James Livingston was born on January 12, 1940 in Towns, Georgia. He graduated from Lumber City High School in 1957. He entered North Georgia College and State University (The Military College of Georgia) in 1957 and was a member of the schools nationally recognized Corps of Cadets until he transferred to pursue a major that the school did not offer. In 1962, Livingston earned a B.S degree in civil engineering from Auburn University. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in June 1962.
Livingston’s early assignments included service as a platoon commander, intelligence officer and as a Recruit Training Regiment series commander.
Promoted to captain in June 1966, Capt Livingston served as the Commanding Officer of the Marine detachment aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Wasp, before joining the 3rd Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam in August 1967.
On May 2, 1968 while serving as Commanding Officer, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, he distinguished himself above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy forces, and earned the Medal of Honor. He returned to the U.S. in November 1968 and completed the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia. He was presented the Medal of Honor on May 14, 1970 by President Richard Nixon.
After his second tour in Vietnam, he served as an instructor at the U.S. Army Infantry School, Director of Division Schools for the 1st Marine Division, and later, as S-3 of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. In March 1975 he returned to Vietnam and served as Operations Officer for the Vietnam evacuation operations which included Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon.
He then commanded the Marine Barracks, United Kingdom, London, and served as Commanding Officer, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion and then as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Training at the Marine Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. During this period, he earned a master’s degree in Management from Webster University (1984). He then served with the 2nd Marine Division and commanded the 6th Marines before joining the Joint U.S. Assistance Group in the Republic of the Philippines.
Following advancement to brigadier general on June 10, 1988, he served as Deputy Director for Operations at the National Military Command Center in Washington, D.C. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Gen Livingston commanded the Marine Air Ground Combat Center, 29 Palms, California and developed the Desert Warfare Training Program. After command of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, he was advanced to major general on July 8, 1991, and assumed command of the 4th Marine Division. In July 1992, he assumed command of the newly created Marine Reserve Force, and continued through its reorganization in October 1994, with its new title, “Marine Forces Reserve”.
Livingston is a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the Air War College. In retirement, MajGen Livingston is serving on the Board of Trustees of the National World War II Museum. MajGen Livingston served as the National Co-Chair of Veterans for Fred Thompson.