Friday, December 1, 2023

Avenue of Heroes: Alphonse “Frenchie” DeCarré

Written by Paul DeCarré Atkinson

Major General Alphonse “Frenchie” DeCarré was born on November 15, 1892, in Washington, D.C. He entered the Marine Corps and was commissioned Second Lieutenant, serial number 0-230, on his 21st birthday.

In June 1915, DeCarré joined 2nd Marine Regiment, and sailed for Port-au-Prince, Haiti. There, he clashed with Haitian rebels and was promoted to First Lieutenant. He was decorated with the Haitian Medal of Honour and Haitian Distinguished Service Medal.

At the start of World War I, Capt. DeCarré was transferred to the 5th Marine Regiment as commanding officer of Headquarters Company. DeCarré arrived in France in July 1917 and went to the trenches in the Verdun Sector from March to May of 1918.

During the Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918, Capt. DeCarré commanded a small detachment in the rear of the attacking battalion. He continued forward after the advance battalion had changed direction. Shortly, he encountered deadly machine gun fire but pressed on, alone, capturing two guns. He then brought up his detachment of only six men and captured a machine gun company of 169 Germans.

For his effort, DeCarré was decorated with the Army Distinguished Service Cross and Navy Cross. Subsequently, he participated in the Aisne-Marne Offensive, Battle of Château-Thierry and the Battle of Soissons. He was then promoted to Major in September 1918, and appointed operations and intelligence officer of 5th Marines. DeCarré served in this capacity during the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge and was decorated with the Silver Star Citation for gallantry in action on October 9, 1918.

In 1939, Col. DeCarré was Commander of the barracks in Puget Sound. In July of 1942, he was transferred to San Diego, promoted to Brigadier General, and appointed Assistant Division Commander. General DeCarré acted as Commander of the 2nd Marine Division, leading the Division in the Guadalcanal Campaign. He commanded the Division until May 1943.

DeCarré then served at Camp Pendleton and Quantico. He retired in June 1946 as a Major General. After retirement, he moved to Coronado with his wife Mildred and daughter Patricia. He passed away in 1977 and is buried at Fort Rosecrans.

The Hometown Banner program is a military service recognition program sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 206 hometown heroes. On May 21, another 11 will be honored. The City funds all the costs for the program. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and the Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation. The inspiration for the program came spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly in Coronado. The local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. At that moment, it was clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes. From that spontaneous beginning, the program was launched in May 2015 with 18 banners. Ceremonies are held twice yearly and men and women with ties to the community have been recognized from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The Hometown Banner program is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to country.


Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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