Marine Corps Olympians

Marines that were Olympians

MCCS Forward

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.

Robert Mathias

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.

Billy Mills

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.

Greg Gibson

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.

14 thoughts on “Marine Corps Olympians”

  1. I had the priviledge of meeting Greg Gibson as young Marine myself. I gave up my Olympic dream of wrestling as we boycotted the 1980 games. I salute all Marines for their efforts in representing our great nation in both ways. Semper Fi Leatherheads!

  2. Many other famous athletes besides Olympians served in the Marine Corps. In October 1958 Roberto Clemente (Pit. Pirates) was in my Company at PI, I believe he was in Platoon 247 3rd Bat. so I never saw him to talk to but we knew he was there. Other famous Marine Athletes; Jack Lummus NY Giants (Football) I think he died on Iwo, Gil Hodges Brooklyn Dodgers, Rod Carew Min. Twins, Jerry Coleman NY Yankees, Ken Norton & Gene Tunney both boxing, Jo Jo White Boston Celtics, Ted Williams & Harry Agganis both Boston Red Sox. I know there were many more from WW-II but can’t come up with names.

      1. Both Leon and Mike Spinks held the heavyweight boxing titles (briefly). Leon lost the title in a rematch with Muhammad Ali. Michael lost his title when he was knocked out by Mike Tyson. Also remember that Ken Norton broke Ali’s jaw in a match. The Spinks brothers and Norton all served in the Marine Corps.

  3. There was also Captain Bill McMillan (spl?) who won the Gold metal in pistol shooting at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

  4. Gunny Gibson…..served with him, many stories on how awesome he was. A hulk of a Marine. Seen him punk out an inmate that was waving a mop, swab, he had broken inhalf. He was chasing around the guard with it and we were suiting up to take care of business. Gunny was checking his emails in the admin area and heard about it. He simple walked into the brig, down to special quarters told the Marine on duty to pop open the hatch. He looked at the inmate told him “give me the stick” inmate complies, “get in your cell” inmate complies. Guns walked out and gave the stick to the warden. Funniest thing I ever seen. He was the biggest, meanest, jarhead you have ever seen. But that was just looking at him. Awesome leader and friend. Can’t say enough about him. Semper fi

  5. Harry the Horse was assistant division commander of the First Marine Division at Pendleton when I was stationed there following boot camp in 1948. The division had just returned to the states after occupying Japan. The entire Corps at that time was about 55,000 Marines. 29 Palms was used as an ammo dump and not much else. For a short time I served in a battalion commanded by Colonel James P. Devereaux, the hero of Wake Island. He retired a brigadier general. Chesty was among those there for that ceremony. I was just a 17-year-old kid fresh out of boot camp and ready to take on the world.

  6. Tug McGraw of the NY Mets was in my platoon at 1st ITR R Company Camp Gieger Nov -Dec 1965 He was a great guy and a good Marine!

  7. There were several Olympians stationed at Quantico in the early 90s. I was a Corpsman at the time stationed at Quantico. There were a couple of Marines who were wrestlers one I think his name was Greg Pittman. There was also one of the females that was on the Olympic shooting team also.

  8. “Country” Meadows was in my PLC Platoon with me and a great bunch of officer candidates at Quantico in ’53 and Wes Santee was running around the place also at that time, staying in shape.

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