Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
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Happy B-Day, USMC!
"To Err Is Human, To Forgive, Divine... Neither of which is USMC Policy!"
--On a pillar in Recieving Barracks, USMC Recruit Training Depot, Parris Island, SC. Quote found in the book "The Marine Machine."
Today marks the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Founded at Philadelphia's Tun's Tavern in 1775 (plenty of glory later, plenty of free grog now), the USMC served many roles in America's warfighting history.They earned a reputation of not only being the first land forces the U.S. puts on an enemy shore, but also playing a pivotal role in the worst nightmares of those who mean our nation ill-will.
Even though the Marine Corps has it's Commandant play a co-equal real on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it is not really an independent branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Commandant answers not only to the President, but the Secretary of the Navy regarding Corps affairs. For the Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy, ever since it's inception.
In the "days of sail," Marines kept the peace on board Navy men-o-war, operated the ship's guns, sniped at eney seamen (and officers) from the masts, and were the "force-in-readiness" for rading parties ashore.
During subsequent decades, Marines fought in places like Mexico, Nicarauga, France, Tripoli, Guatamala, Inchon, Wake Island, The Phllipines, Nassau, Saipan, Iwo Jima,Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Beruit, Khe Sahn, Grenada, Panama, Desert Shield/Storm/Saber, and in the cuurent war-zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
They have also pulled Stateside duty, such as guarding Navy nuclear-weapons sites, breaking up prison riots, and training new Marine "boots" in the tradition, glory, and honor of The Corps, even as the boots strive to earn "the globe, eagle, and anchor" that marks them as Marines.
Of all the services, only the Marnie Corps requires that every person who wears the "bird on a ball" qualify yearly with the current service rifle (officers also have to re-qualify yearly with the service pistol). Nobody is exempt, not even the Commandant of the Marine Corps. You don't stay in the Corps if you can't shoot for score!
Same with physical fitness. Gone are the days of the big-bellied Gunny. In today's Corps, Marine rhymes with Lean...for good reason. Therefore, even the Commandant has to pass a yearly Physical Fitness Test--or be sent back to civilian life.
There was, unfortunately, a time when the U.S. Marine Corps was fighting for it's very existence. Folks like General Douglas MacArthur, President Truman, the "whiz kids" under Secretary of Defense "Bozo Bob" MacNamara, and others were all too eager to disband the Marines and merge the remaing troops into the Army, often in the name of "economics."
However, under the 1986 Goldwater-Nichol Act, the Marines were assured that there would always be a place for them in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Commandant of the Marine Corps was given equal status on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, plus the three Marine Divisions (1st at Camp Pendelton, 2nd at Camp Lejune, NC, 3rd on Okinawa) were accorded permanent status.
Of course, places like Ribbon Creek (site of the worst basic training accident in Corps history), Beiruit (the Marines on duty at the Embassy had to keep their rifles unloaded), Desert One (the attempted rescue of the American hostages held in Khomeni's Iran), and Okinawa (where a bunch of pogues in Marine Green raped a young girl...and almost got the Corps tossed both from Okinawa and the Japanese mainland) are still hellishly sore points.in thr Corps history. However, from such pain were forged new ways the Marines got things done.
Ribbon Creek, for example, led to a re-vamping of Marine Corps Basic Training, as well as in the selection-and-training of Drill Instructors to train new recriuts. Beiruit and Desert One resulted in changes in doctrine regarding Joint Warfare, as well as in actions taken "peacekeeping" duties in hostile lands (no more "unloaded rifles" in the future). Okinawa brought changes in not only diplomacy, but in stricter enforcement of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Those pogues-in-question are now doing time in a Japanese prison...as they well should!
They have been called "America's 911 Force;" "First Responders With Rifles;" "Teufelhunden ("Devil Dogs" in German, bestowed after the battle of Belleau Wood);" "The Beachmasters (once on a beach, never thrown off in any conflict);" and other names. And with luck, they will be here to remind both friend-and-foe alike that the Marine Corps will never die...although many of our enemies will perish at Marine hands, if it comes to that!
Happy 234th, Marines! You earned it! Carry on!