Category Archives: USMC

8th & I Showing how it’s Done

Via Marine Barracks Washington, Marine Corps Ceremonial Marchers and Body Bearers standing tall: 

Marines of Marine Barracks Washington 8th & I weathered the snowstorm to honor a fallen brother on Monday, 3 January 2022. Retired Colonel Donald C. Morse was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Thank you for your service, sir. Fair winds and following seas.

(Photos by Gunnery Sgt. Donell Bryant/Marine Barracks Washington, 8th & I)

(Photos by Gunnery Sgt. Donell Bryant/Marine Barracks Washington, 8th & I)

(Photos by Gunnery Sgt. Donell Bryant/Marine Barracks Washington, 8th & I)

Notably, Col. Morse, 59, was former Commander, 2nd Tank Battalion.

The battalion-strength “Oldest Post of the Corps” traces its founding to 1801 and Lt. Col. William Ward Burrows, the second Commandant. Located on the corners of 8th & I Streets in southeast Washington, D.C., the Barracks supports both ceremonial and security missions in the nation’s capital.

Its current CO is Col. Teague A. Pastel (USNA ’96).

Its three primary units are Company A –comprised of 1st and 2nd Platoon, which are ceremonial marching platoons; the Silent Drill Platoon, and the Marine Corps Color Guard Platoon– Bravo Company— consisting of the Ceremonial Marchers of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Platoons along with the  Marine Body Bearers— and the Guard Company which stand post at Camp David and the White House.

The Barracks is also home to the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps as well as the Marine Band and is the site of the Home of the Commandants, which, along with the Barracks, is a registered national historic landmark.

Remember Wake

With the surrender of American forces at Wake Island on 23 December 1941, this flag was captured by LCDR Taro Fukatsu of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Upon his return to Japan in the spring of 1943, he gave the flag to his mother before he was killed at sea on 25 October 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

USMC photo

The flag was returned to the Marine Corps in 1956 and currently has a place of honor at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, on display in the institution’s WWII Gallery.

Monkeying around

Every year on December 14th National Monkey Day “celebrates the unique characteristics of simians.”

With that:

Besides such nautical terms as the monkey yards and brass monkeys, obstacles such as the Monkey Cage, involvement with Space Monkeys, and tours spent at places such as Monkey Mountain in DaNang, the Navy and Marines have long had a track record of mascots of the simian variety.

USS DOLPHIN (PG-24) some of the ship’s officers, with a monkey mascot, circa 1889. NH 54538

U.S. Navy protected cruiser, USS Raleigh (C 8), Monkey Mascot. Detroit Publishing Company, 1890-1912. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

USS Connecticut (Battleship # 18) crew members with some of their mascots, during the World cruise of the Great White Fleet, circa 1908. Among the animals, present are birds, a pig, a bear cub, a monkey, goats, dogs and cats. NH 106201

USS Kittery (AK-2) Lieutenant Roger A. Nolan, USN (M.C.), on the left, and Ensign Charlie R. Steen, USN (MSC) onboard USS Kittery in the Virgin Islands, circa 1920. Note the monkey on Lieutenant Nolan’s shoulder. Ensign Steen was the father of this photograph’s donor. NH 77039

U.S. Marine and his monkey, – Corporal Thomas F. Burton is shown with Archie, a seven-month-old native of Peleliu. Burton soon to be discharged at Camp Pendleton, California, recently returned from the South Pacific with his pal, “Archie.” The veteran Marine will return to Bakersfield, California, with the pint-sized monkey, circa late 1945. 127-GC-49790

EN3 William M. Roberto, USN, of the Junk Force Station, Phu Quoc Station, Vietnam, is shown with the camp’s monkey on his head. Photographed by W. M. Powers, 18 March 1966. 428-GX-K31239

Grumman F-16?

In celebration of the South Dakota Air National Guard’s 75th anniversary this year, one of the 114th Fighter Wing’s 175th Fighter Squadron (FS) “Lobos” F-16s has been given a somewhat confusing special livery– that of a Marine WWII F4F Wildcat.

A blue and white F-16 from the 114th Fighter Wing, painted at the Air National Guard Paint Facility in Sioux City, Iowa was painted for the South Dakota Air Guard in commemoration of their 75th anniversary. U.S. Air National Guard photo: Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot

The heritage scheme represents the WWII F4F Wildcat flown by South Dakota native, Medal of Honor recipient, and Marine Corps ace Joseph J. “Joe” Foss, who was instrumental in founding the SDANG post-war and establishing its 175th FS, which received federal recognition 20 September 1946.

Foss (fourth from left) joins members of Marine Corps fighter squadron VMF-121 on a Wildcat wing at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal. (U.S. Marine Corps)

Foss, immediately after the war, was made a colonel in the USAAF and appointed to form an Air National Guard fighter squadron in Sioux Falls, equipped with P-51 Mustangs. In a little-known fact, he had begun his military service in 1939 as an enlisted man with a field artillery unit of the South Dakota guard, then hitchhiked to Minneapolis to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserves in 1940 in order to join the Naval Aviation Cadet program, making him ultimately a veteran of the Army, Marines, and Air Force, retiring from the latter in 1955 as a one-star general.

Either way, the cigar-chomping Foss, would have likely approved of the coyote tail flash. 

U.S. Air National Guard photo: Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot

Little Groups of Marines with Switchblades

One of the most inspiring, and telling in my opinion, modern battles was the morning-long scrap between LT Keith Mills and 22 of his Royal Marines against an Argentine force on remote South Georgia Island. Ordered to give the Argies a “bloody nose,” on 3rd April 1982 his sub-platoon-sized unit did better than that.

Mills’ Marauders

Outfitted only with small arms and man-portable anti-tank weapons (an 84mm Carl G recoilless rifle and 66mm LAWs), they downed an Argentine helicopter and mauled ARA Guerrico, a corvette that came in to the harbor to support the invasion of the British territory.

ARA Guerrico, showing one of her two 84mm holes at her waterline. The other destroyed her Exocet launcher whilst a 66mm round wrecked the elevation mechanism on her main gun. She also had been raked by over 1,200 rounds of 7.62mm. Only the Carl Gustav misfiring prevented more hits.

A great, and lengthy, interview with Mills was filmed earlier this year, as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Falklands Islands War. :

Let’s talk about Loitering Munitions

U.S. Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, launch a [AeroVironment Switchblade] lethal miniature aerial missile system during an exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Sept. 2, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Forti)

Rapidly deployable loitering missile systems, designed as a “kamikaze” being able to crash into its target with an explosive warhead, are the “hot new thing.” However, as witnessed in the recent five-week Nagorno-Karabakh war, between Azerbaijan– supported by Syrian mercenaries and Turkey — and the so-called Republic of Artsakh together with Armenia (who had the low-key support of Moscow), they are a 21st Century game changer. In a nutshell, the Azerbaijanis claim to have smoked almost 400 high-value military vehicles– ranging from main battle tanks to SAM batteries– with such munitions, for zero lives traded.

The U.S. Army, Marines, and Naval Special Warfare Command have been experimenting with such systems over the past decade, such as the Switchblade shown above. The small (6-pound) Switchblade 300 and the larger 50-pound Switchblade 600 both use the same Ground Control Station (GCS) as other small UAVs in the military’s arsenal such as the Wasp, RQ-11 Raven, and RQ-20 Puma. Quiet, due to their electric motors, and capable of hitting a target with extreme accuracy out to 50 nm with a 100-knot closing speed in the case of the larger munition, they could easily target ship’s bridges or soft points with lots of flammable things such as hangars and small boat decks.

So where is this going?

As perfectly described by a panel consisting of CAPT Walker D. Mills, USMC, along with U.S. Navy LT Lieutenant Joseph Hanacek and LCDR Dylan Phillips-Levine in this month’s USNI Proceedings, possibly to a Pacific atoll near you. In short, while it is nice that the Marines are looking at long-range NMESIS coastal defense cruise missile (CDCM) systems, smaller munitions like Switchblade could prove an important tool when it comes to area denial in a littoral.

Introducing loitering munitions that the Marine Corps can use to strike warships creates combined-arms opportunities—a flight of loitering munitions autonomously launched from a small rocky outcropping could knock some of an enemy ship’s self-defense weapons offline, sending that ship home for repairs or setting conditions for a strike by larger CDCMs that deliver the coup de grace. Loitering munitions also can strike ships at close range—inside the minimum-engagement range for larger missiles. With smaller, cheaper, and more mobile loitering munitions, small units and teams operating as “stand-in forces” can contribute to sea denial and expand the threats the Marines pose to an enemy. The case for employing these weapons goes beyond speculation—loitering munitions have already been used with great effect in recent history and have proved their worth on the future battlefield.

More here.

The Rifles of Pearl Harbor

On that sleepy Sunday morning 80 years ago, which was interrupted by incoming waves of Japanese warplanes, a lot of the response came from individuals fighting with nothing more than rifles.

The crew abandoning the damaged battleship USS California (BB-44) as burning oil drifts down on the ship, at about 1000 hrs on the morning of 7 December 1941, shortly after the end of the Japanese raid. The capsized hull of the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37) is visible at the right. Note the Sailors to the left with rifles. Official U.S. Navy Photograph NH 97399

The most important American base in the Central Pacific, Pearl Harbor was home to the bulk of the Pacific Fleet along with significant Army units. Although a war warning had been sent to the base after intelligence pointing to a looming attack following months of deteriorating relations with the Empire of Japan, it would not be read until hours after the attack had ended.
 
Thus, the fleet and bases were more concerned with threats of sabotage and in capturing spies, rather than warding off 360 incoming Japanese planes armed with bombs and torpedoes. Ships and heavy guns were offline, their crews relaxing on a quiet peacetime morning. This left those on duty able to resist at first with just the arms at hand.

Most common was the M1903 Springfield, a bolt-action .30-06 with an internal 5-shot magazine. The Springfield was used by the Marines and held in the Navy’s small arms lockers and armories. Even lighthouse keepers and NPS park rangers, in the months before the attack, were issued M1903s “on loan from the Army” and .45s for use in patrol work along the coastline.

Lesser encountered was the M1 Garand. A new rifle adopted by the Army in 1937 to replace the M1903, it too was chambered in .30-06 but loaded from an eight-shot en-bloc clip. Not all soldiers in Hawaii in 1941 had the new rifle, and many still relied on the M1903.

Two three-brigade “triangular” infantry divisions were in Hawaii at the time, the newly formed 25th Infantry Division (from the 27th and 35th Infantry Regiments of the old “square” Hawaiian Division and the 298th Infantry Regiment of the recently federalized Hawaii National Guard) and the 24th Infantry Division (made up of the 19th and the 21st Infantry Regiment from the old Hawaiian Division and the 299th Infantry Regiment from the Hawaii Guard). The TO&E for a 1941 triangular infantry division allowed for 7,327 M1 Garands, meaning there should have been at least 15,000 or so of the new guns in the territory.

Other .30-caliber firearms on hand that day included M1918 BARs, M1917 watercooled heavy and aircooled M1919 light machine guns, along with Lewis guns, the latter a light automatic rifle that fired from a 47-round magazine and was still in use by the Navy.

Gordon Prange, in his book on the attack, “At Dawn We Slept,” detailed that General Walter Short, head of the Army’s forces in Hawaii, was so fixated on countering sabotage from perceived local threats that his ordnance department refused to issue ammunition in practice, believing that as long as it was safely locked up and safely guarded it could not be tampered with.

Clips vs. Clips!

Part of the problem resulting from the ongoing switchover from the M1903, which used five-round stripper clips to charge the bolt-action rifle, to the new semi-auto M1 Garand, which used eight-shot en bloc clips, was that .30-06 ammo on hand was often prepacked in bandoliers for the older rifle.

As detailed in a 2002 American Hangunner article by Massad Ayoob, Marine Pvt. Le Fan recalled they had been handed M1 Garands that morning but the only ammo that could be had was clipped for the M1903.
 
“I opened the receiver of my Garand and put one round into the chamber and closed it,” said Fan. “I recall one Japanese pilot coming over, and he waved at us as he did. He was very low – less than 100 feet high – because he was going to Battleship Row. They would wave at us, and we were throwing .30 caliber rounds at them as fast as we could, from single shots because we could not fire semi-automatic. I fired 60 rounds because I recall this particular bandolier that I got had 60 rounds in it.”

The Army Clocks in

Some 43,000 soldiers were on active duty in Hawaii in December 1941. At Fort Kamehameha, named for Hawaii’s national hero, attacking Japanese Zeroes were seen to come in as low as 50 feet off the ground. By 0813, soldiers had set up machine guns on the base’s tennis courts.
 
Now 103 years old, Joe Eskenazi was a 23-year-old Army private at Schofield Barracks who woke up that Sunday morning with a start. “I look up, and I see a Zero (aircraft) flying over my head. He was flying so low that I think I could see his goggles,” Eskenazi recalled in a recent interview. “I said, ‘Oh my God. That’s a Zero fighter going by us,’ and then I saw bombs drop.” His next move was to grab his M1 Garand rifle and some ammo and jump in a truck with other soldiers. Using his rifle on a low flying Zero, just moments later, “I started to see the dirt kicking up only three feet away from the door.”

USAAF Personnel with a “WE WILL KEEP EM FLYING” sign at the entrance to the damaged base engineering shop at Wheeler Army Airfield on Oahu Hawaii – December 1941. Note the early M1 Garand. At this point in the rifle’s production, Springfield Armory, has just cranked out 429,811 guns. LIFE Magazine Archives – Bob Landry Photographer

Prange retells the account of Lt. Stephen Saltzman at Schofield Barracks who, with Sgt. Lowell Klatt, grabbed two BARs and “too mad to be scared” engaged a low-flying Japanese plane whose own machine guns were winking at the men on the ground. The plane pulled up to avoid high-tension wires, then crashed on the other side of the building. When Saltzman and Klatt approached the wreck, they found the two aviators inside to be dead. The author notes that “of the four aircraft which fell to Army guns” during the Japanese first wave, “all succumbed to machinegun or BAR fire when they screamed down to strafe within range of these relatively limited weapons.”

The Navy fights back

“Gunners on board seaplane tender USS Avocet look for more Japanese planes, at about the time the air raid ended. Photographed from atop a building at Naval Air Station Ford Island, looking toward the Navy Yard. USS Nevada is at right, with her bow afire. Beyond her is the burning USS Shaw. Smoke at left comes from the destroyers Cassin and Downes, ablaze in Drydock Number One.” Note the Lewis gun on top of Avocet’s wheelhouse. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. #: 80-G-32445

Tied up at the Navy Yard was the cruiser USS New Orleans, which sounded General Quarters at 0757 immediately after seeing enemy planes dive-bombing Ford Island. While men scrambled to bring the ship’s 1.1-inch “Chicago Piano” battery online,” the Japanese were fired at with rifles and pistols from the fantail.” By 0810, the quantity of fire coming from the cruiser was credited with causing Japanese aviators to turn away or to drop their bombs erratically, causing the bombs to fall into the water between the ships
 
During the raid on Pearl Harbor, the destroyer USS Dewey was moored at berth Xray-2, under overhaul. Nonetheless, her crew, after observing Japanese torpedoes hit the old battleship USS Utah nearby at 0755, sounded General Quarters and by 0802 was firing .50 caliber machine guns at enemy planes while the ship’s gunners’ mates moved to install the firing locks in the destroyer’s larger guns. Meanwhile, “The bridge force fired [Browning] Automatic Rifles and rifles.”
 
The gunboat USS Sacramento, moored port side to berth B-6 at the Navy Yard, was not able to get her 4-inch guns into the fight but instead gave the men of the battery “rifles, Browning Automatic Rifles, and Thompson submachine guns” and got to work. At one point during the attack, an aircraft some 300 yards from the ship was seen to burst into flames.
 
Sacramento’s crew alone fired:

  • 1,950 rounds .50 cal. tracer
  • 4,000 rounds .50 cal. armor-piercing.
  • 2,000 rounds .45 cal. Thompson sub-machine guns.
  • 5,473 rounds .30 cal. armor-piercing.
  • 2,887 rounds .30 cal. tracer.
  • 3,000 rounds .30 cal. ball.

 
Submarines, with few topside weapons, even got into the act. The crew of the USS Dolphin, as early as 0800, used rifles and machine guns against Japanese planes. Meanwhile, ashore at the Submarine Base, sailors manned “250 rifles, 15 [Browning] Automatic Rifles and 15 machine guns, maintaining a continuous fire,” that accounted for “two low flying torpedo planes.”
 
Even ships not normally considered in the front lines of the battle fleet lent their lead. The minesweeper USS Rail, nested at the Coal Docks next to four other sweepers on that Sunday morning “Opened fire with .30 Cal. machine guns and Rifles and Pistols 20 minutes after attack on Pearl Harbor.”
 
The minelayer USS Pruitt, moored at berth 18 at the Navy Yard undergoing a routine overhaul, had all her armament and machinery disabled and most of the ship’s crew in barracks. Even with all those strikes against it going into a real-life shooting war, Pruitt’s crew shook it off and made ready.

From Pruitt’s report on the attack:

“The initial surprise of the attack passed quickly, and all personnel began arming themselves with all available small arms in the ready locker. The only arms immediately available were .30 caliber machine guns, Browning automatic rifles, service rifles, and service pistols. Within an incredibly brief time, men were equipped and firing at low-flying attacking planes…Three low flying Japanese fighter planes were shot down in the immediate vicinity of this vessel apparently by small caliber weapons.”

 
The battered old tugboat, USS Ontario was moored in the Repair Basin with no fuel onboard and all machinery disabled as she was in overhaul. The vessel had “no offensive or defensive power at the beginning of the attack except for some 30 caliber ammunition in the Abandon Ship Locker.” The “aught six” was soon being fed into a dozen Springfield M1903s as “Members of the deck force were given all rifles and opened fire on all low flying enemy planes.” Lacking any helmets, “Those who manned the small arms and remained exposed, firing upon low flying aircraft, exhibited willing personal bravery.”
 
The destroyer tender USS Thornton was moored port side to dock at the Submarine Base’s berth S-1 and sounded General Quarters at 0756. Using the ship’s landing force weapons – four .50 caliber machine guns, three .30 caliber Lewis guns, three BARs, and 12 Springfield M1903s – her crew commenced firing at 0758. It was noted that an enemy torpedo plane was shot down, with Thornton’s report saying “This plane burst into flames and fell into the water. The torpedo fell clear, but was not launched.”
 
Aboard the repair ship USS Medusa, whose crew were by 0805 firing at enemy planes crossing “not over 100 feet” above and a periscope spotted just 1,000 yards away, some 21 Springfield rifles were used to arm a patrol of men ashore who were eagerly looking for downed Japanese aviators and survivors of midget submarines sunk in the harbor.
 
The survey ship USS Sumner, a vessel normally tasked to make charts, armed members of her crew “with rifles and B.A.R.s” then stationed them in the ship’s two masts to “act as snipers.”
 
At the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe Bay, home to giant PBY Catalina flying boats, “Three rifles were manned immediately” as others retrieved machine guns from planes, eventually setting up two nests in semi-protected spots near the hangar. “Under continuous attacks by the enemy, machine gun and rifle crews manned their guns and all other personnel worked to disperse planes and to save material,” reads the report from one of the base’s squadrons.

A photographer seems to have caught at least some of that, leaving some of the most iconic images from the day. 

“Rescue operations after the first attack and before bombing at Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay. Pulling a partially burning PBY aircraft from the center of fire area.” Note the Sailor on the left with an M1903. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. #: 80-G-32837

“Planes and a hangar burning at the Ford Island Naval Air Station’s seaplane base, during or immediately after the Japanese air raid. The ruined wings of a PBY Catalina patrol plane are at the left and in the center. Note men with rifles standing in the lower left.” Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. #: 80-G-19944

“Sandbagged .30 caliber machine gun emplacement with gun crew on alert, at the seaplane base near Ford Island’s southern tip, soon after the Japanese attack.” The gun is a superfast-firing ANM2, pulled from an aircraft. Note the beached battleship, USS Nevada, in the distance. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. #: 80-G-32492

“Sailors at Naval Air Station Ford Island reloading ammunition clips and belts, probably around the time of the attack’s second wave.” Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. #: 80-G-32497

Tell it to the Marines

Marines, both in shipboard detachments and ashore, were in the fight from the beginning. There were approximately 4,500 Marines stationed at Pearl Harbor and its vicinity on that fateful morning, and official report recalled, “practically to the last man, every Marine at the base met the attack with whatever weapon there was at hand, or that he could commandeer, or even improvise with the limited means of his command. They displayed great courage and determination against insurmountable odds.”

“At their barracks, near the foundation of a swimming pool under construction, three Marines gingerly seek out good vantage points from which to fire, while two peer skyward, keeping their eyes peeled for attacking Japanese planes. Headgear varies from Hawley helmet to garrison cap to none, but the weapon is the same for all — the Springfield 1903 rifle.” Lord Collection, USMC via the NPS.

“View at the Pearl Harbor Marine Barracks, taken from the Parade Ground between 0930 and 1130 hrs. on 7 December 1941 looking toward Battleship Row. Smoke in the distance is from the burning USS Arizona (BB-39). Navy Yard water towers are in the left-center, with flags flying from a signal station atop the middle one. In the center of the view, Marines are deploying a three-inch anti-aircraft gun. Other Marines, armed with rifles, stand at the left.” U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 50928


The admiral in command of the mine force at Pearl Harbor, in his report, noted that one Japanese plane was observed “shot down by Marines with rifles at Main Gate,” confirmed by the crew of the minelayer USS Sicard.

As noted by the National Park Service of the Marine air group at Ewa Field, fighting off an attacking wave of Zeroes led by future Japanese air ace Yoshio Shiga from the decks of the aircraft carrier Kaga:


Firing only small arms and rifles in the opening stages, the Marines fought back against Kaga’s fighters as best they could, with almost reckless heroism. Lieutenant Shiga remembered one particular Leatherneck who, oblivious to the machine gun fire striking the ground around him and kicking up dirt, stood transfixed, emptying his sidearm at Shiga’s Zero as it roared past. Years later, Shiga would describe that lone, defiant, and unknown Marine as the bravest American he had ever met.


Marines reportedly manned stations with rifles and .30-caliber machine guns taken from damaged aircraft and the squadron ordnance rooms. Specifically, the fighting at Ewa saw Marine Pfc. Mann, “who by that point had managed to obtain some ammunition for his rifle, dropped down with the rest of the Marines at the garage and fired at the attacking fighters as they streaked by.”

Effectiveness

To be sure, the act of firing at planes – even low-flying ones made of canvas without self-sealing fuel tanks – with rifles and pistols was not ideal, but, with larger armament offline due to the surprise nature of the attack, it was a tangible way for the crews to fight back, even as the fleet’s mighty battleships were being sent to the bottom.
 
Aboard the minelayer USS Breese, the ship’s post-battle report admitted as much about the crew’s use of rifles against the attacking planes saying, “although its effectiveness is doubtful it served a means of satisfying the offensive spirit of the crew.”
 
Just after the destroyer USS Blue got underway during the attack, two Japanese planes swooped in at mast-height and one of the attackers was seen to flame out under heavy fire from the ship’s guns, crashing near the Pan Am landings in Pearl City. During the pass, a young officer on the bridge was so excited he threw his binoculars at the passing plane, saying later he was “just kind of mad.”
 
While only 29 Japanese planes failed to return to the Japanese carriers after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 74 including 41 bombers were damaged, some extensively. You can bet a lot of that damage consisted of holes roughly .30 caliber in diameter.
 
Finally, the rifles would be put to use the following day, in a more somber task.

“A Marine rifle squad fires a volley over the bodies of fifteen officers and men killed at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay during the Pearl Harbor raid. These burial ceremonies took place on 8 December 1941, the day after the attack.” Navy Catalog #: 80-G-32854

Among the 2,403 Americans killed, 2,008 were sailors, 218 were soldiers, 109 were Marines and 68 were civilians, according to a National World War II Museum Pearl Harbor fact sheet. Total casualties were almost 3,600.

Government Issue, 100 Years Ago Today

“Regulation Army .45 Colt and its effect on bulletproof glass used in the new armored postal trucks which it is proposed to put into use as a further protection of valuable mails,” December 1, 1921.

Via The Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection. LC-F8-16987

The destructive tester seems to be a Marine, which tracks because the same year this image was taken, President Warren G. Harding sent 2,200 Marines to guard mail delivery across the nation in the wake of a spate of high-profile robberies.

Note the trench guns and M1911s

How about that early M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle? Also, it must have been odd to be on armed details with neckties and campaign hats.

The Devils were tasked with riding shotgun over high priority certified mail, which included cash and negotiable bonds. Reportedly, in the five years that the Marines were on guard, not one robbery on an escorted shipment was attempted.

Happy Thanksgiving, Cavite Barracks edition

100 years and one day ago today: Thanksgiving Day menu for a dinner held at the Marine Barracks, Cavite, Philippine Islands on 24 November 1921.

From the Otto Dander Collection (COLL/2431) at the Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections.

At the time, predating deployment of the famed “China Marines” of the 4th Marine Regiment to the region, the entire Corps numbered a paltry 22,990 officers and men, mostly afloat, detailed for the occupation of Haiti, and embroiled in the Banana Wars of Central America. However, with MAJ E. H. “Pete” Ellis working on his unauthorized (at least officially) 30,000-word report– his “Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia” — outlining a strategy for the Marines to win the war he foresaw brewing in the Pacific against a growing and increasingly aggressive East Asian power (then the Empire of Japan) the coming “pivot to the East” seems very relevant today. Ellis had served in the PI on the eve of his, um, extracurricular activities against the Empire.

The Cavite Barracks, dating back to 1900, was in 1921 home to a company-sized element responsible for the security of the area, based at first in the old Spanish Fort San Felipe, then in new-construction barracks after about 1908, as the Navy expanded into nearby Olongapo and the Subic Bay area.

USMC Parade, Review, and inspection, Olongapo, Philippines, circa 1908 “Heavy Marching Order.” From the Earl H. “Pete” Ellis Collection (COLL/3246) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

“Pistol Firing, Maquinaya, USMC Range”, Philippines, circa 1909. From the Earl H. “Pete” Ellis Collection (COLL/3246) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

The above Thanksgiving menu is prepared by mess officer, 2nd LT JS Monahan, and approved by unit commander MAJ HH Kipp.

Born 16 February 1879 in New York and, after a stint at Wesleyan, taken into service 3 December 1900 at the rank of 2nd LT, Howard Hapgood Kipp went to the PI in 1909 as part of a detachment of four officers (of which he was the junior) and 100 Marines. He spent the Great War detailed to the Inspector’s Department, having been assigned in 1916 as a Captian at Marine Barracks New York. Promoted to Lt. Col. 11 February 1924, his name was added to the retired list 3 January 1927 having served two years, nine months at sea as well as 12 years, five months on foreign service. He died in 1940. His wife, Katherine “Kitty” Bloodgood, was a vaudeville performer of some note and survived him by 25 years. His son, Hapgood Kipp, born in 1907, was accepted to Annapolis while his father was still on active duty, and passed away in 2000.

James Stanley Monahan, born 24 September 1896 in Colorado, seems to have been accepted into the USNRF as an ensign on 6 July 1918, serving 1 year, 11 months, and 23 days. Accepted as a 2nd LT with the Marines on 6 April 1921, Cavite was undoubtedly his first overseas duty as a Devil. Monahan later served as a major with the “Magnificent Bastards” of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines in 1940 and by October 1942 earned his own battalion, given command of the “Island Warriors” of 2/3 Marines on the lead up to Bougainville. He was a light colonel listed as XO of the 1st Marines for the assault on Iwo Jima then later, after the assault, moved up to head the HQ Battalion of the 1st MARDIV. Monahan– like his old Cavite boss Kipp– was placed on the retired list as an LTC, 1 January 1947. His son is the well-known San Diego attorney David Emory Monahan.

As for Cavite, the 700-strong 1st Separate Marine Battalion, just 20 years after the above menu was approved, was fighting the Japanese all the way to the Bataan Death March. Today, it remains home to the Philippine Marine Corps as Naval Station Pascual Ledesma.

Plastic Reminders

While visiting the offices of my local parish, I came across this and thought it was a good idea. For a sub-$20 donation, something small like this can have a big impact on people’s hearts and minds. These little plastic soldiers are a tangible reminder that can lead to folks reaching out to help support their local Veterans groups, USOs, and military non-profits. 

Happy 246th Birthday, USMC!

The First Recruits, December 1775, by Col. Charles Waterhouse, USMCR, shows Capt. Samuel Nicholas, 1st Lt. Matthew Parke, and a scowling sergeant with prospective Leathernecks on the Philadelphia waterfront. (USMC Art Collection)

“On November 10, 2021, U.S. Marines around the globe celebrate a 246-year legacy of battlefield prowess defined by courage, discipline, loyalty, perseverance, adaptability, leadership, and warfighting innovation.

The annual birthday message delivered by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David H. Berger, and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Troy Black, acknowledges the generation of Marines who joined after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, who later served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who now approach their retirement milestone.”

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