Archive for the 'Marine Corps' Category

Sep 15

Landings on Peleliu, 15 September 1944

Thursday, September 15, 2011 12:01 AM

Operation Stalemate II—the landing of the 1st Marine Division on Peleliu—began on 15 September 1944. Aircraft of Task Group 38.4 and four escort carriers of Carrier Unit One, Rear Admiral William D. Sample commanding, supported the Marines with bombing and strafing runs. The Japanese had prepared the main line of resistance inland from the beaches to escape naval bombardment, however, and three preceding days of carrier air attacks and intense naval gunfire had failed to suppress the well dug-in and tenacious defenders, who fiercely contested the island.

The fleet carriers supported the landing until 18 September, and a total of 10 escort carriers operating in Task Group 32.7, Rear Admiral Ralph A. Ofstie commanding, continued the battle until the end of the month. Soldiers of the Army’s 81st Division reinforced the Marines, and the final Japanese survivors surrendered on 1 February 1945.

Jun 22

The Navy/Marine Corps Team Sails for Iceland, 22 June 1941

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 12:01 AM

By late spring 1941, with the war in Europe a year and a half old, Britain’s back was against the wall and Prime Minister Winston Churchill asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt to send American troops to Iceland to replace the British Garrison there.

Roosevelt agreed, and on 5 June directed the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, to have a Marine brigade ready to sail in 15 days’ time.

The 6th Marine Regiment was diverted from joining the 1st Marine Division in the Caribbean, to Charleston to be the nucleus of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. The brigade was formed on 16 June, the day following the arrival of the 6th Marines in Charleston, and commanded by Brigadier General John Marston. Admiral Stark’s mission statement was simple and direct: In cooperation with the British garrison, defend Iceland against hostile attack.

Six days after the 16 June activation, the 4,095 Marines sailed on 22 June for the North Atlantic. Added to the convoy at Charleston were two cargo ships and two destroyers. It was met outside the harbor by an impressive force of warships and escorts. When the entire convoy began its move towards the North Atlantic, it consisted of 25 vessels, including two battleships and two cruisers.

The brigade reached the capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland, on the morning of 7 July, where it would remain until sailing for home on 8 March 1942. By the end of 1942, some of the Iceland Marines and sailors were battling the Japanese on Guadalcanal in the South Pacific, and many others went on to serve with distinction in the other major Navy/Marine Corps amphibious assaults of the Pacific War.

May 18

First Bullet Proof Gas Tank

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 12:01 AM

From the Marine Corps History Division…

A debate persists as to what constituted the first hostile action for U.S. naval aviation (the earliest distinctions between Navy and Marine aviation were marginal). Some argue the scouting flights in the Veracruz action in 1914, in which Navy and Marine pilots participated, was the first occasion when naval aviation planes came under fire of an enemy. Two purported “bullet” holes were noticed on two different planes at different times. However, at least one of these holes was believed by the pilot to merely be the result of an errant screwdriver. 

Whether the incident constituted proof of the first incident of aviation combat or the active imagination of a pilot, it prompted concern of military aircraft fuel tanks. With the anticipation of U.S. aircraft joining the fight in World War I, this concern was revivified and a “bullet-proof” self-sealing gas tank was first demonstrated to the Army and Navy by the Bureau of Standards on 18 May 1917. They consisted of double walled galvanized iron containing layers of felt,gum rubber, and an Ivory soap-whiting paste.

May 15

First USMC Medal of Honor Recipient: John Freeman Mackie (1835-1910)

Sunday, May 15, 2011 12:01 AM

John Freeman Mackie was born on 1 October 1835 in New York City. Working there as a silversmith, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 24 April 1861. His first assignment was on the USS Savannah as part of the ship’s Marine Detachment. On 1 March 1862, Mackie was promoted to the rank of corporal and was assigned to the ironclad U.S.S. Galena under the command of Commander John Rodgers.

On 15 May 1862, a small Union navy flotilla which included the Galena, Aroostook, Port Royal, Naugatuck and the famous USS Monitor attacked Confederate Fort Darling, located about 4 miles below Richmond, Virginia, near a bend in the James River called Drewry’s Bluff. Fort Darling, sited on top of the bluff, guarded the river entrance to the Confederate capital and was of tremendous strategic importance to the rebel cause. At 0600 Galena opened fire on the well-defended fort, but this attack was strongly resisted by the Confederates. Almost immediately Commander Rodgers was severely wounded by a Confederate shell. Early on in the fighting it was obvious that the Union ships were at a clear disadvantage. The well-armored USS Monitor was unable to elevate its guns to properly target the fort and a hundred pound gun on the Naugatuck exploded and forced that ship to also retire out of range. The Port Royal and Aroostook were both wooden hulls and not able to withstand the plunging fire from the fort. Thus the lone remaining ironclad, Galena, was forced to fight alone for over four hours.

While the Galena was indeed considered an ironclad ship, its armor was still fairly thin as compared to that of the more powerful USS Monitor. Confederate rounds from the fort repeatedly penetrated Galena’s armor plating and caused a significant number of casualties. To make matters worse, Confederate Marines manning rifle pits on the nearby riverbank used sharpshooters to pick off any exposed personnel. At the height of the fighting, a 10-inch round once again penetrated Galena’s armor belt and smashed into one of its 100 pound Parrot guns, killing nearly its entire crew. Shouting, “come on boys, here’s a chance for the Marines,” Mackie and a number of nearby comrades quickly manned the Parrot rifle and kept the weapon in action.

By noon, the Galena was entirely out of ammunition and Commander Rodgers moved the vessel down river and safely out of range. During the intense fighting in front of Fort Darling, the Galena had been hit dozens of times by solid shot. Twelve sailors and one Marine had been killed and eleven more men were wounded.

For his conspicuous performance in combat at the battle of Drewry’s Bluff, Mackie was promoted to sergeant and recommended for the Medal of Honor. Reassigned to the USS Seminole, Mackie received the medal on 10 July 1863 while anchored off Sabine Pass in Texas. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on 23 August 1865 in Boston, Massachusetts after having served over 4 years of continuous service. During his time on active duty, Mackie had participated in sixteen major naval engagements and was in dozens of skirmishes in his role as a Marine assigned to Union navy ships. The only wartime injury he received occurred in January 1864 when he was struck in the head with a chain hook while trying to quell a group of rioting Seminole sailors. Mackie was the first U.S. Marine to receive the Medal of Honor.

Dec 23

Remember Wake Island

Thursday, December 23, 2010 12:00 PM

69 years ago today, the gallant defenders of Wake Island surrendered to a numerically superior Japanese force. 

This wartime poster depicts Marines of the 1st Defense Battalion manning an M1917A1 machine gun during the defense of Wake Island in December 1941. USMC Poster.

Nov 10

Happy 235th Birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 3:09 PM

Nov 7

USN and USMC in Bolshevik Revolution

Sunday, November 7, 2010 12:01 AM

The Bolshevik seizure of power following the 1917 October Revolution plunged Russia into a protracted and bloody civil war. The Civil War’s destabilizing affects led to an international intervention. Among this international group were Great Britain, France, Japan, China, and the United States. Between 1918 and 1920, the allied powers deployed military expeditions to major Russian ports to protect allied citizens and support anti-communist forces.

One place where the United States Navy and Marine Corps participated in this effort was the Siberian port of Vladivostok, where U.S.S. Brooklyn under Rear Admiral Austin M. Knight was stationed in order to protect U.S. interests. During the spring and summer of 1918 the Czech Legion, a Czechoslovakian military force that had fought with the Russian Tsar’s army, found itself in open conflict with the Bolsheviks. The Czech forces subsequently seized a number of cities across Siberia. On June 29th, the Legion took control of Vladivostok and arrested the Bolsheviks in the city. That day, Admiral Knight deployed a detachment of 31 Marines under the command of 2nd Lieutenant Conrad S. Grove to guard the American consulate and maintain security. On July 6th, Admiral Knight, together with representatives from British and Chinese forces, issued a statement that the city would be taken under the protection of the Allied Powers, which would use all means necessary, “for its defense against dangers both external and internal.” The Consulate Guard remained until August 10th and a Marine Corps patrol was maintained at the Russian Navy Yard between August 4th and August 24th.

Between 1918 and 1922, Vladivostok became an important center for Russians fleeing the Bolshevik regime. Many came to the city on their way to safety in countries such as China, Australia, and the United States. During this period, U.S. Marines would make two more landings. On July 30, 1919, 31 Marines under 1st Lieutenant Leland S. Swindler disembarked from the New Orleans for two days to protect American interests in the nearby town of Tyutuke Bay. The next year, Marines were deployed to guard a U.S. backed radio station on Rusky Island, in Vladivostok Bay. The guard remained on the island until November 1922.

Throughout this period in Vladivostok, Marines and sailors worked together to protect American and international interests, maintain order, and protect individuals fleeing the Bolshevik regime during a period of great instability and uncertainty.

Oct 23

Remembering the 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing

Saturday, October 23, 2010 12:01 AM

The Navy’s 1983 report on the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing, including homecoming for the wounded, and a memorial for those killed.

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