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…)

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Published in: on November 10, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Yankee Marines

 

During the Civil War the United States Marine Corp had its authorized strength increased to 3000 men, minuscule compared to the Union Army that reached over a million men.  Marine Commandant Colonel John Harris was a traditionalist who believed that the Marines should guard ships and man artillery batteries, leaving the numerous amphibious invasions that took place during the War to the Army.  Even with this restricted scope, 17 Marines earned the newly created Medals of Honor during the War.  Go here to read a comprehensive list of Marine participation in the Civil War.

Published in: on November 8, 2017 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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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, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 11, 1798: Rebirth of the Marine Corps  
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Happy 241rst 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.

 

 

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Published in: on November 10, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Happy 241rst Birthday to the Corps!  
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Padre of Guadalcanal

BE058992Frederic 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. (more…)

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Pius VII

 

 

“The American commander, with a small force, and in a short space of time, has done more for the cause of Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom have done for ages”.

The above comment of Pius VII was in regard to Commodore Edward Preble, commander of the American naval squadron that humbled the power of the Barbary States that had for centuries sent forth pirates to prey upon Christian commerce in the Mediterranean, the white captives being held for ransom, or sold at a handsome profit in the slave marts of the Arab world.  The first of two wars fought by America against these pirate principalities, the First Barbary War, 1801-1805, established that the United States Navy, although tiny by European standards, was highly professional, with an officer corps filled with “Salamanders”, men who were quite willing to seek out hot enemy fire to accomplish their missions.  The Marine Corps Hymn recalls “the shores of Tripoli”, where eight Marines, after a 600 mile forced march, led 500 mercenaries to victory in an all out attack, seizing the key city of Derna in Cyrenaica, an astounding, near miraculous victory. (more…)

Published in: on April 8, 2016 at 5:57 pm  Comments Off on Quotes Suitable for Framing: Pius VII  
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Belated Happy 240th 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.”

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. (more…)

Published in: on November 17, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Belated Happy 240th Birthday to the Corps!  
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Happy 239th 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.”

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. (more…)

Published in: on November 10, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Happy 239th Birthday to the Corps!  
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Kate Smith Sings the Marines’ Hymn

Seventy 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 April 26, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Kate Smith Sings the Marines’ Hymn  
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The First For The Corps

John_F_Mackie_(framed)

The first of the many Medals of Honor earned by members of the United States Marine Corps was that awarded to Corporal John F. Mackie.  Born in 1835, Mackie enlisted in the Corps on August 23, 1861.  On May 15, 1862 he was serving on the ironclad USS Galena which was part of a Union flotilla attempting to steam up the James River past Confederate Fort Darling.  The Union force sustained heavy fire from the fort during what became known as the battle of Drewry’s Bluff, and the Galena suffered heavy damage.  The Union force turned back, after the Galena suffered heavy damage, but not before Corporal Mackie had performed heroically.  Here is his Medal of Honor citation:

On board the USS Galena in the attack on Fort Darling at Drewry’s Bluff, James river, on May 15, 1862. As enemy shellfire raked the deck of his ship, Corporal Mackie fearlessly maintained his musket fire against the rifle pits along shore and, when ordered to fill vacancies at guns caused by men wounded and killed in action manned the weapon with skill and courage. (more…)

Published in: on November 6, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The First For The Corps  
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