Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Today is the 231st Birthday of Your United States Marine Corps

By John E. Carey
Special to The Washington Times
For Friday, November 10, 2006

There is no way to describe the emotions involved when we reflect upon the 231 year history of our United States Marine Corps.

They have been there for us from the start of our Great Nation, and today they are on patrol in Baghdad.

I stopped a young officer, a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, at an event recently.

I noticed he wore the ribbons of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart on his chest.

The first is for valor. The second means he was wounded. I asked him what happened.

"Some terrorist got lucky, sir," he explained. "Hit close to me with an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). I'll set off airport metal detectors the rest of my life."

Indeed, the captain had many scars on one side of his face.

"Oh, this whole side of my body looks like I got penetrated by a thousand pieces of metal," he said.

"But I'll go back to Iraq. As soon as they'll let me."

He didn't seem stupid to me. He seemed honorable, dedicated, professional and proud.

And eager to do more for his country.I asked about his family.

"They understand my commitment. It is difficult. But it is what we were called to do," the Marine captain said to us.

He didn't want his name in the newspaper. He said, "There are plenty of people that are doing more than me. Why should I deserve special mention?"

What is the U.S. Marine Corps?

According to the Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia:

“The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is a branch of the U.S. military responsible for providing power projection from the sea, utilizing the mobility of the U.S. Navy to rapidly deliver combined-arms task forces to global crises. Alongside the U.S. Navy, the Marine Corps operates under the United States Department of the Navy.”

Except this is the service that calls its warriors “Devil Dogs.”

The encyclopedia doesn’t tell you that.

By an Act of Congress on 21 March 1945, Congress permitted the President to appoint the Commandant of the Marine Corps to the grade of General.

Alexander A. Vandegrift, then Commandant, was promoted from lieutenant general to general on 4 April 1945, to rank from 21 March of that year. He thus became the first Marine to serve in the grade of General.

The Office of the Commandant was permanently fixed at the grade of four-star general under authority of the Act of 7 August 1947.

Today is the 231st Birthday of Your United States Marine Corps. Today is a good day to review the record of our Marines.

Marines have been in the forefront of every American war since the founding of the Corps.

Marines are called “Leather Necks.” This refers back to the leather stock or neckpiece, which was part of the Marine uniform from 1775 to 1875.

There were Marines in the American Civil War too. One Marine, Henry O. Gusley, proved an articulate storyteller and observer of naval operations in the Gulf of Mexico in 1862 and 1863. There are no diaries or memoirs quite as good as his.

In the Belleau Wood fighting in 1918, the Germans received a thorough indoctrination in the fighting ability of the U.S. Marines. Fighting through supposedly impenetrable woods and capturing supposedly impenetrable terrain, in persistent attacks, delivered with unbelievable courage, soon had the Germans calling Marines "teufelhunden," referring to the fierce fighting of the devil dogs of legend.

In World War II the U.S. Marines achieved a record of legendary success. And sacrifice.

Korea and Vietnam: The same.

Now the Marines are in Iraq: and they are serving with distinction.

It is my great honor to recognize the accomplishments, the exploits, the heroism and the sacrifices of the United States Marine Corps, on this their 231st Anniversary.

Mr. Carey is a former career Naval Officer and former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.


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