Afganistan · First World War · Iraq · Korea · Marines · Second World War · Vietnam

November 10, 1775 – Happy 240th birthday United States Marine Corp

United State Marines Images Source: The Hill
United State Marines
Images Source: The Hill

I am not a United States Marine. I chose to serve my country by serving in the United States Air Force. I have had many wonderful examples of what Semper Fidelis means.

One of my earliest memories of my Uncle Bill Jones is the close cropped hair and blood striped trousers of a Marine. My uncle is a Marine (the only ex-marines are ones that were discharged under less-than honorable conditions). I also had a great-uncle that was a Marine. I have had many others that I am fortunate to call brother that are Marines. These men (I do not know any female Marines, sorry) have taught me what it is like to be a father, husband, brother, and friend. I respect every one of them, and will gladly answer the call if any ever ask.

 Image Source: ColinsFlag.com
Image Source: ColinsFlag.com

Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful – It is the motto of the Marine Corp, and it is so much more than a Motto. It is a way of life–a code by which they hold themselves and expect others to hold themselves to. Semper Fi, that is why there are no Ex-Marines. A faithful Marine will remain faithful for life.

In Philadelphia on November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized two Battalions of Continental Marines. These infantry men were needed to conduct operations on both land and sea. The Continental Congress ordered “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.”

The core role of every Marine even today is that of a rifleman, regardless of the job they do.

Mission

The National Security Act of 1947 created three primary responsibilities for the Marine Corp:

  1. The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns
  2. The development of tactics, technique, and equipment used by amphibious landing forces in coordination with the Army and Air Force
  3. Such other duties as the President may direct.

This last mandate seemed silly to me, since the President is already their Commander-in-Chief and can order them to do anything. It is essential, because the Marine Corp has been used in many areas of the world that is neither in supporting naval operations or amphibious landings. The Marine Corp also has direct support missions for the State Department and the White House. The Marine Corp band provides music for state functions at the White house. Marines provide security for Camp David, the Presidential retreat. They also provide security through the Marine Embassy Security Command to embassies and consulates around the globe. Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) is responsible for flying the President and Vice-President aboard Marine One and Marine Two.

Nicknames

Nicknames used to refer to one another from various branches of the service are considered to be terms of endearment. This includes nicknames like flyboy or squid. These are said with love. A civilian ,on the other hand, has not earned the right to use such terms of endearment. Instead, civilians should stick to Sir or Ma’am and Thank you!

Leatherneck– This loving term of endearment comes from the high-neck, leather collars that Marines wore as part of their uniform. It was said that it helped to keep their heads held in a military-like baring. I was always taught that it was really there to protect the necks of the sentries standing post. Back in the sailing ship days, the Marine was on board to protect against pirates and mutineers, and their cabins would be between the crew and the officers.

Jarhead – I have heard two different variations of the origin of this one. A) The high collar of a Marine’s dress uniform made their head look like it is sticking out of the top of a Mason jar. B) The Marines have a propensity for following orders no matter the order or risk to personal safety. Their willingness to put service before self caused sailors to say they were Jarheads–hard on the outside empty on the inside.

Devil Dogs – The German Army used this phrase in their official reports, calling the Marines they faced “teufel hunden,” meaning Devil Dogs – ferocious mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore. The German Army had been at war for 4 years and had never faced tenacity and fury of the United States Marine Corp, and it stunned them.

Historical Operations

There is no way that I can begin to document every battle and action that the Corp has been involved in. I want to highlight major points throughout the Corp’s history. If I offend someone, I am greatly sorry. Please feel free to comment and let me know what I forgot.

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

The Continental Marines were used on a successful attack on the British Fort Nassau in the Bahamas. They were also used in the Battles of Trenton and Princeton.

First Barbary War (1801-1805)

In April 1805, Marine First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon lead 8 Marines and 500 Greek and Arab Mercenaries across the desert from Alexandria, Egypt to the Tripolitan city of Derna. It was the first time that the US flag was raised in victory on foreign soil. (To the shores of Tripoli – from the Marine Corp Hymn.)

The Ottoman Empire Viceroy Prince Hamlet presented O’Bannon with a Mameluke sword. When O’Bannon returned home, the State of Virginia presented him a replica with his name and the Battle of Tripoli Harbor inscribed on the blade.

 Image Source: Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

In 1825, Marine Corps Commandant Archibald Henderson authorized the sword to be worn by all officers, and with the exception of a handful of years, has been worn since.

Mexican-American War (1846-1848)

The Assault on Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City happened in September of 1847. Marine Corp tradition maintains that the “blood stripe” that is worn on the trousers of the Dress Blue Uniform is there because of the Non-Commissioned and Commissioned Officers that died in the Assault. (From the Halls of Montezuma – from the Marine Corp Hymn.)

Spanish-American War (1898)

This was the first International conflict that caused the world to take notice of the United States. During this war, the Marines captured an advanced naval facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A military base the Marines still hold today.

First World War (1914 – 1918)

Battle of Belleau Wood (June 1-26 1918) –The United States Marine Corp was used to fill a gap in the line to stop a German advance on Paris. The first wave of Marines had to cross a field of waist high wheat into direct machine gun fire. The first few waves of Marines were slaughtered. One of the most famous Marine quotes came from Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly urging his troops to advance; “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?”

The other quote that has always stuck with me was from Captain Lloyd W. Williams as the French officers were retreating and urging the Marines to do the same. He said: “Retreat? Hell, we just got here.” Captain Williams did not survive the battle and was posthumously promoted to Major.

The Battle of Belleau Woods found the Marines with 7,966 wounded and 1,811 Killed in Action.

Second World War (1939 – 1945)

The United States Marines were the primary infantry units in the Pacific theater of operations, and there are so many battles to name.

Battle of Guadalcanal (August 7 – February 9 1943)–This was the first major offensive conflict for the Allied Forces in the Pacific. The battle halted the Japanese advance of the area, and captured a strategic airfield later named Henderson Field.

Marines at Rest Guadalcanal Image Source: wikipedia
Marines at Rest Guadalcanal
Image Source: wikipedia

The Battle of Iwo Jima (February 19 – March 26 1945) was an amphibious assault on a fortified island, with the intent to capture the entire island and the three air fields. The island was to be essential in providing a staging area for the attacks on the Japanese main islands.

The battle is remembered by Joe Rosenthal’s photograph of the raising of the U.S. flag on top of the 166 m (545 ft) Mount Suribachi by five U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy combat corpsman.

The Battle of Okinawa (April 1 – June 22 1945) was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater.
This battle saw some of the fiercest combat between Marines and Imperial Japanese forces.
The fighting on Okinawa was shocking to the Allied forces as children and women were employed to defend the Island.

The severity of the battle and the civilians fighting lead the US to use the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

World War II ended with 87,000 Marine casualties and almost 20,000 of which were Killed in Action.

82 Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor

Korean War (1950-1953)

The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir (November 27 – December 13 1950)–30,000 UN troops–the Chosin Few–were surrounded by 65,000 Chinese troops on the man made Chosin Reservoir. With winter temperatures dropping to -35F, it was a brutal 17-day fight to break free. Frostbite was probably a bigger threat than Chinese bullets and artillery.

The Korean War ended with 30,544 Marines killed or wounded and 42 Marines awarded the Medal of Honor.

Vietnam War (November 1 1955 – April 30 1975)

The United States Marine Corp played a vital role in every area of the Vietnam War. They were military advisors, counter insurgency troops, fighting guerilla war in the North, and fighting conventionally as soldiers. The Marines were involved longer than anyone else. They were pulled out of Vietnam in 1971 and returned in 1975 for the evacuation of Saigon.

The war in Vietnam cost the Corp dearly: 13,091 Killed in Action, 51,392 wounded, and 57 Marines awarded the Medal of Honor. Because of troop rotations, more Marines were deployed to Vietnam than the Second World War.

Vietnam to the Global war on Terror (1975 – 2001)

The heaviest loss of lives in peacetime happened on October 23, 1983. The Marine Corp Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon was bombed, killing 220 Marines and 21 other service members.

Marines made up a large number of the central ground forces during the First Gulf War (1990-1991).

Marines were heavily involved in combat operations in Somalia (1992-1995).

Global War on Terrorism (2001 – Present)

Operation Enduring Freedom – Afganistan – The United States Marine Corp first ones in – last ones out. The Marines started staging in Pakistan in October 2001. In December 2001 they captured Kandahar Airport. Marine combat forces were continually rotating in and out of Helmand Province. The Last Marines left Helmand Province in 2014.

U.S. Marines from the 2nd MEB, 1st Battalion 5th Marines sleep in their fighting holes inside a compound where they stayed for the night, in the Nawa district of Afghanistan's Helmand province, Wednesday July 8, 2009. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) ORG XMIT: XDG101
U.S. Marines from the 2nd MEB, 1st Battalion 5th Marines sleep in their fighting holes inside a compound where they stayed for the night, in the Nawa district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Wednesday July 8, 2009. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) ORG XMIT: XDG101

Iraq Campaign (2003 – 2010) – The Marine Corp was once again asked to go to the Gulf and fight against Iraqi forces. After the invasion of Iraq was complete, the Marines rotated out of Iraq in 2003. The returned in 2004 to begin occupation duties. The Marines were given responsibility for the Al Anbar Province west of Baghdad. The Marines saw incredibly heaving fighting in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. On January 23, 2010 ,the Marine Corp handed control of the Al Anbar Province to the Army and rotated back out of Iraq. On June 15, 2014, Marines were once again tasked with operations in Iraq.

Oath of Enlistment

(a) Enlistment Oath.— Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following oath:

“I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

(b) Who May Administer.— The oath may be taken before the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary of Defense, any commissioned officer, or any other person designated under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense.

Marine Corp Hymn

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.
Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

On this Anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corp, and on the eve of Veterans Day, I want to share my thanks to the brave men and women of the United State Marine Corp. To my Brothers and Sisters who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their nation, you shall never be forgotten.

I am so blessed that there are those that are willing to be Marines! I thank you for your Sevice!

God Bless the United States Marine Corp!

God Bless the United States.

Sources:

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