Marines, a quick shot
By Capt. Douglas March, U.S. Marine Corps Detachment, Commanding Officer
/ Published November 10, 2009
GOODFELLOW AFB, Texas --
In honor of the United States Marine Corps 234th birthday on Nov. 10, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some history with our sister services.
In accordance with the Continental Marine Act of 1775, the Congress decreed "That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates as with other battalions, that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies; unless dismissed by Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalions of Marines."
Therefore, on Nov. 10, 1775, Capt. Samuel Nicholas entered Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pa. to recruit the first two battalions of Continental Marines, becoming the first and only Commandant of the Continental Marines. This fighting force was established to conduct ship-to-ship fighting, provide security aboard ship and to assist in amphibious operations as needed. These first Marines were used to conduct amphibious landings and raids against British Forces during the American Revolution. The first landing consisted of 250 Marines and sailors and led by Captain Nicholas. They landed in New Providence, Bahamas, where, in 13 days they secured two forts and seized 88 guns, 16,535 shells and other supplies in order to resupply General Washington. There were 131 Continental Marine Officers and no more than 2,000 enlisted Marines. They were further utilized throughout the American Revolution both aboard ship and alongside the Continental Army. However, the Continental Marines were disbanded at the end of the war in 1783. Individual men were still enlisting as Marines for the few American naval vessels, but the Marines were not re-created until 1798, when Congress created the United States Marine Corps in preparation for war with France.
Since that time, Marines have participated in nearly every military engagement in which the United States has been involved. Some of our most famous actions include the assault on Derna during the First Barbary War, the Defense of New Orleans during the War of 1812, and the Assault on Chapultepec Palace during the Mexican-American War. The Marines again proved themselves during the battle at Belleau Wood during World War I where the Germans named us "Teufelhunden" or "Devil Dogs", throughout the Island Hopping campaign of World War II with the battles for Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and at the Chosen Reservoir during the Korean War. More recently, in Khe Sanh and Hue City during the Vietnam War, in Beruit, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Marines have shown they are living up to their ancestry.
The Marines have had and continue to have a long and illustrious history. The Marine legend Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller once said, "Old breed. New breed. There's not a damn bit of difference as long as it's the Marine Breed!" This has been proven over the years, as the weapons, missions and enemies have changed and Marines have learned, adapted and overcome all challenges. They have grown from the small fighting force created by Capt. Nicholas to an elite organization of men and women prepared to answer the call whenever the President needs. Happy Birthday Marines! Semper Fidelis.