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Last updated on July 15th, 2019 at 09:34 am

James Norman Mattis, widely known as ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, is the newly appointed Secretary of Defence for President Donald Trump administration. Prior to this, he served the Obama administration as the commander of the US Central Command. He was also involved in the US military missions in the Middle East.

Early Life and Education

On September 8, 1950, ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis was born to father John West and mother Lucille. Raised in post-war Richland, Washington, Mattis went to Columbia High School and joined Central Washington University for a BA in history.


James Mattis joined Marine Corps at an age of 19. By 1972, he was already promoted to the second lieutenant. Subsequently, he made his way through higher posts and served the US military in various wars. He captained the first battalion of 7th marines in Persian Gulf War.

After the Persian Gulf war, Mattis led 7th Marine regiment to Afghanistan war. Known as a man with ‘real leadership’, Mattis is the first ever Marine Corps to lead a Naval Task Force. Then came the Iraq war. Mattis again went out on the battlefield leading 1st Marine Division as a major general in 2003 Iraq invasion.

James Mattis’ roles in Fallujah was highly appreciated for its fruitful negotiation outcomes for both sides. However, Mattis was also caught up in some undesirable accusations such as the bombing of a wedding party which was initially thought to be a safe house. Around 42 civilians died that day. As described by his men, Mattis was a colonel who put his men before the mission.

After a promotion to lieutenant general, James was held up in a controversy after tagging killing rivals as fun. General Michael Hagee commented that Mattis should have used his words more articulately.

On May 31, 2006, Mattis started working for Pentagon as a commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force. Subsequently, President Bush appointed him as the commander of US Joint Forces Command in Virginia. Likewise, he served President Obama’s administration as a commander of US Central Command.

As a war veteran, Mattis proudly retired on May 22, 2013.

Trump and Mad Dog

After a meeting with Mad Dog Mattis, Trump tweeted: General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General’s General!

So, this was the initial sign for Mattis to serve his country again as the Secretary of Defense. On January 20, Senate approved the nomination of Mattis with a vote of 98-1.

Personal Life

Mad Dog Mattis has never been married or been a father in his life. However, he has had a decent personal life as well. Being widely known and rewarded with numerous reputed military awards, Mattis has lived a life of satisfaction.


Mattis’ genuine pride is in the number of medals and awards he has received as a military person and a civilian. To name a few, he was awarded Legion of Merit, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and Defense Superior Service medal.

Likewise, he was honored with an Honorary Law doctorate by Washington College and Marine Corps University Foundation Semper Fidelis Award in 2014. In 2010, Mattis was awarded Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Military Leadership Award.

Categories: Biography

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