History of the United States Marine Corps


History of the United States Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps was originally organized as the Continental Marines in 1775 to conduct ship-to-ship fighting, provide shipboard security and assist in landing forces. Its mission evolved with changing military doctrine and American foreign policy. Owing to the availability of Marine forces at sea, the Marine Corps has served in every conflict in U.S. history. It attained prominence when its theories and practice of amphibious warfare proved prescient, and ultimately formed a cornerstone of the Pacific campaign of World War II. By the early 20th century, the Marine Corps would become the dominant theorist and practitioner of amphibious warfare. Its ability to rapidly respond to regional crises has made and continues to make it an important tool for American foreign policy.cite paper
author = John H. Dalton, Secretary of the Navy; Adm. J. M. Boorda, Chief of Naval Operations; General Carl E. Mundy, Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps
title = Forward...From the Sea
version =
publisher = Department of the Navy
date = 1994-11-9
url = http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/policy/fromsea/forward.txt
format =
accessdate =
]

Colonial origins

The history of American Marines traces back to Gooch's Marines, [cite web
url=http://www.recruitknowledge.com/pages/history/mch1.htm |accessdate=2006-02-03
title=Birth of Marines|work=Recruit Knowledge|publisher=MCRD Museum Historical Society
] the 61st Foot, raised in the American colonies for the War of Jenkins' Ear in 1739. This was an American regiment of the British Army that served alongside British Marines. Among its officers was Lawrence Washington, half-brother of George Washington. It was disbanded as a regiment in 1742 and the remaining independent companies were merged with another regiment in 1746. Nobel Jones' Company of Marine Boatmen of the Georgia militia also fought in the War of Jenkins' Ear, helping defeat a Spanish amphibious landing on St. Simons Island in the Battle of Gully Hole Creek and the Battle of Bloody Marsh. Other Marines were raised for the various state navies that came into existence shortly before the Revolutionary War.

The United States Marine Corps traces its institutional roots to the Continental Marines of the American Revolutionary War. The Continental Congress formed the Continental Marines on 10 November 1775, planning to draw them from among Washington's army in Boston and send them to capture supplies from Halifax, Nova Scotia. However, Washington was unenthuthiastic about the plan and suggested the Marines be recruited in New York or Philadelphia instead. Captain Samuel Nicholas was commissioned as the Continental Marines' first officer on 28 November 1775. Though legend places its first recruiting post at Tun Tavern, Marine historian Edwin Simmons surmises that it was more likely the Conestoga Waggon, a tavern owned by the Nicholas family. Robert Mullen, whose mother owned Tun Tavern, later received a commission in June 1776 and likely used it as his recruiting rendezvous.cite book
last = Simmons
first = Edwin Howard
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The United States Marines: A History, 4th Edition
publisher = Naval Institute Press
date = 2003
location = Annapolis, Maryland
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 1-59114-790-5
]

By December 1775, five companies of about 300 Marines were raised. While armed, they were not equipped with uniforms. However, they headed not North as originally planned, but South, for the Caribbean. The five companies joined Commodore Esek Hopkins of the Continental Navy's first squadron on its first cruise. Hopkins ignored his ambitious orders to sweep the southern seas of British ships, and instead raided the Bahamas for gunpowder for Washington's army. Nicholas' Marines made an opposed landing and marched on Nassau Town, on the island of New Providence, seizing shot, shells and cannon. However, a failed attempt at a surprise attack the day before had warned the defenders, who sent off their stock of gunpowder in the night. Sailing back to Rhode Island, the squadron captured four small prize ships. The squadron finally returned on 8 April 1776, with 7 dead Marines (including Lt. John Fitzpatrick), and four wounded. Though Hopkins was disgraced for failing to obey orders, Nicholas was promoted to Major on 25 June and tasked with raising 4 new companies of Marines for 4 new frigates then under construction. Among the newly commissioned Marines was Captain Robert Mullan.cite book
last = Chenoweth, USMCR (Ret.)
first = Col. H. Avery
authorlink =
coauthors = Col. Brooke Nihart, USMC (ret)
title = Semper fi: The Definitive Illustrated History of the U.S. Marines
publisher = Main Street
date = 2005
location = New York
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 1-4027-3099-3
]

In December 1776, the Marines were tasked to join Washington's army at Trenton to slow the progress of British troops southward through New Jersey. Unsure what to do with the Marines, Washington added the Marines to a brigade of Philadelphia militia, also dressed in green. Captain Mullan's roster lists two black men, Issac and Orange, the first recorded black Marines. Though they were unable to arrive in time to affect the battle of Trenton, they assisted in the decisive American victory at Princeton.cite book|last=Smith|first=Charles Richard|coauthors=Charles H. Waterhouse|title=A Pictoral History: the Marines in the Revolution|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|date=1975|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/A%20Pictorial%20History-The%20Marines%20in%20the%20Revolution%20PCN%2019000317900.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-22|language=English]

Continental Marines landed and captured Nautilus Island and the Majabagaduce peninsula in the Penobscot Expedition. A group under Navy Captain James Willing left Pittsburgh, traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, captured a ship and in conjunction with other Continental Marines brought by ship from the Gulf of Mexico raided British Loyalists on the shore of Lake Ponchartrain

The last official act of the Continental Marines was to escort a stash of French silver crowns on loan from Louis XVI, from Boston to Philadelphia, to enable the opening of the Bank of North America. At the end of the Revolution in 1783, both the Continental Navy and Marines were disbanded. In all, there were 131 Colonial Marine officers there were probably no more than 2,000 enlisted Colonial Marines. Though individual Marines were enlisted for the few American naval vessels, the organization would not be re-created until 1798. Despite the gap between the disbanding of the Continental Marines and the U.S. Marine Corps, Marines worldwide celebrate 10 November 1775 as the Marine Corps Birthday. This is traditional in Marine units and is similar to the practice of the British and Netherlands Royal Marines.

Founding of the Modern Marine Corps

In preparation for the Quasi-War with France, Congress created the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Under the "act for establishing and organizing a Marine Corps", signed on 11 July 1798 by President John Adams, the Marine Corps was to consist of a battalion of 500 privates, lead by a major and a complement of officers and NCO's. The next day, William W. Burrows was appointed Major of the Marine Corps. In the Quasi-War, Marines aboard the USS "Constitution" conducted raids in the waters off Hispaniola against the French and Spanish, making the first of many landings in Haiti.

Among the equipment Burrows inherited was a stock of leftover blue uniforms with red trim, the basis for the modern "dress blues". When the capital moved to Washington, D.C. in June 1800, Burrows was appointed Lieutenant Colonel Commandant of the Marine Corps the first official Commandant. Burrows selected the land between 8th and 9th, and G and I streets for the new Marine Barracks, still in service today. Burrows also founded the Marine Band, which debuted at the President's House on 1 January 1801 and has played for every presidential inauguration since.

The Marines' most famous action of this period occurred in the First Barbary War (1801–1805) when William Eaton and First Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon led a group of eight Marines and 300 Arab and European mercenaries in an attempt to capture Tripoli. Though they only made it as far as Derna, Tripoli has been immortalized in the Marines Hymn and the Mameluke sword carried by Marine officers.

In May 1811, 2 officers and 47 Marines established an advanced base on Cumberland Island, Georgia to be used for actions against pirates in Spanish Florida and captured Fernandino in Spanish Florida on 18 March 1812. They occupied it until May 1813. This was the first peacetime overseas base of the United States.

The Marine Corps' first land action of the War of 1812 was the establishment of an advanced base at Sacketts Harbor, New York by 63 Marines. The Marines also established another base at Erie, Pennsylvania. Marine ship detachments took part in the great frigate duels of the war, the first American victories of the war. By the end of the war Marines acquired a reputation as marksmen, especially in ship to ship actions. Marines participated in US Army Colonel Winfield Scott's amphibious landing at York (now Toronto). Their most significant contributions came at the Battle of Bladensburg and the defense of New Orleans. Under Commodore Barney and Captain Samuel Miller, USMC, they acted to delay the British forces marching toward Bladenburg. At Bladensburg, they held the line after the Army and militia retreated, and although eventually overrun, inflicted heavy casualties on the British and delayed their march to Washington. At New Orleans, the Marines held the center of Gen. Andrew Jackson's defensive line.

Together with sailors and U.S. Army troops, they again captured Fernandino in Spanish Florida on 23 December 1817. Fernandino was occupied until Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. in 1821. In 1823 Marines also established an advanced base on Thompson's Island, now called Key West, for use against pirates around the island of Cuba. They garrisoned Pensacola, Florida in 1825 to use it as a base against pirates in the West Indies.

After the war, the Marine Corps fell into an ill state. The third commandant, Franklin Wharton, died while in office and the fourth commandant, Anthony Gale, was the first commandant to be fired. However, the appointment of Archibald Henderson as its fifth commandant in 1820 breathed new life into the Corps. He would go on to be the longest-serving commandant, commonly referred to as the "Grand old man of the Marine Corps". Under his tenure, the Marine Corps took on a number of expeditionary duties in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, Key West, West Africa, the Falkland Islands, and Sumatra. Commandant Henderson is also credited with thwarting attempts by President Andrew Jackson to combine the Marine Corps with the Army. Instead, Congress passed the "Act for the Better Organization of the Marine Corps" [cite conference
first = U.S. Congress
last =
authorlink = Congress of the United States
coauthors =
title = An Act for the Better Organization of the United States Marine Corps
booktitle =
pages =
publisher =
date = 30-June-1834
location =
url = http://hqinet001.hqmc.usmc.mil/hd/historical/Docs_Speeches/OrganizationofUSMC.htm
doi =
id =
accessdate =
] in 1834, stipulating that the Corps was part of the Department of the Navy, as a sister service to the U.S. Navy. This would be the first of many times that Congress came to the aid of the Marines.

When the Seminole Wars (1835–1842) broke out, Commandant Henderson volunteered the Marines for service, leading 2 battalions to war — half the strength of the Marine Corps. They garrisoned Fort Brooke in Tampa Bay, Florida and held off an Indian attack on 22 January 1836. Col. Archibald Henderson commanded the mixed Marine/Army Second Brigade at the Battle of Hatchee-Lustee on 27 January 1837, for which he was brevetted a brigadier general.

A decade later, in the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), the Marines made their famed assault on Chapultepec Palace, which overlooked Mexico City, their first major expeditionary venture. Since Marching to Mexico City was long and perhaps impossible, a combined Marine and Army force (containing some 200 Marines) under MajGen Winfield Scott made an unopposed landing south of Veracruz on 9 March 1847 and captured the city on 29 March. From there, they fought their way to Mexico City and commenced their assault on 13 September. The Marines were given the task of clearing the Palacio National, the "Halls of Montezuma", where they cut down the Mexican colors and ran up the Stars and Stripes. Marines were later placed on guard duty at the palace and Captain Jacob Zeilin, future Commandant, was made military governor. Marines also seized several ports in California and Mexico as part of the Navy's blockade of Mexico that successfully prevented overseas arms and munitions from reaching the Mexican forces.

In the 1850s, the Marines would further see service in Panama, and in Asia, escorting Matthew Perry's East India Squadron on its historic trip to the East. Two hundred Marines under Zeilin were among the Americans who first stepped foot on Japan; they can be seen in contemporary woodprints in their blue jackets, white trousers, and black shakos.

Civil War

Despite their stellar service in foreign engagements, the Marine Corps played only a minor role during the Civil War (1861–1865); their most important task was blockade duty and other ship-board battles, but were mobilized for a handful of operations as the war progressed.cite book|last=Sullivan|first=David M|title=The United States Marine Corps in the Civil War|publisher=White Mane Publishing Company |volume=volumes 1-4|isbn=1572492147|language=English]

During the prelude to war, a hastily-created 86-man Marine detachment under Lieutenant Israel Greene was detached to arrest John Brown at Harper's Ferry in 1859. Command of the mission was given to then-Colonel Robert E. Lee and his aide, Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart, having been on leave in the area at the time. The Marines arrived to the town via train, and quickly surrounded John Brown's Fort. Upon his refusal to surrender, the Marines stormed the building, battering down the door with hammers and a ladder used as a battering ram. Greene slashed Brown twice and would have killed him had his sword not bent on his last thrust; in his haste he had carried his light dress sword instead of his regulation sword.

At the opening of the war, the Marine Corps had 1892 officers and men, but half the captains and two-thirds of the lieutenants resigned to join the Confederacy, as did many prominent Army officers. On the opposite side of the lines, the Confederate Congress authorized a marine corps of 10 companies, which played little role in the war. Following the defections, the 13 Marine officers and 336 Marines, mostly recruits, were hastily formed into a battalion and sent to Manassas. At the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas), they performed poorly, running away like the rest of the Union forces. Commandant Harris reported sadly that this was "the first instance in Marine history where any portion of its members turned their backs to the enemy."

Congress only slightly enlarged the Marines and the Regular Army and after filling detachments for the ships of the Navy, the Marine Corps was only able to field about one battalion at a time as a larger force for service ashore. Marines from ship's detachments as well as scratch battalions took part in the landing operations necessary to capture bases for blockade duty. These were mostly successful, but on 8 September 1863, the Marines tried an amphibious landing to capture Fort Sumter in Charlestown harbor and failed. This was probably the first and last failed landing of the USMC. Due to a shortage of officers, the Marine battalion of Commander Preble's naval brigade that fought at Honey Hill, SC in 1864 started the battle with a 1st Lt. as Battalion Commander. He was the only officer in the battalion. All the Company Commanders and other battalion "officers" were sergeants. In January 1865, the Marines took part in the assault on Fort Fisher. They were tasked with acting as riflemen on the flank of the attack to shoot any Confederate troops that appeared on the ramparts of the fort. Even though they were ordered from their firing positions by Admiral Porter's second in command, Porter blamed the Marines for the failure of the naval portion of the assault to take the fort.

The Rest of the 19th century

The remainder of the 19th century would be a period of declining strength and introspection about the mission of the Marine Corps. The Navy's transition from sail to steam put into question the need for Marines on naval ships. Meanwhile, the Marines would serve as a convenient resource for interventions and landings to protect American lives and property in foreign countries. The Marines saw action in Formosa (1867) and Korea (1871). The Marines took part in naval brigade landing exercises in Key West in 1875 after the Virginius Affair, a war with Spain scare. The Marines took part in more naval brigade exercises on Gardiner's Island in August 1884 and Newport, RI in November 1887. Altogether, the Marines were involved in over 28 separate interventions in the 30 years from the end of the civil war to the end of the 19th century, including China, Formosa, Japan, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Mexico, Korea, Panama, Hawaii, Egypt, Haiti, Samoa, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. They would also be called upon to stem political and labor unrest within the United States. Sometime during this period, war correspondent Richard Harding Davis coined the phrase "The Marines have landed and have the situation well in hand".

Under Commandant Jacob Zeilin's term (1864–1876), Marine customs and traditions took shape. The Corps adopted the Marine Corps emblem in essentially its modern form on 19 November 1868, borrowing the globe from the Royal Marines, but introducing the fouled anchor and an American bald eagle. In 1869, the Corps adopted a blue-black evening jacket and trousers encrusted with gold braid, that survives today as officers's mess dress. It was also during this time that "The Marines' Hymn" was first heard. Around 1883, the Marines adopted their current motto "Semper Fidelis" (Latin for "Always Faithful," often shortened by Marines to "Semper Fi"). In 1885 1st Lt. H.K. Gilman USMC wrote the first manual for enlisted Marines, "Marines’ manual: prepared for the use of the enlisted men of the U.S. Marine Corps" and in 1886 the first landing manual "The naval brigade and operations ashore". Previous to this, the only landing instructions available were those in the "Ordnance Instructions for the United States Navy". John Philip Sousa, previously an apprentice in the Marine Band as a child, returned to lead the band in 1880 at the age of 25, making a name for himself and the Band with his composed marches.

During the Spanish-American War (1898), Marines would lead U.S. forces ashore in the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, demonstrating their readiness for deployment.cite book|last=Shulimson|first=Jack|coauthors=Renfrow, Wanda J.; LtCol Kelley, David E.; Englander, Evelyn A|title=MARINES IN THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR: 1895-1899|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/Marines%20in%20the%20Spanish-American%20War,%201895-1899%20%20PCN%2019000314400.pdf|language=English] The 1st or Huntington's Battalion captured Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in order to set up an advanced base and coaling station for the fleet. In the Battle of Cuzco Well, a Spanish counterattack was aided by mistaken naval gunfire from the USS "Dolphin" and two Marines received Medals of Honor for braving both Spanish rifle fire and US Navy shells and signalling the "Dolphin" to stop. Marine detachments under Lt. John A. LeJeune landed in Fajardo, Puerto Rico in order to seize boats for a subsequent landing by US Army forces. While they were waiting for the Army, they were attacked by strong Spanish forces in a night attack. Upon a prearranged signal, the Marines and sailors who were occupying the town's lighthouse, took cover while the Navy ships bombarded the area around the lighthouse. They left the next day when they found out that the Army commander had changed his mind and landed on the other end of the island at Guánica. There Marines and Bluejackets landed first in order to capture boats and lighters for the Army landing.

Early 1900s

The successful landing at Guantanamo and the readiness of the Marines for the Spanish-American War were in contrast to the slow mobilization of the U.S. Army in the war. In 1900, the General Board of the U.S. Navy decided to give the Marine Corps primary responsibility for the seizure and defense of advanced naval bases. The Marine Corps formed an expeditionary battalion to be permanently based in the Caribbean. This battalion and Marine detachments in the Caribbean practiced landings in 1902 in preparation for war with Germany over Venezuela. Under then-Major John Lejeune, in 1903, it also undertook landing exercises with the Army in Maine, and in November 1903, blocked Columbian Army forces sent to quash a Panamanian rebellion, an action which led to the independence of Panama. The Marine Corps Advanced Base School was founded as was the Advance Base Force, the prototype of the Fleet Marine Force.

Between 1900 and 1916, the Marine Corps continued its record of participation in foreign expeditions, including the Philippine Insurrection, the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), Panama, the Cuban Pacifications, Veracruz, Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Nicaragua. Action in these and other places throughout the Caribbean such as Haiti and Nicaragua continued after World War I. These actions became known as "The Banana Wars", and the experiences gained in counter-insurgency and guerrilla operations during this period were consolidated into the Small Wars Manual in 1935.

World War I

In World War I, battle-tested, veteran Marines served a central role in the U.S. entry into the conflict. Unlike the U.S. and British armies, the Marine Corps had a deep pool of officers and NCO's with battle experience, and experienced a relatively smaller expansion. It is here that Marines fought their celebrated battle at Belleau Wood, then the largest in the history of the Corps. There, the Marines' reputation in modern history was created. Rallying under the battle cries of "Retreat? Hell, we just got here!" (Captain Lloyd Williams) and "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?" (GySgt. Dan Daly), the Marines drove German forces from the area. While its previous expeditionary experience had not earned it much acclaim in the Western world, the Marines' fierceness and toughness earned them the respect of the Germans, who rated them of storm-trooper quality. Though Marines and American media reported that Germans had nicknamed them "Teufelhunden" or "Devil Dogs", there is no evidence of this in German records. Nevertheless, the name stuck. [cite web|url=http://german.about.com/od/culture/a/germyth13.htm|title=The "devil dog" legend] Verify source|date=April 2008

The French government renamed Belleau Wood "Bois de la Brigade de Marine", or "Wood of the Marine Brigade", and decorated both the 5th and 6th Regiments with the Croix de Guerre. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then Secretary of the Navy, stated that enlisted Marines would henceforth wear the French Fourragere on the left shoulder of their dress uniforms.

The Marine Corps had entered the war with 511 officers and 13,214 enlisted personnel and, by 11 November 1918, had reached a strength of 2,400 officers and 70,000 men. [ [http://www.acepilots.com/usmc/hist2.html History of Marine Corps Aviation - World War One] , AcePilots.com.] The war cost the Marines 2,461 dead and 9,520 wounded. [ [http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq56-1.htm Casualties: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps] , history.navy.mil.]

Between the wars, the Marine Corps was headed by Commandant John A. Lejeune, another well-beloved commandant. Under his leadership, the Marine Corps presciently studied and developed amphibious techniques that would be of great use in World War II. Many officers, including LtCol Earl Hancock "Pete" Ellis foresaw a Pacific war with Japan and took preparations for such a conflict. While stationed in China, then LtCol. Victor H. Krulak observed Japanese amphibious techniques in 1937. Through 1941, as the prospect of war grew, the Marine Corps pushed urgently for joint amphibious exercises, and acquired amphibious equipment such as the Higgins boat which would prove of great use in the upcoming conflict.

World War II

In World War II, the Marines played a central role in the Pacific War; the Corps expanded from two brigades to two corps with six divisions, and five air wings with 132 squadrons. In addition, 20 Defense Battalions were also set up, as well as a Parachute Battalion. [ [http://www.nps.gov/wapa/indepth/extContent/usmc "Marines in World War II Commemorative Series"] , Marine Corps Historical Center.] The battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa saw fierce fighting between U.S. Marines and the Imperial Japanese Army. The secrecy afforded their communications by the now-famous Navajo code talkers program is widely seen as having contributed significantly to their success.

During the battle of Iwo Jima, photographer Joe Rosenthal took the famous photo "Raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima" of five Marines and one Navy corpsman raising the American flag on Mt. Suribachi. Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, who had come ashore earlier that day to observe the progress of the troops, said of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, "...the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years." The acts of the Marines during the war added to their already significant popular reputation, and the USMC War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia was dedicated in 1954.

By the war’s end, the Corps had grown to include six divisions, five air wings and supporting troops totaling about 485,000 Marines. 19,733 Marines were killed and 68,207 wounded during WWII [ [http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq56-1.htm Casualties: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps] , history.navy.mil.] and 82 received the Medal of Honor. [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usmc/history.htm Marine Corps History] , GlobalSecurity.org.]

Despite Secretary Forrestal's prediction, the Corps faced an immediate institutional crisis following the war. Army brass pushing for a strengthened and reorganized defense establishment also attempted to fold the Marine mission and assets into the Navy and Army. Drawing on hastily assembled Congressional support, the Marine Corps rebuffed such efforts to legislatively dismantle the Corps, resulting in statutory protection of the Marine Corps in the National Security Act of 1947.

Shortly after, in 1952, the Douglas-Manfield Bill afforded the Commandant an equal voice with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on matters relating to the Marines, and established the structure of three divisions and air wings that remains today. This allowed the Corps to permanently maintain a division and air wing in the Far East and participate in various small wars in Southeast Asia - in the Tachen Islands, Taiwan, Laos, Thailand, and South Vietnam.

In Korea

The Korean War (1950 - 1953) saw the hastily formed Provisional Marine Brigade holding the line at the Pusan Perimeter. To execute a flanking maneuver, General Douglas MacArthur called on Marine air and ground forces to make an amphibious landing at the Inchon. The successful landing resulted in the collapse of North Korean lines and the pursuit of North Korean forces north near the Yalu River until the entrance of the People's Republic of China into the war. Chinese troops surrounded, surprised and overwhelmed the overextended and outnumbered American forces. However, unlike the Eighth Army, which retreated in disarray, the 1st Marine Division regrouped and inflicted heavy casualties during their fighting withdrawal to the coast. Now known as the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, it entered Marine lore as an example of the toughness and resolve of the Marine. Marines would continue a battle of attrition around the 38th Parallel until the 1953 armistice.

The Korean War saw the Marine Corps expand from 75,000 regulars to a force, by the end of the conflict in 1953, of 261,000 Marines, most of whom were Reservists. 4,267 Marines were killed and 23,744 wounded during the war and 42 were awarded the Medal of Honor. [ [http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq56-1.htm Casualties: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps] , history.navy.mil.]

In 1958, Marines were dispatched to Lebanon as part of Operation Blue Bat in response to the crisis there. [cite book|last=Shulimson|first=Jack|title=Marines in Lebanon, 1958|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|date=1966|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/Marines%20in%20Lebanon%201958%20PCN%2019000318500.pdf|language=English]

Vietnam War

The Marines also played an important role in the Vietnam War at battles such as Da Nang, Hué City, and Khe Sanh. The Marines operated in the northern I Corps regions of South Vietnam and fought both a constant guerilla war against the NLF and an off and on conventional war against NVA regulars. Marines also conducted the less well-known Combined Action Program that implemented unconventional techniques for counterinsurgency warfare. The Marine presence was withdrawn in 1971, but returned briefly in 1975 to evacuate Saigon and attempt to rescue the crew of the Mayagüez. 13,091 Marines were killed and 51,392 wounded during the war. [ [http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq56-1.htm Casualties: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps] , history.navy.mil.] Fifty-seven were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Returning from Vietnam, the Marine Corps hit one of the lowest points in its history with high rates of courts-martial, non-judicial punishments, unauthorized absences, and outright desertions. The re-making of the Marine Corps began in the late 1970s when policies for discharging inadequate Marines were relaxed leading to the removal of the worst performing ones. Once the quality of new recruits started to improve, the Marines began reforming their NCO corps, an absolutely vital element in the functioning of the Marine Corps.

After Vietnam, Marines resumed their expeditionary role, participating in Operation Urgent Fury and Operation Just Cause. On 23 October 1983, a Marine barracks in Lebanon was bombed, causing the highest peacetime losses to the Corps in its history (220 Marines of the 24th MAU were killed) and leading to the American withdrawal from Lebanon. Marines were also responsible for liberating Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War (1990–1991).

In 1990, the 22nd and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units conducted Operation Sharp Edge, a noncombatant evacuation operation, or NEO, in the west African city of Monrovia, Liberia. Liberia suffered from civil war at the time, and civilian citizens of the United States and other countries could not leave via conventional means. Sharp Edge ended in success. Only one reconnaissance team came under fire, with no casualties incurred on either side, and the Marines evacuated several hundred civilians within hours to U.S. Navy vessels waiting offshore.

U.S. Marines participated in combat operations in Somalia (1992–1995) during Operations Restore Hope, [ [http://www.history.navy.mil/avh-1910/PART12.PDF "The preannounced landing of U.S. Marines was witnessed by millions of U.S. primetime television viewers"] , "United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1995", U.S. Navy publication. (PDF file, see 1992, December 9, p. 16) ] Restore Hope II, and United Shield. While Operation Restore Hope was designated as a humanitarian relief effort, Marine ground forces frequently engaged Somali militiamen in combat. Elements of Battalion Landing Team 2/9 (2nd Battalion, 9th Marines) with 15th MEU were among the first troops of the United Nations effort to land in Somalia in December 1992, while Marines of Battalion Landing Team 3/1 (3rd Battalion 1st Marines) participated in the final withdrawal of United Nations troops from Somalia in 1995.

Operation Desert Storm

Marines were also responsible for liberating Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War (1990–1991), as the Army made an attack to the west directly into Iraq. The I Marine Expeditionary Force had a strength of 92,990 making Operation Desert Storm the largest Marine Corps operation in history. A total of 23 Marines were killed in action or later died of wounds from the time the air war was launched on January 16 until the cease-fire took effect 43 days later [http://www.popasmoke.com/desert-storm/chronology.html] .

Bosnian War

In 1995, Marines performed a successful mission in Bosnia, rescuing Captain Scott O'Grady, a downed Air Force fighter pilot, in what is called a TRAP (Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel).

Global War on Terror

Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were the first conventional forces into Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in November 2001. Since then Marine battalions and flying squadrons have been rotating through on seven month tours engaging leftover Taliban and Al Queda forces and also helping to rebuild the war torn country. U.S. Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit flooded into the Taliban-held town of Garmser April 29 2008 , in Helmand province, in the first major American operation in the region in years. [cite web |url=http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/04/28/afghan.usmarines.ap/index.html
title=U.S. Marines launch Afghan operation
publisher=CNN
]

Most recently, the Marines have served prominently in Operation Iraqi Freedom where a light, mobile force was and is especially needed. I MEF along with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq and perhaps most notably, the Marines spearheaded both assaults on the city of Fallujah in April and November 2004. For their performance during the invasion, the Marines of I MEF received the Presidential Unit Citation (US), the first time a Marine unit has received that award since 1968. [cite web |url=http://hqinet001.hqmc.usmc.mil/HD/Historical/Chronologies/Yearly/2003.htm
title=Yearly Chronologies of the United States Marine Corps - 2003
publisher=History Division, United States Marine Corps
]

ee also

* List of Historically Important U.S. Marines
* National Museum of the Marine Corps
* Culture of the United States Marine Corps

References

Notes

Further Reading

*cite book
last=Heinl
first=Robert D.
authorlink= |coauthors= |editor= |others=
title=Soldiers of the Sea: The U.S. Marine Corps
origdate= |origyear= |origmonth= |url= |format= |accessdate= |accessyear= |accessmonth= |edition= |series= |date=
year=1962 |month=
publisher=U.S. Naval Institute Press
location=Annapolis
language= |isbn= |oclc= |doi= |id= |pages= |chapter= |chapterurl= |quote=

*cite book|last=LtCol Hough|first=Frank O.|coauthors=Maj Ludwig, Verle E.; Shaw Jr., Henry I|title=History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|volume=Vol I: Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/History%20of%20the%20U.S.%20Marine%20Corps%20in%20WWII%20Vol%20I%20-%20Pearl%20Harbor%20to%20Guadacanal%20%20PCN%2019000262400_1.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-22|language=English

*cite book|last=Shaw Jr.|first=Henry I.|coauthors=Maj Kane, Douglas T|title=History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|volume=Vol II: Isolation of Rabaul|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/History%20of%20the%20U.S.%20Marine%20Corps%20in%20WWII%20Vol%20II%20-%20Isolation%20on%20Rabaul%20%20PCN%2019000262500_1.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-22|language=English

*cite book|last=Shaw Jr.|first=Henry I.|coauthors=Nalty, Bernard C.; Turnbladh, Edwin T|title=History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|volume=Vol III: Central Pacific Drive|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/History%20of%20the%20U.S.%20Marine%20Corps%20in%20WWII%20Vol%20III%20-%20Central%20Pacific%20Drive%20%20PCN%2019000262600_1.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-22|language=English

*cite book|last=Garand|first=George W.|coauthors=Strobridge, Truman R|title=History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|volume=Vol IV: Western Pacific Operations|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/History%20of%20the%20U.S.%20Marine%20Corps%20in%20WWII%20Vol%20IV%20-%20Western%20Pacific%20Operations%20%20PCN%2019000262700_1.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-22|language=English

*cite book|last=Frank|first=Benis M.|coauthors=Shaw Jr., Henry I|title=History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|volume=Vol V: Victory and Occupation|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/History%20of%20the%20U.S.%20Marine%20Corps%20in%20WWII%20Vol%20V%20-%20Victory%20and%20Occupation%20%20PCN%2019000262800_1.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-22|language=English

*cite book|last=Tyson|first=Carolyn A.|title=A Chronology Of The United States Marine Corps: 1935-1946|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|date=1965|edition=Reprinted 1971, 1977|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/A%20Chronology%20Of%20The%20United%20States%20Marine%20Corps%201935-1946%20%20PCN%2019000317800.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-22|language=English

*cite book|last=Tyson|first=Carolyn A.|coauthors=Ralph W. Donnelly; Gabrielle N. Neufeld|title=A Chronology Of The United States Marine Corps: 1947-1964|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|date=1971|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/A%20Chronology%20of%20the%20United%20States%20Marine%20Corps%201947-1964%20%20PCN%2019000318200.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-22|language=English

*cite book|last=Neufeld|first=Gabrielle N.|title=A Chronology Of The United States Marine Corps: 1965-1969|publisher=United States Marine Corps Historical Division|date=1971|url=http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/A%20Chronology%20Of%20The%20UNITED%20STATES%20MARINE%20CORPS%201965-1969%20%20PCN%2019000318100.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-22|language=English

External links

* (Access by year or campaign.)
* [http://www.evendon.net/PGHLookups/MarineAirWW2M.htm Marine Air Power in World War II]


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