Throughout the history of the Marine Corps there have been many examples of Marines who have excelled on both the battlefield and the playing field. We have listed just a few that have stood out as Marines and represented the United States in the Olympic Games.
Harry B. Liversedge
Brigadier General Harry Bluett Liversedge is remembered in the Marine Corps for his actions that led to him receiving two Navy Crosses and a Bronze Star. But he was also a track star who won the bronze medal in the shotput at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp. He later commanded the assault on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi, culminating in the raising of the U.S. flag on the summit, which was immortalized in one of the most reproduced photos in history.
What does the world’s greatest athlete do when he needs a real challenge? He joins the Marines. Mathias won gold in the decathlon at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics before serving as a Captain in the USMC. He went on to spend four terms in Congress as a representative for the state of California.
A member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, First Lieutenant Billy Mills was lightly regarded when he entered the men’s 10,000 Meters at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. He shocked the world by winning gold in one of the Games’ most thrilling runs. Robbie Benson portrayed Mills in the 1983 film “Running Brave” which chronicled the events surrounding the race.
Lloyd “Butch” Keaser
“Butch” Keaser became the first African American to medal in wrestling when he won silver at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Keaser graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served five years in the Marines, rising to the rank of Captain.
Between 1981 and 1984, Greg Gibson became one of the most dominant wrestlers in the world, medaling ten times at four International Championships in both Freestyle and Greco-Roman. In 1982, Gibson became the first wrestler to medal in all three wrestling styles when he captured the gold at the Sombo World Cup Tournament. In 1983, Gibson captured the freestyle gold medal at the Pan-American Games and was crowned the Freestyle and Greco-Roman Champion at the World Military Wrestling Championship in France. Gibson’s incredible talent as a wrestler reached an apex when he won the Greco-Roman Silver Medal at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California.