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This Month In USMC History
1 October 1997:
The first African-American female colonel in the Marine Corps was promoted to that rank during a ceremony at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. Colonel Gilda A. Jackson, a native of Columbus, Ohio, made Marine Corps history when she achieved the rank of colonel. She was serving as Special Projects Officer, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing at the time of her promotion.

5 October 1775:
Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the 2d Continental Congress used the word "Marines" on one of the earliest known occasions, when it directed General George Washington to secure two vessels on "Continental risque and pay", and to give orders for the "proper encouragement to the Marines and seamen" to serve on the two armed ships.

6 October 1945:
Major General Keller E. Rockey, Commanding General, III Amphibious Corps, accepted the surrender of 50,000 Japanese troops in North China on behalf of the Chinese Nationalist government.

8 October 1889:
A force of 375 Marines under command of future Commandant George F. Elliott, attacked and captured the insurgent town of Novaleta, Luzon, Philippine Islands, and linked up with U.S. Army troops. There were 11 Marine casualties.

9 October 1917:
The 8th Marines was activated at Quantico, Virginia. Although the regiment would not see combat in Europe during World War I, the officers and enlisted men of the 8th Marines participated in operations against dissidents in Haiti for over five years during the 1920s. During World War II, the regiment was assigned to the 2d Marine Division and participated in combat operations on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa, and earned three Presidential Unit Citations.

11 October 1951:
A Marine battalion was flown by transport helicopters to a frontline combat position for the first time, when HMR-161 lifted the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, and its equipment, during Operation Bumblebee, northeast of Yanggu, Korea.

19 October 1968:
Operation Maui Peak, a combined regimental-sized operation which began on 6 October, ended 11 miles northwest of An Hoa, Vietnam. More than 300 enemy were killed in the 13-day operation.

23 October 1983:
At 0622 an explosive-laden truck slammed into the BLT headquarters building in Beirut, Lebanon, where more than 300 men were billeted. The massive explosion collapsed the building in seconds, and took the lives of 241 Americans--including 220 Marines. This was the highest loss of life in a single day for Marines since D-Day on Iwo Jima in 1945.

28 October 1962:
An 11,000-man 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade left Camp Pendleton by sea for the Caribbean during the Cuban Missile Crisis. One week earlier, the entire 189,000-man Marine Corps had been put on alert and elements of the 1st and 2d Marine Divisions were sent to Guantanamo Bay to reinforce the defenders of the U.S. Naval Base. Other 2d Division units and squadrons from five Marine Aircraft Groups were deployed at Key West, Florida, or in Caribbean waters during the Cuban crisis.

31 October 1919:
A patrol of Marines and gendarmes, led by Sergeant Herman H. Hanneken, disguised themselves as Cacos and entered the headquarters of the Haitian Caco Leader, Charlemagne Peralte, killing the bandit chief, and dispersing his followers. Sergeant Hanneken and Corporal William R. Button were each awarded the Medal of Honor.

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Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone


Basilone was one of a family of ten children. Born in Buffalo, New York, on November 4, 1916, to Italian parents, he went to St. Bernard Parochial School in Raritan, New Jersey and enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 18. After completing his three-year enlistment in the Philippines, where he was a champion boxer, he came home and went to work as a truck driver in Reisterstown, Maryland.

In July 1940, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in Baltimore, Maryland. Before going to the Solomon Islands he saw service at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in addition to training at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Camp Lejeune, then called New River.

Gunnery Sergeant Basilone's buddies on Guadalcanal called him "Manila John" because he had served with the Army in The Philippines. before enlisting in the Marine Corps.

The story about the 38 Japanese bodies comes from Private First Class Nash W. Phillips, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, who was in the same unit with Basilone on Guadalcanal.

"Basilone had a machine gun on the go for three days and nights without sleep, rest or food," Phillips recounted. "He was in a good emplacement, and causing the Japs lots of trouble, not only firing his machine gun but also using his pistol."

Basilone was serving with the 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division during the invasion of Iwo Jima. On Red Beach II, he and his platoon were pinned down by enemy gunfire. He single-handedly destroyed an enemy blockhouse, allowing his unit to capture an airfield. Minutes later he was killed by an enemy artillery round.


Medal of Honor citation

Basilone's bravery at Guadalcanal, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, is legendary. His Medal of Honor citation, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, reads:

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

SERGEANT

JOHN BASILONE
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Lunga Area. Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 24 and 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines' defensive positions, Sgt. Basilone, in charge of 2 sections of heavy machine guns, fought valiantly to check the savage and determined assault. In a fierce frontal attack with the Japanese blasting his guns with grenades and mortar fire, one of Sgt. Basilone's sections, with its guncrews, was put out of action, leaving only 2 men able to carry on. Moving an extra gun into position, he placed it in action, then, under continual fire, repaired another and personally manned it, gallantly holding his line until replacements arrived.

A little later, with ammunition critically low and the supply lines cut off, Sgt. Basilone, at great risk of his life and in the face of continued enemy attack, battled his way through hostile lines with urgently needed shells for his gunners, thereby contributing in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment. His great personal valor and courageous initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.


Navy Cross citation
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the NAVY CROSS posthumously to

GUNNERY SERGEANT

JOHN BASILONE
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Leader of a Machine-Gun Section, Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 19 February 1945. Shrewdly gauging the tactical situation shortly after landing when his company's advance was held up by the concentrated fire of a heavily fortified Japanese blockhouse, Gunnery Sergeant Basilone boldly defied the smashing bombardment of heavy caliber fire to work his way around the flank and up to a position directly on top of the blockhouse and then, attacking with grenades and demolitions, single handedly destroyed the entire hostile strong point and its defending garrison.

Consistently daring and aggressive as he fought his way over the battle-torn beach and up the sloping, gun-studded terraces toward Airfield Number 1, he repeatedly exposed himself to the blasting fury of exploding shells and later in the day coolly proceeded to the aid of a friendly tank which had been trapped in an enemy mine field under intense mortar and artillery barrages, skillfully guiding the heavy vehicle over the hazardous terrain to safety, despite the overwhelming volume of hostile fire. In the forefront of the assault at all times, he pushed forward with dauntless courage and iron determination until, moving upon the edge of the airfield, he fell, instantly killed by a bursting mortar shell.

Stouthearted and indomitable, Gunnery Sergeant Basilone, by his intrepid initiative, outstanding skill, and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of the fanatic opposition, contributed materially to the advance of his company during the early critical period of the assault, and his unwavering devotion to duty throughout the bitter conflict was an inspiration to his comrades and reflects the highest credit upon Gunnery Sergeant Basilone and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

For the President,
/s/ JAMES FORRESTAL
Secretary of the Navy




Posted by admin on Thursday 14 June 2007 - 22:52:24 | LAN_THEME_20
Remembering D-Day June 6th 1944


The Atlantic Wall

After the invasion and subsequent fall of France in 1940, the German army controlled the entire coast of Northern France. Following the Allied evacuation at Dunkirk, Hitler had hoped that Britain would agree to settle the war. But, because of British determination and Germany's inability to carry out an invasion of England, Germany was forced to maintain a defensive posture along the coast. In 1944, the German war machine was still very powerful despite the many setbacks on the Eastern Front. What it lacked in Luftwaffe and materials, it made up for in highly experienced and trained men. Also, its armor, heavy infantry weapons, and anti-tank capabilities were years ahead of the Americans and British. But, the Allies controlled the air and sea and what they lacked in quality, they hoped to make up for in quantity. The German high command was actually anticipatory about the upcoming Allied invasion. It meant that finally the British and American threat could be "dealt with" once and for all.

Overlord Preparations

Operation Overlord, the Allied codename for the invasion of Normandy, involved more than 150,000 men and 5,000 ships. It consisted of American, British, Canadian, Polish, and Free French Armies under command of General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force (the choice of Eisenhower was officially made by President Roosevelt in December 1943, and agreed upon by the British). The Deputy Supreme Commander of the invasion was British Air Chief Marshal Arthur W. Tedder, who had been the commander of the Allied Air Forces in the Mediterranean. While British Admiral Bertram H. Ramsay, was appointed naval commander. He had conducted the evacuation at Dunkirk and also planned the Torch landing in North Africa. British Air Chief Marshal Trafford L. Leigh-Mallory was appointed as commander of the air forces. Montgomery was chosen as the ground forces' commander, despite his well-known personality problems. Eisenhower's first choice was in fact General Harold Alexander, but Churchill needed Alexander to remain in Italy. Montgomery arrived in Britain in January 1944 and began to evaluate the feasibility of the operation. He proposed the expansion of the invasion area to include landings west of the Vire River - allowing for the encirclement of Cherbourg (this would later become Utah Beach).


The Airborne Landings

The first three of these units were given the missions of securing the eastern and western flanks of the beachhead by destroying bridges and laying mines. Their main mission was to allow for the main invasion force to come ashore without the immediate threat of German flank attacks. They were tasked to destroy bridges where the enemy was likely to stage a counterattack, and to secure bridges where Allied forces were expected to go immediately on the offensive.The US 82nd Airborne Division's mission was to protect the far right flank of the invasion in the Cotentin peninsula. It hoped to accomplish this by destroying bridges over the Douve River and by securing the Merderet River by occupying both sides. It also had the mission to capture Ste. Mere-Eglise from the German garrison stationed there. The capture of Ste. Mere-Eglise was important because it straddled the main road between Carentan and Cherbourg. The US 101st Airborne Division's mission was to secure four exits across the marshland near the coast for the invading US 4th Infantry Division at Utah beach. These causeways needed to be secured because on each side of the exits, it was flooded several feet deep in places. The 101st also were tasked to destroy two bridges over the Douve and to capture the La Barquette lock just north of Carentan. The lock controlled the water height of the flooded areas and it was essential that it be captured. The British 6th Airborne Division was to land Northeast of Caen and secure the left flank of the invasion force by controlling bridges over the Orne Canal and River. The left flank of the invasion force was much more vulnerable to German armored attack since the 21st Panzer was stationed just outside of Caen and the 12th SS Panzer miles to the east. Potentially, if the Panzer Divisions were not stopped by the British 6th, they could attack Sword and the rest of the landing beaches.


Utah

At 0300 on the morning of June 6th, fleets of Allied bombers roared overhead delivering thousands of tons of bombs onto the German coastal defenses. These were followed at 0500 by the naval bombardment which had been planned to immediately precede the invasion itself. The battleship USS Nevada's 14-inch guns were assigned to the bombardment of the German batteries on Utah beach, while the USS Texas was to fire at Pointe-du-Hoc where the Rangers were to land as part of the Omaha landing. On the western end of Omaha proper, the USS Arkansas pounded a battery at Les Moulins. Several cruisers and destroyers also jumped into the bombardment with pre-determined targets and as opportunity arose. At such close range, there was very little trajectory to the shots and many Americans who were coming in to land, could feel the vacuum of the shells passing overhead. Needless to say, the bombardment was a very welcome sight to those troops about to land. At approximately 0620, the Nevada turned its guns to the beach and began bombarding a concrete seawall. Immediately after the bombardment, the plan called for a rocket bombardment by LCT(R)s (Landing Craft, Tank with Rocket launcher). This was to be followed by the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, in 20 Higgins boats which carried a 30-man assault team each.

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc was located on the coast to the west of the Omaha beach landings and was the position of six 155mm cannons with a range of 25,000 yards. These cannons had a commanding view of both Omaha and Utah beaches and the potential to cause much damage to the invading force. The area had been bombed since May and then grew in intensity during the three days and nights before D-Day. During D-Day, the USS Texas bombarded the point as did 18 medium bombers of the Ninth Air Force at H-20. The point stood on cliffs between 85 to over 100 feet high at whose base was a very small rocky beach that offered no protection. Because the point was positioned on near impregnable cliffs, the Germans had concentrated their defenses in anticipation of a ground assault from inland. Above were heavily fortified concrete casements interlaced with tunnels, trenches, and machine-gun positions around the perimeter. Although the 716th Infantry Division was thinly stretched along 30 miles of the shoreline, approximately 200 German troops (125 infantry and 85 artillery men) were garrisoned in or around the point. The task fell to Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder's 2nd Ranger Battalion and called for 3 Companies (D, E, and F) of the battalion to scale the heights. Company D was to approach the heights on the west, while E and F were to attack on the east. The main Ranger force (5th Battalion and Companies A and B of the 2nd) were to wait off shore for signal of success and then land at the Point.


Omaha

The US 1st Army, V Corps had the mission of securing the beachhead between Port-en-Bessin and the Vire River and to advance towards St. Lo. The Corps was to arrive in 4 stages with the 1st Division (with the 29th attached) leading the landings with about 34,000 men in the morning, followed by another 25,000 men after noon. The 1st Division was a veteran unit which had served through the campaigns of North Africa and Sicily. While for the most part, Normandy would be the 29th Division's first experience in combat. Two American Regimental Combat Teams (RCTs) of four rifle companies each, were tasked with the initial landing (the US 29th 116th RCT and the US 1st 16th RCT), followed by the remainder of the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions. Fire support included naval gunfire from the battleships, cruisers, and destroyers offshore, heavy bombing by B-24 Liberators, the 741st and 743rd DD (dual-drive amphibious) tank battalions, several battalions of engineers and naval demolition personnel, and several howitzer battalions.


Gold Beach

Gold Beach was the code name for the center of the landings on the Normandy coast. The British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division of the 2nd Army under Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey was to land at H-Hour + 1 (0730), seize Arromanches and drive inland to capture the road junction at Bayeux. Its additional objectives were to make contact with the US forces to the west at Omaha Beach and the Canadians to their east at Juno Beach. In addition to the 50th, the 47th Royal Marine Commandos were to land on sector Item and to attack south of Arromanches and Longues and take Port-en-Bessin from the rear. Gold Beach spanned nearly 10 miles long although the areas where landings were to occur were about 5 miles wide. Gold was characterized mainly by the 3 sea villages of La Rivière, Le Hamel, and the small port of Arromanches to the west. The Allied sectors were designated from west to east: How, Item, Jig, and King. Of these four sectors, only the easternmost 3 were to actually become assault sectors. Units of the German 716th Division and elements of the veteran 1st Battalion of the 352nd Division defended the coast in the beach houses along the coast with concentrations at Le Hamel and Le Riviere. Fortunately for the Allies, these houses proved to be vulnerable to naval and air bombardment. In addition, an observation post and battery of four 155mm cannon was located at Longues-sur-Mer.


Juno Beach

Of all the troops involved in the D-Day landings, the men of the Canadian Army , with raw memories of the disaster suffered by Canadian forces in 1942 at Dieppe, might have had greatest cause for apprehension. The Canadian 3rd Infantry Division, (Maj-Gen R.F.L. Keller) supported by the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, formed part of I Corps (Lieutenant-General J.T. Crocker), whose D-Day objective was to secure Caen and push 11 miles inland to seize Carpiquet airfield. These were ambitious aims, particularly as the presence of rocks offshore meant that the tide would not be high enough for the landings to begin until half an hour later than those elsewhere, and so probably facing an alerted enemy. The main immediate opposition would come from three, fairly low grade, battalions of the 716th Division, but of more concern was the possibility that 21st Panzer Division, believed to be south-east of Caen, might intervene quickly, possibly reinforced during the afternoon by 12th SS Panzer.


Sword Beach

AAs well as being the furthest east of the landing beaches, "Sword" was also the smallest, only wide enough for a brigade-sized landing force. The 3rd British Division was tasked with getting enough troops ashore to push inland quickly and seize Caen, and link up with 6th Airborne Division. It would prove to be a seriously over-ambitious aim. Early on June 6th Naval Force"S", carrying the assault force and support units, moved into position off the mouth of the River Orne. It was here that the only notable German naval activity of the day occurred, when three E-boats emerged through the Allied smoke screen, fired a salvo of torpedoes, which sank the Norwegian destroyer Largs, and made off unscathed. It proved to be the only appearance of the Kriegsmarine that day, and the Allied bombardment force, including the battleships Warspite and Ramillies, proceeded to lay down the heaviest barrage of the day on the three-mile wide stretch of beach where the 8th British Brigade was to land.


Counterattack

As Rommel had recognised, Germany's main chance of defeating the invasion lay in prompt counterattacks, particularly by her panzer forces. However, for a variety of reasons, the powerful striking force within easy reach of the invasion beaches which he had called for was not immediately available. A major problem resulted from a lack of clarity in the panzer command structure. The newly formed 47th Panzer Corps was still in process of taking over command of 21st, 116th and 2nd Panzer Divisions, whilst administrative and supply matters remained under Panzer Group West, with both responsible to Rommel's Army Group B. To complicate matters further, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, Commander in Chief West, was powerless to commit the strategic reserve without the authority of OKW, meaning in effect Hitler.


The Fight for the Foothold

By nightfall on June 6th 1944-D-Day, Hitler's Atlantic Wall on the coast of Normandy had been breached. The Allies, at a cost of 9,500 casualties compared with 4-10,000 Germans, were ashore in Fortress Europe. But their position remained precarious; the beachheads had less depth than had been hoped for, and British and US forces had not yet linked up. Supplies and reinforcements were not coming ashore as rapidly as had been planned, and the initially slow and piecemeal enemy reaction could not be expected to remain so favorable. The Allies had to link up and expand their currently insecure toeholds into something more substantial as rapidly as possible. For Germany, the result of the first day of fighting had been disappointing, but was not viewed as disastrous. Partly as a result of Hitler's hesitancy, and also as a consequence of virtually complete Allied air supremacy over the approaches to the battle area, 21st and 12th SS Panzer Divisions, forming the immediate mobile reserve, had not intervened effectively on June 6th. Indeed losses from enemy air attack were so substantial that it is unlikely that their earlier release would have made any significant difference.
Rommel, absent in Bavaria during the opening hours of the battle, arrived back at Army Group B Headquarters late in the evening, and began re-organising the currently fragmented command structure.




Posted by admin on Wednesday 06 June 2007 - 22:19:35 | LAN_THEME_20
History Lesson: Marine Corps Aviation Okinawa WWII


In April 1945, the long struggle on Okinawa, which would bring the war to an end, began with the largest amphibious operation of the war. The operation reunited Marine Aviation with the Marine ground forces on a scale heretofore unknown.

For Marine Corps Aviation, as for all participating units, the Okinawa operation was the culmination of all that had been learned in the Pacific war, Here, knocking on the door of the enemy homeland, after four long years, was the final test.


Planning for the operation separated strategic and tactical aviation. Strategic air fell to the Army Air Forces (AAF) with the 20th Air Force. The 10th Army's Tactical Air Force (TAF) was commanded by Major General Mulcahy with Brigadier General Bill Wallace as his Air Defense Commander. Bearing in mind that the TAF could not function until the command had moved ashore and the amphibious phase of the operation was ended, tactical air during the afloat phase came from a task unit of the Amphibious Force Commander who headed 18 escort carriers of what was known as carrier- based tactical aviation. The kamikaze problem delayed the shift of command ashore until May 17, after the landings were initiated on April 1. In the TAF organization, General Wallace of Air Defense Command had three USAAF Fighter Groups (10 squadrons) and four Marine Air Groups (MAGs), comprising 15 squadrons. VMF-323 was part of MAG-33. Four of these 25 squadrons were specialized nightfighting outfits, such as Bruce Porter's VMF(N)-542.

One of the most successful Marine Fighting squadrons at Okinawa was VMF-323, the "Death Rattlers," under the command of 23-year George Axtell. In a just a few weeks, they shot down 124.5 Japanese planes and counted a dozen aces.

The air units also flew ground support missions, napalming and rocketing Japanese strongholds. In its Bomber Command there were 16 bomber squadrons by mid-July. When the radar warning units', reporting communications network units are added in, the size and scope of the TAF is evident.

There were three Landing Force Air Support Control Units (LFASCU) under Colonel Vernon Megee which were outside the command chain of the TF, and reported to Air Support Control Units, PhibPac. This was complicated by the inability to shift control ashore earlier than May 17, but generally worked well in processing, evaluating and assigning air support aircraft through the LFASCU's ashore. In conjunction with the latter, there were two VMTB squadrons assigned to the TAF, originally for antisubmarine patrol. However, this function was taken over by the patrol squadrons of the Navy and the two TBF squadrons were used for close air support, supply drops to troop units, and other special troop support missions for which they were well-suited. As could be expected, there were some problems throughout the operation but, generally, air support was handled, evaluated, processed and delivered by shore-based, CVE-based and fast CV-based aircraft more quickly and smoothly than in any other operation of the war.

Four Marine observation (VMO) squadrons operated at Okinawa, twice as many as in any other operation of the war. They not only spotted for the artillery, but also flew message pickups and drops, laid wire, transported personnel and performed general utility functions. They also performed superbly in the evacuation of wounded with planes modified to carry stretchers.


Marine Aviation had about one-tenth of its total personnel strength participating in the Okinawa operation, or about 1,575 officers and 10,800 enlisted personnel. The Marine total plane commitment to the operation was around 700. Altogether, the 17 Marine squadrons (two VMTBs) shot down 506 Japanese aircraft during the campaign. There was no way the end of the war could be announced to the entire island simultaneously but, as the word quickly spread ashore and to ships anchored close in, there was no need. Every weapon that could be fired was cut loose and, against the night sky, rivaled any display put on by AA at the height of the operation. It signaled to all that at last Japan had capitulated. It took a little time to restore order and control, and realize that the long struggle had come to an end, but then things settled down rapidly.


However, a few overall statistics are in order before closing the book on WW II. There were 38 Marine squadrons of all types in combat against the Japanese. They shot down a total of 2,354 Japanese aircraft. Members of Marine Aviation were awarded a total of 11 Medals of Honor, and units of Marine Aviation were awarded 78 Presidential Unit Citations, 52 Navy Unit Citations and one Distinguished Unit Citation (Army).



Posted by admin on Saturday 02 June 2007 - 01:17:23 | LAN_THEME_20
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Marine Of The Month


Lance Cpl. James M. Gluff







20, of Tunnel Hill, Ga.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Jan. 19 in Ramadi, Iraq, while conducting combat operations.







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