November 10 marked the 240th birthday of the U.S. Marines. To pay tribute to this milestone, we’ve highlighted some of the Marines’ finest achievements.
First Amphibious Landing
The Continental Marines achieved their first amphibious landing at the Battle of Nassau in 1776. The Revolutionary War was in full swing, and the American forces had received intelligence suggesting that British forces had stockpiled gunpowder in the Bahamian city of Nassau. The Marines successfully raided the city, recovering 38 casks of gunpowder in the process.
Shores of Tripoli
As the Marines’ first battle abroad, the Battle of Derna holds a special place in their illustrious history. The conflict started in 1805 after the U.S. government decided to stop paying “tribute” money to Barbary Coast pirates, which protected American merchant ships from raids. Led by Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, the Marines rescued the crew of the USS Philadelphia, who had been kidnapped, and helped Tripoli’s Prince Hamet Bey reclaim his throne.
The Battle of Chapultepec
In September 1847, during the Mexican-American War, the Marines conquered Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. This battle is especially significant for establishing the tradition of the “blood stripe”—the red stripe that appears on the side of Marines’ trousers. The Marines suffered an unusually high number of casualties during the battle, and the blood stripe commemorates fallen soldiers. The first line of the Marines’ Hymn, “From the halls of Montezuma,” also pays tribute to this battle.
Montford Point Marines
On June 25, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 8802, which allowed racial minorities to join the Armed Forces. Before this the Marines were all-white, but by October of 1942, hundreds of African-American recruits had begun training at Montford Point, many of whom went on to serve in the Second World War. Racially integrated Marines training did not begin until 1949, at which time Montford Point was closed. In 2012, Congress honored over 400 Montford Point Marines with Congressional Gold Medals.
Army General Douglas MacArthur was the mastermind behind this surprise attack that took advantage of the Marines’ amphibious capabilities. In a bid to aid South Korea to reclaim their capital, Seoul, from North Korea, the landing unfolded on September 15, 1950, at the Inchon port. In two short weeks, the Marines reclaimed Seoul and chased out the North Korean forces. Historically, this bold mission is regarded as one of the most important amphibious assaults.
Female Engagement Team
The Marines established the Female Engagement Team (FET) in 2009 to reach out to women and children and gather intelligence in combat zones. FETs were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the last group being disbanded in Afghanistan in 2012 after local troops took over. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, however, recently established its own FET, opening the door to future deployments.
Marine One is the official call sign given to a Marine Corps helicopter transporting the President of the United States. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to be transported via helicopter by the Marines—on a Bell UH-13J Sioux in 1957. Today the Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King and VH-60N WhiteHawk serve as Marine Ones.
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By Greg Dalgetty
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