Happy Birthday USMC, 236 years young today
Today I have for you two amazing videos, and the story of a man who defined what it means to be a Marine.
First, from the Commandant:
Second, a video from the NRA with the amazing Chuck Mawhinney. A small note on this one...everyone has a hero I would guess. And mine is in this video, but it is not Chuck Mawhinney, although it might be if I had ever met him. But, as a kid fresh out of college, I went to work for the NRA, and there fell under the spell of USMC Major Edward Jim Land (RET) who to this day is the most amazing person I ever met. I remember the first time I met him and he asked a bunch of us low level minnions to go out and have an adult beverage and talk about work stuff. He asked me to arrange, and then asked me how to get where we were going. I told him that I had better ride with him since I knew he was an officer, and thus likely couldn't read a map. For about 10 seconds he stared at me like he might kill me on the spot, and then called me a wiseass. It was the first of many conversations with him that were just amazing. After working there a few years, and listening to Major Land, I knew I had to join the military. His only advice to me: "Don't try to be a sniper, you're too damn impatient and you never shut up."
Lastly, I was reading a book about General Krulak (the Elder, not the Younger) and I came across a passage that I wanted to share about an amazing Marine named GYSGT Daly, at Belleau Wood:
On June 6, the Germans marched out of Belleau Wood. Their perfect formation, coal-scuttle helmets, and rifles at the ready gave them an air of terrible efficiency. Their eyes were on the Americans some 800 yards away. At the time, opposing forces in open areas usually engaged at 400 yards, so it would be a few moments before they were close enough to fire.
The Marines gave a few clicks of elevation to their rifle sights, waited a moment, and began firing. Almost every shot dropped a German. Hitting a target from 700 yards was not difficult for a Marine. At 600 yards, 500 yards, or 400 yards it was downright easy.
The Germans were astonished. This was the first indication that they were up against a new kind of opponent. The effectiveness of the rifle fire broke up the German attack.
Now it was time for Marines to do what they had come to France to do: attack. Now it was their turn to march across the wheat field. The most chilling of military orders was given: fix bayonets! This meant hand-to-hand combat with no quarter asked. It would be a fight to the death.
The Marines marched in line abreast across the open field, their officers waving walking canes to emphasize their orders. Maxim machine guns with interlocking fields of fire began stuttering at five hundred rounds per minute — taka-taka-taka-taka — and Marines fell as if cut down by a scythe. Hugging the ground provided no safety, as some Maxims had been sighted to fire almost at ground level. The First Marine attack in World War I was faltering. Then rose Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly, rifle high in the air, and he thundered, “Come on you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?”
Daly charged through the wheat, into the dark hell of Belleau Wood and the deadly chatter of the Maxims. The Marines followed, shouting, screaming, intent only on their orders: “Occupy Belleau Wood.”
The Marines suffered 1,087 casualties on June 6, 1918, more than in any other day in the preceding 143 of Marine Corps history.
Preceding passage is from the book “Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine” by Robert Coram. It was given to me by my boss as a goof because (presumably) he thought I wouldn’t read a book about Marines. Well, joke is on him, I’d read a book about anything if someone put it in front of me and I wasn’t reading something else already.
Anyway, our resident history expert Siggurdson forwarded along something about the two Medals of Honor that Daly received during his USMC career:
Daly was part of the U.S. Embassy Guard in Peking when the Boxer Rebellion broke out in the summer of 1900. Beginning in June of that year, the Boxers and Imperial Chinese troops surrounded the compound of the foreign legations in Peking and laid siege to it for 55 days. The legations quarter was defended by 473 foreign civilians, 409 soldiers and Marines of eight nations, and about 3000 Chinese Christians (reviled as traitors to their Chinese culture).
One of the major defensive points was the Tatar Wall, which formed the southern portion of the legations perimeter. This 45-foot tall, 40 foot wide barrier was defended barricades manned by German and American Marines. On the night of August 13, 1900, Chinese attacks forced the German Marines back from their barricade. The majority of the American Marines moved to reinforce the abandoned barricade. Daly, then less than two years out of basic training, was instructed to hold the American position by himself until reinforcements arrived. Daly took a position in a bastion on the Tarter Wall and remained there throughout the night. Subjected to sniper fire and numerous attacks, when relieved in the morning Private Daly was still holding his position with the bodies of 200 attackers surrounding his position attesting to his actions. For this he was awarded his first Medal of Honor.
Fifteen years later found Gunnery Sergeant Daly in Haiti fighting against the Cacos rebels. Daly led a reconnaissance company of 38 Marines out of Fort Liberte. Shortly after leaving the fort, his company was ambushed by over 400 of the enemy while attempting to ford a river at night. The Cacos were deployed around a deep ravine on three sides, pouring a vicious fire into the ranks of the Marines. Among the casualties was the mule carrying the company’s heavy machine gun.
After getting his men to a good defensive position, Daly returned, alone and under enemy fire, to the river, dove into the water and searched for the gun. He found it, and was able to bring the gun and its ammunition back to the Marine position. Daly then took command of one part of a three pronged assault on the rebel positions, killing 75 rebels and scattering the rest. As one of the two officers present noted, “Had one squad failed, not one man of the party would have lived to tell the tale. Gunnery Sergeant Daly, 15th Company, during the operations was the most conspicuous figure among the enlisted men.” Daly was awarded his second Medal of Honor.
So Happy Birthday to the Marine Corps, and all her noble line out there. I'll tip a Guinness to you when I get home tonight!