James Mattis’ Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

James Mattis Family

Getty General James Mattis pictured with President Donald Trump in October 2018.

General James Mattis’ traces his family roots back to Washington state. He never married and is known for his supreme dedication to the military. On December 20, Donald Trump announced that Mattis, 68, was to retire as Secretary of Defense in February 2019.

Trump said in his tweet announcing Mattis’ retirement, “General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years. During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting. equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!”

The announcement came 24 hours after Donald Trump said that the U.S. would withdraw all servicemen and women from Syria, a move that Mattis opposed.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Mattis’ Mother Worked in South Africa in Intelligence During World War II

Reflections with General James Mattis – Conversations with History(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv/) Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes General James Mattis (U.S. Marine Corp. ret.), former Head of Central Command for a discussion of his military career. Topics covered include: his formative years, the skill set and temperament required to be a marine, his command philosophy, his battle experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, the role of the military in securing peace, the contribution of the military to the policy debate, and his advice for students as they prepare for the future. Recorded on 03/20/2014. Series: "Conversations with History" [6/2014] [Public Affairs] [Show ID: 28135]2014-06-06T01:56:10.000Z

Mattis was born in Pullman, Washington, on September 8, 1950, in Pullman, Washington. His father was John West Mattis, who passed away in 1988. His mother, Lucille Proulx, was born in Canada and immigrated to the U.S. as a small child. During World War II, his mother worked in Army Intelligence in South Africa. While his father worked on the Manhattan Project in Richland, Washington.

WATCH LIVE: James Mattis confirmation hearing2017-01-12T21:42:44.000Z

In January 2017, Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing, via Business Insider: “In the wartime spring of 1942, my mother was 20 years old and working in military intelligence. She was part of the first government employees to move into the still unfinished Pentagon. She had come to America as an infant and lives today on the banks of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. Little could she imagine in her youth that more than 90 years after she immigrated to this country and 75 years after she first walked through the doors of the War Department, one of her sons would be sitting here in front of you today.”

In December 2016, one of Mattis’ mother’s neighbors, Adriane Green, told NW News Network, “She wants him to visit more often, so she’s not exactly like for it. But, she’s amazed at how much he’s done and she’s like, ‘I can’t even believe he’s my son.’”


2. Mattis Followed His Older Brother Tom In to the Marine Corps

GWT: WRAP Special Republican Guard HQ taken plus marines cross Diala bridge1. US Marine humvees crossing the Diala bridge to the east of Baghdad 2. Various shots of US Marines 3. Various shots dead Iraqi man on the ground 4. Missile on launcher hidden under a tree 5. Close shot of missile 6. Graffiti over Saddam Hussein mural 7. Iraqi men seated beside road 8. Two Iraqi men seated, UPSOUND (Arabic and English translation): "Change my life, alright, good America – but stay here? No" 9. Various shots of news conference 10. SOUNDBITE: (English) Major General Jim Mattis, First Marine Division Commander: "Marines went into buildings, where women and children were cowering in the buildings, and people who did not live there had come in and fired from those homes, not allowing these innocent people to get out of the line of fire, breaking every rule, whether it be the law of war, of decency, of the Koran or anything else, and firing at us, knowing full well that we would have to fire back. The marines were able to get in. In some cases, they didn't even have the manhood to go down and fight, they surrendered after endangering these women and children, firing on us, then they surrendered. They didn't even have the guts to go down swinging." 11. Various shots of marines patrolling area 12. Tanks rolling into compound 13. Statue of Saddam Hussein on horseback 14. Various of soldiers walking across complex 15. US soldier with machine gun guarding compound 16. Interior of damaged command and control centre 17. SOUNDBITE (English) Daniel W. Kidd, Captain with the US 101st Airborne Division: "Right now we are in the secretariat, which is as I understand a strong point of the Special Republican Guard, surrounded by barracks and other towers." 18. Troops patrolling around complex 19. Various of weapons find 20. UPSOUND (Arabic) US Soldier: "Attention, attention, for your safety, move away from the area. Stay home. Keep the road clear and don't interfere with the military. US forces are occupying this area and if you approach them, you will be detained." 21. Soldier with binoculars 22. Various of distant view of city STORYLINE: US Marines and Iraqi paramilitary fighters were locked in fierce combat on Tuesday as US forces pushed towards a military airport in south-eastern Baghdad. APTN joined troops from the US 3rd Marines Division as they crossed a bridge over the Diala river in eastern Baghdad. The bridge had been blown up by Iraqi defenders before the marines arrived, and had to be repaired overnight before they could cross. The region of Baghdad between the Diala and Tigris rivers includes key Iraqi military sites, including the Rashid military airport. The commander of the US Marines 3rd Major General Jim Mattis, was clearly unimpressed by the Iraqi defenders. He accused them of deliberately endangering civilians by attacking the marines from inside civilian homes, without allowing innocent people to get out of danger. Elsewhere on Tuesday, troops from the 101st Airborne Division stormed the headquarters of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's most loyal troops, the Special Republican Guard. Known as the "Iraqi Pentagon", the complex, southwest of Baghdad, was reportedly the command and control centre for the Iraqi regime's military operations. Three Iraqi soldiers were killed in the raid in which the US forces sustained no casualties. The site also housed one of the most famous monuments of the Iraqi President. Standing on "Black Hill", the sculpture was inscribed with Saddam's signature. The local population was warned by the US military, speaking in Arabic, to stay well away from the area. You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/6f15b703767db7138aa3f6dbc9328a0e Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork2015-07-21T16:03:40.000Z

Mattis’ older brother, Tom, was also in the Marine Corps. It’s said that Mattis followed Tom into the military. Mattis joined the Marines after graduating with a history degree from Central Washington University in 1971. In 2011, Mattis gave the commencement speech at his alma mater.

Tom Mattis lives in Walla Walla, Washington. In 2006, Tom Mattis was quoted as saying that his brother had met repeatedly with actor Harrison Ford regarding a movie that was to be made about General Mattis. Tom said, “He would prefer the movie not be made, but he is cooperating so he can have some influence.”


3. Just Before Being Due to Marry Alice Gillis; She Called Off the Wedding Because of His Career

James mattis fired

Getty

Mattis has never married and has earned the nickname, “The Warrior Monk,” in reference to his bachelorhood and dedication to the U.S. Military. During the 1970s, Mattis became engaged to a woman named Alice Gillis. According to a 2017 New Yorker feature, Gillis called off the wedding due to his refusal to leave the Marine Corps. The cancellation came three days before the wedding. A friend is quoted in the story as saying that Mattis’ future in the military was “too bright” for him to quit.


4. Mattis Once Said That He Treated Those Who Worked in the Pentagon as Family

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In March 2017, former Independent Journal Review reporter Benny Johnson wrote about an encounter he had with Mattis saying. Johnson said that Mattis told him in response to a question about the Pentagon transition, “I treat the people inside that building like my family. When I go down to get my laundry in the basement, I factor in ten extra minutes every trip just so I can talk with people. Ya know, they see me coming down the hallway and want to ask something, they should be able to. We work just like a family… just like a family.”

When Mattis was in the running to become secretary of defense, his friend retired Marine Maj. Gen. Michael Ennis, told ABC News, “He cares deeply. He also works very hard to keep his Marines from being killed unnecessarily.”


5. Mattis Said He Is Leaving So Donald Trump Can Have a Defense Secretary With Views More Aligned With His Own

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to retire in FebruaryCNBC's Ylan Mui reports on President Trump announcing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis's retirement in February. » Subscribe to CNBC: http://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC About CNBC: From 'Wall Street' to 'Main Street' to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Find CNBC News on Facebook: http://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: http://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Google+: http://cnb.cx/PlusCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: http://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC #CNBC2018-12-20T22:44:04.000Z

In leaving his position, Mattis said that the president deserved a secretary “whose views are better aligned with yours,” according to the Hill. Mattis’ statement makes no reference to Trump’s “retiring” comment. CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted that, “Senior administration official tells me Mattis was “vehemently opposed” to Syria decision and possible Afghanistan troop withdrawal.”

Shortly after the announcement that Mattis was leaving, NBC News reported that Trump had asked the military to come up with a plan regarding troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. There are around 17,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In July 2018, it had been widely reported that Trump had directed officials to attempt peace talks with the Taliban.
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