Marine Corps Essay, Research Paper
?From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country?s battles in the air, on land and sea. First to fight for right and freedom, and to keep our honor clean, we are proud to claim the title of United States Marine?? (Alexander, 398)
Why is this first verse of The Marines? Hymn so familiar to me and to my parents and grandparents before me? As history writes, the Marines have written their page in history and have also won a place in the hearts and souls of Americans.
From the time of the battle cries of the civil war to the beginning of the horrors of trench warfare during World War I, the United States government evolved from a nation divided to a global empire. The foreign policy of America became to protect American interests everywhere and anywhere. The United States Marine Corps evolved to meet this challenge. The challenge was to be always ready, or more eloquently put, always faithful. Semper Fidelis! How did The Marine Corps grow from relative obscurity, to become an elite American fighting force advancing American Imperialsim and proud protector of the ?American Empire.?
?In declared wars, the nation always found need for an instantly available, rigorously trained force of relentless fighters. But in the “extra-curricular” fighting of the imperial age they (The Marines) were especially handy, presenting a powerful national military presence in something of a seagoing constabulary role, always politically easier to commit than the Army.? (Alexander, 14)
The way the Marines became so important and reliable is for the most part due to their training. The policy of the Marines is to take a man or woman, who meets the requirements; height, weight, no criminal record, no broken bones, the average American Joe, and they turn him or her, into a Marine. (Webster) The process by which this happens can be described in two different ways, the first being, the physical realm. In this realm the candidate is physically challenged, and pushed beyond his or her limits on an everyday basis. The actual amount of physical exertion may vary from drill instructor to drill instructor, but the results are always the same. Somewhere along the training the person is broken down and built anew. The second part of becoming a Marine is passing the mental test. Not only do you have to be physically strong, but also you must learn and appreciate the new ideals and goals of this brotherhood. You gain a higher respect for what it means to be a Marine. What does it mean to be a Marine?
US Marines ?are the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat service as if it was some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshipping their Commandant almost as if he was a god, and making weird animal noises like a gang of savages. They’ll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action, and are the cockiest sons of bitches I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond a man’s normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and, generally speaking, the United States Marines I’ve come in contact with are the most professional soldiers and the finest men and women I have ever had the pleasure to meet…?
Correspondent Richard Harding Davis (Ellsworth, xi)
Marines are different. What makes them different? When most people try to sum up the ideal of the Marine Corps they often use the word ethos. Ethos is the characteristics, attitude or values of a group that sets it apart from others. The Marines are rich in ethos and spend the majority of their training instilling this into their soldiers. At the core of the Corps is the motto Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful). This is unique from any other branch of the military. The Marines offer pride and belonging much like a fraternal organization. All personnel must pass the same tests, even officers, and Marines often refer to each other as brother and sister. Every Marine is a rifleman, whether a cook, pilot, drill sergeant, or grunt. This is an extreme difference from other branches of the Department of Defense. The Marine Corps is unified beyond any other branch; everyone is a Marine first, last and always.
Marines have a worldwide reputation for being hard, courageous leaders and simply gifted. This has much to do with their impressive wartime history, but other factors lead to this assumption too. The pilots, honor guards, and band of the President of the United States, are Marines. In every American Embassy around the world there are Marines standing guard. (Allen, 45)
Every Marine has a considerable amount of heritage to live up to. This is achieved by literally saturating young and old Marines in the rich history that came before them. Upon entering any basic training in the Marine Corps, recruits are required to learn extensive Marine history including significant milestones and history of heroic Marine elite. No other branch of the armed forces demands this of its men
. Combined with straightforward, yet challenging moral standards, the Marine legacy builds the core of values that are instilled in young men and women, as they become Marines.
The Marines concentrate on their basic training more than the other armed forces. Marine recruit training is the longest, lasting 12 weeks, while the Army’s consists of 8 weeks and the Air Force 6 weeks. Marine recruit training is very physical and stressful. It builds extreme discipline, teamwork skills and leadership ability. Recruits are pressed to achieve their potential. Basic Training is where Marines get their “every Marine a rifleman” background. All Marines, regardless of their job specialty, practice using their M-16A2 rifle extensively. Here, Marines are awarded their first rifle status of Rifle Marksman, Rifle Sharpshooter, or Rifle Expert. For the rest of their military careers, they are held to the same physical and rifle standards that they were held to at Basic Training. All Marines take regular physical fitness tests to assure that they are physically healthy.
Marines require all newly commissioned junior officers to report to an approximate six-month long training course called ?The Basic School? regardless of the commissioning source. No other branch offers this core curriculum course that unites junior officers. Here, they receive basic leadership training and exposure to all aspects of the Marine Corps. Officers of different job specialties have the opportunity to learn and grow together during this leadership development period. (Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 86-89)
Over the gate of Parris Island, South Carolina is a sign: ?Where the Difference Begins.? Thousand of men and women have passed through those gates and came out Marines. Parris Island and places like it have been described as forges for Marines. During the training period known as ?Boot Camp?, the person is forged into a Marine. Young bodies harden, maturity emerges, minds focus, confidence grows, brotherhood takes form, and pride begins to tingle. During this basic training the candidate is tested physically and mentally. He is given an in depth history of the Corps, along with rigorous physical demands. The Crucible is a fifty-four hour event occurring near the end of recruit training. It features little sleep, less food, over forty miles of forced marches and numerous stations that test physical toughness and mental agility. Many say that somewhere during this period the individual is destroyed and rebuilt. Only this time something has changed they are stronger, and have a profound sense of belonging, and brotherhood. It is this that makes Marines different from any other service, and it is this that makes them a ?cut above the rest?. “I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command I will never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist.” (?www.parrisisland.com)
? The Marines have a way of making you afraid- not of dying, but of not doing your job.? First Lieutenant Bonnie Little, USMCR, 2d Amphibian Tractor Battalion, posthumous Navy Cross, D-Day, Tarawa (Alexander, 136)
The Marines? character and philosophy are surpassed by their deeds. In some Marine-recruiting station in any town USA, and man with poor eyesight was being questioned by the recruiter. The recruiter asked him if there was any special skill that he possessed that would make up for his lack of eyesight. The man said that he taught history. A Sergeant overheard this from across and room, and told the man, ?This is the Marine Corps we don?t teach history, we make it.? And history they made! (Metcalf, vi)
On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia passed a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces with the fleet. This resolution established the Continental Marines and marked the birth date of the United States Marine Corps. Serving on land and at sea, these first Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations, including their first amphibious raid into the Bahamas in March 1776, under the command of Captain Samuel Nicholas. Nicholas, the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines, remained the senior Marine officer throughout the American Revolution and is considered to be the first Marine Commandant.
The Treaty of Paris in April 1783 brought an end to the Revolutionary War and as the last of the Navy’s ships were sold, the Continental Navy and Marines went out of existence. (Allen, 97)
Following the Revolutionary War and the formal re-establishment of the Marine Corps on July 11, 1798, Marines saw action in the quasi-war with France, landed in Santo Domingo, and took part in many operations against the Barbary pirates along the “Shores of Tripoli”. During the Mexican War (1846-1848), Marines seized enemy seaports on both the Gulf and Pacific coasts. A battalion of Marines joined General Scott’s army at Pueblo and fought all the way to the “Halls of Montezuma,” Mexico City. The seizure of advanced naval bases would become one of the primary missions of the Corps. These early successes brought the Marines prominence and respect from the US Government and established them as a dependable force.
Marines also served ashore and afloat in the Civil War (1861-1865). Although most service was with the Navy, a battalion fought at Bull Run. Other units saw action with the blockading squadrons and at Cape Hatteras, New Orleans, Charleston, and Fort Fisher. The last third of the 19th century saw Marines making numerous landings throughout the world, especially in the Orient and in the Caribbean area. (McCellan, 85-95)
With the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine, killing 260 Americans 26 of whom were Marines, on February 15, 1898, war with Spain was imminent. The war would prove to be a short one, but the gains for America would alter the role of the Marine Corps forever.
With orders from Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, the commander of the US?s Asiatic Squadron Commodore Dewey attacked the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, in the Philippines. On May 3, Commodore Dewey landed Marines from the USS Baltimore, under the command of Lieutenant Dion Williams, to occupy the naval station at Cavite. These Marines were the first to land on Spanish territory and raise an American flag. Shortly thereafter, other Marines from the Charleston landed unopposed at Guam and the Pacific phase of the war ended. The rapid deployment and rapid advanced seizure of naval bases and strong holds would become the primary mission of the Marine Corps. (Metcalf, 67)
While Marines and seamen were fighting the Spanish in the Pacific, Marines at home were preparing for a landing in Cuba. On April 16, Commandant Heywood had been given the word to organize a Marine battalion to serve in Cuba. Within a few weeks, the Marine battalion was organized and encamped at Key West, Florida awaiting further orders. On June 10, and a month before Roosevelt’s Rough Riders saw any action at San Juan Hill, Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Huntington landed his battalion at Guantanamo Bay and became the first American troops to establish a beachhead on Cuban soil.
The most important factor of Marine Corps participation in the War with Spain was the speed with which its forces had been organized and dispatched to the region where they were needed and its ability to do the job once on the field of battle. Although the Cuban operation lacked the daring of Dewey’s decisive victory in the Philippines, the landing at Guantanamo demonstrated the necessity of Marines as assault troops. The victory at Guantanamo proved that the primary mission of the Marine Corps should be to capture advanced naval bases. (Ringler, 212)
The growing animosity of the Chinese toward foreigners in the 1890’s led many of the foreign powers to establish guards at their diplomatic missions in Peking. An American Legation guard was established in November 1898. Shortly there after a Marine guard was placed over the American Consulate at Tientsin. This is particularly significant because the Marine?s expanded role into China shows that they had the ability to respond to crisis anywhere and at anytime in the world. (Parker, 39)
In Haiti, during 1914, strife-torn internal conditions of the government required a detachment of Marines to land for the purpose of restoring order and protecting the property of Americans and Europeans alike. Marine officers directed vital services such as road construction, communication efforts, education, and other public activities.
Throughout the period, the Americans had a stabilizing influence in the troubled country, and as reforms were made, conditions began to improve. The Marines are now characterized as civil leaders and trainers in addition to being peacekeepers and soldiers.
The thrust of the Marine involvement in Mexico and the Caribbean in 1914, further illustrated the necessity of employing larger forces. These expanded forces would be necessary on the battlefields of France as the United States headed into World War I. The United States is now a world power and the United States Marine Corps – the world police. (Ellsworth, 42)
In World War I the Marine Corps distinguished itself on the battlefields of France as the 4th Marine Brigade earned the title of “Devil Dogs” for heroic action during 1918 at Belleau Wood, Soissons, St. Michiel, Blanc Mont, and in the final Meuse-Argonne offensive. Marine aviation, which dates from 1912, also played a part in the war effort, as Marine pilots flew day bomber missions over France and Belgium. More than 30,000 Marines had served in France and more than a third were killed or wounded in six months of intense fighting. (Alexander, 395)
The Marines continued to protect American interests throughout Latin America and Asia during the years between World War I and World War II. From 1929 until the outbreak of the war with Japan, Marines stayed on in China to protect American interests. Additional Marines were sent to the area during the late 1930s when war broke out between China and Japan. The Marines did not become involved in the fighting and continued to perform their duties of keeping a watchful eye on the situation and of protecting American citizens and property just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
As the United States was hurled into World War II, the Marines? proven expertise in amphibious warfare was evident first on Guadalcanal, then on Bougainville, Tarawa, New Britian, Kwjalein, Eniwetok, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, Pelelui, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. (www.usmc.gov) By the end of the war in 1945, the Marine Corps had grown to include six divisions, five air wings, and supporting troops. Its strength in World War II peaked at 485,113. The war cost the Marines nearly 87,000 dead and wounded. Eighty-two Marines had earned the distinguished Medal of Honor for valor. (Alexander, 395) When you read about the History of the Corps one must take a step back to recognize the importance of the Corps, and the respect that they earned. They served their country beyond the call of duty because the Marines not only serve the United States, but they also serve the corps. “Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, March, 16 1945. (Parker, 238) This ?uncommon valor? was typical of the Corps throughout World War II. Clearly, WWII was the pinnacle point for the Marines. The efforts of the Marine Corps in the previous 40 years culminated in America?s success particularly in the Pacific.
Following WWII, the role of the Marine Corps was a difficult one. The United States mission was now to stop the spread of communism in Korea in 1955 and then in Vietnam in 1967. The end of World War II did not mean the end of amphibious warfare as the Marines continued to do what they do best, seize the beachhead. “I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world.” General Douglas MacArthur, USA, outskirts of Seoul, September, 21 1950. (Parker, 276) In Vietnam the precarious role of the United States lead to many problems in Vietnam and on the home front, this was not a time of tremendous support for any of the actions of the military, the Corps was no exception. The Vietnam War, longest in the history of the Marine Corps, exacted a high cost as well 13,067 Marines killed and 88,633 wounded.(Alexander, 395) In the spring of 1975, Marines evacuated embassy staffs, American citizens, and refugees in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. Later, in May 1975.
The mid-1970s saw the Marine Corps assume an increasingly significant role in defending NATO’s northern flank as amphibious units of the 2d Marine Division participated in exercises throughout northern Europe. The Marine Corps also played a key role in the development of the Rapid Deployment Force, a multi-service organization created to insure a flexible, timely military response around the world. The ability of the Corps to respond quickly has always been essential to its mission. The necessity for an instantly available, rigorously trained force of relentless fighters was always there. (Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 90) The seeds of this characteristic were planted early on this century with the Missions in the Caribbean, and Pacific.
The 1980s brought an increasing number of terrorist attacks on US embassies around the world. Marine Security Guards, under the direction of the State Department, continued to serve with distinction in the face of this challenge. In October 1983, Marines took part in the highly successful, short-notice intervention in Grenada. As the decade of the 1980s came to a close, Marines were summoned to respond to instability in Central America. ?Operation Just Cause? was launched in Panama in December 1989 to protect American lives and restore the democratic process in that nation. Once again the role of the Marines was the protection of American interests, in this case American interest became maintaining democracy. (Alexander, 365)
Less than a year later, in August 1990, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait set in motion events that would lead to the largest movement of Marine Corps forces since World War II. Between August 1990 and January 1991, some 24 infantry battalions, 40 squadrons, and more than 92,000 Marines deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield. Operation Desert Storm was launched January, 16 1991, the day the air campaign began. The main attack came overland beginning February 24 when the 1st and 2d Marine Divisions breached the Iraqi defense lines and stormed into occupied Kuwait. By the morning of February 28, 100 hours after the ground war began, almost the entire Iraqi Army in the Kuwaiti Theater of operations had been encircled with 4,000 tanks destroyed and 42 divisions destroyed or rendered ineffective. (Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 107)
Overshadowed by the events in the Persian Gulf during 1990-91, was a number of other significant Marine deployments demonstrating the Corps’ flexible and rapid response. Included among these were non-combatant evacuation operations in Liberia and Somalia and humanitarian lifesaving operations in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and northern Iraq. In December 1992, Marines landed in Somalia marking the beginning of a two-year humanitarian relief operation in that famine-stricken and strife-torn nation. In another part of the world, Marine Corps aircraft supported Operation Deny Flight in the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina. During April 1994, Marines once again demonstrated their ability to protect American citizens in remote parts of the world when a Marine task force evacuated US citizens from Rwanda in response to civil unrest in that country. Closer to home, Marines went ashore in September 1994 in Haiti as part of the US force participating in the restoration of democracy in that country. During this same period Marines were actively engaged in providing assistance to the Nation’s counter-drug effort, assisting in battling wild fires in the western United States, and aiding in flood and hurricane relief operations. The Marines of yesterday set the precedent of being more than just soldiers, but to be peacekeepers, to be humanitarians, to be Marines. (www.usmc.gov)
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. Marines don’t have that problem.” –President Ronald Reagan, 1985
The role of the Corps of the early 1900?s is still a substantial one. Humanitarian and disaster relief operations were also conducted by Marines during 1998 on Kenya, and in the Central American nations of Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In 1999, Marine units deployed to Kosovo in support of Operations Allied Force.
“The Marines have landed and have the situation well in hand.” (Parker, 250) This phase illustrates the job of to Corps, and the legacy that it must life up to. As we enter into the new millennium, the Marine Corps has continued its tradition of innovation to meet the challenges of a new century.
Today’s Marine Corps stands ready to continue in the proud tradition of those who so valiantly fought and died at Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, and Khe Sanh. Combining a long and proud heritage of faithful service to the nation, with the resolve to face tomorrow’s challenges will continue to keep the Marine Corps the “best of the best.”
The Marines go about their business in a different and possibly more efficient manner than the other branches. The Marines are the only branch of the military defined by Congress; therefore their mission is a mandate. The Army’s mission could be considered “to win wars,” but that is not the (only) Marine’s job. Granted, the Marine’s will continue to be very involved in any war that America wages; yet wartime is not the specific duty.
The Marines’ historic mission has been to be ready to respond to international disaster, emergency, crisis, and when necessary, war. Marines are considered the international 911 force.
During the Cold War, the Marine Corps responded to 139 tasks from the National Command Authority — an average of one every 15 weeks — ranging from military attacks against America or our allies, to stopping acts of political violence against Americans abroad. Marine operations other than war include providing disaster relief and evacuating American citizens from hostile areas. The Marines were the first in on the scene, first to fight, and first the find a solution in a majority of these cases. In present day, the Marines are more active in this role than ever. Since 1990, Marines have responded once every 5 weeks. (www.usmc.gov)
Because the Corps is consistently aware of their global readiness mission, it stays focused and operates most efficiently as a small powerhouse. The Marines are the smallest of the armed forces and the least expensive. But America gets more for the money from the Marine Corps than any other service branch. Currently, the 6% of the Defense Budget allotted to the Corps buys 12% of active U.S. forces, 23% of active ground divisions, and 14% of all available tactical aircraft. (http://home.globalfrontiers.com/jpu/)
There are many specialty forces within the U.S. Military. Navy Seals, Army Green Berets, Army Airborne and other specialty units comprise the elite forces of U.S. Military. Only the United States Marine Corps stands out as an elite force in and of itself. Marines have a history. They have fought in every major and minor engagement in which the United States has ever been involved. Marines are the Presidents, Ambassadors, and Embassy guards. Marines have a tradition. Marines do not surrender. Marines do not leave their dead on the battlefield. Marines have an honor. Marines die for that honor. (Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 16,17)
The honor and pride of the USMC inspired me and sparked my interest in learning about the history of the corps and what makes a Marine? The history I researched through many books and internet sources but what impressed me the most was in my personal interview with Corporal Webster of the USMC.
Webster contacted me at home because I had responded to some recruiting brochures in the mail. His attitude and tenacity were evident in one phone call. My mother was afraid the Marines would come and take me away in the night. (Webster) He asked me some real pointed questions that enabled me to focus on my personal goals and my future professional career path.
The attitude of the Corps can be observed in other recruiting methods. When Marines go to speak at High Schools along with other services, he will opt to go last. After the other services have presented the benefits, education opportunities, job selection and pay incentives, the Marine recruiter will get up and say, ?There may be one or two of you good enough to be Marines. If you think you are, I?ll talk to you.? This is the pride of the Marine Corps. Marine posters challenge rather than guarantee. The challenge is to become one of them, to become one of ?The few, The proud, The Marines.? It is this challenge that inspires people like myself to join the Marines. The reason why I choose this topic is due to my respect and admiration for the Marines. They aren?t ?promising you a rose garden? but they do promise that you will never be the same.
?Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.? Ralph Waldo Emerson
?Here?s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we?ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven?s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines. The Marine?s Hymn
Allen, Gardner W. A Naval History of the American Revolution. 2 vols. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1913.
2. Alexander, Col. Joseph H., Horan, Don, Stahl, Norman C,. The Battle History of the U.S. Marines, A Fellowship of Valor. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997
3. Ellsworth Capt Harry A., One Hundred Eighty Landings of United States Marines, 1800-1934. Washington: Historical Section, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1934.
Historical Division Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. A Chronology of the United States Marine Corps 1775-1934. Washington, D.C. 1965
Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, The Marines. Editor-in-Chief Simmons, Edwin Howard. Editor Moskin, J. Robert. Quantico, Virginia: Hugh Levin Associates, Inc., 1998
McClellan, Maj. Edwin N. History of the United States Marine Corps. 2 vols. Washington: Historical Section, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, 1925-37
Metcalf, Lt. Col Cldye H. History of the United States Marine Corps. New Youk: G.P. Putnam?s Sons, 1939.
Parker, Captain William D., USMCR, A Concise History of the United States Marine Corps, 1775-1969 Washington: Historical Division, U.S. Marine Corps, 1970
Ringler, Jack K. U.S. Marine Corps Operations in the Dominican Republic, April-June 1965. Washington, DC: Historical Division, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, 1992.
Shoup, David M. USMC., The Marines in China 1927-1928, The China Expedition which turned out to be The China Exhibition, A Contempouraneaus Journal. Hamden, Connecticut: The Shoe String Press, Inc. , 1987
Webster. Corporal Steven. Interview by Steven Towler, 15 March 2000, North Andover. Phone Call.
United States Marine Corps
A.P. United States History
North Andover High School
March 27, 2000