Lt. Gen. Louis H. Buehl III, the Marine Corps' chief of staff, died at Bethesda Naval Medical Center after suffering a stroke, the Pentagon said. He was 56.

Buehl, who died late Wednesday, had held the No. 3 spot in the Marine hierarchy since October 1987, behind the commandant and the assistant commandant.He was a combat veteran of the Vietnam War and had served as commanding general of the Camp Lejeune, N.C., Marine Corps Base, as a deputy chief of staff for reserve affairs and as the senior military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense.