most senior U.S. military officer to be killed in the war. For his service during this period, he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
Hochmuth was buried with full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California, on November 18, 1967.
Awards and decorations
A complete list of General Hochmuth's's military awards includes:
|1st Row||Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 gold 5/16 inch star||Legion of Merit w/ Combat "V"||Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 1 gold 5/16 star||Purple Heart Medal w/ 1 gold 5/16 inch star|
|2nd Row||Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 2 service stars||China Service Medal||American Defense Service Medal w/ Base clasp||American Campaign Medal|
|3rd Row||Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 3 service stars||World War II Victory Medal||Navy Occupation Service Medal w/ Asia clasp||National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star|
|4th Row||Vietnam Service Medal w/ 1 service star||National Order of the Republic of Vietnam, 5th Class||Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ Palm||Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal|
Hochmuth Hall, MCIA headquarters building at Marine Corps Base Quantico is named in his honor.