Today marks the 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps which was founded at Tun Tavern on 10 November 1775 in Philadelphia, PA to augment the naval forces in the Revolutionary War.
The Marine Corps is a unique branch of the US Armed Forces and prides itself heavily on its history and traditions. It teaches its history to recruits who are on their way to earning their title of US Marine while in boot camp or officer candidate school.
Our tradition, our history, is so deeply rooted in every Marine that it is part of what we are and what holds us together from past generations to the current generations. It is how the oldest and youngest Marines who come together can have a kindred spirit between themselves and relate to one another despite decades of time between them.
As I think back over the history of the Corps some of the more memorable quotes from Marines come to mind. When the 1st Marine Division, under the command of the US Army in North Korea became surrounded by 22 Chinese divisions, they were written off and no attempt to rescue them was sent. Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller, the most decorated Marine in history is quoted as saying “They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29:1. They can’t get away from us now!” It’s that kind of positive, forward-leaning attitude that is common among all Marines. Most other people would see the situation as hopeless and might even surrender. Not Chesty and not the Marines. The Marines made it out inflicting the highest casualty ratio on an enemy in history and destroying 7 entire enemy divisions in the process. This is the story of the Frozen Chosin you may have heard about.
Going back a little further to World War I in the Battle of Belleau Wood, Sergeant Major Dan Daly is quoted as shouting to his Marines “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” as they charged toward the German positions under fire. It was at this battle that the Marines gained one of their famous nicknames of Devil Dog, derived from the German ‘Teufel Hunde’ when they described the ferocity of the Marines fighting them.
Fast forward to 2004 when the Marines were tasked with taking the Iraqi city of Fallujah after the US Army was unable to to gain a foothold after many months of failed diplomatic and military attempts. The Marine Corps took 10 days to sweep and clear the city, with a population of 250,000 people, of enemy insurgents. Most civilians had left prior to the start of the battle leaving only enemy combatants to deal with. It is said that the Battle for Fallujah was one of the fiercest battles since the Battle of Hue City in Vietnam.
In 242 years of fighting our country’s battles we Marines have built honor, courage and commitment on the shoulders of the Marines who came before us and it’s these core values that continue to carry us forward into the 21st century. As long as there are humans around there will be wars and battles to fight and the US Marine Corps is always ready to defend our people and our freedoms from those who wish to do us harm.
Happy birthday Marines!