The United States Marines Corps (USMC) was established on November 10, 1775 when the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution stating “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces with the fleet.
Serving on land and at sea, these first Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations, including their first amphibious raid into the Bahamas in March of 1776. After the Treaty of Paris was signed in April of 1783 and the Revolutionary War ended the Continental Navy and the Marines went out of existence. The formal re-establishment of the Marine Corps came on July 11, 1798. The Marines saw action during the war with France, they landed on the shores of Santo Domingo and took part in action against the Barbary pirates along the “Shores of Tripoli.”
The USMC took part in numerous naval operations during the War of 1812, after which they protected American interests around the world, such as in the Caribbean, the Falkland Islands and even close to home in operations against the Seminole Indians in Florida. They went on to serve in the Mexican War where they seized enemy seaports on both the Gulf and Pacific Coasts. They battled with General Winfield Scott’s army and fought all the way to the “Halls of Montezuma” in Mexico City. Although most of their Civil War service was with the Navy, there were battalions that fought at Bull Run, Cape Hatteras, New Orleans, Charleston and Fort Fischer.
1912 saw the creation of the Marine aviation division. During World War I the USMC fought on the battlefields of France and in the air as Marine pilots flew bomber missions over France and Belgium. Over 30,000 Marines served in France and more than a third were killed or wounded over six months of fighting.
Leading up to World War II, the USMC began to develop the “doctrine, equipment and organization” needed for amphibious warfare. This effort was proven successful at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa among other places. By the end of WWII the USMC included six divisions, five air wings and supporting troops. The USMC presence during WWII peaked at 485,113, and 87,000 of those Marines were killed or wounded.
When the USMC landed at Inchon, Korea in September of 1950 they proved amphibious assault was still a necessary means. They fought through years of offensives, counter-offensives and seemingly endless trench warfare in Korea. The final troops were withdrawn in March of 1955. More than 25,000 Marines were killed or wounded during the Korean War.
The 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade landed at Da Nang in 1965 marking the beginning of the USMC involvement in Vietnam. After the enemy’s Tet Offensive, the USMC numbers peaked at approximately 85,000. The Vietnam war is the longest in Marine history and came at a high cost to the corps, over 13,000 Marines were killed and 88,000 were wounded.
The USMC has played many roles in the defense of our country and its assets over the years. Some of these roles include Marine Security guards at U.S. Embassies around the world, being part of the multinational peacekeeping force in Beirut in 1982 and numerous humanitarian relief operations. In 1990 the Iraqui invasion of Kuwait set in motion the largest movement of Marine forces since WWII, more than 92,000 Marines deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield. According to the Marine Corps University website, the main attack came overland beginning 24 February when the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions breached the Iraqi defense lines and stormed into occupied Kuwait. By the morning of February 28, 100 hours after the ground war began, almost the entire Iraqi Army in the Kuwaiti theater of operations had been encircled, with 4,000 tanks destroyed and 42 divisions destroyed or rendered ineffective.
The USMC still stands ready to continue the proud tradition of those who fought before them. They live by their motto “Semper Fidelis”...Always Faithful. If you have a Marine in your life, or know a Marine you know there is no such thing as a former Marine...once you take the oath of a Marine, you are a Marine for life. Oorah!