Category Archives: USMC

Chainsmokers

A group of Marines having a smoke while checking out what looks to be a shell and fuse for either an 81mm mortar or 75mm howitzer.

Dig the M1917A1 Brodie helmets with EGAs, sewn-on stripes on light khaki uniforms, and the top-charging M1928A1 Thompson submachine gun. The Tommy gunner also has pretty bad trigger D and what looks to be a set of wire cutters in his five-cell stick mag pouch. At least there isn’t a mag in the Chicago typewriter. 

I can’t find a full-fledged source for the image, but reverse sources are all Chinese-language pages for 1938 Shanghai, a tense place and period in history as the country was torn between the Reds and KMT while under aggressive attack by the Empire of Japan as the rest of the world stood by to wish the Chinese the best of luck.

These men are likely of the 4th Marine Regiment, the famed “China Marines” stationed in Peiping, Tientsin, and Shanghai from 1927 to 1941. Pulled out of the continent only weeks before Pearl Harbor, they were withdrawn to the Philipines just in time to defend Bataan.

There is this great follow-up picture of these Devils.

Codetalkers to be Recognized Annually

The Navajo Code Talkers Memorial in Window Rock, Arizona on the Navajo Nation, is fully equipped with an M1 helmet, Reising submachine gun, M1911, and 32-pound Westinghouse CRI-43007 transmitter. (Photo courtesy of the Navajo Nation)

Moving forward, August 14th will be recognized in Arizona as Navajo Codetalker day, with Gov. Doug Ducey recently signing such a proclamation in place.

“It’s wonderful to have the State of Arizona honor and recognize the sacrifices and contributions of the Navajo Code Talkers,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said. “It’s long overdue. We only have a few Navajo Code Talkers with us to this day, but we pay tribute to all of them and their families. Their legacy is strengthened with today’s signing of this bill and we hope that this will also help to share the stories of our Code Talkers so that many more people throughout the state are aware of everything that they gave for our country.”

More here

Ohio CRRCs

The Navy has recently released a sizzle reel and some additional images of the exercise earlier this month of Force Recon Marines and their combat rubber raiding craft (CRRCs) on the converted boomer USS Ohio (SSGN 726) off Okinawa. 

(U.S. Marine Corps photos by Sgt. Audrey M. C. Rampton)

Notably, there are some rare detailed shots of Ohio’s lockout chamber, converted Trident SLBM tubes, being used to store the CRRCs and their outboards.

 

Sub-Marine ops, Back In style

The Marines have been rubber boating around, a skill they are used to as each Battalion Landing Team for years has typically included a designated “Boat Company,” trained to run about on 15-foot Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC, or “Crick”).

What is interesting about this is that they recently did so in conjunction with a converted boomer in the Philippine Sea, embarking on some expeditionary training. The standard Dry Deck Shelters used by the Navy’s submarines are each able to carry an SDV minisub for use by SEALs– or four CRRCs, enough to carry a platoon-size Marine maritime raid force.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Feb. 2, 2021) The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726), deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, rendezvous with a combat rubber raiding craft, attached to U.S. Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance Company, III Marine Expedition Force (MEF), for an integration exercise off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. The exercise was part of ongoing III MEF-U.S. 7th Fleet efforts to provide flexible, forward-postured, and quick response-options to regional commanders. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Audrey M. C. Rampton)

“This training demonstrates the ability of Force Reconnaissance Marines in III MEF to operate with strategic U.S. Navy assets,” said III MEF Force Reconnaissance Company Commanding Officer Maj. Daniel Romans. “As the stand-in force in the first island chain, it is critical that Force Reconnaissance Marines are capable of being employed across a myriad of U.S. Navy platforms in order to enhance the lethality of the fleet in the littoral environment. Reconnaissance Marines have a proud history of working with submarines and we look forward to sustaining these relationships in the future.”

It is not a dramatically new concept.

On 17 August 1942, just nine months after Pearl Harbor, 211 Marines of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion embarked aboard the submarines USS Argonaut and Nautilus crept ashore at Makin Island and did what the Raiders were meant to do– hit hard in the most unexpected area they could find and jack up a small Japanese garrison.

Then of course, throughout the 1950s and 60s, Marines on submarines were a regular sight…

Reconnaissance scouts of the 1st Provisional Marine Air-Ground Task Force load into a rubber boat from Greenfish, a submarine of the Pacific fleet as they leave on a night mission against “enemy” installations on the island of Maui. The training afforded the Marines of the Task Force, which is based at the Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, is the most versatile offered to Marines anywhere October 7, 1954. Note the classic WWII “duck hunter” camo which had by 1954 been out of use for almost a decade except for special operations units. (Sgt D.E. Reyher DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A290040.)

870 Love, Sh-tty Kitty Edition

Official caption: “A Marine armed with shotgun and ammunition belt stands guard at a rail aboard the aircraft carrier USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63), 12/15/1984”

Dig those crisp cammies and leather shell bandolier. Talk about Cold War esthetic. Photo 330-CFD-DN-ST-87-09135 by PH3 Davidson via NARA 

While many just talk about the Marines going from the Winchester 97 Trench Gun in WWI, to the Winchester 12 in WWII and the Mossberg 590 and Benelli M4 today, for years the Corps fielded a specialized version of the Remington 870, dubbed the M-870, Mark 1, complete with a bayonet lug forend over a lengthened mag tube. These guns are highly collectible when encountered in the wild today.

USNS JOSHUA HUMPRHEYS (T-AO-188), Marine FAST team member with an M870 MK1 Remington shotgun, notably missing the front sight post

A Marine demonstrates a standing firing position with a Remington 870 M-870, Mark 1 12-gauge shotgun, 5.3.1989. Note the kevlar, woodland BDUs, and Bianchi M84 holster with the M9 Beretta. DM-SN-93-00537 et.al via NARA.

As for Kitty Hawk, one of the Navy’s last conventional supercarriers, she was decommissioned in 2009 and is awaiting disposal. The Navy recently said she will undergo a drydocking in early 2021 at Puget Sound NSY’s Dry Dock 6 to remove sea life in anticipation of being moved to the breakers. She long outlived shotgun-wielding Marine Dets, which were pulled from flattops and disestablished in 1998.

Anti-Ship Missiles for more than just the surface combat Navy

EXOCET MOBILE COASTAL battery uses four vehicles: a TOC, sensor unit, and two four-missile firing units, to put 8 AShMs on shore. It requires just 16 men. A similar concept could be used for the Naval Strike Missile or others. 

One of the facets of the current reboot of the Marines is that they are hanging up all of their armored (tank) battalions and a lot of their (tube) artillery batteries to field small and highly mobile expeditionary warfare missile batteries that would subtly appear on, say a forgotten backwater atoll, and control the sea around it for 100 miles or more in every direction. The nascent Marine Littoral Regiments are still being fleshed out, with an experimental unit formed in Hawaii last year. Nonetheless, LBASMs, or Land-Based Anti-Ship Missiles, are on the menu.

Moving forward with the concept of more (anti-ship) missiles in more places, Big Blue is also weighing putting containerized Naval Strike Missiles on otherwise lightly armed ‘phibs of the “Gator Navy.”

“We have these magnificent 600-foot-long, highly survivable, highly LPD 17s,” said MGen Tracy W. King, director of expeditionary warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. “The LPDs need the ability to reach out and defend themselves and sink another ship. It’s not from the aspect of using them as a strike platform; it will drastically increase their survivability if the enemy has to honor that threat. My intent is to ensure that my desire to increase the lethality of LPDs doesn’t interfere with [Director of Surface Warfare Rear Adm. Paul] Schlise’s efforts to increase lethality on LCSs.”

Finally, there is the concept (thanks for the tip, Philip), recently covered in the USNI’s Blog by LT. Andrew W. Corwell, U.S. Coast Guard, of the puddle pirates adding some batteries of coastal defense cruise missiles to their mix.

Fielding CDCMs provides the Coast Guard with a one-two punch as the service pivots to counter near-peer threats. First, CDCMs would provide the Coast Guard with a credible deterrent to potentially adversarial naval forces. Strategically located near major ports on each coast, a battery of U.S. Coast Guard CDCM Transporter Erector Launchers (TEL) could defend against naval surface threats and be postured to respond to emergent homeland defense missions requiring more firepower than typically found aboard Cutters. Being road mobile would complicate adversarial targeting during a major conflict by enabling the CDCM batteries to operate from both prepared and field expedient positions along the coast while simultaneously providing the ability to surge additional missiles and launchers along anticipated threat vectors.

Second, the CDCMs would offer the Coast Guard an organic, rapidly deployable option to increase the lethality of cutters supporting combatant commanders. Designing the TELs to fit inside the hangers of Legend-class national security cutters (NSC), or the soon to be delivered Heritage-class offshore patrol cutters, integrate with the cutter’s fire-control systems, and fire from their flight deck would greatly increase the ability for cutters to contribute in a war-at-sea scenario, offset shortcomings in desired increases to U.S. fleet strength, and align with distributed lethality concepts.

And to tell you the truth, it all makes sense. The porcupine theory.

Little Groups of Marines

Ten U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Southern Command teamed up with the U.S. Navy for a three-month deployment aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Burlington (T-EPF 10), returning to Little Creek this week. The SPMAGTF-SC detachment provided the 1,500-ton Burlington, officially a noncombatant manned by civilian mariners of the MSC alongside a USN commo team, with an embarked security team, providing force protection for the deployment.

This is the type of tasking that little groups of Marines will increasingly see in the future, no longer just the stuff of the “Gator Navy.”

Of course, it is something of a case of everything old is new again, as the Marines for something like 220 years regularly provided small dets on surface ships for security/gunnery/landing force missions. Back in the day, ships as small as gunboats, sloops, and frigates often had Marines aboard, although the practice was trimmed back to cruisers, battleships, and carriers by the 1920s (with a few notable exceptions).

The Marine Detachment, gunboat USS Dauntless (PG-61) – mid-1942

The last Marine Carrier Dets, useful for guarding admirals, performing TRAP missions, and keeping an eye on “special munitions” (aka nukes) were disbanded in 1998.

Ready for Action, 77 Years Ago Today

Official caption: “PFC Kenneth C. Crowley, USMC, Plymouth, Mass., crouches behind a log on the first day of action on Cape Gloucester. A few minutes after this picture was made, he advanced with his unit and helped knock out a Japanese pillbox. Hdqtrs No. 72489. Marine Corps Photo.”

Note Crowley’s M1 Garand– which the Marines had only been issuing for about a year at this time–, extra bandoliers of clipped 30.06 ammo, and camo helmet cover. NARA 127-GR-85-72489

The 1st Marine Division hit the beaches at Cape Gloucester on 26 December 1943, fighting Iwao Matsuda’s Imperial Japanese Army’s 65th Brigade to annihilation over the course of a three-week campaign in thick jungle, suffering 1,300 casualties in the process.

While there are three Crowleys listed from Massachusetts as having died in WWII while serving with the Department of the Navy, none are the above-mentioned Kenneth.

Harrier Carrier, 1976

As we did Warship Wednesday on a Monday this week, try these historical maritime shots on for size, taken 44 years ago today.

Official Caption: “USS GUAM (LPH-9) Operating with Marine AV-8A Harrier VTOL aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea, 9 December 1976, she drew these planes from USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT for her goodwill visit to Kenya.”

Note the four airborne Harriers in a diamond formation, flown by VMA-231 “Ace of Spades” squadron Marines, and at least five more on deck. Catalog #: USN 1169189

Guam, a 17,000-ton Iwo Jima-class large amphibious transport (helo), commissioned 16 January 1965 and had already been extensively used by the Navy, first off the Dominican Republic in the intervention there, then in the space program.

Importantly, she had served between 1971 and 1973 as the Interim Sea Control Ship, derived from ADM Elmo Zumwalt’s idea for a 15,000-ton light carrier equipped with Sea Kings for ASW and Harriers for self-defense/anti-shipping, which made her ideal for embarking the V/STOL craft once again in squadron-quantity in 1976.

USS Guam (LPH-9) Underway in the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Africa, on 9 December 1976. Her crew is forming KENYA 76 on the flight deck in conjunction with her visit to Mombasa, Kenya for the celebration of that nation’s independence. Adams-class destroyer USS Claude V. Ricketts (DDG-5) is steaming in company. Guam is shown carrying 13 AV-8A Harrier jet aircraft and two Marine CH-53D helicopters on her flight deck. FDR had deployed with 14, meaning one Harrier is either airborne or below-deck. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, Photographer: PH3 Greg Haas, Atlantic Fleet Audio Visual Command. NH 107675

Guam would go on to serve off Somalia and in the first Gulf War, then was decommissioned and stricken on the same day, 25 August 1998, and disposed of as a target three years later.

As for the accident-prone AV-8As, derived from the original British Hawker Siddeley aircraft, the Marines purchased 102 AV-8A and 8 TAV-8A models between 1971 (just two years after the Harrier GR.1 entered service with the RAF) and 1976, later replacing them with the larger, marginally safer, more advanced, and more American-built McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II in the mid-1980s.

Which brings us back to the Aces of VMA-231, who are still flying the Harrier today, one of the few who are.

Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 231 “Ace of Spades” AV-8B+ at Boca Chica Field, NAS Key West, Dec.1, 2020. U.S. Navy photo by Danette Baso Silvers

Forging a Marine, the Garand Way

The saying goes is that “you join the Army, you join the Navy, you join the Air Force, but you become a Marine.”

With that in mind, check out this circa 1961 training film, Making of a Marine, featuring recruits at MCRD Parris Island with M1 Garands, an interesting time capsule of “carrying yesterday’s rifle tomorrow” as the M14 had been officially adopted four years earlier and the M16, ushered in with Vietnam, would be inbound in roughly the same amount of time. 

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