Diamond was born May 30 1890, at Bedford, Ohio. He enlisted at age 27, older than most recruits, the difference never was noticeable. Because of the incredible voice, which matched his 5-foot, 11-inch, 200-pound frame, Diamond was once dubbed "The Honker." Many of his comrades at Guadalcanal considered him "a human air-raid warning system."
Diamond lived informally, going hatless and wearing dungarees practically everywhere. He even accepted one of his decorations in dungarees. Self-confidence, even cockiness, was one of the sergeant's outstanding characteristics. He considered anybody with less than ten years in the Corps a "boot." While he bawled out recruits who sometimes instinctively saluted him, he frequently failed, himself, to salute less than a field grade officer.
Diamond rejected opportunities to apply for a commission - that is, become an officer - saying "nobody can make a gentleman out of me."
Diamond enlisted in the Marine Corps at Detroit, Michigan, 25 July 1917, listing as his former occupation "railroad switchman." As a corporal in January 1918, he shipped out from Philadelphia aboard the USS Von Stuben bound for Brest, France. He saw action with the famous 6th Marines in the battles at Chateau Thierry, Belleau Wood, the Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and the Meuse Argonne. Promoted to the grade of sergeant, he marched to the Rhine with the Army of Occupation. At war's end, "Mr. Leatherneck" returned to America, and received an honorable discharge.
But railroading and civilian life in general did not suit his fancy, and on 23 September 1921, Diamond re-enlisted.
"Mr. Marine" itched for more action and he soon got it-in Shanghai with Company M, 3d Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. But the Sino-Japanese controversy, in "Lou's" opinion, was "not much of a war," and on 10 June 1933, he returned to the United States, disembarking from the USS Henderson at Mare Island, California. By then he was a gunnery sergeant.
Diamond returned to Shanghai with his old outfit, the 4th Marines, ten months later; was transferred to the 2d Marines in December, 1934; and returned to the States February, 1937. Two years after his promotion to Master Gunnery Sergeant, 10 July 1939, he was assigned to the Depot of Supplies at Philadelphia to help design a new infantry pack.
Following the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Diamond shipped out to Guadalcanal with Company H, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, arriving at the beaches 7 August 1942. He was 52 years old. Among the many fables concerning his "Canal" service is the tale that he lobbed a mortar shell down the smoke stack of an off-shore Japanese cruiser. It is considered a fact, however, that he drove the cruiser from the bay with his harassing "near-misses."
General A.A. Vandegrift, Commander of the 1st Marine Division, and later Commandant of the Marine Corps, wrote a letter of commendation that states in part:
"To every man in your company you were a counselor, an arbiter of disputes, and an ideal Marine. Your matchless loyalty and love of the Marine Corps and all it stands for, are known to hundreds of officers and men of this Division, and will serve as an inspiration to them on all the battlefields on which this Division may in the future be engaged."
After two months on Guadalcanal, physical disabilities dictated his evacuation by air against his wishes. He was moved to the New Hebrides and later to a hospital in New Zealand, where he somehow acquired orders to board a supply ship for New Caledonia. There a friend ordered him back to Guadalcanal - the supposed location of his old outfit. Upon his arrival, however, Diamond discovered that the 1st Marine Division had shipped out to Australia, a distance of over 1,500 miles. Diamond made the trip, without orders, by bumming rides on planes, ships and trains.
But Diamond was destined to see no more combat. On 1 July 1943, he disembarked from the USS Hermitage at San Pedro, California, and twelve days later was made an instructor at the Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. He was transferred to Camp Lejeune on 15 June 1945, and joined the 5th Training Battalion with the same duties.
Diamond retired on 23 November 1945, and returned to his home in Toledo, Ohio. His death at the Great Lakes, Illinois, Naval Training Center Hospital, September 20 1951, was followed by a funeral, with full military honors, at Sylvania, Ohio.
The Philippine-American actor Lou Diamond Phillips was named after him by his father, a Marine.