Recently I mentioned to a friend that Tuesday, November 10th marks the 245th anniversary of the United States Marine Corps. After making the comment, he asked a curious question, “Why is there a Marine Corps?” He went on… “The army has infantry and tanks and helicopters, the Air Force has fighters and bombers, and the Navy has, submarine launched missiles and aircraft carriers—so why do we need a Marine Corps?” Perhaps I was being chided; but it occurred to me that he really might not know—so I told him.
The United States Marine Corps is our nation’s “Total Force in Readiness.” From the land, sea or air, the mission of the Corps is to prosecute forcible entry operations quickly and successfully anywhere on the globe, to project and sustain American power in the littoral regions of the world, and finally, to shape the combat environment during conflict.
Marines everywhere can take pride in their contributions to our great nation. The Corps was born of an act of Congress and consecrated in sacrifice. It is steeped in tradition and tested in battle where heroic actions are the hallmark of Marine legacy.
But perhaps a better way of understanding why we have a Marine Corps is to let you read what non-Marines have said about the Corps.
“The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!” General John Pershing,. US Army
“The more Marines I have around the better I like it!” General Mark Clark, US Army
“I can never again see a United States Marine without experiencing a feeling of reverence.” General C. Johnson, US Army
“The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.” James Forestall, Secretary of the Navy
“I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!” General Douglas McArthur, US Army
“Teufelhunde! (Devil Dogs)” German soldiers, at Belleau Wood in WWI
“Panic sweeps my men when they are facing the American Marines.” Major Le Kyong, captured major in the North Korean army.
“The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines, Lord how they could fight!” Major General Frank Lowe, US Army
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.” President Ronald Reagan, 1985
“Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They’ve got really short hair and they always go for the throat.” Rear Admiral. “Jay” R. Stark, USN; 10 November 1995
“Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it were some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts ungentlemanly short, worshipping their Commandant almost as it he were a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They will fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat…but, their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and generally speaking the United States Marines I have come in contact with are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have had the pleasure to meet.” Anonymous Canadian citizen, 1969
“The Corps…has never lost sight that its primary mission is to fight, remains superbly trained and disciplined.” “The law of nature is simple: survival of the fittest. And in the 21st century…the forward-based and highly deployable U.S. Marine Corps is the fittest.” Colonel David Hackworth, the most decorated Army officer during the Vietnam War.
America needs the Marine Corps, with its standards of courage in combat, traditions of excellence, and unbending code of honor, for its own sense of well-being.
In times of national crisis Americans expect just two things from the Marine Corps—1) to protect and project America’s interests on a moment’s notice, and 2) to defeat any enemy it engages on the battlefield. And to that end, the Corps has never let America down!
Brave and competent men and women populate all the armed forces—and the Marine Corps doesn’t have a monopoly on toughness or professionalism.
But the Corps is part of the fabric of American legend, and on this, its 245th birthday, let me say to tall hose who fought in places such as Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Saipan, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sahn, Hue, Grenada, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan…Oooh Rah!…and Semper Fi Brothers!