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U.S. Marine Corps History: July 20th

Updated on July 19, 2016
Kevin McClernon profile image

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


"Flying is hours and hours of boredom sprinkled with a few seconds of sheer terror."

-Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, USMC World War II ace and Medal of Honor recipient

Since its founding in 1775 the Marine Corps has served this nation "from the sea". From manning "the fighting tops" of the frigate navy through the bloody "island hopping campaign" of World War II, Marines have served as the nation's amphibious force in readiness.

A theme of this day in the Corps' history is Marine aviation. Included are its pre-World War II expansion, an action of the Marine component of the Cactus Air Force in the Central Pacific and supporting an U.S. Air Force operation over North Vietnam.

The Air Combat Element is an integral component of Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTF). Its roles include; assault support to ground combat and support elements of the MAGTF, anti-air warfare, offensive air support, electronic warfare, control of aircraft and missiles, and aerial reconnaissance. Additionally, Marines provide squadrons and detachments to serve on aircraft carriers as part of the Navy's Carrier Air Wings.

1940 - Aviation

The United States looked on as a neutral nation as the Axis Powers rolled through Europe and the Empire of Japan expanded throughout the Pacific Basin. Feeling an imminent threat to the U.S. and its territories, the U.S. Congress passed the Two Ocean Navy Act.

This act authorized a huge expansion in the size of the navy, both in aircraft and vessels. Included in the expansion plans was a significant increase in the Marine aircraft inventory; scheduling it to expand ten-fold to 1,500 aircraft.

1940 Marine Corps aircraft

Grumman J2F-1 "Duck"
Grumman J2F-1 "Duck" | Source
Douglass SBD-1 "Dauntless"
Douglass SBD-1 "Dauntless" | Source
Grumman F4F "Wildcat"
Grumman F4F "Wildcat" | Source



1942 - Organization

The 23rd Marine Regiment (23rd Marines) was activated at New River, North Carolina and subsequently assigned to the 4th Marine Division. The regiment saw its first combat action on 1 February 1944, assaulting Roi Namur during the Battle of Kwajalien. The 23rd Marines subsequently participated in the assaults and seizures of Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. Four members of the regiment received the Congressional Medal of Honor during these battles.

The 23rd Marines is one of three infantry regiments of the Marine Forces Reserve. It is currently headquartered in San Bruno, California.

1943 - World War II

The Solomon Islands Campaign consisted of air, ground and naval battles in a relatively confined area. The campaign was the longest in the Pacific Theater and put an end to Empire of Japan's Pacific Basin expansion and the threat on Australia and New Zealand.

On this date, Marine ground-based aircraft sortied from Guadalcanal and attack a Japanese destroyer squadron in "The Slot", immediately south of Choiseul. The air raid sinks one destroyer and damages a cruiser.

A markerSolomon Islands -
Solomon Islands
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U.S. Marine F4F "Wildcats" lined up at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal in 1943. These aircraft provide support to air, ground and naval operations during the Solomon Island Campaign.
U.S. Marine F4F "Wildcats" lined up at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal in 1943. These aircraft provide support to air, ground and naval operations during the Solomon Island Campaign. | Source


1st MAW F-8 "Crusader" conducting a close air support mission in South Vietnam, 1966.
1st MAW F-8 "Crusader" conducting a close air support mission in South Vietnam, 1966. | Source

1966 - Vietnam Conflict

The 7th Air Force begins Operation Tally Ho in Vietnam. The operation consists of air strikes in the southern portion of North Vietnam in order to neutralize the North Vietnamese Army's capability to influence the fighting in South Vietnam.

Flying out of the Da Nang Air Base, the 1st Marine Air Wing (1st MAW) supports this operation by providing fighter escorts for U.S. Air Force bombers and conducting ground attack sorties.

A markerVietnam -
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USAF O-2A forward air control aircraft flying over Vietnam.
USAF O-2A forward air control aircraft flying over Vietnam. | Source


Operation TALLY HO was a U.S. 7th Air Force air interdiction operation along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Vietnam which was conducted during the period of 20 July - 31 August 1966. The objective of the operation was to interdict the flow of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops and supplies infiltrating across the DMZ into South Vietnam.

Over 3,800 missions were flown during the operation, approximately 1,100 were conducted by the 1st MAW. Three U.S. Air Force aircraft were shot down during the operation. Results included the destruction of; 27 anti-aircraft batteries, 20 bridges, and 500 buildings, however, it failed to stop the infiltration of NVA forces into South Vietnam.

In the air, on land, and sea...

That concludes significant events in which Marines participated on the 20th of July.

Keep checking back as I have, and will continue, writing these "This Day In Marine History" articles. Weekly, I’ll give you more of the Corps' facts and history. In the meantime, visit my profile page where you can find all of my Marine Corps and physical fitness articles.

Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment with concerns, feedback or questions.

Here's health to you and to our Corps..

Semper Fidelis
Semper Fidelis | Source


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