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November 01, 2009

Famous Marines


Sergeant Major Jiggs, virtually a symbol of the Marine Corps, is ready for a 1924 training flight at Quantico, Virginia. Of decidedly blue-blood background, Jiggs née King Bulwark, was whelped in Philadelphia on 22 May 1922. Upon his enlistment in the Corps on 14 October 1922, he outranked the Commandant. Brigadier General Smedley Butler, who signed the enlistment papers “for life,” sensibly demoted the King to private and preserved the chain of command. Jiggs moved rapidly up the ranks. He was a corporal two and a half weeks after induction and a sergeant by New Year’s Day 1924. That June he was promoted to sergeant major. Jiggs died before his time on 9 January 1927. He lay in state in a Quantico hangar, flanked by two Marine guards and banks of flowers. His passing was mourned throughout the Corps.

Photo and history courtesy of our sister service, the U. S. Naval Institute.

Today's Marine trivia subject will be Famous Marines. The list begins below the fold. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section!

You might be surprised at how many famous people served in the Marine Corps. Given the photo above the fold, it seems only right to lead off with:

1. Sergeant Major Dan Daly:

Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph "Dan" Daly (November 11, 1873 – April 27, 1937) was a United States Marine and one of only 19 men (and two Marines) to receive the Medal of Honor twice, the other being Major General Smedley Butler.

Dan Daly is well remembered for his famous cry during the Battle of Belleau Wood, when, besieged, outnumbered, outgunned, and pinned down, he led his men in attack, shouting, "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?"[1]

Daly was described by his fellow Medal of Honor double award recipient, MajGen Smedley Butler as,"The fightenist Marine I ever knew!" Daly reportedly was offered an officer's commission twice to which he responded the he would rather be, "...an outstanding sergeant than just another officer."

Here's an interesting historical perspective on Daly's famous quote:

We are humbled to follow, yet hopeful to live up to, those who have gone before -- as at Belleau Wood in 1918. When his men were being cut to pieces by German machine guns, Marine 1st Sgt. Dan Daly, already the recipient of two Medals of Honor, charged the guns shouting, "Come on, you sons-o'-bitches! Do you want to live forever?" More than just history, this retelling to each new generation becomes a pledge: Although some will die, those who follow will keep the faith by keeping our memory -- a promise of immortality that asks, instead, "Don't you want to live forever?"

2. An iconic movie Marine (in real life he served in the Army Air Force during WWII): Jack Webb. Mike the Marine has a review of The DI, plus great footage from the movie!

James Lileks has some classic B&W stills from the movie.

3. Thomas Sowell: a writer and thinker I admire greatly.

4. Hollywood Marines:

Lee Marvin: enlisted in August 1942, served in the Marshall Islands (Eniwetok and Kwajalein), and was in the June 1944 Saipan invasion force. His company was ambushed and only six of 241 men survived. Marvin was, as he stated "shot in the ass" (a 9x3x3-inch wound), hospitalized 13 months, and discharged. Disabled and underemployed, he discovered summer stock acting, and progressed to Broadway plays, and motion pictures.
George C. Scott,
Don Adams of Get Smart fame,
Gene Hackman,
Scott Glenn
(The Right Stuff),
Glenn Ford,
Mike Harrell,
R. Lee Ermey,
Brian Keith:
U.S. Marine rear gunner in several actions against the Japanese on Rabal in the Pacific.
Drew Carey,
James Whitmore,
Tyrone Power:
(an established movie star when Pearl Harbor was bombed) joined the U.S. Marines, was a pilot flying supplies into, and wounded Marines out of, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
John Russell: In 1942, he enlisted in the Marine Corps where he received a battlefield commission and was wounded and highly decorated for valor at Guadalcanal.
Steve McQueen: a wild and rebellious farm boy from the Midwest who had worked in brothels as a youth, enlisted in the Marines in 1947, was a crewman on tanks and amphibious tractors, and served in the guards assigned to President Truman's yacht, Sequoia.
Harvey Keitel
George Peppard
Jonathan Winters

Ed McMahon started his career in the Navy's V-5 Program, transferred to the Marines, and was a flight instructor in F4U Corsair fighters prior to his discharge in 1946. While at Philadelphia's WCAU radio and television he was recalled to active duty and Captain McMahon flew 85 reconnaissance missions in an unarmed Cessna 180 observation plane in Korea (1951-1952).

CWCID here and here

Posted by Cassandra at November 1, 2009 07:04 AM

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Gunny Basilone was always one of my favorite Marines. His exploits read like a fictional novel:


Not mentioned in the article is the Machine Gun served by Basilone. It was a M-1917 water cooled machine gun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1917_Browning_machine_gun). When all the water in the cooling jacket had boiled out (after sustained heavy fire), Gunny Basilone jumped up in the face of heavy Japanese fire and refilled the jacket with the only water a man carries with him, and then continued firing. At one point, he famously picked up this crew-served weapon and fired it cradled in his arms. He sustained bad burns to his forearm where the boiling jacket rested, but he failed to notice until after the battle. The man didn't have time for pain, there was enemy before him that needed killin.

Posted by: MikeD at November 2, 2009 09:16 AM

How could you overlook Private Bob Keeshan, USMCR?

Later promoted to Captain, of course...


Posted by: BillT at November 2, 2009 09:55 AM

Well, I was pretty punchy this morning, besides being in a huge hurry :)

Besides, I have to leave *something* for you critters to do! Keeps you out of trouble.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 2, 2009 10:49 AM


Posted by: Fred MacKintosh at September 14, 2010 07:45 AM