Thursday, September 29, 2011

Anthony Gale
U.S. Marine Corps
Fourth Commandant
3 March 1819 - 16 October 1820

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Gale, fourth Commandant of the Marine Corps and the only one ever fired, was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 17 September 1782. Fewer records survive concerning him than any other Commandant but it is known that he was commissioned a second lieutenant on 2 September 1798. Thereafter he fought, in fairly quick succession, the French, the Barbary pirates, the British, and one of his Navy mess-mates. The last encounter, involving an affront to the Corps, brought about the naval officer's sudden demise and Commandant William Burrow's approval for Gale?s defense of his Corps' honor.

Unfortunately for him, increasing rank brought other difficulties not resolved so directly. In 1815, while commanding at Philadelphia, he fell out with Commandant Franklin Wharton over construction of barracks. A court of inquiry cleared him, but he was banished to a less desirable post, where he nursed a feeling of persecution and resumed dueling - this time with John Barleycorn.

As a consequence of these and other alleged shortcomings, Capt. Gale, although next senior at the time of Wharton's death, had to battle for the job. Capt. Archibald Henderson, second in line, was characteristically blunt in assessing Capt. Gale's qualifications, or lack of them, to the Secretary of the Navy. After a court of inquiry, which exonerated him, Capt. Gale, with 21 years of service, became Lieutenant Colonel Commandant 3 March 1819. By then, the Corps had been without a leader for six months.

Soon came troubles with Navy Secretary Smith Thompson, who frequently countermanded LtCol Gale's orders in a humiliating manner. Finally, LtCol Gale courageously submitted a letter analyzing the proper division of function between himself and the Secretary, and respectfully pointed out the impossibility of his position. This official reaction to infringements of his authority, he paralleled by unofficial retreats to alcohol. Three weeks later (18 September 1820) he was under arrest, charged with offenses of alcoholic and related nature. By 8 October 1820, the court had found him guilty, the President had approved, and LtCol Gale was removed from office and the Marine Corps.

From Washington, Gale went first to Philadelphia where he spent several months in hospitals, then took up residence in Kentucky. Armed with proof that he had been under the strain of temporary mental derangement while Commandant, he spent 15 years attempting to have his court-martial decision reversed. Eventually, in 1835, the government partially cleared him and awarded him a stipend of $15 a month which was later increased to $25 and continued until his death in 1843 in Stanford, Lincoln County, Kentucky.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pvt. France Silva
U. S. Marine Corps

Private France Silva (May 8, 1876 - April 10, 1951) born in Hayward, California, was the first Marine of Mexican-American and Hispanic heritage to receive the Medal of Honor. He received the Medal of Honor for his meritorious conduct in China during the Boxer Rebellion.

Medal of Honor action

In 1900, Private France Silva was a member of the Legation Guards (Marines) under the command of Captain Newt Hall, aboard the USS Newark. The USS Newark was a United States Navy protected cruiser, the first modern cruiser in the U.S. fleet. On May 20, 1900, the Newark sailed for China to help land allied troops to assist civilians within the legations which came under siege by the Boxers at Peking. Arriving Tientsin on May 22.

Silva joined the Marine Corps on September 12, 1899, in San Francisco and attended Boot Camp at Mare Island. He was assigned to the U.S. Flag Ship Newark where Private Daniel Joseph Daly (future double Medal of Honor recipient) was already a member. The Newark soon headed to the Philippines, to take part in the Spanish-American War, but were then sent to Japan to prepare for a landing at Taku, Tientsen and Peking. They arrived in Peking on May 31 before the Boxers closed the city off from the world.

As Captains John T. Meyers and Newt Hall, USMC, - under the command of Captain Bowman McCalla, USN, in the lead position of the allies, the all European Brass Band played, "It'll be a hot time in the old town tonight." They had their last really good meal for a couple of months but also immediately posted guard. Captain Meyers had given the command, "Fix, Bayonets!" just before their approach. They double timed the last three-hundred yards and the crowd cheered.

Later, when they entered the Forbidden City of Peking, Edwin Conger, the lead U.S. Diplomat (and former Army officer) said to Meyers, "Thank God you are here. Now we are safe."

On June 19, 1900, the 1st Regiment (Marines) under Major Littleton Waller, USMC, attempted to take the city of Tientsin and failed. Then on June 23, the Regiment, under the command of Major Waller, was able to enter Tientsin in their second attempt and force the Chinese forces to retreat to Peking. Private France Silva, several other Marines and two sailors, Navy Seamen Axel Westermark and Chief Machinist Emil Peterson earned the Medal of Honor in their defense of the civilian compound (legation) at Peking. They defended the walled city from June 28 until the fall of the city which occurred on August 17.

In accordance to a newspaper article:

"The USS Newark placed ashore a contingent of Marine and three bluejackets (sailors) as a legation guard. These men and later another detachment of Marines, soldiers and sailors joined the troops of other western countries and Japan in the defense of other Peking legations against the Boxers until the arrival of the Allied Forces in August."

According to the Journal of Pvt. Oscar J. Upham, USMC, (Upham called his journal the "Siege of Peking") on July 1, "Pvt. Silva of the Newark Guard (detachment) volunteered to go and assist them (others on the Tartar Wall) and was hit in the arm making a very bad wound." Several others had been seriously wounded and some killed during this skirmish. According to documents in the National Archives and Records Administration the bullet entered Pvt. Silva's left elbow and bounced off his sternum. He was medically discharged on January 6, 1901 at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, CA. On December 31, 1901, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, also at Mare Island (Medal of Honor Society). The Medal of Honor Society stated recently (November 2008) that the Medal of Honor was mailed to him, but there is no official information about which official presented at mare Island.

Captain Newt Hall, USMC, was Pvt. Silva's Commanding Officer aboard the Newark. Hall retired as a Colonel and many years later (1930's) wrote an account of the Siege of Peking. Of all the Marines under his charge he noted that Silva's was the "most interesting." Even though Pvt. Silva was badly injured (he couldn't hold his rifle because his elbow had taken the bullet and it passed through his arm and bounced off his sternum), he and several other Marines attempted to return to the Wall for action. Captain Hall ordered them back to (Sick Bay).

Silva refused telling the captain that if he would take Silva's rifle and the captain give him his pistol, he said, "I can take of myself." Silva remained on duty for at least a day relieving Marines and others on the Wall giving them a "much needed rest."

Pvt. Silva's immediate Commanding Officer was Capt. Newt Hall. Hall was under the command of Capt. John T. Myers. Myer's and his detachment were on the USS Oregon (Upham Journal).

Medal of Honor citation

Private, U.S. Marine Corps
July 19, 1901

G.O. Navy Department, No.55

In the presence of the enemy during the action at Peking, China, June 28, to August 17, 1900. Throughout this period, Silva distinguished himself by meritorious conduct.


After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Silva reported that he lost all of his papers and his Medal of Honor, but another was mailed to him. He had filed a disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs. France Silva died on April 10, 1951 and is buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Corning, California.

Silva and Dan Daly were good friends on the Newark and during the Siege of Peking.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

American Wars

In World War II, the United States had approximately 16.5 million men and women in uniform. Of these about 2 percent were killed. In World War II, the US Marines had approximately 669 thousand men and women in uniform. Of these about 3-1/2 percent were killed. In World War I, 3 percent of US Marine participants were killed.

In the Korean War 424,000 US Marines participanted and 4,500 were killed. In the Vietnam War 1.6 percent of US Marine participants were killed. What is my point?

The POWs in the Pacific faced death and disease on a daily basis for almost 4 years. They died at a higher casualty rate than any war of the last two centuries. Since returning home they have died at a rate 3 times that of POWs from the European Theater of Operations. Yet many of them came away from that experience with a sense of shame, with a feeling they had not done enough.

The Japanese constantly told them they did not deserve to live because they had surrendered. Try to find mention of them in history books, especially the North China Marines. Our government did little if anything to help them adjust when they came home. They did not receive their full back pay until 57 years after they returned home, and then in 1942 dollars and with no interest. (Feb 2010 - Now evidence has arisen they were not given the promotions they were actually due.) Interest was finally paid in 2007-to surviving POWs or their living spouses, only 17 North China Marines were still living.

If they made a career out of the Marines and retired after 20 years, their disability pay is subtracted from their retirement pay. This issue is still not completely rectified. Many of them were awarded a Purple Heart on their return to the states. In most cases that award was not entered into their records-or was deleted.

Today officials drag their feet on paperwork submitted for those Purple Hearts. In 2004 one North China Marine was recommended for a Medal of Honor for his actions in 1942. There was no action on that recommendation for a full year after it was submitted by a retired Marine general who was a witness to the event. Then the official finding was that since no medal had been awarded at the end of the war there would be none awarded now. Further paperwork was submitted as of October 2007. As of February 2010 there was still no action.

So it is easy to see how these former prisoners might feel the way they do. But there should be no shame. There should be a sense of having served their fellow Americans in a manner few others have, at a cost few others have paid. There should be pride.

These men should be seen as examples of what it truly means to be an American.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Swagger stick
Was part of my Marine Corps uniform

A swagger stick is shorter than a staff or cane, and is usually made from rattan. Most Marines today have never heard of this stick that the Few, the Proud, the Marines, carried in their hands.


Originally, the swagger stick was a functional implement used to direct military drill and manoeuvres, or to administer physical punishment. In the Roman army, a short vine wood staff called a vitis was carried and used for corporal punishment by Centurions (often career soldiers), but not by higher officers (often from the socio-political elite). Nowadays it is more often a traditional visual attribute. Swagger sticks are most familiarly carried by military officers or more senior non-commissioned officers. They are also often carried by officers in police and paramilitary forces.

United Kingdom armed forces

In the British Army and other militaries following the Commonwealth traditions, commissioned officers carry swagger sticks when in formal uniform as a symbol of rank. Warrant Officers and Senior NCOs carry longer pace sticks or regimental sticks instead, although a Regimental Sergeant Major may be seen sporting a swagger stick. British swagger sticks are often topped with a silver cap, bearing regimental insignia. A swagger stick remains an essential part of an officer's equipment and they are supplied by traditional British military tailors such as Gieves & Hawkes and Goldings. Cavalry officers will often carry a riding crop rather than a swagger stick, in deference to their mounted traditions.

United States armed forces

Swagger sticks were once in vogue in the United States Marine Corps, starting as an informal accessory carried by officers in the late 19th century. In 1915, it gained official approval as recruiters were encouraged to carry them to improve public image. This tradition grew when Marines deployed for World War I encountered European officers carrying swagger sticks, leading to an entry in the uniform regulations in 1922 authorizing enlisted Marines to carry them as well. The usage died down in the 1930s and 40s, excepting China Marines, and returned in vogue when a 1952 regulation encouraging them; reaching a peak from 1956 to 1960, when Commandant Randolph M. Pate encouraged use. While stressing the need for uniforms to be simple and rugged, with no need for gimmicks and gadgets, General Pate commented:

There is one item of equipment about which I have a definite opinion. It is the swagger stick. It shall remain an optional item of interference. If you feel the need of it, carry it.

However, his successor, David M. Shoup, quickly discouraged their use:

..."the swagger stick symbolized elitist affectation, and it reminded him of some unpleasant experiences he had had in China.” He had seen British officers toss money at Chinese men and then strike them with their swagger sticks as they picked up the coins off the ground. Few Marines carried the swagger stick after that.

Few, if any, contemporary officers feel the need to carry a swagger stick, and it has no official sanction in any branch.

General George S. Patton carried a swagger stick throughout World War II; however his contained a concealed blade, similar to a Victorian gentleman's sword cane.

General William J. Livsey, who was the Commanding General of the Eighth United States Army in South Korea from 1984 to 1987 publicly carried a swagger stick that was carved from wood collected at the Korean Demilitarized Zone Axe Murder Incident poplar tree.

Other Use

Many Military Bands, especially in Infantry Regiment, use a pace stick in lieu of a band mace for the Drum Major. Is is also used by male tour guides at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida, where its purpose is to give male tour guides something to hold and use to direct guests' attention to, while female tour guides use a riding crop.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ed McCourt
United States Marine Corps

Author: Richard Botkin

Summer 1953 was a different time in Marine Corps history. It was "old Corps," really old Corps. Old Corps in ways even today's toughest, most grizzled veterans would accept as old Corps.

It was almost "other worldly" and indescribably more magnificent. Dan Daly and Smedley Butler were gone, but in the summer of 1953 a peppering of gents in the ranks had known and served with them. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller remained on active duty. Others, thousands really, had campaigned at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and again in Korea at Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir. There were so many of them on active duty that they were almost common in an uncommon way.

By 1953, they were still young by most measures - except for those experiences. And that was and is the draw of the Corps: to be a part of something meaningful and manly and dignified.

The Marine Corps always has been a sublimating force for young men who might have gone astray and who might have used their youthful exuberance and energy in socially unacceptable ways. They were the ones who might have turned left when told to go right.

There is something mystical, something not quite definable that draws someone to the ways of the Corps. Like a narcotic, once injected it can control the soul, absorbing a person in ways that never can be fully understood or appreciated from the outside. For most, once the eagle, globe and anchor has been earned, there is no divorce, no full recovery. The Corps is all-consuming, and most go willingly, like a moth to a flame, like sheep to slaughter.

Little in Ed McCourt's initial pedigree suggested that he would amount to much. His father had done time in prison. His stepfather had done time in prison. Both were deserters from the U.S. Army. He had a cousin, also an Army deserter, who did time in Sing Sing for armed robbery.

Growing up in one of the toughest parts of Chicago, by the time he was 13, Ed McCourt had managed to obtain a license to drive the Uptown Supermarket's meat truck. He dealt with thugs and mafia types near his home on Clark Street, three doors north of Division. He left that job and at 15, in 1951, was managing a parking lot on Lake Street and Wacker Drive, earning the princely sum of $135 per week (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator that is the equivalent of $1,132 in 2010 dollars). His salary supported his extended and horribly dysfunctional family.

McCourt was unable to finish ninth grade because he had to support his mother, stepbrothers and sisters. Life in the bowery offered small attraction. Living across the street from the Foremost Theater and the Gold Coast Amusement Center, McCourt could count seven bars and pubs on his block alone. Even though the money was good, he tired of waiting to be "old enough" for something more suited to his need for purpose and direction.

Well before his 16th birthday, McCourt had hatched a plan of escape from his skid-row existence. Retrieving his bap­tismal certificate from the few records his mother kept, he began the process of altering his date of birth. It took seven attempts before he was satisfied that the copies appeared legitimate. He canvassed all the services - first the Air Force and then the Navy, followed by the Army. Once confident those recruiters were fooled by the forgeries, he made his run on the Marines. Bang. Success.

Convinced McCourt was about to turn 18, the recruiters did not even need his mother's approval. So, by the time he was barely 16, Ed McCourt was boot camp bound. Everything was cool. On the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego rifle range, he was the high shooter for his entire recruit series and was among the few recruits to be meritoriously promoted to private first class due to his superior performance. He was dialed in, good-to-go and preparing for combat duty in Korea.

Had he been assigned to a different military occupational specialty, the Corps never might have discovered the deception, but at that time those in certain aspects of artillery required a security clearance. During that background investigation, Private First Class McCourt's true date of birth was uncovered. As a result, after nine months and 16 days, PFC McCourt, minority discharge under honorable conditions in hand, was released from active duty with very little fanfare.

Figuratively bloodied but certainly unbowed, Ed McCourt did not let that discharge interrupt his appointment with destiny. At age 17, he informed his mom that he was going back in the Corps as soon as he was 18 with or without her consent. So why not make it 17 since a person can join the military at that age with parental consent? The next time he went in, it would be for good.

Able to reenlist legally in 1953 at 17 and keep his former rank, PFC McCourt hit the deck with all cylinders firing fully. Although disappointed that he had missed the action in Korea, he had little time to despair. Ed McCourt was now a round peg in a round hole, the kid in the candy store, the young warrior monk seeking enlightenment. He was home. The Corps was his family, his tribe. The brothers and the father he never had known surrounded him, challenged him, embraced and uplifted him. Good things began to compound.

In assignment after assignment Mc­Court gained rank, education, experience and confidence. Behavioral scientists might have observed that he had fulfilled Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The Corps became his self-actualization. An outsider might have thought that if he had cut Ed McCourt, he would have bled Marine Corps green.

The Corps can be a demanding and jealous mistress, consuming and absorbing one's total passion, leaving little room or consideration for others. This love affair often comes at a high price, sometimes without reciprocity. During war the price may be a man's own life or those of cherished comrades. For others, the love affair leads not to "happily ever after, " but to marriages or families that lack a man's full devotion. Some even buy into the adage that " if the Corps wanted you to have a wife, they'd have issued you one." For a length of time, Ed McCourt would fall for that line.

As America was leaving her un­satisfactory Korean experience behind and as her tastes were transitioning from Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to Bill Haley and the Comets, McCourt was in the Band of Brothers. His lifestyle and experience would absorb and consume him 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Assuming his duties as an infantryman and later as a recon Marine, in the next 11 years, Ed McCourt would serve at seven different duty stations, not including time spent at sea or the myriad of military schools attended. Along the way he picked up a nickname "Machete Eddie" which he would use with panache and aplomb. When he was not improving his fighting or reconnaissance skills at schools or in training for the next war, Machete Eddie played on various varsity football teams the Corps maintained at its major bases. In between, he found time to get married twice.

Following a successful tour on recruiting duty, Staff Sergeant McCourt was trans­ferred back to the Fleet Marine Force in mid-1964. Deployed to Okinawa, his battalion spent time on board amphibious ships floating off the coasts of Thailand and Vietnam. In April 1965, 2d Battalion, Third Marine Regiment was part of the buildup of leathernecks going ashore at Da Nang to begin expanded operations against the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC).

Due to his extensive training and skills as a troop leader, SSgt McCourt served as a rifle platoon leader, a job normally given only to commissioned officers. For six months, McCourt led the men of "Fox" Company's 1st Platoon through the jungles, swamps and rice paddies. It was the perfect prelude and workup for an even more demanding second tour.

Returning Stateside in January 1966, McCourt endured the drudgery of what appeared bland after the intensity of combat. Assigned as a senior instructor to the rifle ranges at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., he was marking time. Like any good Marine, he did the job he was given. At least he was training Marines, passing on the things he had learned.

With the American effort in Vietnam increasing, promotions came more quickly. In the early afternoon of 14 July 1966, a teletype message proclaimed his selection for promotion to gunnery sergeant. Two hours later, before he could finish celebrating, another message announced his selection for promotion to second lieutenant.

It was difficult to enjoy the relative opulence of sunny Southern California knowing his friends were fighting and dying in Southeast Asia. The next day 2dLt McCourt went to his commanding officer and requested orders for Vietnam. Three weeks later he was back in I Corps, leading Marines in combat.

Between the time 2dLt McCourt had concluded his first Vietnam tour and he returned for his second, the nature and intensity of the ground combat prosecuted by American Marines had changed dramatically. Before, most of the action had been against local VC, and contact with main force NVA regulars had been a rarity. By early 1967, the Marines were battling the NVA daily, virtually every time they left the wire. The VC were cunning, deceptive and fleeting, while the NVA were far better trained and more formidable than their southern allies. The NVA did not back down from a fight, and the Marines had their hands full.

It was with India Co, 3/3 that Machete Eddie would come into his own as a warrior and troop leader. By the time of his second arrival, the meat grinder of Northern I Corps was consuming Marines, small-unit leaders in particular, at a horrifyingly rapid rate. A problem common for all the 3dMarDiv infantry battalions operating in Northern I Corps was that constituent rifle companies and platoons were stretched thinly and always were engaged. Turnover of key personnel was a constant challenge.

Second Lt McCourt quickly made a name for himself in 3/3. He seemed bred for the moment. He was a warrior, a gunfighter, the go-to guy when the stuff hit the fan, as things were doing with increasing frequency.

When the battalion went to the field as a complete unit, his platoon was usually on point. His men rallied to him. He loved his men with the same tough-love leadership he had felt throughout his Marine Corps experience. His feelings were reciprocated. His leadership reflected their reasons for joining the Corps rather than some other branch of service. They were confident he would do nothing foolish, nothing reckless and that he would be with them in every firefight at the precise point of contact.

Shortly after McCourt's arrival for his second tour, 3/3’s Lima Co was taken over by John Ripley, a young captain. The gentleman from Virginia quickly became known for his aggressiveness and tactical savvy. His Marines, after particularly difficult action during March 1967, would be called by "Ripley's Raiders," a name that still sets them apart.

The urbane and genteel John Walter Ripley, whom some would call a 20th-century Stonewall Jackson and who would become more famous for his 1972 heroics in destroying the Dong Ha bridge and seriously dulling the NVA offensive, was in most ways as different from Machete Eddie as the East is from the West. A friendship that transcended their different backgrounds quickly developed: a brother-to-brother kinship made possible only by their shared circumstances and devotion to the Corps that would last until Ripley's untimely death in 2008. (McCourt still mourns deeply for his friend, who be­lieved McCourt was the only man in Marine Corps history to reenlist at 17.

Machete Eddie called Ripley "an NVA magnet." McCourt and his men were convinced that to gain contact with the enemy, all they had to do was to operate with Lima Co. Although McCourt would be awarded medals for valor, including the Silver Star and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm (the Vietnamese equivalent to our Silver Star), the praise and endorsements from John Ripley were more important.

Ripley felt his junior mate had "written the book on leadership in combat." Ripley's Raiders affirmed his thoughts, on more than a few occasions, when they exclaimed to their "skipper": "Sir, Lieutenant McCourt is on our flank. We are secure!"

All Marines have an acute understanding for the quality of leadership, especially in combat. It distills the necessary from the trivial, condenses all that is vital down to the few small issues that make the difference between life or death, victory or defeat.

An officer might coast for a while on personality or puffery; he even might convince superiors he is, in fact, the Second Coming. However, to those in his charge there are only actions and results. No amount of cosmetics or breast-beating can conceal the warts and imperfections of actual performance.

The young Marines, the squad leaders, the fire-team leaders, the guys humping mortar rounds and radios all know the truth. They suffer the poor decisions or survive the good ones. They are judge and jury. They are the ultimate customers of a combat leader's ability.

The Marines of India Co's 1st Plt were no different. Properly motivated and led, they would attempt anything. Machete Eddie's Marines would do just about anything for him because they knew he would be out front doing it with them.

A poem, "The Ballad of Fort McCourt," composed and given to McCourt by two of his Marines in November 1966, speaks in a simple, heartfelt way to that need for strong leadership and camaraderie. Taken out of context, it might seem hokey and homespun, almost obsequious, but the verse was not composed by brown-nosing boys.

By the time it was written, co-authors Lance Corporal Michael Baronowski and LCpl Tim Duffy were seasoned veterans. Baronowski, who had only one month left on his tour, was killed walking point the day after the two close buddies completed their masterpiece. Duffy would go on to serve in the combined-action program and be known for doing good things. Their poem is more precious to McCourt than medals and any other accolades.

Author's note: Capt Ed McCourt retired from active duty in 1973 and spent another 25 years in law enforcement and high-risk security before his second retirement in 1997. In 1990, he married for the final time, and the third try was the charm. Like so many Marines, he married well, and he married up. His wife, Sue, has an MBA as well as a doctorate in health care administration. The couple lives in South Texas. Machete Eddie continues to instruct in shooting and spends a great deal of time in contact with his extensive and impressive list of old Corps Marine pals.

The Ballad of Fort McCourt
We wander through the jungles of Vietnam all day.
We find the Viet Cong dug in and chase them all away.
You'll find no finer fighting men of any name or sort.
You'll always find us ready here defending Fort McCourt.
He is the bravest man of all and that is plain to see.
And we're his men of 1st Platoon of "India," 3/3.
He's taught us all to be Marines of very rugged sort.
We're proud to be here fighting beside Lt Ed McCourt.
The first time here he learned the tricks to hunt the VC down.
He's back again and meaner yet the second time around.
He leads the finest fighting men in Marine Corps infantry.
And we're the fighting 1st Platoon of "India," 3/3.
We patrol all day and watch all night for that's the way he planned.
And where we find the Viet Cong that's where we'll make our stand.
And when you hear about us 'twill be a good report.
For here we are and here we'll stay on top of Fort McCourt.
Although he works us very hard, he never is unfair.
He makes us feel that we're the best Marines found anywhere.
You'll never find morale as high at any other fort.
There is no finer leader than Lt Ed McCourt.
~LCpl Michael Baronowski and LCpl Tim Duffy

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Leslie E. Brown
United States Marine Corps

First Marine to fly a jet in combat <> Korean War, Sept. 9, 1950.

Lieutenant General Leslie E. Brown (7 July 1920-12 September 1997) was a United States Marine Corps aviator who served in combat in World War II, Vietnam, and Korea. As a combat pilot, he earned many aviation "firsts". He retired from the Marine Corps in 1978 after 38 years of active duty service.


Leslie Brown was born on 7 July 1920 in Washington state. He graduated from high school in 1938 and attended Compton College in California prior to enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1940.

Brown received a field commission during World War II while serving as a member of the 2nd Marine Division in the Pacific.

He had extensive combat and command experience in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He participated in four major landings in the Pacific. In 1946, he completed flight training and qualified in most types of jets, transports and helicopters that the Marine Corps had in use. While in Korea in 1950, he was the first Marine to fly a jet in combat. In Vietnam, he was the First Wing Operations Officer (G-3), and then commanded a jet attack group (MAG-12) and the attempted attack on the DaNang Airfield at Chu Lai, earning many aviation "firsts".

In 1962, he attended Oklahoma State University where he earned both a Bachelor of Science and a and Bachelor of Arts degree, and also completed graduate studies in Human Resources Management.

He held numerous staff assignments including duty as Secretary to the General Staff and as a Joint Chiefs of Staff Project Officer at Headquarters Marine Corps; Logistics Operations Officer for the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific; Deputy J-3 (Operations) for the United States European Command; Chief of Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps; and his final assignment as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.

Brown retired from the Marine Corps on 1 October 1978. He died near Palm Springs, California on 12 September 1997.


"Wherever you are or whatever your job, don’t be confused or diverted by false priorities. We have only one mission to perform—that is to fight and win. And, we must do it better than anyone else in the world."

—LtGen Leslie E. Brown