Happy 241rst Birthday to the Corps!

Thursday, November 10, AD 2016

Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.

President Ronald Reagan, letter to Lance Corporal Joe Hickey, September 23, 1983

On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress passed this resolution authored by John Adams:

“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battalions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”

The Marines wasted no time in demonstrating that their specialty would be amphibious assault.  Under Captain Samuel Nicholas, 210 Marines seized the port of Nassau in the West Indies on March 3-4, 1776, capturing badly needed supplies.  Nicholas would command the Marines throughout the Revolutionary War and is regarded as the first Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Under Nicholas, ironically a Quaker, the Marines established the traditions of valor, resourcefulness and daring that have ever been the hallmark of the United States Marine Corps.

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Padre of Guadalcanal

Thursday, June 9, AD 2016

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(This is a post I did in 2009.  It seemed appropriate to repost it today in tandem with my Halsey post.  Father Gehring pray for us that we may have the courage to face our challenges in life and win victories over them.)

 

Frederic Gehring was probably lucky that he was born and reared in Brooklyn.  It has always been a tough town and it prepared him for the adventurous life he was to lead.  Born on January 20, 1903,  he went on to attend and graduated from Saint John’s Prep.  Setting his eyes on being a missionary priest, he entered the minor seminary of the Vincentians, Saint Joseph’s, near Princeton,  New Jersey.  Earning his BA in 1925, he entered the seminary of Saint Vincent’s in Philadelphia.

Ordained as a priest on May 22, 1930, he was unable to immediately go to China due to military activity of the Communists in Kiangsi province.  For three years he traveled throughout the US raising funds for the missions in China, and, at long last, in 1933 he was able to pack his bags and sailed for China.  Laboring in the Chinese missions from 1933-1939 in the midst of warlordism, civil war and the invasion of China, commencing in 1937, by Japan must have been tough, but Father Gehring was always up to any challenge.  For example,  in 1938 Japanese planes strafed a mission he was at.  Father Gehring ran out waving a large American flag in hopes that the Japanese would not wish to offend a powerful neutral nation and would stop the strafing.  The Japanese planes did fly off, and Father Gehring was pleased until someone at the mission pointed out that maybe the Japanese had simply run out of ammo!  In 1939 Father Gerhring returned to the States to raise funds for the missions.

 

Immediately following Pearl Harbor, Father Gehring joined the Navy as a Chaplain.  In September 1942 he began an unforgettable six month tour of duty with the First Marine Division fighting on Guadalcanal.  Marines, although they are often loathe to admit it, are a component of the Department of the Navy, and the US Navy supplies their support troops, including chaplains.  (One of my friends served as a Navy corpsman with a Marine unit in Vietnam.  After his tour with the Navy he enlisted with the Marines, was commissioned a Lieutenant, and spent his entire tour with a detachment of Marines aboard an aircraft carrier.  As he puts it, he joined the Navy and spent his time slogging through the mud with Marines.  He then joined the Marines and spent his time sailing with the Navy.)

Guadalcanal marked the turning point of the war in the Pacific.  In August 1942 the US went on the offensive for the first time when the First Marine Division, the Old Breed,  landed on Guadalcanal and took the Japanese air base there.  This set off a huge six month campaign, where US forces, often outnumbered on land, sea and in the air, fought and defeated the Imperial Army and Navy.  The importance of Guadalcanal is well captured in this quote from Admiral William “Bull” Halsey: “Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure. After Guadalcanal, he retreated at ours”.

Guadalcanal

Upon arrival on Guadalcanal, Lieutenant Gehring quickly became known as “Padre “ to the men of the Old Breed, the title usually bestowed upon chaplains, especially if they were Catholic priests.  He soon became known for wanting to be where the fighting was in order to help the wounded and administer the Last Rites.  Initially this took some of the Marines by surprise.  Jumping into a foxhole during a heavy fire fight, a shocked Marine already in the foxhole, noticing the crucifix dangling from his neck, cried out to him, “Padre, what are you doing here?”  Gehring calmly replied, “Where else would I be?”  He would routinely say Masses so close to the fighting, that the Marines said that he would say Mass in Hell for Marines if he could drive his jeep there.  The Marines quickly decided that it was a lost cause asking the Padre to stay behind the lines.  They were doing well if they could convince him to stay within friendly lines!  Three times he went out on behind the line missions to rescue trapped missionaries on the island, mostly Marist priests and sisters, rescuing 28 of them, assisted by natives of the Solomons.  For this feat he was the first Navy chaplain to be awarded the Legion of Merit by the President.

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Happy 240th Birthday to the Corps!

Tuesday, November 10, AD 2015

Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.

President Ronald Reagan, letter to Lance Corporal Joe Hickey, September 23, 1983

On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress passed this resolution authored by John Adams:

“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battalions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”

At the various birthday celebrations by the Marine Corps today, the song given pride of place will of course be the Marines’ Hymn.  The oldest of the official songs of a branch of the US military, the composer of the Marines’ Hymn is unknown, but is thought to have been a Marine serving in Mexico during the Mexican War, hence the “Halls of Montezuma”.  The music is taken from the Gendarmes Duet from the Opera Genevieve de Brabant, written by Jacques Offenback in 1859.

Prior to 1929 the first verse used to end:

” Admiration of the nation,
we’re the finest ever seen;
And we glory in the title
Of United States Marines”

which the then Commandant of the Marine Corps changed to the current lines.  On November 21, 1942,  Commandant Thomas Holcomb approved a change in the words of the first verse’s fourth line from “On the land as on the sea” to “In the air, on land, and sea”.

My favorite rendition of the hymn is in the movie The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)  This film earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination as best actor.  (Broderick Crawford would win for his stunning performance in All The King’s Men.)   Wayne was initially reluctant to take the role, partly because he had not fought in World War II, and partly because he saw script problems and didn’t like the character of Sergeant Styker as initially written in the screen play.  (There is evidence that Wayne, 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and with 3 kids, did attempt to volunteer in 1943 for the Marine Corps with assignment to John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Unit, but was turned down.) 

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Two Unarmed Members of the US Military Foil Armed Terrorist

Friday, August 21, AD 2015

 

 

You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced, to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are…You should see the group about me as I write- dirty, bearded, their clothing food-spattered and filthy- they look like the castoffs of creation. Yet they have a sense of loyalty, generosity, even piety greater than any men I have ever known. These rugged men have the simple piety of children. You can’t help loving them, in spite of their language and their loose sense of private property. Don’t ever feel sorry for a priest in the Marines. The last eight weeks have been the happiest and most contented in my life.

 Father Kevin Keaney, 1st MarDiv Chaplain, Korean War

Marines are apparently pretty dangerous even when they are unarmed and confronting an armed enemy:

 

 

A massacre on a high-speed train in France was prevented Friday when two U.S. Marines in civilian clothing surprised an Islamist militant, a senior European counterterrorism official told CNN.

The suspect was loading his automatic Kalashnikov rifle in a toilet when the two Marines confronted him, the source said.

The gunman fired on the Marines with a handgun, the official said, wounding at least one of them. Three people were injured aboard the Thalys train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, authorities said.

The Marines overpowered the suspect, who was placed under arrest when the train was rerouted to the town of Arras, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Paris. One of the Marines was wounded, the Pentagon said.

The gunman, a Moroccan national, was on the radar screen of European counterterrorism agencies for his radical jihadist views, the official said.

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17 Responses to Two Unarmed Members of the US Military Foil Armed Terrorist

  • Semper Fi!

  • In all seriousness, we need to start one of those White House petitions to get the wounded Marine the Purple Heart he earned in this minor engagement in the Global War on Terror.
    .
    Unarmed Marines(in Civvies, no less!) taking on an armed terrorist, they deserve some kind of decoration for that.

  • The gunman, a Moroccan national, was on the radar screen of European counterterrorism agencies for his radical jihadist views, the official said.

    Hmm. Another case of a “known wolf”.

    Secondly, ever notice that those who favor so-called inclusive language in so much else still can’t let go of the word “gunman” and use “shooter” instead? Let’s face it, the inclusive language police are not out to erase sexism but to impose their own idiosyncratic sexism–a sexism that is soaked with hatred of men. Notice that when a man does good he’s referred to by the inclusive language police in a neutered way, police officer instead of policeman, firefighter instead of fireman, but when a man does bad they make sure he’s loudly declared to be a gunman not a shooter.

  • That European gun control worked ouy real well, didn’t it?

    BTW, one report this morning says they were National Guardsmen, not Marines. While being subdued the terrorist whined “Give me back my gun!”. Think about it: if this is what Guardsmen can do, then this terrorist is lucky they weren’t Marines.

  • worked out real well…

  • More info: the stabbed serviceman was Air Force.

  • Death to Islam! Long live Christ the King! God bless all our marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen.

  • Ernst Schreiber: You beat me to it: Semper Fi.

  • When regular US citizens will attack terrorists on commercial airplanes knowing that their act of resistance will result in their own deaths–yet still determined to fight–you KNOW our Marines (& other military members) are bad ass!

  • When the terrorist asked for his AK-47 back, it should have been given back to him, in a place where the crescent moon doesn’t shine!

  • GOD BLESS these brave men for they are true hero’s!!!!! We all need to be alert and stand together to keep each other safe from these evil sick people.

    In the end Good will win over Evil I just hope many more innocent people aren’t killed before this happens.

  • I like the update– National Guard and a blessed Zoomie! Good on ’em. SOMEBODY actually paid attention with all the pre-leave situational awareness briefings!

  • Greet them ever with grateful hearts.
    .
    Soon enough the White House will open an investigation as to whether the brave men violated the Rules of Engagement . . .

  • I was waiting for the White House response to be the Muslim in Charge ( Barack) telling us to recall the bad things done to poor Islamic people, by the hands of those rotten Christian’s. Maybe another fairy tale of the crusades by the rainbow President.

    This act of bravery is everything Barack Obama is not! I’m with PWP. Death to any radical islamists.
    Death then waterboarding! ( that was for Mel Brooks.)

  • I believe the Oregon National Guardsman was from 1/186 Infantry, which was recently deployed. They’re from Southern Oregon. If not, he would have been from my old unit, 2/162 Infantry. It used to bug me to no end when regular Army would insult us for being National Guard. Oregon National Guard has been deployed over, and over, and over again, and now this. This soldier is a credit to his unit, and to all those part-time soldiers who stand ready to protect us from harm.

  • http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/33424141-75/roseburg-man-hailed-as-hero-in-train-attack.html.csp

    Charley Company out of Roseburg and yes, just back from deployment; does that make sense, Alphatron? I’ve seen on twitter where he was described as being 2-162 INF and in the 41st Infantry. (I know that in the Navy it’s possible for all of those to be accurate, especially right after an activation and deployment, but I have no idea how the Army works, much less the National Guard.)

  • Yes, that makes sense. 1/186 and 2/162 were both deployed to Afghanistan. They encompass the southern and northern halves of the state, respectively. But a member could be in a unit in another part of the state if they enlisted where they could find an opening, or if they moved after enlistment and couldn’t find a new unit. Information on various units can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/41st_Infantry_Brigade_Combat_Team_(United_States)

James Forrestal and his Prophecy

Friday, February 27, AD 2015

Flag Raising Iwo Jima

 

The last cabinet level Secretary of the Navy, and the first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal was not content to remain in Washington.  As Secretary of the Navy during World War II he often visited the sites of active combat operations.  Thus it was that he was present on Iwo Jima when the flag was raised on Mount Suribachi.  What he said then has entered the lore of the Marine Corps:

The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.

Appointed the first Secretary of Defense in 1947, Forrestal fought against budget cuts proposed by President Truman that he thought endangered the nation’s security.  He also opposed the proposal to unify the services which would gut the Navy and eliminate the Marine Corps.  On March 31, 1949, Harry Truman, angered over Forrestal’s opposition to his policies, fired him.  Tragically, Forrestal, who had worked non-stop on Defense issues since he joined the Roosevelt administration in 1940, had a nervous breakdown.  While undergoing psychiatric treatment he committed suicide by jumping from the 16th floor of the National Naval Medical Center.  He left behind a note with a quotation from Sophocles’ Ajax:

Fair Salamis, the billows’ roar,

Wander around thee yet,

And sailors gaze upon thy shore

Firm in the Ocean set.

Thy son is in a foreign clime

Where Ida feeds her countless flocks,

Far from thy dear, remembered rocks,

Worn by the waste of time–

Comfortless, nameless, hopeless save

In the dark prospect of the yawning grave….

Woe to the mother in her close of day,

Woe to her desolate heart and temples gray,

When she shall hear

Her loved one’s story whispered in her ear!

“Woe, woe!’ will be the cry–

No quiet murmur like the tremulous wail

Of the lone bird, the querulous nightingale–

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10 Responses to James Forrestal and his Prophecy

  • This caught my eye for perhaps obvious reasons.

    “The Navy struck back with the Revolt of the Admirals where several admirals spoke out against the defense policies of the Truman administration at the cost of their careers.”

  • It seems that the authentic power over the A-bomb had gone to Truman’s head. To denigrate the sacrifice of the Marines on Mt. Suribachi smacks of treason. Different branches of the Armed Forces are like different personalities. Men adhere to the “Espri de Core” (sp). I knew a Marine, a paratrooper (said one had to be crazy to jump from a plane but he did) an Air Force man, but no regular Army man and almost had a Navy man as a son-in-law. These people would have been stabbed in the heart by Truman’s really stupid concept of the Armed Forces.
    .
    But would any change impact the Chaplains’ service as did Obama? During the government shutdown, Obama demanded the sacrifice from the Armed Forces encamped in government facilities by forbidding the Mass to be said, even as human beings were living out their lives unto dying. That is not a president who represents his constituents, allowing them to live and die without the consolation of their Faith, a despicable treason.

  • I think I am a Marine: Semper Fi

  • It was always heartening to see from our quarters our guarters a patrol of marines in full battle dress go down into the jungle on the lookout for “the bad guys”. My then third grade son presented me with a picture he had drawn of three heroes – a US Marine, a USN chaplain and a Navy pilot.
    I hope to run across that drawing of 20 years ago as that chaplain conducts burials at Arlington Cemetery.

  • Appearing in the film were several Marine veterans of the Pacific, including Colonel David Shoup, who earned a Medal of Honor for his heroism at Tarawa, and who would later serve as a Commandant of the Corps, and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Crow who led a Marine battalion at Tarawa. The Marines’ Hymn is sung in the film after the death of Wayne’s character, one of ten films in which a Wayne character died, and as the raising of the flag is recreated. Taking part in the flag raising were Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley, the three survivors of the six flag raisers.

    I’d have loved to have cross-examined William Manchester with this datum.

  • A friend pointed out certain similarities between Truman and the current CIC. I have tried not to believe them, but after reading this post, among other signs, well…

  • No US Navy equals no Navy SEALS. Horrid thought!!!

  • “There’s no reason for having a Navy and Marine Corps. General Bradley tells me that amphibious operations are a thing of the past. We’ll never have any more amphibious operations. That does away with the Marine Corps. And the Air Force can do anything the Navy can do nowadays, so that does away with the Navy.”

    Military brass & govt appointees who tell politicians what they want to hear are heartbreaking & sickening to the very core of my heart.

  • I had no idea that Truman tried to end the Marines & the Navy!! He was insane. Especially after WW 1 & 2. What was his reasoning?

  • Barbara G., I think that Truman, being a politician (naturally venal and ignorant), believed that the nuke weapon ended the need/utility of conventional warfare.
    .

    In Truman’s administration’s stupidity (signals/statements), Comintern gangsters – Stalin, Mao – came to assume/believe that the US would not fight over Korea. Ergo, Truman needed to unseriously (not using all the arrows in the quiver and strategically not fighting to win) fight the Korean War. And, more than 36,000 young Americans seriously fought and gave their lives for South Korean freedom.
    .

    After Obama and Carter, Truman may be the worst POTUS. The 19th century POTUS losers don’t measure down. They didn’t have the power to massively mess up everything.
    .
    JFK officially swung away from nuke dependence and presided over the formations of the green berets and SEALS; and started “playing” with American blood in Vietnam, Republic of.

February 23, 1945: The Mass on Mount Suribachi

Monday, February 23, AD 2015

mass-on-mount-suribachi1

 

 

 

Seventy years ago today the Marines raised the flag over Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima and a mass was said at the summit.  Iwo Jima probably has the sad distinction of being the most expensive piece of worthless real estate in the history of the globe.  Expensive not in something as minor as money, but costly in something as all important as human lives.  In 1943 the island had a civilian population of 1018 who scratched a precarious living from sulfur mining, some sugar cane farming and fishing.  All rice and consumer goods had to be imported from the Home Islands of Japan.  Economic prospects for the island were dismal.  Eight square miles, almost all flat and sandy, the dominant feature is Mount Suribachi on the southern tip of the island, 546 feet high, the caldera of the dormant volcano that created the island.  Iwo Jima prior to World War II truly was “of the world forgetting, and by the world forgot”.

The advent of World War II changed all of that.  A cursory look at a map shows that Iwo Jima is located 660 miles south of Tokyo, well within the range of American bombers and fighter escorts, a fact obvious to both the militaries of the US and Imperial Japan.  The Japanese forcibly evacuated the civilian population of Iwo Jima in July of 1944.  Awaiting the invading Marines was a garrison of approximately 23,000 Japanese troops, skillfully deployed by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi  in hidden fortified positions throughout the island, connected in many cases by 11 miles of tunnels.  The Japanese commander was under no illusions that the island could be held, but he was determined to make the Americans pay a high cost in blood for Iwo.

Tasked with the mission of seizing the island was the V Marine Amphibious Corp, under the command of General Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith, consisting of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Divisions.

On February 18th, 1945 Navy Lieutenant, (the Marine Corps, although Marines are often loathe to admit it, is a component of the Department of the Navy, and the Navy supplies all the chaplains that serve with it) Charles Suver, Society of Jesus, was part of the 5th Marine Division and anxiously awaiting the end of the bombardment and the beginning of the invasion the next day.  Chaplain Suver was one of 19 Catholic priests participating in the invasion as a chaplain.

Father Suver had been born in Ellensburg, Washington in 1907.    Graduating from Seattle College in 1924, he was ordained as a priest in 1937, having taught at Gonzaga University in Spokane.   Prior to the war, while teaching at Seattle Prep, he rigorously enforced the no running rules in the hall, even going so far as to tackle one errant student!  Father Suver was remembered as a strict disciplinarian but also a fine teacher. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, he joined the Navy as a chaplain.

On February 18th, 1945, Chaplain Suver was discussing the upcoming invasion with other Marine officers.  A lieutenant told him that he intended to take an American flag onto the top of Mount Suribachi.  Suver responded that if he did that, he would say mass under it.

At 5:30 AM the next morning Father Suver said mass for the Marines aboard his ship, LST 684. (The official meaning of LST was Landing Ship, Tank;  the troops designated them Large Slow Target.)  After mass, nervous Marines, more than a few of whom had not much longer to live, bombarded the chaplain with questions, especially questions about courage.  He responded, ” A courageous man goes on fulfilling his duty despite the fear gnawing away inside.  Many men are fearless, for many different reasons, but fewer are courageous.” 

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7 Responses to February 23, 1945: The Mass on Mount Suribachi

  • Pingback: Vets Take Iwo Jima Memorial | The American Catholic
  • Don–with these posts you consistently capture the essence of history, the struggles of humankind. Thanks.

  • We Christian Americans are dedicated to living our spiritual lives by the events and history of two thousand years ago in Israel. But we seem to have somehow lost all memory and knowledge of what was done and occurred just 70 years ago.

    A world weary of war had recently fought a bloody battle which at the finish they called the war to end all wars. That of course was more false hope than anything close to reality. As America was trying to recover from the Great Depression the evil in the hearts of power hungry men in control of the nations of Germany, Italy, and Japan were overrunning their weaker neighbors in Europe and Asia with unspeakable savagery and ethnic cleansing in extermination camps to expand Hitler’s Master Arian Race and Japanese Imperialism. The sudden onslaught of superior military forces caught tiny and unprepared nations off guard and helpless. France was no match for Hitler and the British were being besieged by daily aerial bombings. Burma and China were under the ruthless swords of swarming Japanese armies. There seemed to be no way the Axis powers could be stopped from dominating over half of the globe. That is until the God fearing nation with God given rights guided by Divine providence and Trust in the power of the Almighty had seen enough. Yes, America, the nation of immigrants that built their government on Christian values and the desire for liberty for all men would rise to the occasion going to the ends of the earth shedding the blood of their patriots in every land to subdue the Evil establishing peace once more standing alone as the greatest force for good in the world, even helping to rebuilding the nations we defeated.
    We still are that nation but the question is are we still that people?

  • Excellent post and excellent comment by Bill Sr.

  • Those who would desecrate our national emblem for purity, courage and truth deserve nothing; not our American Flag nor our country. The Supreme Court in its decision that burning the American Flag is freedom of speech had it backwards. Without an American Flag and without a country, these desecrators have forfeit any country, any flag and any freedom they had. Love it or leave it. You do not get a chance to destroy it.
    .
    If anyone needs to destroy our country to live in it, he may as well get lost.
    Burning the American Flag outside of America says that you are a coward and a creep.
    .
    The men on Mount Suribachi are patriots. Patriotism is the price of citizenship.

  • outstanding Post Don – makes for further reading and research. Thank you!

  • Thank you for this excellent post and also to Bill Sr. I would say we are that people. Do we have leaders worthy of our troops who have fought in Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere? No, we do not. At daily Mass when the Host is raised at the Consecration, I pray that Jesus has mercy on our and allied troops in harm’s way. Our priests in uniform are exceptional men, worthy of those they minister. To attend Mass celebrated by a priest who has cammies underneath his vestments and is surrounded by men and women in uniform is special.

Iwo Jima: Valor Was a Common Virtue

Sunday, February 22, AD 2015

 

 

Seventy years ago the battle of Iwo Jima was under way.  The ferocity of the fighting can be gauged by this stark fact:  there were 82 Medals of Honor earned by Marines during the entire war in the Pacific, 22 of them were awarded for heroism on Iwo.  Here, chosen at random, is the citation for the Medal of Honor earned by Sergeant Darrell Cole.  Prior to serving on Iwo he had fought on Guadalcanal, Kwajalein, Tinian and Saipan.  At twenty-four, his entire adult life had been spent fighting in the Pacific.  Here is his citation:

 

 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Leader of a Machine-gun Section of Company B, First Battalion, Twenty-Third Marines, Fourth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the assault on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 19 February 1945. Assailed by a tremendous volume of small-arms, mortar and artillery fire as he advanced with one squad of his section in the initial assault wave, Sergeant Cole boldly led his men up the sloping beach toward Airfield Number One despite the blanketing curtain of flying shrapnel and, personally destroying with hand grenades two hostile emplacements which menaced the progress of his unit, continued to move forward until a merciless barrage of fire emanating from three Japanese pillboxes halted the advance. Instantly placing his one remaining machine gun in action, he delivered a shattering fusillade and succeeded in silencing the nearest and most threatening emplacement before his weapon jammed and the enemy, reopening fire with knee mortars and grenades, pinned down his unit for the second time. Shrewdly gauging the tactical situation and evolving a daring plan of counterattack, Sergeant Cole, armed solely with a pistol and one grenade, coolly advanced alone to the hostile pillboxes. Hurling his one grenade at the enemy in sudden, swift attack, he quickly withdrew, returned to his own lines for additional grenades and again advanced, attacked, and withdrew. With enemy guns still active, he ran the gauntlet of slashing fire a third time to complete the total destruction of the Japanese strong point and the annihilation of the defending garrison in this final assault. Although instantly killed by an enemy grenade as he returned to his squad, Sergeant Cole had eliminated a formidable Japanese position, thereby enabling his company to storm the remaining fortifications, continue the advance and seize the objective. By his dauntless initiative, unfaltering courage and indomitable determination during a critical period of action, Sergeant Cole served as an inspiration to his comrades, and his stouthearted leadership in the face of almost certain death sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

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2 Responses to Iwo Jima: Valor Was a Common Virtue

  • My late father was in US Army (6th Army) logistics and artillery and working in the “Pineapple Pentagon” 1945, and was privy to the multiple daily dispatches coming back from Iwo Jima that detailed the unbelievable hellish fighting and the correspondent casualties. He used to say he was almost overwhelmed — by the madness of the Imperial forces’ leadership on the one hand, and by the heroism that was not uncommon of the US Marine personnel at Iwo, at Okinawa, at Tarawa, at Saipan.
    We all should be awed by them—I am—and it is another moment of peace to participate in the traditional Latin Mass to offer for them, the expiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead (see TLM prayer, “Suscipe, Sancte Pater” at start of the Mass of the Faithful). They are all present there, even now.

  • According to Wikipedia 12 of the 22 Medals were awarded posthumously.

    Sergeant Cole is also the namesake of the U.S.S. Cole, 56 of whose crew were early casualties in our present war against militant Islam.
    .
    Excuse me, I meant victims of a man-caused disaster that has nothing to do with religion because causing disasters is a perversion of religion.
    .
    Or so we’ve been repeatedly told lo these many years.

John Wayne and the Sands of Iwo Jima

Saturday, February 21, AD 2015

 

 They told me to get you into shape so you can handle a piece of this war.

That’s what I’m gonna do and that means I’m gonna tell you what to do every day,

how to button your buttons and when to blow your noses.

If you do something I don’t like I’m gonna jump and when I land it’ll hurt.

I’ll ride you until you can’t stand up. When you do, you’ll be marines.

John Wayne as  Sgt. John M. Stryker, Sands of Iwo Jima

Something for the weekend.  The Marines’ Hymn.  Seventy years ago the battle of Iwo Jima was underway as the Marines took a giant step forward towards Tokyo.  The film  Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination as best actor.  (Broderick Crawford would win for his stunning performance in All The King’s Men.)   Wayne was initially reluctant to take the role, partly because he had not fought in World War II, and partly because he saw script problems and didn’t like the character of Sergeant Styker as initially written in the screen play.  (There is evidence that Wayne, 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and with 3 kids, did attempt to volunteer in 1943 for the Marine Corps with assignment to John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Unit, but was turned down.) 

Wayne was convinced to take the role because the film had the enthusiastic backing of the Marine Corps, which viewed it as a fitting tribute to the Marines who fought in the Pacific, and to help combat a move in Congress to abolish the Corps.  Marine Commandant Clifton B. Cates went to see Wayne to request that he take the role and Wayne immediately agreed.  (Thus began a long association of John Wayne with the Marine Corps, including Wayne narrating a tribute to Marine Lieutenant General Chesty Puller.)

Appearing in the film were several Marine veterans of the Pacific, including Colonel David Shoup, who earned a Medal of Honor for his heroism at Tarawa, and who would later serve as a Commandant of the Corps, and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Crow who led a Marine battalion at Tarawa.  The Marines’ Hymn is sung in the film after the death of Wayne’s character, one of ten films in which a Wayne character died, and as the raising of the flag is recreated.

Taking part in the flag raising were Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley, the three survivors of the six flag raisers.  (The three men who raised the flag and subsequently died in the battle were Franklin Sousely, Harlon Block and Michael Strank.)  (First Lieutenant Harold Schrier, who led the flag raising party that raised the first, smaller, flag on Mount Suribachi, and who was awarded a Navy Cross and a Silver Star for his heroism on Iwo Jima, also appeared in the film.)  The flag on top of Mount Suribachi could be seen across the island, and was greeted with cheers by the Marines and blaring horns by the ships of the Navy.  A mass was said on Mount Suribachi at the time of the flag raising and I have written about that here.

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Happy 239th Birthday to the Corps!

Monday, November 10, AD 2014

You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced, to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are…You should see the group about me as I write- dirty, bearded, their clothing food-spattered and filthy- they look like the castoffs of creation. Yet they have a sense of loyalty, generosity, even piety greater than any men I have ever known. These rugged men have the simple piety of children. You can’t help loving them, in spite of their language and their loose sense of private property. Don’t ever feel sorry for a priest in the Marines. The last eight weeks have been the happiest and most contented in my life.

 Father Kevin Keaney, 1st MarDiv Chaplain, Korean War

 

 

On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress passed this resolution authored by John Adams:

“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battalions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”

I have always admired Marines, in spite of my having been part of the Green Machine during my long ago peace time military servitude.  Here is a recent example of why I admire them:

Retired Marine Maj. “Fox” Sinke says he has received threatening phone calls from Arabic speakers since he stood guard at Canada’s National War Memorial last week.

But as he told police: “If they’re looking for a fight, they came to the right guy.”

Sinke said he received at least two phone calls on Tuesday from people who screamed at him in Arabic and then hung up.

“The only words I recognized were ‘kill you,’ because I’ve heard them before,” he said.

When Sinke told police about the phone calls, he added, “I promise you this: If they come here, they’ll die here.”

Sinke is a decorated veteran who did tours in Vietnam and received five Purple Hearts. When Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian service member, was shot and killed last month while guarding Canada’s war memorial, Sinke felt obligated to honor the fallen hero.

“The murder of the young Cpl. Cirillo was so despicable and craven that I just couldn’t find it within myself to do nothing,” said Sinke, a dual Canadian-American citizen.

So Sinke, who lives in Canada, donned his Marine uniform and sword and went to the memorial to stand guard on Friday. He told local media that he came to pay tribute to fallen comrade in arms and he wanted to show that Canadians will not be intimidated.

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Happy 238th Birthday to the Corps!

Sunday, November 10, AD 2013

You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced, to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are…You should see the group about me as I write- dirty, bearded, their clothing food-spattered and filthy- they look like the castoffs of creation. Yet they have a sense of loyalty, generosity, even piety greater than any men I have ever known. These rugged men have the simple piety of children. You can’t help loving them, in spite of their language and their loose sense of private property. Don’t ever feel sorry for a priest in the Marines. The last eight weeks have been the happiest and most contented in my life.

 Father Kevin Keaney, 1st MarDiv Chaplain, Korean War

On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress passed this resolution authored by John Adams:

“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battalions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”

The Continental Marines were just over three months old when they staged the first of the amphibious operations that have ever been the hallmark of the Marine Corps.  As depicted in the video clip from the movie John Paul Jones (1959).  Under the command of Captain Esek Hopkins, a tiny American fleet seized  Nassau in the Bahamas  on March 3, 1776, 210 Marines leading the way.  Desperately needed artillery, gunpowder and military supplies were seized.  The Marines had won the first of their many, many victories for the United States.

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5 Responses to Happy 238th Birthday to the Corps!

  • At Arlington National, they were placing small flags with the Marine Corps emblem in the ground in front of certain grave stones. Didn’t know why at the time, but I should have guessed. This is good that we celebrate their accomplishments, but also remember the dead.

  • I had never seen that DI video clip. Very fun. Too bad the DI is obsessed with small-minded rules like clean rifles. Driving away all those recruits. :\

  • Happy birthday indeed.
    Have very fond memories of the marines I met in Wellington in 1971 – those who were attached to the US Embassy in Wellington. Most of them had recently served in Vietnam. I got to know them through a close friend with whom I was staying while I worked on a contract in Wellington for 5 months. Graeme was a mechanic, and got to know the marines because he serviced their cars – some pretty exotic machinery in those days.
    Was honoured to be invited to the Birthday party at the embassy – wow!! what a night ! Everything was free. Canadian Club Whisky was the “IN” drink in those days – plus. of course, the obligatory beer – both beverages being consumed in large quantities
    And yes, I do remember the whole night, though I must confess the hours from 2 am. till about 4.30 am. are a bit fuzzy – then as well as now. 🙂

  • Just watched the clip on the “dirty rifle”.
    Now I know it was just a movie, and i know that it was probably in WW2 or thereabouts – different times-

    But I wouldn’t fancy that Sar’major’s chances, if he tried to handle the Kiwi S.A.S like
    that. 😉

  • My Dear Tamsin,
    I know your comment, “Too bad the DI is obsessed with small-minded rules like clean rifles. Driving away all those recruits”, is with tongue in cheek. Prior to 1956, most G.I. ammunition had corrosive primers. A rifle “as filthy as a dirt road” will fail when you need it most. We can say that about many other small minded rules. Thank you Don, for a reprise of good old Jack Webb of Dragnet fame and fond memory. R.I.P.

Girlie Hats for Marines

Thursday, October 24, AD 2013

18 Responses to Girlie Hats for Marines

  • No, wait!

    Maybe there’s an operational benefit.

    Next time some Arab-American makes a You Tube video (viewed by 16 teens in their mothers’ basements), US embassy Marine guards will not be killed by small arms fire from Arab-Spring, Obama-buddies who will be laughing too hard at their hats.

  • I despise this godless and iniquitous Administration. But everyone here knows that anyways. Sorry I don’t have anything more intelligent to contribute.

    Nice speech by Gunnery Sargent Ermey.

  • Obama may be building his own Sturmabteilung, but by the time he’s done, the real fighting men & women who’ve been driven out will be considerably tougher and harder to beat. There will be no “other hand to pull out from behind its back” this time.

  • sadness.

    “A change to the Marine Corps’ uniform hats could take the hard-nosed Leathernecks from the Halls of Montezuma to the shops of Christopher Street…” where they will open doors for people. Sure.

    Yesterday, NPR led off their 7am news, talking about the thirtieth anniversary of the bombing of the Marine Corps Barrack [sic] in Beirut.

    Another little piece of linguistic evidence that American culture is detaching itself from the reality of its own military.

  • It’s hard to see why a change is necessarily, in that the hats on the left (apparently the old design) already look pretty similar.

    It seems like the new design heads (if you’ll forgive the term) in the direction of a kepi. Will this be the next iteration?

  • The new cap is a knock off of the one worn by Molly Marines:

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FUniforms_of_the_United_States_Marine_Corps&h=0&w=0&sz=1&tbnid=Vt31upr4IZsZBM&tbnh=198&tbnw=254&zoom=1&docid=ZB5TNWlknY7CwM&ei=QJ9pUrj3KKaj2QXro4FI&ved=0CAMQsCU

    I have absolutely nothing but respect for any woman who has joined the Marine Corps. That shows patriotism and an adventurous and bold spirit. However, male Marines do not want to dress like them!

  • I do not think they look bad, but what would be the point of the change for the men in the Marines?

  • The one-time first lady of Canada

    http://image2.findagrave.com/photos/2012/325/101103702_135355239339.jpg

    had this to say:

    “The big problem is to find suitable hats. I don’t care for them all that much, but you have to wear them in politics.”

  • I think the new hats look absolutely FABULOUS! I bet next their going to require that any Marine Corps tattoos be applied to the small of the back just above the tailbone…

  • They just look vaguely French.

  • The Royal Marines favour the pith helmet for ceremonial dress

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:07_Royal_Marines_Montevideo_Jan1972.jpg

  • “Do these Legionnaires look like pantywaists?”

    Actually Art, although the Legionnaires do have a well-deserved reputation for fighting, it usually involves being beaten: Camerone and Dien Bien Phu being only two of the defeats celebrated in Legionnaire lore.

  • Off topic: Civil War buffs may be intetrested in a new music CD(?) set reviewed in today’s WSJ: “Divided and United”: byline “Hit song of the Civil War.”

    Point of information: the USMC did not need to draft any men during WWII. They did during the Nam.

    Fr. For. Leg was one of the few good ideas out of Fr. after the revolution.

    They were foreigners, or locals on the run, who (usually under false ID’s) joined b/c they didn’t care to live. It saved politicians from drafting locals (to keep the colonies) and get wasted at places like Camerone, DBP, Algeria.

    If you can see through the Hollywood BS, look at movies “Beau Geste” and “March or Die.”

    And, like the Marine Corps, the FFL have enjoyed excellent PR, and an active alumni association.

    “Hey diddle-diddle, straight up the middle!”

    Wait until they remove the blood stripe from NCO trousers . . .

  • “Point of information: the USMC did not need to draft any men during WWII. They did during the Nam.”

    No, that is untrue. Voluntary enlistment into the military during World War II was ended on December 5, 1942. The Marines did attempt to get draftees who expressed a preference for service in the Marines, although that did not always happen. During Vietnam about one-quarter of the troops were draftees in the military, the remainder volunteers.

  • Interesting how much one learns here. I thought the Army was the only branch that drafted. Induction into any other was voluntary – even if it was to avoid the Army.

    My Dad served in the Air Force during Korea, attached the the AEC at Kirtland/Sandia. He said the barracks bulletin board was full of Army assignments for those, like him, who had lost deferments and were “on their way.”

  • The women marines are losing their traditional, distinctive cover because the manufacturer is going out of business…come on, the USMC Uniform Board and supply officers couldn’t find a new US manufacturer? When Gen. Shinseki mandated that all soldiers wear the Rangers’ black beret, it was an insult to everyone who had graduated from the rigorous Ranger school and overall a very unpopular decision. On top of that they were made in China.
    Military women have distinctive headgear and uniforms as do the men. Why not respect the traditions of both genders. Men and women have different physiques and “office” and ceremonial uniforms should reflect that. BDUs are unisex as they should be.
    When I was in the navy the uniform board did away with the fitted overblouse light blues and aline skirt. Instead of changing the color to white or khaki with optional slacks, the women’s summer uniforms were the same as men’s although we were allowed to keep the WAVE bucket hat. Add the male overseas cap (the female version discontinued) and many women looked and still look like, dare I say, dykes . Maybe that’s the point.
    As for PFT (physical fitness tests) through the years there have been many studies and the conclusion is that women have less upper body strength than their male counterparts, but more abdominal strength, more body fat and less muscle mass so that their BMI (body mass index) will be different.
    I find this mess to be the groundwork for expanding the definition of gender from only biology based male and female to the addition of bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgendered.

  • My uncle sent me these links, indicating that the male cover is probably safe:

    http://www.stripes.com/news/us/marines-shoot-down-internet-story-on-obama-s-alleged-push-for-girly-hats-1.248963

    http://www.stripes.com/news/us/marine-corps-pulls-uniform-survey-after-loud-and-clear-opposition-1.249171

    Though I will say that Daly certainly manages to look like he could eat nails while wearing the hat the purported new design was based on.

The Marines Called Her Reckless

Sunday, August 25, AD 2013

Reckless_with_Sgt__Latham

“I was surprised at her beauty and intelligence, and believe it or not, her esprit de corps. Like any other Marine, she was enjoying a bottle of beer with her comrades. She was constantly the center of attraction and was fully aware of her importance. If she failed to receive the attention she felt her due, she would deliberately walk into a group of Marines and, in effect, enter the conversation. It was obvious the Marines loved her.”

Lieutenant General Randolph Pate 

One of the most beloved members of the Marine Corps went into battle on four feet.  A mare of Mongolian mixed breed, the horse who would become Sergeant Reckless was foaled in 1948 in South Korea.  Originally named Ah Chim Hai, Morning Flame, she was sold to Lieutenant Eric Pederson, USMC,  for $250.00 in October of 1952.  (The owner was a stable boy who needed the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister who had stepped on a land mine.)

Pedersen bought the horse, which had been a race horse, to serve as a pack animal for his recoiless rifle platoon of the 5th Marine regiment.  The platoon called her Reckless after the platoon’s nickname of Reckless Rifles.  Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Latham gave Reckless an equine version of boot camp, known in her case as hoof camp.  He taught her how to avoid getting tangled up in barbed wire, how to lay down under fire, and to run to a bunker when hearing the shout “Incoming”.  Latham had his wife mail a pack saddle from the states so that Reckless could better fulfill her role of being a pack animal from the platoon.  Reckless quickly became a platoon favorite and was given the freedom to roam the platoon encampment at night and to enter tents at will.  She loved cokes and beer, and would eat with enthusiasm whatever she could get her mouth on, including, one dark day, $30.00 worth of winning poker chips of Latham.

However, Reckless quickly demonstrated that she was not a mere mascot or pet.  In the battle of Hedy’s Crotch she proved fearless in transporting shells for the recoiless rifles of the platoon.  At first alarmed by the sounds of the rifles going off, by the end of the day she was calmly going about her business.  A highly intelligent horse, she only needed to be led the first few times, and afterwards would make the trips bringing up the shells on her own.

At the battle of Outpost Vegas, March 26-28, 1953, she received a promotion to Corporal for her sterling service, including on one day 51 solo trip bringing up 386 shells.  She was slightly wounded twice during the engagement for which she was awarded two Purple Hearts.

Outside of battle Reckless performed many functions, including stringing telephone lines.  It was said that she could string telephone lines at a rate that it would take 12 men to match.  She enjoys the distinction of being the only horse to participate in a Marine Corps amphibious landing. 

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8 Responses to The Marines Called Her Reckless

  • Great story. Reminiscent of the movie “Gallant Bess” of WW2 in the Pacific if I recall correctly.

  • Off topic :-).

    On San FraNZisco Bay earlier today, Emirates Team New Zealand defeated Prada Luna Rosa in the Louis Vuiton cup for the right to challenge Larry Ellison’s Team Oracle for the America’s Cup, currently held by Oracle.
    The big 72 foot catamarans are amazingly fast, sailing as fast as 47 knots in only 18 knots of wind. The advance in sailing technology over the past decades has been quite spectacular.
    I am a bit of a sailing purist for events like the America’s cup. The competition in the monohulls, with the similarity in the boats makes for much more interesting sailing. However, to see these catamarans in full flight is great. So next month, the Kiwis could well kick some yankee butt in this yacht race 🙂
    It will all unfold on San FraNZisco Bay starting on – I think – 7th.September.

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  • My grandfather was a Regular cavalryman (5 Dragoon Guards) and his horse was killed under him at the Battle of Nery (1 September 1914). Warfare is endemic to the human condition; it results from our fallen state; and although modern war has its horrors, at least we no longer depend on brute creation which has no choice in the matter. Infantry were enjoined to shoot at the horses since it was the best way of bringing the rider down.

    The British cavalry (unlike their French allies) always dismounted on the march and walked their horses in order to save their backs. I loved the story of “Reckless”. In London’s Hyde Park there is a memorial, opened in 2004, to commemorate those animals who served in Commonwealth and allied armies in the wars of the 20th century.

  • Breyer, caterers to horse-happy little girls, offers a model of Sgt. Reckless.

  • I read the story about Reckless on the 26th, the birthday of my late father who enjoyed the sport of kings and was part owner in a few nags. I posted my nephew, his grandson, a printed copy; he’s at an FOB in Afghanistan and I thought he would enjoy receiving a positive war story. Thank you.

The Dominican and the Devil Dogs

Monday, March 18, AD 2013

Father Paul Redmond

The sons of Saint Dominic have supplied many heroic military chaplains throughout their illustrious history, and one of these men was Father Paul Redmond.  Born on March 27, 1899 in New Haven, Connecticut, he served as an enlisted man in the United States Navy during World War I.  He was ordained a priest in the Dominican order in 1930.

By 1942, Father Redmond was 43 years old, about a decade older than the average chaplain.  No one would have said anything if he had sat this World War out.  Instead he joined the Navy and became a Marine chaplain, and not just any Marine chaplain.  He took a demotion in rank from corps chaplain to battalion chaplain to serve with the 1st and 4th Raider battalions, elite combat formations.  Among men who were brave simply by virtue of qualifying to join such outfits, Chaplain Redmond stood out.  During the campaign on Guam, Father Redmond would go into the mouths of caves occupied by Japanese troops to attempt to convince them to surrender, and I find it difficult to think of anything more hazardous offhand.

In the midst of the attack on Orote Peninsula on Guam, the Chaplain was tending the dying and wounded while under fire.  He called to his assistant Henry to give him a hand.  His assistant was understandably reluctant to expose himself to enemy fire.  Father Redmond yelled to him that as long as he had led a good, clean life nothing would happen to him.  Henry yelled back that he had not led a good, clean life and therefore he was going to sit tight until the firing let up.

One Marine recalled Redmond’s almost preternatural courage:

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Happy 237th Birthday to the Corps

Saturday, November 10, AD 2012

You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced, to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are…You should see the group about me as I write- dirty, bearded, their clothing food-spattered and filthy- they look like the castoffs of creation. Yet they have a sense of loyalty, generosity, even piety greater than any men I have ever known. These rugged men have the simple piety of children. You can’t help loving them, in spite of their language and their loose sense of private property. Don’t ever feel sorry for a priest in the Marines. The last eight weeks have been the happiest and most contented in my life.

 Father Kevin Keaney, 1st MarDiv Chaplain, Korean War

 

Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.
Ordered, That a copy of the above be transmitted to the General.

Second Continental Congress on 10 November 1775
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9 Responses to Happy 237th Birthday to the Corps

  • As a former Navy man, I have some connection to the Marine Corps. I spent two and a half years giving Marines rides around the Pacific on my first ship.

  • A good friend of mine was a Navy Corpsman Greg and served with the Marines in Vietnam. After his discharge he joined the Marines, went to OCS, and was assigned to the Fleet Marines. He likes to say he joined the Navy and slogged through the mud with the Marines, and then he joined the Marines and sailed with the Navy!

  • The ship I was on USS Dubuque (LPD-8) embarked up to around ( I think) about 1500 troops.

  • Speaking of Navy Corpsmena in Vietnam, one of dad’s cooworkers lost one of his sons, a Navy Corpsman who was KIA in Vietnam while serving with the Marines.

  • Please pray for my brother-in-law. He is going to undergo a procedure next Weds. to determine if he has lung cancer. I spoke to him the day after the election and he coughed so violently he could barely get a sentence out. He has had numerous health issues and surgeries over the past 5 years and my sister, who is a RN, is very afraid the diagnosis will be dire. He is 6 ft. tall and now weighs 125 lbs.

    He is one of the kindest, most generous men I know, my conservative ally when we talk politics with our liberal relatives. He has helped me and others, financally and in other ways, many times.

    Please pray.

    I was in mourning for my country earlier this week. Now I am in very real fear of losing a man who is more like a brother than a brother-in-law to me.

  • Please be assured that my prayers are already on the way. My dad served in the Royal Navy ,fleet air arm in WW II and got his flying training in the US in Lewiston ,Maine and Pensacola. So I have a particular affinity with and am grateful to the US navy Without whose help I might not have been born. I too served in the Royal Navy latterly with 3 Commando brigade , Royal Marines. Best job ever! I prayed to St Peregrine patron of cancer sufferers. I pray too that your faith will sustain you through these difficult times. AMDG.

  • Thank you, gentlemen.

    Right before the Walker recall election, I went to confession and told a young priest of my fears for my country and my state. (BTW, this priest is an interesting character – he was a college football star and was going to be drafted by the Cleveland Browns when he heard and obeyed the call to the priesthood. He is a very strictly orthodox priest. I’ll wager that very few make a transition from the gridiron to the priesthood. )

    He told me that that I should not put my faith in princes or politicians, but in the Lord. He told me faith is especially important during these trying times when the culture has become so debased and ugly.

    I am remembering his words now. It is a time of great trial for all of us, and a very difficult time personally. I appreciate your prayers very much.

  • James hughes, I know a (now retired) Marine who conducted joint training operations with the Royal Marines back in the 1980’s and his respect for them was very great. He said they were a crack outfit full of fine, dedicated men.

Guadalcanal: America Turns the Tide

Tuesday, August 7, AD 2012

Before Guadalcanal the enemy advanced at his pleasure. After Guadalcanal, he retreated at ours.

Admiral William “Bull” Halsey

Seventy years ago Marines of the First Division, The Old Breed, launched the first offensive of America in World War II, by landing on Guadalcanal and seized the Japanese air strip, named Henderson Field by the Marines.  This set off a huge six month campaign, where US forces, often outnumbered on land, sea and in the air, fought and defeated the Imperial Army and Navy.

Once the Marines seized Henderson, the Japanese commenced a cycle of shipping troops by sea to Guadalcanal, called by Marines the Tokyo Express, to take it back.  The Imperial Navy, waged battle after battle with the US Navy to cut the supply line of the Marines. In the skies above Guadalcanal the Japanese sent wave after wave of fighters and bombers to establish air supremacy and to make Henderson unusable through bombing.

The Japanese were unable to establish air supremacy due to the “Cactus Air Force”, Cactus being the Allied code name for Guadalcanal, heavily outnumbered Marine aviators, who, operating under the most primitive conditions imaginable, successfully contested Japanese control of the air, and, eventually, with American carrier based air, established American air supremacy above Guadalcanal.

The US Navy, in seven large battles against its Japanese counterpart, eventually established naval supremacy in the seas around Guadalcanal.  The battles were hammer and tongs affairs, with some of the most desperate naval fighting in the entire War.

The Marines on Guadalcanal learned many useful lessons in fighting and beating the Japanese:

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The Corps and the Kiwis

Tuesday, June 12, AD 2012

Hattip to Don the Kiwi for reminding me of this anniversary.  Seventy years ago on June 12, 1942 the Marines landed in New Zealand.  They were the vanguard of some 20,000 Marines who would train in New Zealand before going on to hellish battlefields throughout the Pacific, including Tarawa featured in the above video.  In the memoirs of the Pacific War that I have read, US troops stationed in New Zealand and Australia viewed their time there as paradise and the Aussies and the Kiwis as some of the friendliest and most hospitable people on the planet.  Some US servicemen settled in both nations after the war, and some 15,000 Aussie and 1500 Kiwi women went to America as war brides.

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5 Responses to The Corps and the Kiwis

  • Thanks for this Don.
    Many Kiwis remember the yanks from that time with much fondness.
    I recall attending a US Marines ball in Wellington back in September 1971; it was an anniversary for them – quite a big one, I think.A great and memorable night – everything laid on. Several of the young marines were on Embassy duty for a period – most of them just back from Vietnam. They had got to know a friend of mine, whom we were staying with for four months while I completed a contract in Wellington, and we had many hilarious times – when they were off duty, of course. 🙂
    I couldn’t help smiling at this comment on your link to the Kiwiblog article.(wat danby is a guy I have frequent arguments with on this blog – he is atheist and strongly anti-christian). But his comment I have heard about Kiwi troops often over the years.
    Can’t beat the Kiwis for resourcefulness though, eh? 😉

    wat dabney (1,505) Says:
    June 12th, 2012 at 6:18 pm
    I remember reading one Kiwi’s account being stationed on a Pacific island near to some US troops.
    The Yanks were very well equipped and generous in sharing it, but the Kiwis had a reputation for “aquiring” additional items to improve their living conditions.
    One of the Americans made the remark that the New Zealanders should share an island with the Japs: the war would be over in a week as the Kiwis would have taken all their stuff

    Thankfully, not all kiwis are like that – stealing from your friends ( although there was quite a lot of competiveness with the Americans – and a degree of jeaousy)

    As you will see often in the comments, God bless America.

  • Actually Don, we in the Army always thought the Marines were the top thieves in the wordl! They were always coming over for “midnight requisitions” of any equipment the Army had that they wanted. Of course Army troops have been doing this for generations to the Navy, which traditionally has had the best chow of any of the services.

  • Well Don,
    I think, in a pitched battle of thievery, the Kiwis would win hands down.
    Only the Marines would have stuff worth stealing. 😆

  • My dentist as a teen (A Dr. Cohen) was an Aussie in WWII. He was in New Zealand working in a munitions depot when it… exploded. He had extensive nerve damage from gas and shrapnel… and the Marines had gone in and hauled him out. Because his wounds were so severe, they trucked him over to the US base not far away, and saved his life.

    Then some brainiac in England claimed to have “some interesting theories on healing nerves.” People were skeptical. At this rate, he’d be a paraplegic, and possibly even need to be strapped into an iron lung for life. Well… that’s not how it turned out. He could not only walk and breathe on his own, but also do very detailed and high quality work with one hand.

    Granted, the other hand wasn’t much use, but he was an artist with a drill. IN fact, when I went to get work done at the dental school, they begged me for permission to X-ray the large molar cavity he’d filled. The supervisor at the dental school wanted it as a demonstration to his students, as to how the very best fillings are done. After all, most modern dentists would have put a crown there. As of the time they were looking at it, it had survived a good 15 years. It is still viable to this day. He was not only an excellent dentist, but also invented the first ceramic filling material and the temporary filling as well. He was the head of department of Dentistry at the University of Michigan. I know this is an article about New Zelanders, but if it had not been for them granting the US permission to go in quickly and send him to the US base, the world would be poorer for it.

  • In WWII, a smalll USN clinic on an out-of-the-way atoll radioed higher HQ.

    “We have a case of beri-beri. What do we do with it?”

    The repsonse: “Give it to the Marines. They’ll drink anything.”