Lieutenant General Claude Arthur Larkin who was born 21 June 1891 in Garfield, Washington, died 2 November 1969, at the Air Force Base Hospital, Riverside, California.
As a boy, he spent a good bit of his time riding the range in Washington and Oregon and later attended the University of Washington for a short time. He was back in the saddle when he went to Chicago with a load of cattle in 1915. War in Europe had started, and he enlisted in the Marine Corps there on 21 December.
Lieutenant General Larkin's first duty as a Marine in World War I was aboard the USS Oklahoma. He was aboard this ship when it was commissioned.
After a year and a half as an enlisted man, he was selected to attend the Candidates Class for Commission in Washington, D.C. He was commissioned a second lieutenant, 6 July 1917, and returned to Cuba for duty with the famous mounted troops, the "Horse Marines."
Between the two world wars, Lieutenant General Larkin served in Cuba and Haiti, with expeditionary forces in China, flew with an air unit based at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and spent considerable time at domestic stations.
In 1930, he transferred to aviation. He received his flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, and was designated a Naval Aviator on 6 April 1930. He also attended the Army Air Corps Tactical School, Montgomery, Alabama, and the Navy War College, Newport, Rhode Island.
Shortly before the United States entered World War II, Lieutenant General Larkin served for a short time as Assistant Naval Attache and Assistant Naval Attache for Air in London and Cairo in the course of a round-the-world inspection tour of United Nations facilities.
For the first eight months of World War II, Lieutenant General Larkin was "SNAP"-Senior Naval Aviator Present-for Marines in the Pacific war zones.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, he was in command of Marine Aircraft Group 21 stationed on Ewa. Although he was slightly wounded, he continued to direct his men against the enemy.
In November 1943, he was presented the Legion of Merit for outstanding service for planning, arranging and operating air activities as "SNAP" of Marine Aviation Units in the Hawaiian areas and in the defense of Wake Island and in the battles of Midway and the Solomon Islands. He was Commanding General of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, North Carolina, from December 1943 until April 1944, and then was in charge of air operations in the Northern Solomons as Deputy Commander and later Acting Commander of aircraft there in September of 1944. He was Commanding General of Marine Aircraft, South Pacific, from 21 May to 14 June 1944. From August to December of 1944, he was Commanding Officer of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing in the Pacific.
Lieutenant General Larkin served as Commanding General of Marine Fleet Air, West, Coast, until he retired from active duty, 1 March 1946.
He won rapid promotions during World War I becoming a first lieutenant on 13 October 1917, and a captain on 9 September 1918. He was promoted to major on 4 March 1935, to lieutenant colonel on 29 August 1938, to colonel on 6 January 1942, and to brigadier general on 5 October 1942. He was appointed to major general on 16 April 1945, and a lieutenant general upon retirement on 1 March 1946.
His medals and decorations include: the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, the Victory Medal with the West Indies Clasp for service in Cuba, 1917-18; the Yangtze Medal for service on the USS Chaumont, 1927; the Expeditionary Medal, China, 1927-29; the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp, Egypt, 1939-41; and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.