Monday, November 10, 2014

United States Marine Corps, 239 years

Happy Birthday, Marines, and Semper Fidelis.

The preferred uniform of the day

Established by an act of the Second Continental Congress on 10 November 1775 (seventeen days before the US Navy), we trace our spiritual beginning to the first recruitment at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia.
Go ye and commemorate this day likewise.

1 November 1921

From:  Major General John A. Lejeune, USMC,
  Commandant of the Marine Corps

Title:  Marine Corps Birthday Message

Category:    Marine Corps Order No. 47 (Series 1921)

The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year.  Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress.  Since that date many thousand men have borne the name "Marine".  In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

(2) The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history.  During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes.  From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and is the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

(3) In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

(4) This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps.  With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age.  So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.

John A. Lejeune,
Major General Commandant


  1. I can still hear the young Marine lieutenant who came up on the net one night in Vietnam. He was sobbing because several of his platoon were dying from wounds because his regiment wouldn't dispatch a Medevac because there weren't enough of them to justify the risk of it being shot down. I reassured him and spent an hour or so vectoring in an Army Medevac from Chu Lai which landed and took off under fire and got them all out. Face it, a lot of fine young American died to give the Corps its debatable reputation.

    1. Well now, there's a tangent. Allow some observation:

      To make a long story short, there was a major bureaucratic tussle over command of air assets in VN, particularly in the north with I Corps, with Westmoreland eventually giving that task over to the Air Force. Marine aviator acquaintances from that time would grouse about the enforced compulsion to do things the Air Force way.

      That likely (I have no way of confirming it) bled into the observation of Marine Gen Ray Davis (3rd MarDiv commander and thus the de facto US I Corps commander) making the declaration, in writing, that his first priority in air transport about the battle area would be with US Army helicopters over that of the USMC. While Marine CAS missions were clearly superior, helo pilots in the Marines (and Navy and Air Force) were older commissioned officers and steeped in the training that the bird had to survive and return to fight another day. Army helo pilots were younger warrant officers, not as well trained technically (they would tend to fly around clouds) but they had a far more pronounced can-do attitude, and were far more likely to fly into a hot LZ.

      I later found that the Israelis, no slouches when it comes to air warfare, also take their pilots young, for the same reason I expect.

      As for the last line, I'll just politely leave that on the table as one of the great imponderables, hardly unique to the Marines.


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