Quotes Suitable for Framing: John J. Pershing

 

 

The deadliest weapon in the world is a MARINE and his rifle!

General John J. Pershing

Like most soldiers General Pershing had little fondness for the Marine Corps, viewing them as competitors and headline hunters.  He attempted and failed to keep all Marine units out of the American Expeditionary Forces. However, he was impressed by the combat prowess of the Marines who fought in France.  After a less than satisfactory inspection of an Army unit on February 12, 1918 he wrote in frustration “Why in hell can’t the Army do it if the Marines can; they are all the same kind of men, why can’t they be like Marines?”

Published in: on February 2, 2022 at 5:31 am  Comments Off on Quotes Suitable for Framing: John J. Pershing  
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Kate Smith Sings the Marines’ Hymn

Seventy-nine years ago the Marine Corps was preparing to add to its legend with bloody fighting for islands with strange names that soon would become enshrined in American history.  Kate Smith, the songstress of the American war effort in World War II, sang the above tribute to the Marines on February 19, 1942 at the start of the War.  Interestingly enough she sang the pre-1929 version of the Marines’ Hymn, the version that she, and most of her audience were most familiar with, prior to this sequence from the 1948 Sands of Iwo Jima imprinting the new version on the American psyche: (more…)

Published in: on August 28, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Kate Smith Sings the Marines’ Hymn  
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July 11, 1798: Rebirth of the Marine Corps

 

 

 

 

The Continental Marine Corps was disbanded after American victory in the Revolutionary War.  Predation by Barbary corsairs, and conflicts with the French Revolutionary Navy caused Congress to re-establish both the Navy and the Marine Corps.  On July 11, 1798, President Adams signed the Act re-establishing the Corp: (more…)

Published in: on July 11, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 11, 1798: Rebirth of the Marine Corps  
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To the Shores of Tripoli

Most Americans are unfamiliar with the First and Second Barbary Wars fought in 1801-1805 and 1815, which is a shame.  They were filled with enough derring do to fill an Errol Flynn movie.  If Mr. Flynn had made a movie set in that period, a great role for him to have played would have been that of Marine First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, the man whose exploit caused the line “To the Shores of Tripoli”, to be inserted in the Marines’ Hymn.

The Barbary Pirates were muslim corsairs who operated out of North African ports, primarily Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers.  Since the 16th century these bandits had been preying upon European shipping, with European nations sometimes fighting them, but often paying them protection money to be left alone.  The young American republic attempted initially to have peaceful relations with the Barbary States controlled by the pirates.  When that proved futile, President Thomas Jefferson decided to fight.  The war was waged on the sea by American naval squadrons.

In 1805 one of the most colorful characters in American history, William Eaton, a former US consul at Tunis, hatched a plan to topple the government of the Barbary State, Tripoli, and reinstall Hamet Caramanli as Pasha of Tripoli.  Assembling a motley force of 500 Greek, Arab and Berber Mercenaries, and 8 Marines at Alexandria, Egypt, he embarked upon this unlikely adventure on March 8, 1805.

Leading the Marines was First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon.  Born in the year of his nation’s birth, 1776, O’Bannon was a Virginian and had been a member of the Corps since 1801.  His Marines were the only portion of his force that Eaton could rely upon and  were instrumental in putting down attempted mutinies by some of the mercenaries during the 50 day trek across the Sahara. (more…)

Halls of Montezuma

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 Kearney, 1st Marine Division Chaplain, Korean War

Something for the weekend.  The Marines’ Hymn.  The music is from an 1867 French tune by Jacques Offenbach, with the lyrics written by that most prolific author Anonymous.  It is the most well-known of the service songs and captures well the spirit of the Marines.

Published in: on May 22, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Halls of Montezuma  
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Happy 244th Birthday to the Corps!

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.

 

 

(more…)

Published in: on November 10, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Happy 244th Birthday to the Corps!  
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Once a Marine, Always a Marine

The things you find on Youtube!  The late Lee Marvin was a Marine combat veteran of the Pacific.  He obviously retained a great deal of pride in the Corps.   Marvin dropped out of high school in 1942 to join the Marines at age 18. It was not uncommon for actors of Marvin’s generation to have served in World War II, although few were wounded, as he was on Saipan.  That was the third amphibious assault in which he participated.  His father, a successful advertising executive, fought in both world wars, and Lee Marvin’s brother served in the Navy during World War II.  Marvin often made jokes about his time in the Corps, but it meant a lot to him as his final resting place demonstrates:

 

Published in: on November 5, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Once a Marine, Always a Marine  
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July 18, 1918: Marine Mustang From Croatia Earns Medal of Honor

“I am Cukela. I attack.”

Louis Cukela immigrated to the US from what is now Croatia in 1913 at the age of 25.  His English would always be somewhat broken, but that did not prevent from becoming a Marine legend.  Initially he served in the US Army as a trooper, being honorably discharged in 1916.  He enlisted in the Marines on January 31, 1917.  By July 18, 1918 he was a Gunnery Sergeant with the Fifth Marines.  He would come out of the War with a Second Lieutenant’s Commission and a chestful of medals, including the Medal of Honor, four Silver Star citations;  from France he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the Médaille militaire and the Croix de guerre 1914–18 with two palms and one silver star;  Italy decorated him with the Croce al Merito di Guerra;   and the newly formed state of Yugoslavia remembered their native son after the War with the Commander’s Cross of the Royal Order of the Crown of Yugoslavia.

He fought in every engagement in which the Fifth Marines were involved in France.  He earned the Medal of Honor on July 18, 1918 near Villers-Cotterets, France.  Here is his Medal of Honor Citation:

 

 

When his company, advancing through a wood, met with strong resistance from an enemy strong point, Sgt. Cukela crawled out from the flank and made his way toward the German lines in the face of heavy fire, disregarding the warnings of his comrades. He succeeded in getting behind the enemy position and rushed a machinegun emplacement, killing or driving off the crew with his bayonet. With German handgrenades he then bombed out the remaining portion of the strong point, capturing 4 men and 2 damaged machineguns.

Technically he received two Medals of Honor, one from the Army and one from the Navy.  Cukela stayed in the Corps, rising to the rank of Major and retiring in 1946.  He became famous in the Corps for his eccentricities, his mangling of English and his rough and ready humor.  Go here to read more about him.  He was buried with full military honors at Arlington in 1956, his beloved wife joining him a few months after his death.  Apparently there was a lot to love about the old warrior.

Published in: on July 18, 2018 at 11:59 pm  Comments Off on July 18, 1918: Marine Mustang From Croatia Earns Medal of Honor  
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December 4, 1942: Long Patrol Ends

 

 

In one of the most stunningly successful small scale operations in the history of the US Marines,  from November 6, 1942, to December 4, 1942, the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, about 700 Marines, under Colonel Evans Carlson, in 29 separate engagements, killed 488 Japanese soldiers while pursuing a force of approximately 2500 Japanese troops under the command of  Colonel Toshinari Shōji on Guadalcanal, while suffering 16 killed.  Carlson was a double mustang.  He rose from the ranks while serving in the Army during World War I, ending up as a Captain of Field Artillery.  In 1922 he enlisted in the Marine Corps as a private and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1923.  While serving in China in the 1930’s he studied, and was greatly impressed by, the tactics used by the Chinese Communists.  Carlson’s political beliefs were always left wing, although David Shoup, a future Commandant of the Corps and who earned a Medal of Honor, noted at the time of Carlson, “He’s a red but he is not yellow.”

In 1942 he was placed in command of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion which he trained along the lines of the Communist guerillas in China.  If this strikes the reader as unusual, it was.  The high command of the Marine Corps was not happy, but President Roosevelt was a fan, as was his son, Captain James Roosevelt, who served in the Raiders.  (Roosevelt would rise to the rank of Colonel during the War and earn a Navy Cross and a Silver Star for his courage.  A liberal Democrat, he turned conservative in later life, crossing party lines to back both Nixon and Reagan.)

The 2nd Raiders made headlines with their raid on Makin Island in August of 1942 and for their service on Guadalcanal, and were known popularly as Carlson’s Raiders.  War out with malaria and other illnesses, Carlson was relieved of command in March of 1943.  He served as technical advisor for the film Gung Ho, starring Randolph Scott, a World War I combat veteran, as Evans Carlson, which told the story, with the usual Hollywood indifference to history, of the Makin Raid.  Returning to active duty, he served at Tarawa and Saipan, where he was wounded while attempting to rescue a radio man.  That wound caused his retirement in 1946 with a terminal promotion to Brigadier General.  He died of coronary disease in 1947, age 51.

Here is the text of his Navy Cross, one of three he earned during his career, citation for the Long Patrol:

The Navy Cross is presented to Evans Fordyce Carlson, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and courage as leader of the Second Marine Raider Battalion in action against enemy forces in the British Solomon Islands during the period from 4 November to 4 December 1942. In the face of most difficult conditions of tropical weather and heavy growth, Lieutenant Colonel Carlson led his men in a determined and aggressive search for threatening hostile forces, overcoming all opposition and completing their mission with small losses to our men while taking heavy toll of the enemy. His personal valor and inspiring fortitude reflect great credit upon Lieutenant Colonel Carlson, his command and the United States Naval Service.

Published in: on December 4, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 4, 1942: Long Patrol Ends  
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Happy 242nd Birthday to the Corps!

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. (more…)

Published in: on November 10, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Happy 242nd Birthday to the Corps!  
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