Major Gene Duncan enlisted into the Marine Corps in February 1950 at the age of 18. He served as a section leader for 81mm mortars in 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in Korea. Discharged four years later as a staff sergeant, he enlisted into the Reserve of the Marine Corps and remained active therein until 1961 when he returned to active duty and augmented into the Regular Marine Corps as a second lieutenant.
Major Duncan's enlisted billets included administrative clerk, Russian linguist, and 81mm mortar section leader. His officer assignments were tank officer, communications officer, naval gunfire officer, cryptologic officer and ordnance officer. He held eight command billets for a total command time of over eleven years.
He served two combat tours in the Republic of Vietnam and was twice wounded.
He retired from active service in June 1979.
Since retirement Major Duncan has involved himself in writing books of
interest to Marines, sister services, and civilians. He is active on the
speaking circuit, travelling from base to base, talking to Marines of all
grades and jobs, imparting leadership and ethics to our young and
not-so-young military men and women, especially Marines. In one period of
three years he logged over 80,000 miles in these efforts.
Major Duncan has been repeatedly referred to as "the Mark Twain and Rudyard
Kipling of the Marine Corps." At a gathering in August 1990 at a reception
at the Commandant's home in Washington, Duncan was publicly praised by
General Gray for his contributiohns to the Marine Corps. He was presented a
Certificate of Commendation by the Commandant. The certificate reads in
part, "Through his wisdom and serious thought on topics such as ethics,
honor, leadership, and moral courage, he not only captured the heart and
soul of the Marine Corps, but successfully imparted to a new generation of
Marines its most valued traditions."
Major Duncan currently has twelve books bearing his name and he is the
publisher of his own works in his company, Gene Duncan Books, in Boonville,
Missouri. He also writes a weekly column for a Florida newspaper.
During Operation Desert Shield Major Duncan appealed directly to the
Commandant of the Marine Corps for active duty, stating, "I want to fight
in one war which has public approval before I die." He was unofficially
told that his impaired hearing might keep him from active duty, but he
replied, "I don't want to LISTEN to the Iraqis, I want to SHOOT them." His
application was still being considered when Desert Storm ended.
Duncan holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Florida State University and a
Master of Education Degree from Memphis State University.
He lives in his 1870 house in Boonville, Missouri, a place he calls "Marine
Barracks, Boonville," with his aging Black Labrador Retriever, Panzer, and
his young Chocolate Lab, Herr Feldmarshal Rommel von Boonville.