A four-star general who served under Barack Obama as the Head of Central Command (Centcom), Mattis was recently nominated as President-Elect Trump’s Secretary of Defense. For his service, James earned a variety of awards, including the Edmund S. Muskie Distinguished Public Service Award, the Ryan C. Crocker Global Citizen of the Year, and the Marine Corps University Foundation Semper Fidelis Award. Mattis also earned a few monikers to accompany his accolades: “Mad Dog”, “The Warrior Monk”, and “Chaos”. Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, a Ph.D. in history, said the following about Mattis, ““He is one of the most urbane and polished men I have known. He can quote Homer as well as Sun Tzu.” Currently, after giving much of his collection away to local libraries, Mattis has roughly 1,000 books in his personal collection. Read on to find out how education left its impact on our new, somewhat controversial, Secretary of Defense.
Born on September 8th of 1950, Mattis grew up in Washington state. His family’s close ties to the military, one working as a merchant marine and one as an army intelligence officer, may have contributed to his decision to serve. In 1968, he graduated from White Salmon’s Columbia High School. This co-educational, public school serves about 400 students during each academic year and has received Washington State’s Achievement Award for Overall Excellence for the past five years. In 1969, Mattis enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. While serving in the reserve, he attended classes at Central Washington University. After four years of studying at one of his state’s premier universities, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. In 2014, in honor of his service, George Washington University awarded James Mattis an honorary doctorate of law. While formal schooling’s behind him, Mattis is still a strong believer in the power of intellect. After all, as he told his troops time and time again: “The most important 6 inches on the battlefield is between your ears.”