Category Archives: USMC

One door closes, another opens

U.S. Marines participate in the deactivation ceremony for 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Jan. 13, 2023. The battalion is deactivating in accordance with Force Design 2030 as the Marine Corps modernizes to remain the premier crisis response force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Israel Chincio)

In Marine Corps news this month, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines cased its colors during the unit’s deactivation ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on 13 January 2023.

Surely it is a bad sign when a famed unit– one that formerly counted Commandant Krulak, John Ripley of Dong Ha bridge fame, Ollie North, Dakota Meyer, and “Terminal Lance” Maximilian Uriarte– cases its colors on Friday the 13th.

The move will allow for the transformation of 3d Marines to the 3d Marine Littoral Regiment.

Of note, first stood up on 1 June 1942, 3/3 Marines were bled white in the liberation of Guam in July 1944, suffering over 400 casualties, half its strength.

Speaking of which, the Corps is marking the naming and reactivation of Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, on Jan. 26, 2023, on Guam. MCBCB is named in honor of the late Brig. Gen. Vicente ‘Ben’ Thomas Garrido Blaz, the first Chamorro Marine to attain the rank of general officer.

Thirteen years old when the Japanese invaded Guam during World War II, Blaz worked in labor camps, building aviation fields, planting rice, and digging trenches until American forces retook the island in 1944. Post-war, following a BS from Notre Dame, he would serve in the Marines in both Korea and Vietnam.

The base will be the first Marine installation after Marine Barracks Guam was deactivated on Nov. 10, 1992. Ultimately 5,000 Marines will be stationed there, ironically “partially funded by a large monetary contribution from the Government of Japan,” as part of a pivot of Marines from Okinawa.

“MCBCB will play an essential role in strengthening the Marine Corps’ geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable posture in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Devil Gear, circa 1860s

While the Union Army during the Civil War numbered a whopping 2,213,000 individuals in service between the regulars, USCT, and myriad of state volunteer units taken on the roles, the peak strength of the U.S. Marine Corps during the conflict only hit 3,860 officers and men, making them one of the smallest units in Federal service– and their uniforms among the rarest today.

Washington, D.C. Six marines with rifles and fixed bayonets at the Navy Yard. LC-DIG-cwpb-04148

Assorted studio portraits of individual Civil War era U.S. Marines in the Liljenquist collection of the Library of Congress.

You’d never know their dress uniforms were brilliant blue with gold-yellow facings and epaulets from the existing photos.

The Horse Soldier, an upscale military antique store in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– which sold many of the above studio images to the LOC– has just an incredible find in their collection. 

On display (and for sale of course) at the shop. One of the rarest Civil War uniform groups. This Marine Corps uniform group belonged to Private John Hammond and includes his dress coat with epaulets, shako, fatigue cap, trousers, and rarest of the rare, his knapsack marked “USM.”

Hammond was a shoemaker who enlisted in the Marine Corps in Boston to serve four years on May 15, 1861, and served until discharge on August 24, 1865, at the barracks in Boston. His trousers have the marking of the frigate USS Santee, one of Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron’s most active ships, on the pocket.

Gather ’round the spent brass tree

“Echo Company Christmas Tree,” by Maj. John T. Dyer, Jr., USMCR (16 February 1938 – 31 July 2014).

National Museum of The Marine Corps Collection (2012.1001.362)

LT Randy Rule carefully re-linked spent brass cartridges to decorate the tree, topped by a small American flag, for Echo Company (likely of 2/6 Marines), which overlooks Amal Village in Beirut, Lebanon, on 26 December 1983.

Many Hands Make Light Work

An important milestone occurred this weekend across 45 minutes on a humid and foggy Saturday morning for the Biloxi National Cemetery. The unit, which honors well over 17,000 of the nation’s veterans (going back to the war with Mexico) and their spouses, celebrated its 10th annual Christmas wreath drive.

Sadly, the number of wreaths grows each season. Total number of wreaths this year pushed the 25,000 mark

In an effort that costs the government or the VA nothing, a core of volunteers– heavy with youth groups such as Scouts and JROTC– covered the grounds with donated wreaths, making sure every gravesite had one.

Of course, the background work included local businesses donating funds for wreaths and new bows (replaced yearly) and further smaller teams of volunteers who worked all day Thursday unloading and Friday staging the wreaths/affixing new bows, but the work went cheerfully.

I am glad to have participated in this mission for the past several years with my family. 

I try to say a little piece and acknowledge the individual Veteran on each of the wreaths I install, in addition to taking it upon myself to cover the graves of those I knew personally.

A pole/broomstick/piece of PVC pipe (and a buddy to carry the other end) helps greatly.

Of course, the crowds of volunteers will be smaller on Jan. 7th when we go to pick them back up but, that’s part of the job!

If you have a national cemetery in your area that doesn’t do something similar, please think about starting such an effort.

If they already do, please join in the effort. Every pair of hands helps!

Santa Jumps with the Marines to Honor Toys for Tots

Parachutes? Check. Dress Blues? Check. C-130? Check. Santa Claus? Oh, you know that’s a check.

High over Camp Shelby, Mississippi earlier this month, Marines of the 3rd Reconnaissance Company and the Marine Forces Reserves climbed in the back of a perfectly good C-130 Hercules and bailed out as part of Operation Santa Drop. The event saluted both the 75th anniversary of the Marine Corps Reserve’s long-running Toys for Tots program and the Corps’ 247th birthday on Nov. 10, 2022. Because of this, the uniform of the day was Marines Dress Blues and one regulation Kringle Suit.

(Photos: 2nd Lt. Desmond Jones/U.S. Army National Guard)

(Photos: 2nd Lt. Desmond Jones/U.S. Army National Guard)

The drop is in honor of the 75-year national Toys for Tots charitable program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, “which provides happiness and hope to less fortunate children during each Christmas holiday season. The toys, books, and other gifts collected and distributed by the Marines offer these children recognition and a positive memory for a lifetime.” (Photo: Chris Eger)

“To this day, the Toys for Tots program, which includes about 147 of your Marine Forces Reserve units, has helped support and bring a smile to the precious lives of 272 million children,” said Retired Lt. Gen. James Laster, Toys for Tots Foundation president and CEO.

Mr. Stoner, at 100

Indiana’s own Eugene Morrison Stoner cut his teeth in small arms as a Marine Corps armorer in World War II and left the world some of the most iconic black rifles in history.

Born on Nov. 22, 1922, in the small town of Gosport, just outside of Bloomington, Indiana, Stoner moved to California with his parents and graduated from high school in Long Beach. After a short term with an aircraft company in the area that later became part of Lockheed, the young man enlisted in the Marines and served in the South Pacific in the Corps’ aviation branch, fixing, and maintaining machine guns in squadrons forward deployed as far as China.

Leaving the Marines as a corporal after the war, Stoner held a variety of jobs in the aviation industry in California before arriving at ArmaLite, a tiny division of the Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corporation, where he made soon made his name in a series of ArmaLite Rifle designs, or ARs, something he would later describe as “a hobby that got out of hand.”

 

The observance is about so much more than Veterans Day sales.

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 making it an annual observance, and it became a national holiday in 1938.

Sixteen years later, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name to Veterans Day to honor all those who served their country during war or peacetime.

On this day, the nation honors military veterans — living and dead — with parades and other observances across the country and, in particular, a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

According to the Census Bureau and VA, there are some 16.5 million living military veterans in the United States in 2021. Of those, some 25 percent of the total are aged 75 and older while just 8.2 percent of veterans were younger than 35. Telling statistics.

A Bit of War History, The Veteran, by Thomas Waterman Wood (American, Montpelier, Vermont 1823–1903 New York), circa 1866

Freedom isn’t free, folks.

Also, be there for your fellow humans.

Veteran suicide is on the decline, but it continues to claim lives.

According to the 2022 NATIONAL VETERAN SUICIDE PREVENTION ANNUAL REPORT:

  • In 2020, there were 6,146 Veteran suicide deaths, which was 343 fewer than in 2019. The unadjusted rate of suicide in 2020 among U.S. Veterans was 31.7 per 100,000.
  • Over the period from 2001 through 2020, age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates for Veterans peaked in 2018 and then fell in 2019 and 2020. From 2018 to 2020, age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates for Veterans fell by 9.7%.
  • Among non-Veteran U.S. adults, age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates also peaked in 2018 and fell in 2019 and 2020. From 2018 to 2020, age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates for non-Veteran adults fell by 5.5%.
  • In each year from 2001 through 2020, age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates of Veterans exceeded those of non- Veteran U.S. adults. The differential in adjusted rates was smallest in 2002, when the Veteran rate was 12.1% higher than for non-Veterans and largest in 2017, when the Veteran rate was 66.2% higher. In 2020, the rate for Veterans was 57.3% higher than that of non-Veteran adults.
  • From 2019 to 2020, the age- and sex-adjusted suicide rate for Veterans fell by 4.8%, while for non-Veteran U.S. adults, the adjusted rate fell by 3.6%.
  • From 2019 to 2020, among Veteran men, the age-adjusted suicide rate fell by 0.7%, and among Veteran women, the age-adjusted suicide rate fell by 14.1%. By comparison, among non-Veteran U.S. men, the age-adjusted rate fell by 2.1%, and among non-Veteran women, the age-adjusted rate fell by 8.4%.
  • In each year from 2001 through 2020, age- and sex-adjusted suicide rates of Recent Veteran VHA Users exceeded those of Other Veterans. The differential in adjusted rates was smallest in 2018, when the rate for Recent Veteran VHA Users was 9.4% higher and largest in 2002, when the rate was 80.9% higher. In 2020, the age and sex-adjusted suicide rate of Recent Veteran VHA Users was 43.4% higher than for Other Veterans.
  • In 2020, suicide was the 13th leading cause of death among Veterans overall, and it was the second leading cause of death among Veterans under age 45.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic was announced in early March 2020. By the year’s end, COVID-19 was the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States, both overall10 and for Veterans. Despite the pandemic, the Veteran suicide rate in 2020 continued a decline that began in 2019.
  • Comparisons of trends in Veteran suicide and COVID-19 mortality over the course of 2020, and across Veteran demographic and clinical subgroups, did not indicate an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Veteran suicide mortality.

If you or someone you know needs help –

Link: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/index.asp

 

Happy 247th Birthday, Marines, (wherever you are)

“Return flight-An GRS-1 Sikorsky transport helicopter lifts away with a load of casualties after disembarking the Marines in the foreground.” This is Sikorsky HRS-1, Bureau Number 127795 of HMR-161. The photo was taken by HMR-161’s photographer, Staff Sergeant H. Michael McMahon on September 13, 1951, during Operation Windmill I, Korea. From the Photograph Collection (COLL/3948), Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections

A Message From The Commandant Of The Marine Corps, 10 November 2022: 

70 years ago, Army Major General Frank E. Lowe was quoted as saying, “The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines. Lord, how they could fight.”

That testimonial rings as true now as it did then, and will remain so tomorrow. As we celebrate the 247th anniversary of our Corps’ founding, we reflect on nearly two and a half centuries of exceptional prowess, while also taking objective stock of where we are today and how we will prepare for future battlefields. Our birthday provides us a chance to focus on the one thing common to our success in the past, present, and future: the individual Marine. Victories are not won because of technology or equipment, but because of our Marines.

Since 1775, Marines have fought courageously and tenaciously in every conflict our country has faced. Through the Revolution, the Spanish-American War, World Wars in Europe and the Pacific, conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, and operations in the Middle East, Marines consistently earned a reputation as the world’s elite fighting force. We inherit and take pride in this reputation, evolved over time by Marines acquitting themselves with honor and distinction on every battlefield in every clime and place. Battlefields change, and Marines have always adapted to the environment and the changing character of war – but the reason we fight and win is immutable. It’s the individual warfighters, and their love for each other, that makes our Corps as formidable a force today as it has been for the past 247 years. It’s our ethos and our unapologetic resolve to be the most capable and lethal fighting force that sets us apart from the rest.

Current events around the world remind us that peace is not guaranteed. While we are justifiably proud of our past and pay tribute to the remarkable warfighters who came before us, we understand that the stories of yesterday cannot secure our freedom tomorrow. We must be ready to respond when our Nation calls. It falls on Marines who are in uniform today to write the next chapter of our Corps. The solemn responsibility of maintaining our illustrious warfighting legacy rests upon your shoulders. I know that you are up to that task. The battlefields of tomorrow are uncertain. The future characteristics of warfare are uncertain. But one thing is certain – wherever Marines are called, they will fight and win – today, tomorrow, and into the future.

Happy 247th Birthday, Marines!

Rhino Feed: $1B Gets 784 GE F414 Engines

DOD Contracts posted this the other day:

General Electric, Lynn, Massachusetts, is awarded a not-to-exceed $1,085,106,892 indefinite-delivery, performance-based logistics requirements contract for repair, replacement, and program support of 784 F414 engine components in support of F/A-18 aircraft. This contract includes a five-year base with no options. Work will be performed in various continental U.S. contractor locations that cannot be determined at this time (99%), and in Jacksonville, Florida (1%). Work is expected to be completed by October 2027. Working capital (Navy) funds in the amount of $81,383,017 will initially be issued for delivery order N00383-23-F-0DM0 as an undefinitized contract action at time of award, and funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. Individual delivery orders will be subsequently funded with appropriate fiscal year appropriations at the time of their issuance. One company was solicited for this non-competitive requirement pursuant to the authority set forth in 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), with one offer received. Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the contracting activity (N00383-23-D-DM01).

The General Electric F414, which had its first run in 1993, is an afterburning turbofan engine in the 22,000-pounds-of-thrust range (in afterburn, “just” 13,000 lbf without) that was developed from the old F412 non-afterburning turbofan planned for the Cold War A-12 Avenger II, the A-6E Intruder replacement that was never ordered.

Some 2,400 pounds (dry weight) it is just under 13 feet long and was planned first to be the engine on the navalized F-117 Nighthawk (that also was never ordered) then twin-packed on the downright chunky F-18 Super Hornet.

For reference, the smaller F-18C/D was powered by two 11,000 lbf thrust F404-GE-402s (which the F412, in turn, was based on!) giving you an idea of just how much more powerful the Rhino engines are. Of course, the maximum take-off weight of the F-18C is around 50,000 lbs while the F-18E runs over 65,000, so the extra thrust is both needed and appreciated.

In all, over 5,600 F404/F414 engines have been built, and a combined 18 million engine flight hours run through them, with the 1,600 F414s delivered since 1999 accounting for about 5 million of those hours. It is expected the influx of new and rebuilt engines will give the Navy/Marines’ 777-aircraft F-18/EA-18 program a stockpile of engines for about the next 25 years– in peacetime op tempos.

Besides the Rhino and Growler, the F414 powers some types that you may not be familiar with:

Remember the XV-6A?

While the U.S. Marine Corps would not take delivery of their first AV-8A Harriers until January 1971, over a decade had elapsed since the original Hawker P.1127 prototype first hovered in tethered flight (21 October 1960) and much ground had been covered in between.

Hawker P1127 made the first-ever vertical landing by a jet aircraft an a carrier at sea on HMS Ark Royal in February 1963. IWM A 34711

In fact, the U.S. Army, Navy, USAF, and Marines formed a joint evaluation squadron and tested a half-dozen early Harriers at sea and ashore as early as 1966, all with the idea of using the aircraft for close air support. 

We are talking about the Hawker Siddeley XV-6A Kestrel.

XV-6A aircraft in flight during evaluation test operations, May 1966. USN 1115755-A

XV-6A vertical lift off of aircraft from the deck of the USS RALEIGH (LPD-1), May 1966. USN 1115757

XV-6A aircraft lifts off flight deck of USS RALEIGH (LPD-1) during evaluation operations at sea, May 1966. USN 1115763

XV-6A aircraft touches down on board the supercarrier USS INDEPENDENCE (CVA-62) during evaluation operations, May 1966. USN 1115758-C

As noted by the NHHC: 

The 1957 design for the Hawker P.1127 was based on a French engine concept, adopted and improved upon by the British. The project was funded by the British Bristol Engine Co. and by the U.S. Government through the Mutual Weapons Development Program.

With the basic configuration of the engine largely determined and with development work under way, Hawker Aircraft Ltd. engineers directed their attention to designing a V/STOL aircraft that would use the engine. Without government/military customer support, they produced a single-engine attack-reconnaissance design that was as simple a V/STOL aircraft as could be devised. Other than the engine’s swivelling nozzles, the reaction control system was the only complication in the effort to provide V/STOL capability.

The initial P.1127 was rolled out in the summer of 1960, by which time RAF interest in the aircraft had finally resulted in funding by the British Government for the two prototypes. First hovers in the fall were made with a severely stripped airplane. This was due to the fact that the first Pegasus engines were cleared for flight at just over 11,000 pounds thrust.

With potential NATO and other foreign interest in the P.1127, four additional airplanes were ordered to continue development.

As the project proceeded into the early sixties international interest in V/STOL tactical aircraft led to an agreement to conduct a tripartite operation, with the United Kingdom, West Germany and the United States sharing equally in development and evaluation. Nine P.1127s were ordered and designated Kestrel F.G.A. 1s in the RAF name system. A number of major configuration changes were incorporated in it although the basic concept remained unchanged. Within the United States it was a tri-service venture (Army, Navy, Air Force) with the Army functioning as the lead service. However, the final interservice agreement later transferred responsibility for this category of aircraft to the Air Force.

Following completion of the operational evaluation in the United Kingdom, six of the Kestrels were shipped to the United States in 1966, designated XV-6As. Here they underwent national trials, including shipboard tests. Two subsequently served in a research role with NASA.

In the end, the Army bowed out and kept the OV-1 Mohawk in service for a generation–augmented by the new AH-1 Cobra for close air support. The Air Force walked away and would go on to develop the A-10 Warthog. The Navy let the Marines go ahead– with the prospect of using Harriers in a sea control role if needed. 

Four of the six American XV-6As are preserved in the states while a fifth was sent back “home” to be preserved in England.

XS694 (NASA 520) XS689 (NASA 521)

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