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U.S. Marine Corps Facts and History: 17 June

Updated on June 15, 2016
Kevin McClernon profile image

Kevin retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 2014 after 32 years of service.

Official emblem of the U.S. Marine Corps
Official emblem of the U.S. Marine Corps | Source

Eagle, Globe, and Anchor

The Eagle, Globe and Anchor is the official emblem of the Unites States Marine Corps. The emblem traces its roots to the Continental Marines of 1776. The current emblem was adopted in 1955.

The eagle symbolizes the United States, the nation which our Marine Corps serves. The globe, which displays the Western Hemisphere, denotes the Corps’ worldwide service. The anchor bespeaks the Marine Corps naval heritage.

The emblem is displayed on all Marine Corps uniforms, its standard (flag) as well as the official seal of the Corps.

1815 – Barbary Wars

In the final action of the Barbary Wars, several Marine Detachments of Commodore Decatur’s naval squadron participated in the defeat of the Algerian warship Mashuda off the Tunisian coast

 U.S. Marine Corps officers' Mameluke sword
U.S. Marine Corps officers' Mameluke sword | Source

The Barbary Wars

Two wars were fought between the United States and the Barbary States of Northern Africa (current day Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia). The first war was fought during 1801-1805, while the second war lasted for approximately 4 months during 1815. Pirates, based out of the Barbary States (“Barbary Pirates”), actions against American merchant vessels resulted in both the Jefferson and Madison administrations declaration of war.

The first Barbary War ended when 50 Marines, led by Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, and approximately 200 Arab mercenaries stormed and seized the pirate-viceroy’s palace in Derna (current day Tripoli). A deposed prince, who did not tolerate piracy, was restored to power which ended the war.

The Derna Campaign resulted in 2 significant items in Marine Corps history. The deposed prince, Hamet, presented is sword to Lieutenant O’Bannon in respect and praise for the Marine’s actions in the recapture of his seat. The Mameluke sword was shortly thereafter adopted as the official sword worn by Marine officers , a tradition which has continued to the present day.

Secondly, the second line of the Marines Hymn reads, “To the shores of Tripoli”, which memorialized the Marines actions including the first raising in victory of the U.S. flag on foreign soil.

"The Assault on Derna" by Colonel Charles H. Waterhouse, USMCR.
"The Assault on Derna" by Colonel Charles H. Waterhouse, USMCR. | Source
Civil War-era Marines
Civil War-era Marines | Source

1861 - Manpower

The active duty strength of the Marine Corps is 48 officers and 2,388 enlisted.

1870 – Mexico

A landing party of Marines and sailors goes ashore at Boca Teacapan (Sinaloa) to locate pirates and their ship. These pirates had been attacking merchant vessels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. In the “Battle of Boca Teacapan” the pirates were defeated in their hideout and their ship was subsequently destroyed.

Boca Teacapan (Sinaloa), Mexico

Teacapan, Sin., Mexico

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USS Henderson (AP-1)
USS Henderson (AP-1) | Source

1916 – USS Henderson (AP-1)

The U.S. Navy launched the USS Henderson in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, their first transport ship designed specifically to carry Marines. Named after the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Archibald Henderson, the ship saw service throughout Word War I and World War II.

"Marine on a Jaguar"

1920 recruiting poster by James Montgomery Flagg
1920 recruiting poster by James Montgomery Flagg | Source
Marines take cover behind a tank during the Battle of Saipan
Marines take cover behind a tank during the Battle of Saipan | Source

1944 – World War II

The V Amphibious Corps, comprised of the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions and the Army’s 27th Infantry Division, resume their attack from the Saipan beachhead. The beachhead was established 2 days early following an amphibious assault by the Marine divisions. The Marines were reinforced the previous day with the landing of the 27th Infantry Division.

B-29s on the Siapan airfield,1945
B-29s on the Siapan airfield,1945 | Source
Saipan, Saipan 96950, CNMI

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Battle of Saipan

The 3 week long Mariana Island battle pitted 71,000 Marines and soldiers of the U.S. V Amphibious Corps against 30,000 defenders of the Japanese 31st Army. The U.S. strategic objectives for the operation included; establish an air base were U.S. long-range bombers could attack main land Japan, and severe communications between Japan and remaining Japanese forces in the Central and Western Pacific Ocean.

Many historians consider Saipan to be the most decisive land battle of the Pacific Theater. The defeat was a significant blow to Japanese military operations and morale. The victory meant the U.S. B-29 bombers were within striking distance of the Japanese homeland; an average of 100 B-29 missions were flown daily from Saipan’s airfield throughout the remainder of the war.

The costliest battle to date in the Pacific, U.S. casualties numbered nearly 14,000 while approximately 29,000 of the 30,000 Japanese soldiers were killed during the battle. Civilian casualties were the highest of the war with nearly 22,000 of the 25,000 Japanese civilians on the island killed during the fighting, many of which were the result of suicide.

1st Battalion, 9th Marines sniper team, 1969
1st Battalion, 9th Marines sniper team, 1969 | Source

1965 – Vietnam Conflict

The 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment (1/9) arrived in Da Nang, South Vietnam. The unit would remain in Vietnam until it redeployed to Okinawa, Japan during July of 1969.

At the time, 50,000 U.S. service members were deployed in South Vietnam including over 18,000 Marines. Total Marine Corps manpower was 17,000 officers and 173,000 enlisted.


“The Walking Dead”

During the Vietnam Conflict, the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines participated in 35 operations. Nearly 750 of its members were killed in action (KIA), the highest casualty rate in Marine Corps history, earning the battalion the nickname, “The Walking Dead”. For its distinguished service throughout the conflict; the battalion was awarded 2 Presidential Unit Citations, a Navy Unit Commendation, 2 Meritorious Unit Commendations, a National Defense Service Streamer, a Vietnam Service Streamer and a Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Streamer.

Our flag's unfurl'd to every breeze...

Although a small sampling of facts in the Corps' long and proud history, I hope you found the article entertaining and informative. Please don't hesitate to make a comment if you have any issues or questions concerning items mentioned in this article.

Fair winds and following seas...

Semper Fidelis
Semper Fidelis | Source


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    • Kevin McClernon profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin P McClernon 

      3 years ago from Dania Beach, Florida

      Glad that you enjoyed the hub!

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      3 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Nice hub. Remembering the sacrifices of so many is always important. Sharing everywhere.


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