This week on February 28, 1991 Operation Desert Storm ended when the cease- fire declared by President George Bush went into effect. I Marine Expeditionary Force has a strength of more than 92,000 making Operation Desert Storm the largest Marine Corps operation in history .A total of 24 Marines were killed in action during the Gulf War. The cessation of hostilities followed on a week of intense fighting as the I Marine Expeditionary Force and coalition forces began a ground assault on Iraqi defenses in the final chapter of Operation Desert Storm. The 1st and 2d Marine Divisions stormed into the teeth of Iraqi defenses while heavily armored allied forces attacked the Iraqi defenses in Iraq from behind. In 100 hours, U.S. and allied forces defeated the Iraqi Army.
MARCH has a rich history for the Corps:
On 2 March 1867,Jacob Zeilin, Colonel Commandant of the Marine Corps from 30 June 1864, was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General Commandant, the first time Congress authorized this rank for the Marine Corps. The statute, however, was repealed in June 1874 so that the rank of Commandant would again revert to colonel upon Zeilin's retirement.
8 March 1965: The 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade landed at DaNang, Republic of Vietnam as the first U.S. ground combat troops to be committed to that conflict. The 3,500 men arrived both across the beach with Battalion Landing Team 3/9, and at DaNang Airfield with Battalion Landing Team 1/3.
11 March 1778: Marines participated the action when the Continental Navy frigate BOSTON, enroute to France, sighted, engaged, and captured the British merchant ship MARTHA. As the drum of the BOSTON beat to arms, John Adams seized a musket and joined the Marines on deck until the frigate's captain, Samuel Tucker, sent him below for safety.
13 March 1943: The first group of 71 Women Marine officer candidates arrived at the U.S. Midshipmen School (Women's Reserve) at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The Navy's willingness to share training facilities enabled the Marine Corps to begin training Marine Corps Women's Reserve officers just one month after the creation of the MCWR was announced.
17 March 1967: The first woman Marine to report to Vietnam for duty, Master Sergeant Barbara J. Dulinsky, began her 18-hour flight to Bien Hoa, 30 miles north of Saigon. MSgt Dulinsky and the other officer and enlisted Women Marines that followed were assigned to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) based in Saigon. Most worked with the Marine Corps Personnel Section providing administrative support to Marines assigned as far north as the DMZ, but two Lieutenant Colonels, Ruth Reinholz and Ruth O'Holleran, served as historians with the Military History Branch, Secretary Joint Staff, MACV.
25 March 1945: After 35 days of bitter fighting, the amphibious assault on the rocky fortress of Iwo Jima finally appeared over. On the night of 25 March, however, a 300-man Japanese force launched a vicious final counterattack in the vicinity of Airfield Number 2. Army pilots, Seabees and Marines of the 5th Pioneer Battalion and 28th Marines fought the fanatical Japanese force till morning but suffered heavy casualties --more than l00 killed and another 200 American wounded. Nearly all of the Japanese force was killed in the battle.
27 March 1953: The 5th Marines, supported by the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, in the first full day of fighting after the Chinese assault the previous evening of Outpost Vegas on Korea's western front, counterattacked to regain enemy-held positions. Companies E and F of 2/7 , down to only three platoons between them, managed to regain partial control of Outpost Vegas that day.
On the last day of the month, March 31, 1801, Lt. Colonel Commandant William W. Burrows rode with President Thomas Jefferson to look for "a proper place to fix the Marine Barracks on." President Jefferson was a personal friend of the Commandant, and deeply interested in the welfare of the Corps and accompanied Burrows on horseback on the morning of 31 March. They chose a square in Southeast Washington, bounded by 8th and 9th streets, and A& I streets, because it lay near the Navy Yard and was within easy marching distance of the Capitol.
To further honor this tough component of the U.S. Armed Forces, The Sun Bay Paper acknowledges a rich Marine Corps history steeped in heroism dating back to the Corps’ first formation. In the over 240 years since they were originally established, thousands of heroes have emerged.
Here are 11 that became true legends:
1. Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller
Lewis “Chesty” Puller joined the Marines during World War I, but that war ended before he was deployed. He saw combat in Haiti and Nicaragua before the outbreak of World War II.
In the Pacific theater of World War II, Puller led an American advance that succeeded against a huge Japanese force at Guadalcanal. During the Korean War, Puller and his Marines conducted a fighting withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir that crippled seven Chinese divisions in the process. He remains one of America’s most decorated warriors with five Navy Crosses and numerous other high-level awards.
2. Sgt. Maj. Daniel J. Daly
Sgt. Maj. Daniel J. Daly was called “the fightinest Marine I ever knew” by Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler. He is possibly most famous for leading outnumbered and outgunned Marines in a counterattack at the Battle of Belleau Wood with the rallying cry, “Come on, you sons of b------, do you want to live forever?”
He also received two Medals of Honor. The first was for single-handedly holding a wall in China as Chinese snipers and other soldiers tried to pick him off. The second was awarded for his role in resisting an ambush by Caco rebels in Haiti and then leading a dawn counterattack against them.
3. Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler
Note that the light-blue ribbons, at the top of his ribbon rack, appear almost white in this overexposed photo.
Like Daly, Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler is one of the few people that have received two Medals of Honor. His first was for leading during the assault and occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico, in 1914. Eighteen months later he led a group of Marines and sailors against Caco rebels holed up in an old French fort. For his bravery during the hand-to-hand combat that followed, he was awarded his second Medal of Honor.
Butler also led troops in combat during the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion in China, Nicaragua, and World War I France.
4. Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone
John Basilone first served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines but had switched to the Marine Corps by World War II. He served with distinction in the Pacific Theater and received a Medal of Honor for his actions at Guadalcanal and a posthumous Navy Cross for actions at Iwo Jima.
At Guadalcanal he emplaced two machine gun teams under fire and then manned a third gun personally, killing 38 with the gun and his pistol before charging through enemy lines to resupply cut-off Marines. He later destroyed a Japanese blockhouse on his own and then guided a tank through a minefield and artillery and mortar barrages at Iwo Jima. While escorting the tank, he was struck by shrapnel and killed.
5. Col. John Glenn
Col. John Glenn is probably more famous for being a senator, the oldest man in space, and the first American to orbit the earth than he is for his Marine Corps career. But he is a decorated Devil Dog with six awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross, 18 Air Medals, and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
He flew 122 combat missions in World War II and Korea. During a particularly harrowing mission in Korea, Glenn’s wingman experienced engine trouble immediately before six enemy MiGs attacked him. Then-Maj. Glenn turned into the enemy jets and drove them off, killing at least one while giving his partner time to return to base.
6. Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock
Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock was one of America’s greatest snipers. He joined the Marine Corps on his 17th birthday in 1959. He distinguished himself as a marksman in basic training, set a record that was never beaten at the “A” course at USMC Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, and defeated 3,000 other shooters to win the coveted Wimbledon Cup for snipers.
He was originally deployed to Vietnam as a military police officer in 1966, but was soon sent on reconnaissance patrols and then employed as a sniper.
In Vietnam he was credited with 93 confirmed kills including that of an NVA general deep in enemy territory, a female interrogator known for brutal torture, and the record-breaking 2,500-yard kill of a guerrilla with an M2 .50-cal. machine gun in single-shot mode.
7. Master Gunnery Sgt.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Leland Diamond was possibly the world’s saltiest and most gung-ho Marine recruit when he joined at the age of 27 in 1917. He quickly became known for being loud, not caring about rank or uniform regulations, and always being ready to fight.
He was well-known for his skill with mortars and made a name for himself in World War I at battles like Belleau Wood and St. Mihiel. He fought twice in the Sino-Japanese War and again in World War II. At Guadalcanal, the then 52-year-old mortarman drove off a Japanese cruiser before he was forced to evacuate due to “physical disabilities.”
8. Brig. Gen. Joe Foss
Joe Foss is shown wearing the highly prized Medal of Honor bestowed upon him by US President Franklin Roosevelt for outstanding gallantry against the Japanese in the Solomons.
Brig. Gen. Joe Foss joined the Marine Corps before America joined World War II and earned his aviator wings in March 1941. After Pearl Harbor, he was deployed to the Pacific Theater and spent three months defending America-occupied Guadalcanal. Foss was shot down while strafing Japanese ships in 1942. He later tied Air Force legend Eddie Rickenbacker’s record of 26 aerial kills.
Foss was awarded the Medal of Honor for his World War II exploits. After that war, he helped organize the American Football League and the South Dakota Air National Guard. He deployed to Korea with the Air National Guard and rose to the rank of brigadier general before his death in 2003.
9. Cpl. Joseph Vittori
Cpl. Joseph Vittorimade his mark on Hill 749 in Korea on Sep. 16, 1951. Vittori and his fellow Marines were securing a hill they had just taken from Chinese forces when a counterattack forced a 100-yard gap that could’ve doomed the U.S. forces. Vittori and others rushed into the opening with automatic rifles and machine guns.
After hours of stubborn resistance, Vittori was shot through the chest but continued fighting. The Marines suffered more casualties, and when Vittori was shot for a second time, he told his friend to run back to the ridge behind them. Vittori and his friend stopped one more wave before a shot to the face finally killed the young corporal. Vittori posthumously received the Medal of Honor.
10. Sgt. Charles Mawhinney
Mawhinney poses with a replica of the M40 sniper rifle he used during the Vietnam War.
Sgt. Charles “Chuck” Mawhinney lacks the name recognition of Hathcock, but has 10 more confirmed kills with 103. Mawhinney’swork in the Vietnam War wasn’t publicized for years after the war and was almost lost to history until a book, “Dear Mom: A Sniper’s Vietnam,” revealed that he had the most confirmed kills in Marine Corps history.
One of the scout sniper’s greatest engagements came when an enemy platoon was attempting to cross a river at night on Valentine’s Day to attack an American base. Mawhinney was on his own with an M-14 and a starlight scope. He waited until the platoon was in the middle of crossing the river, then dropped 16 NVA soldiers with 16 head shots.
11. Sgt. Maj. Gilbert “Hashmark” Johnson
Gilbert Johnson first served in the Army and Navy for 15 years before joining the Corps. When he began Marine Corps basic training, he was nicknamed “Hashmark” because he had more service stripes than many of his instructors.
He was one of the first African-Americans to join the Corps, to serve as a drill instructor, and to be promoted to sergeant major. During World War II he requested permission to conduct combat patrols and later led 25 of them in Guam.
Publisher’s Note: Special thanks to the U.S. Marine Corp and the Department of Defense for photos and information that made this article possible. A personal thanks to Captain Sean Carl Houck-Conley who served nine years in the Corps with time in both Iraq and Afghanistan combat zones. Captain Houck resigned as a non-commissioned officer from the Corp and re-enlisted in the U.S. Army where he now holds the rank of Captain and is a Company Commander. Thanks son!