United States Marine Corps
|United States Marine Corps|
10 November 1775
|Main battle tanks||N/A|
|Amphibious landing craft||N/A|
|Fighter aircraft||AV-8B Harrier II|
|Chief officer candidate school||United States Naval Academy|
|Enlisted bootcamp||MCRD San Diego, California|
MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina
|Secretary of the Navy||Ray Mabus|
|Commandant||General James T. Conway|
|Assistant Commandant||General James F. Amos|
|Sergeant Major of the
|SgtMaj Carlton W. Kent|
The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is a branch of the United States armed forces. Resolutions of the Continental Congress established the United States Marine Corps on November 10, 1775. The official mission of the U.S. Marine Corps was established in the National Security Act of 1947, amended in 1952. Marines are trained, organized and equipped for offensive amphibious employment and as a "force in readiness." The Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis ("always faithful"). The U.S. Marine Corps operates under the United States Department of the Navy, alongside the U.S. Navy.
Concerned almost exclusively with shipboard security service and amphibious warfare in its formative years, the U.S. Marine Corps has evolved with war-tested, enhanced military strategies and American foreign policy; the Marines fill a unique, multi-purpose role within the modern United States military. By the early 20th century, the United States Marine Corps had become one of the most elite military forces in the world used for amphibious warfare. Its ability to rapidly respond to regional crises continues to make it an important body in the implementation and execution of American foreign policy.
Founding of the Marine Corps
During the American Revolution, some of the most important political discussions took place in the inns and taverns of Philadelphia. To support the 13 colonies in the struggle for independence, a committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore. The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines.
Samuel Nicholas became Commandant of the newly formed Marines, and Tun Tavern’s owner and popular patriot, Robert Mullan, became his first captain and recruiter. They began recruiting to gather support and were ready for action by early 1776. Since then, the Marine Corps has been winning battles and defending the United States of America.
In the fall of 1775, the British were occupying Boston and the young Continental Army was holed up in Cambridge, extremely short on arms and ammunition. At the Battle of Bunker Hill, Washington's troops had been so low on gunpowder that they were ordered "not to fire until you see the whites of their eyes." In October, a merchant ship called The Black Prince returned to Philadelphia from a voyage to England. On board were private letters to the Second Continental Congress that informed them that the British government was sending two ships to America loaded with arms and gunpowder for the British troops.
Congress decided that General Washington needed those arms more than General Howe. A plan was hatched to capture the British cargo ships. They authorized the creation of a Continental Navy, starting with four ships. The frigate that carried the information from England, the Black Prince, was one of the four. It was purchased, converted to a man-of-war, and renamed to Alfred. To accompany the Navy on their first mission, Congress also authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines. The Alfred and its sailors and marines went on to achieve some of the most notable victories of the American Revolution.
What's most patriotic about this story is of the symbols some of the Marines were seen with before and during these crucial battles: the Gadsden Flag. The symbol of this flag serves as a warning and sign, first seen against an overbearing - and increasingly hostile - Federal government. By 1775, the snake symbol wasn't just being printed in newspapers. It was appearing all over the colonies; it appeared on uniform buttons, on paper money, and of course, on banners and flags. At the birth of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, what's particularly interesting for American history, is that some of the Marines that enlisted the very first month in Philadelphia were carrying drums painted yellow, emblazoned with a fierce rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike, with thirteen rattles, and sporting the motto "Don't Tread on Me."
The First Amphibious Raid
In 1776, just weeks after banding together, the Continental Marines successfully executed their first amphibious landing on a hostile shore. The British had stored large supplies of gunpowder at Fort Nassau in the Bahamas for later use against the thirteen colonies; Captain Samuel Nicholas and 234 Marines sailed with the Continental Navy on a mission to capture the supply. Within minutes of the Marines arrival, the British troops were outmatched and quickly surrendered. Captain Nicholas successfully acquired cannons and other military equipment, and the newly organized Marines completed their first amphibious raid.
To The Shores of Tripoli
In 1805, the United States government refused to meet the monetary demands of Barbary Coast pirates - a threat made by the pirates to refrain from raiding American merchant ships. Negotiations for a treaty failed. Thus, President Thomas Jefferson assembled an expeditionary force of Marines to respond. Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon led his Marines across 600 miles of the Libyan Desert and successfully stormed the fortified Tripolitan city of Derna. Notably recalled in the first verse of the Marines Hymn, "From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli; we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea," the Battle of Derna was the Marines first battle on foreign soil and is a legendary expedition.
The Halls of Montezuma
The Mexican-American War played a critical role in defining the border between the two nations that remains in place today.
In 1847, the Marines strategically chose to capture Mexico's "Palacio Nacional," knowing that a takeover would greatly disarm the Mexican army. Now known as the Battle of Chapultepec, the Marines stormed the enemy fortress during a 48 hour battle. After two days of continued fighting, the Marines gained control of the castle - better known as the "Halls of Montezuma." Victory at the Halls of Montezuma remains a part of Marine Corps tradition, immortalized in the Marines Hymn.
Battle of Belleau Wood
During World War I, 1918, the Marine Corps fought relentlessly against German soldiers located deep in Belleau Wood, just outside of Paris. Four days into battle, Marines had suffered heavy casualties and were pinned down by machine-gun fire.
"Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?" - GySgt. Daniel J. "Dan" Daly, USMC; near Lucy-`le-Bocage as he led the 5th Marines' attack into Belleau Wood, 6 June 1918.
"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." - 1stLt. Clifton B. Cates, USMC; in Belleau Wood, 19 July 1918.
On 7 June 1918, with few grenades and no signal flares left, Marine forces launched an assault with fixed bayonets, seizing enemy positions. After 20 days of intense fighting, the Marines had won the Battle of Belleau Wood. Marine riflemen demonstrated their firing skills and resolve during the continuous oncoming of German troops. After the battle, the exhausted and wounded German survivors gave a fitting nickname to their relentless opponent: Teufelhunden (meaning, "Devil Dogs").
Battle of Iwo Jima
In 1945, the United States sent the Marines to capture the Japanese airfields at Iwo Jima. Fortified in a defensive maze of tunnels and steel bunkers, Japanese soldiers had turned the island into a trap. The Battle of Iwo Jima lasted 36 days with heavy casualties before the Marines secured the island. Only four days into the battle, however, a team of Marines and one Navy Corpsman managed to reach the top of the summit and raised the American Flag to encourage troops below. A photo of the moment was taken, and since then the flag raising at Iwo Jima has become iconic with the Marine Corps showing their courage and determination.
In 1950, communist North Korea invaded South Korea. In return, in a surprise attack and amphibious assault, the Marines were sent in and landed behind enemy lines on the heavily defended shores of Inchon. Within hours, the Marines cleared the beach and began moving toward Seoul. In two weeks, they reclaimed the capital and put the North Korean army on the run.
The U.S. Marine Corps, with 186,500 active duty and 40,000 reserve Marines as of 2007, is the smallest of the United States' armed forces in the Department of Defense (the United States Coast Guard, about 1/5th the size of the Marine Corps, is under the Department of Homeland Security). The Corps is nonetheless larger than the entire armed forces of many significant military powers.[Citation Needed]
Rank and Pay Grade
|Title||General||Lieutenant General||Major General||Brigadier General||Colonel||Lieutenant Colonel||Major||Captain||1st Lieutenant||2nd Lieutenant|
|Cap device (worn by all officers regardless of rank)||80px|
|Title||Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps||Sergeant Major||Master Gunnery Sergeant||First Sergeant||Master Sergeant||Gunnery Sergeant||Staff Sergeant||Sergeant||Corporal||Lance Corporal||Private First Class||Private (no insignia)|
Marine Corps Mission
The mission of the Marine Corps was set forth in the National Security Act of 1947 as amended (1952) and outlined in US Code collection § 5063. Historically, Marine Corps preparedness has been characterized by the phrase, "The First to Fight," and the mission of a Marine rifle squad is "To locate, close with, and destroy the enemy..." There are the seven elements of the Marine Corps Mission:
1. Provide Fleet Marine Force with combined arms and supporting air components for service with the United States Fleet in the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and for the conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the execution of naval campaign.
2. Provide detachments and organizations for service on armed vessels of the Navy and security detachments for the protection of naval property at naval Stations and bases.
3. Develop, in coordination with the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the doctrine, tactics, techniques, and equipment employed by landing forces in amphibious operations.
4. Provide Marine forces for airborne operations, in coordination with the Army, Navy, and Air Force, according to the doctrine established by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
5. Develop, in coordination with the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the doctrine, procedures, and equipment for airborne operations.
6. Expand peacetime components to meet wartime needs according to the joint mobilization plans.
7. Perform such other duties as the President may direct.
Enlisted: "I (state your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Officer: "I (state your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."
- Official USMC website
- Official USMC Recruiting site
- Force Recon Association, Headquarters
- Leatherneck, Magazine of the Marines
- Marine Corps Times, Online source for everything Marine
- The U.S. Marine Corps in World War II
- USMC. United States Marine Corps (USMC) Mission and Organization Fundamentals. Camp Lejeune.
- Unclassified National Security Act of 1947. (PDF),
- USMC Press. Marine Corps Motto. USMC Heritage.
- Cpl. Scott Schmidt. The Gadsden Flag: ’Don’t Tread on Me’, Marines Magazine, June 28, 2010, (Accessed January 25, 2012).
- Chris Whitten. The birth of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, FoundingFathers.info, July 05, 2001, updated September 2002.
- Gadsden Flag History
- The Marines Hymn.
- The Relentless "Devil Dogs". marines.com.
- Battle of Iwo Jima. marines.com.
- Inchon Landing. marines.com.
- USMC. "Denying the Enemy Anonymity", Marine Corps Gazette, April 2009.
- USMC. United States Marine Corps (USMC) Mission and Organization Fundamentals. Camp Lejeune.
- Marine Corps Mission.