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October 30, 2009

Marines Through the Lens of History

I can never again see a United States Marine without experiencing a feeling of reverence. —MajGen Johnson Hagood, USA

“There were Northwesterners with straw-colored hair … and delicately spoken chaps with the stamp of the Eastern universities on them. There were large-boned fellows from Pacific-coast lumber camps, and tall, lean Southerners who swore amazingly in gentle, drawling voices. There were husky farmers from the corn-belt, and youngsters who had sprung, as it were, to arms from the necktie counter. And there were also a number of diverse people who ran curiously to type, with drilled shoulders and a bone-deep sunburn, and a tolerant scorn of nearly everything on earth. …

“They were the Leathernecks … the old breed of American regular, regarding the service as home and war as an occupation; and they transmitted their temper and character and view-point into the high-hearted volunteer mass which filled the ranks of the Marine Brigade.

“There is nothing particularly glorious about sweaty fellows, laden with killing tools, going along to fight. And yet—such a column represents a great deal more than 28,000 individuals mustered into a division. All that is behind those men is in that column, too: the old battles, long forgotten, that secured our nation … traditions of things endured and things accomplished, such as regiments hand down forever … and that abstract thing called patriotism, which I never heard combat soldiers mention—all this passes into the forward zone, to the point of contact, where war is girt with horrors. And common men endure these horrors and overcome them, along with the insistent yearnings of the belly and the reasonable promptings of fear; and in this, I think, is glory.”

—Capt John W. Thomason Jr.: “Fix Bayonets,” 1926, on Marines during WW I

The Marines have landed, and the situation is well in hand.

—Richard Harding Davis, war correspondent 1935 who reportedly wrote it after the 1935 landing in Panama

Goddamn it, you’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!

— Capt Henry P. “Jim” Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan. 1943.

The Second Marine Division took this island because its men were willing to die. They kept on coming in the face of heavy defense, and though they paid the stiffest price in human life per square yard that was ever paid in the history of the Marine Corps, they won this main base in the Gilbert Islands in 76 hours.
Out of two battalions – 2,000 to 3,000 men – thrown onto the beach in the first assault at 0830, only a few hundred men escaped death or injury. Officer casualties were heavy. And still the Marines kept coming. The leathernecks died with one thought – to get there.

—Sgt John Bushemi, “Yank” Staff Correspondent

They (women Marines) don’t have a nickname, and they don’t need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines.

—Gen Thomas Holcomb, 17th CMC, (1936-1943)

I will be adding to this below the fold throughout the day. Feel free to add your own in the comments section!

The Marine Corps has been called by the New York Times the “elite” Corps of this country. I think it is the “elite” Corps of the world.

—Adm William F. Halsey, 4thMarDiv reunion, Washington, D.C., 11 June 1949

Panic sweeps my men when they are facing the American Marines.

—A captured North Korean major

We’ve been looking for the enemy for several days now. We’ve finally found them. We are surrounded. That simplifies the problem of getting to these people and killing them.”

—Col Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, Chosin Reservoir, Korea 1950

They say “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” In the Marine Corps, you can make that horse wish to hell he had.

—Sgt Fred Larson, drill instructor, Plt 343, San Diego, 1965

Lieutenant, if you go in there and watch those stag movies, I’ll write you mother and tell her.

—SgtMaj Charles Skinner, RVN, 1970, on standards of conduct

Update: This is a favorite:

They told (us) to open the embassy, or “we’ll blow you away.” And then they looked up and saw the Marines on the roof with these really big guns, and they said in Somali, “Igaralli ahow,” which means “Excuse me, I didn’t mean it, my mistake.”

—Karen Aquilar, is the U.S. Embassy, Mogadishu, Somalia, 1991

Posted by Cassandra at October 30, 2009 08:17 AM

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"Retreat, hell. We just got here!"
-Captain Lloyd Williams, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment
Château-Thierry, France, June 1918.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 30, 2009 09:43 AM


That's a good one!

Posted by: Cassandra at October 30, 2009 09:57 AM

Missy Cassy ma'am, I have really enjoyed this. Verizon is now using a phrase in their marketing blurbs (I am currently on hold lamenting about their lack of attention to a detail)that reminds me of the United States Armed Forces "We have your back."

No finer friend indeed.

Posted by: Cricket at October 30, 2009 12:45 PM

Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the Marines don't have that problem.
- Commander-in-Chief Ronald Wilson Reagan

Posted by: spd rdr at October 30, 2009 01:18 PM

Here are a few of my faves:

I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all.
-Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders

Gone to Florida to fight the Indians. Will be back when the war is over.
-Colonel Commandant Archibald Henderson, USMC
in a note pinned to his office door, 1836

The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!
-Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945

“I have got to do something, because the ghosts of 3 million Marines out there, all of whom made the Corps what it is today, are looking at me and asking the same question, ‘What are you gonna do pal? You had better do something, because we are watching you!’ To do nothing is dishonorable. That’s the way Marines think.”

Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC

Posted by: MaryR at October 30, 2009 03:19 PM

Very nice, Mary! Especially the first and last ones.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 30, 2009 03:26 PM

My Marine uncle was one of the last to leave Corregidor, and remained peeved the rest of his life. He always said, "We were winning, and they made us surrender."

Not pithy, perhaps, but definitely speaks to the attitude of a Marine.

Posted by: Donna B. at October 30, 2009 03:27 PM