Monday, January 23, 2012

Pvt. John Joseph Kelly, USMC
Army and Navy Medals of Honor

John Joseph Kelly (June 24, 1898 - November 20, 1957) was a United States Marine who was awarded both the Army and Navy Medals of Honor for his heroic actions on October 13, 1918 at the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge, France during World War I. He was the last of the 19 two-time Medal of Honor recipients to have been alive.


Kelly was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 24, 1898. He enlisted as a private in the United States Marine Corps on May 15, 1917 in Port Royal, South Carolina. On September 5, 1917, he joined the 7th Company, 6th Regiment, at Quantico, Virginia, and on September 12, 1917, he was transferred to the 78th Company. On January 19, 1918, his regiment embarked from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the USS Henderson and arrived at St. Nazaire, France on February 5, 1918.

Private Kelly participated in engagements at Château-Thierry, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont and the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In the desperate fighting at Blanc Mont Ridge he ran "100 yards in advance of the front line and attacked an enemy machine-gun nest", for which he was awarded both the Army and Navy Medals of Honor.

He also participated in the march to the Rhine River and in the occupation of the Coblenz Bridgehead, from November 17, to December 12, 1918. Pvt Kelly was honorably discharged, with character "Excellent" at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia on August 14, 1919.

The circumstances of Pvt. Kelly's Medal of Honor decoration were unique. It was pinned on his chest by General John J. Pershing, Commander-in-Chief, American Expeditionary Force, while Pvt Kelly was with the Army of Occupation. With him in line, waiting for other decorations were U.S. Army Major Generals Dickman, Muir, Haan and Hines. His foreign decorations include the French Croix de guerre with Bronze Star; French Croix de guerre with Palm; Montenegrin Silver Medal for bravery; the French Médaille militaire; and the Italian Croce al Merito di Guerra.

At the time of his death in November 20, 1957, his address was listed as Chicago, Illinois and he is buried at All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines, Illinois.

Medal of Honor citation

Army citation

Kelly, John Joseph
Private, 78th Company
G.O. War Department No. 16, page 7, 1919

Private Kelly ran through our barrage 100 yards in advance of the front line and attacked an enemy machine- gun nest, killing the gunner with a grenade, shooting another member of the crew with his pistol, and returning through the barrage with eight prisoners.

Navy citation
Kelly, John Joseph
Private, U.S. Marine Corps
78th Company, 6th Regiment

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy at BLANC MONT RIDGE, France, October 3, 1918. Private Kelly ran through our own barrage one hundred yards in advance of the front line and attacked an enemy machine-gun nest, killing the gunner with a grenade, shooting another member of the crew with his pistol and returned through the barrage with eight prisoners.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Few Good Men deployed
around the world

The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand

2d Battalion, 6th Marines

The formation of the Second Battalion was included in the decision to form the Sixth Regiment of Marines in order to send a brigade of Marines to France. The Battalion was activated on July 11, 1917 at a newly purchased Navy Department training site at Quantico, Virginia. Shortly after formation, the Second Battalion encountered a serious shortage of Junior Officers. To fill the complement, new officers were drawn from old non-commissioned officers, former members of the Marine Corps and the National Guard, and graduates of military academies with little combat experience.

The Second Battalion consisted of the 78th, 79th, 80th, and 96th companies and was commanded by Major Thomas H. Holcomb who relieved an ailing LtCol Harry Lee. The Company Commanders were for the most part Captains who had served approximately ten years in the Marine Corps, and whose experience and dedication helped develop confidence and initiative in the younger officers. A small nucleus of non-commissioned officers and experienced men were distributed judiciously throughout the Second Battalion to form the backbone of the companies.

By October 1917, the Second Battalion was well equipped and trained for war.It was not until January 19, 1918, that the Second Battalion finally left for League Island, Philadelphia, preparatory for embarking for France as part of the 4th Brigade, American Expeditionary Force. An uneventful crossing of the Atlantic followed, and the Second Battalion landed at San Nazaire on February 8. They immediately entrained for Dambalin, Vosges in France arriving there on February 10, and commenced intense training for trench warfare. On March 17, 1918, the Second Battalion moved to Camp Massa where it remained in reserve until relieving the Third Battalion, Sixth Regiment on March 26. The Second Battalion's first combat action was repelling light attacks, such as trench raids, and conducting constant patrols.

The Second Battalion took part in the defense of Paris across the Chateau-Thierry-Paris road later that year. On June 6, 1918, it was ordered into the attack at Belleau Wood, west of Chateau -Thierry, the offensive that brought honor and commendation to the Fourth Marine Brigade of the American Expeditionary Force. One attack by the Second Battalion was made across six hundred yards of open ground under intense artillery and machine gun fire. In recognition of the brilliant courage, the vigor, spirit and tenacity of the Marines of the Fourth Brigade who over came all hardships and losses and captured the village of Bouresches and Belleau Wood in June 1918, the French renamed the wood the Bois de la Brigade de Marine. Additionally the Fifth and Sixth Marines were cited in the Orders of the French Army, and awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm.

The Second Battalion then took part in battles in the Soissons-Chateau-Thierry sector.During severe fighting, losses were heavy and only three company officers remained when the Battalion was relieved on July 19, 1918. For their remarkable ardor and tenacity in rolling back the enemy, the Fifth and Sixth Marines received their second honor when cited in the Orders of the French Army Corps and awarded the Gilt Star to the Croix de Guerre.

During August, the battalion rested and reorganized, clothing was reissued and replacements assigned. On September 2, 1918, the Second Battalion received orders to march into the St. Mihiel sector as part of the first wholly American grand offensive.The advance on Limey commenced September 12, 1918. In October, the Second Battalion took part in operations in the Champagne sector where they were awarded their third citation in the Orders of the French Army, receiving their second Palm for the Croix de Guerre and the French Fourragere. The Second Battalion, to this day, proudly displays the French Fourragere as a special honor to the brave Marines who fought in these campaigns and earned this honor through blood and sacrifice.

During this campaign two Marines from second Battalion earned Medals of Honor. Private John Joseph Kelly, 78th Company, born June 24, 1898, Chicago, Illinois and Corporal John Henry Pruitt, 78th Company, born October 4, 1896, Faderville, Arkansas, were awarded both the Army and the Navy Medals of Honor for their actions at Blanc Mont Ridge, France on October 3, 1918.Gunnery Sergeant Fred W. Stockman, 96th Company, born March 16, 1881, Detroit, Michigan was the third Marine of the Second Battalion to be awarded the Medal of Honor during World War I.

On the 19th of October, the Second Battalion departed for the Aisne River region and took part in the Meuse-Argonne operations from the 1st of November to the 11th. The Second Battalion then participated in the operations at Toulon-Troyon and Marabache. During November 1918, the battalion participated in the march to the Rhine River, crossing the Rhine on the 13th of December, were it took up positions for the occupation.

The Second Battalion left Germany on July 19, 1919 and returned to Quantico, Virginia on the 9th of August after taking part in the Second Division Parade in New York which was reviewed by Major General John A. Lejeune, Division Commander. On August 20, 1919, the Second Battalion was deactivated for nearly three years.

On June 12, 1922, the Second Battalion was reactivated at Quantico, Virginia. During June and July it participated in maneuvers at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and was attached to the Marine Corps Expeditionary Force. The Sixth Regiment saw action in the Dominican Republic and Cuba in 1924. Again deactivated on October 31, 1924, the Second Battalion remained deactivated until March 26, 1927. The Battalion was reorganized at Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and destined to join the Third Brigade on expeditionary duty in China. The Second Battalion sailed from San Diego on April 17, 1927, and moved into Tientsin, China on the 6th of June. After a year and a half of guard duty, the Second Battalion relocated in January 1929 to San Diego, California and was once again deactivated on March 31, 1929.

With the establishment of the Fleet Marine Force in 1934, the Second Battalion, 6th Marines was reactivated on December 1, 1934 and located in San Diego, California. From 1934 to 1937 the Battalion participated in fleet maneuvers in the Central Pacific. In 1937, conditions in China led to a request by the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet that additional Marines be sent to China to augment forces there engaged in protecting the lives and property of Americans. The Second Battalion deployed to Shanghai, China during August and September 1937 and was assigned to the 2nd Marine Brigade. After trying circumstances in China, the battalion was returned to San Diego during February through April 1938.

The Second Battalion, 6th Marines was part of the primary infantry unit for Second Brigade when the Brigade was redesignated the Second Marine Division on February 1, 1941. During May through July 1941, the Second Battalion was reassigned to the First Provisional Marine Brigade and deployed to garrison Reykjavik, Iceland against German invasion. Leaving there in March 1942, the Battalion returned to San Diego, California and was reassigned to the Second Marine Division. During the fall of 1942, the Second Battalion sailed to Wellington, New Zealand and commenced advanced combat training. On January 4, 1942, the Battalion landed on Guadalcanal where it played an important part in the final days of that campaign. The experience gained on Guadalcanal served the Battalion well when it landed with the Second Marine Division on bloody Tarawa, November 21, 1943. Heavy casualties resulted from the fierce fighting that took place. Along with the other units of the Division, the Second Battalion received the Presidential Unit Citation, the nation's highest unit award, for the Tarawa Operation.

On June 15, 1944, the Second Battalion landed with the Sixth Marines on Saipan in the Marianas Islands. Positioned on the left of the Division Beaches, the Second Battalion fought toward Garapan in almost continuous heavy action against Japanese tank-infantry forces. For Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, the fight continued until they reached the northern end of Saipan, and the island was secure. A short rehabilitation and training period occurred on Saipan. Then on 25th of July, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines landed with the Sixth Marines on Tinian. Private First Class Robert Lee Wilson, born May 24, 1921, in Centralia, Illinois was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Tinian, August 4, 1944.

As part of the new Tenth Army's floating reserve, the Second Battalion participated in diversionary feints off the southeastern coast of the island Okinawa April 1 - 2, 1945. The Battalion was not ordered ashore on Okinawa and returned to its base on Saipan where it was stationed when victory was announced. Following V-J Day, the Second Battalion deployed to Nagasaki, Japan in September 1945 and participated in the occupation of Japan until July 1946.

A series of reassignments and relocations followed the war. In July and August 1946, the second Battalion relocated to Camp Pendleton, California and was reassigned to the Third Marine Brigade in September. After reassignment to the First Marine Division in July 1947, the battalion was deactivated on October 1, 1947. On October 17, 1949, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines was reactivated at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and returned to the Second Marine Division. Again deactivated August 6, 1950, the Battalion was reactivated 20 days later and once again became a part of the Second Division. Since March 1951 the Battalion has deployed at various times as Battalion Landing Team 2/6 in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. The battalion participated in landings in Lebanon in October 1953, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, October through December 1962.

The Battalion participated in numerous training exercises throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's. Second Battalion, 6th Marines participated as part of the Multinational Peace-Keeping Force in Lebanon from February through June 1983. The Battalion returned to Beirut as relief for First Battalion, Eighth Marines after the infamous bombing of the Marine Barracks on October 23, 1983.

On March 3, 1989, Second Battalion, 6th Marines was deactivated and placed into cadre status during a ceremony conducted on the Camp Geiger Parade Field. On July 23, 1994, Second Battalion, 6th Marines was reactivated at Cuzco Wells, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This was accomplished by redesignating 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines as 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines. This occurred while the Battalion was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for Operation Sea Signal, the interdiction, security, and processing of Haitian migrants. Fox Company, reinforced, remained through August 1994, providing security for Haitian migrants being transported to and from the migrant holding camps. In September 1994 the battalion's main force returned to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to provide security for Cuban migrants. In October 1994, the battalion was relieved of its humanitarian duties and returned to Camp Lejeune.

In September 1995, during a Landing Force Sixth Fleet deployment to the Mediterranean, Battalion Landing Team 2/6 was called upon to support United Nations and NATO Peace Keeping operations in the Former Yugoslavia. From September 1995 to February 1996, Battalion Landing Team 2/6 served as the tactical reserve for Operation Joint Endeavor Implementation Forces (IFOR) and at various times as the stand-by TRAP force for Operation Deny Flight. For its exceptional performance of these duties during this period, Battalion Landing Team received the Joint Meritorious Unit citation.

2d Battalion, 6th Marines, was the Ground Combat Element (GCE) for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit's LF6F 2-02 deployment, forming the nucleus for all of the MEU's ground combat forces that include attached tank and light armored vehicles, artillery, amphibious vehicles, engineers, and reconnaissance assets. The primary mission of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, as the 22nd MEU's Ground Combat Element, is to provide the unit with its main combat punch. Attachments bring the battalion's strength up to approximately 1,100 Marines and sailors, and include combat engineers, light armored vehicles, tanks, artillery, and amphibious assault vehicles.

From April to May 2000, Echo company and elements of H&S (STA) of the Battalion deployed to Kosovo where they took part in Operation Dynamic Response.

The entire battalion deployed and took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2003 to May 2003.

From August 2003 to April 2004, the battalion deployed to Okinawa, Japan for a UDP. The Second Battalion, 6th Marines became a part of 4th Marines.

Starting in August 2004, the entire battalion became part of the 4th MEB and acted as the Anti Terrorism Force for the US. Company G deployed in September 2004 to Baghdad, Iraq, where its mission included providing security to U.S. government buildings in the international zone, including portions of the U.S. Embassy. The unit returned to MCB Camp Lejeune on March 15, 2005.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mission is never impossible
for United States Marines

President Harry S. Truman once said; "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

The heat go too hot for Truman and he was forced to apologize after he made a slanderous remark about the Marine Corps - the greatest fighting force the world has ever known.

Sept. 6, 1950 -- President Truman apologizes to the Marine Corps for an "unfortunate choice of language" in a letter to a Republican congressman seeking support for the Marines. In the letter Truman wrote that Marines are the Navy's police force and would remain so "as long as I am President. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin's." In his apology, he praises the Marine Corps history of bravery and dedication. He says he is sure "the Marine Corps itself does not indulge in such propaganda."

The Marine Corps serves as a versatile combat element, and is adapted to a wide variety of combat operations. The Marine Corps was initially composed of infantry combat forces serving aboard naval vessels, responsible for security of the ship, its captain and officers, offensive and defensive combat during boarding actions, by acting as sharpshooters, and carrying out amphibious assaults. The Marines fully developed and used the tactics of amphibious assault in World War II, most notably in the Pacific Island Campaign.

Since its creation in 1775, the Corps’ role has expanded significantly. The Marines have a unique mission statement, and, alone among the branches of the U.S. armed forces, “shall, at any time, be liable to do duty in the forts and garrisons of the United States, on the seacoast, or any other duty on shore, as the President, at his discretion, shall direct.” In this special capacity, charged with carrying out duties given to them directly by the President of the United States, the Marine Corps serves as an all-purpose, fast-response task force, capable of quick action in areas requiring emergency intervention.

The Marine Corps possesses organic ground and air combat elements, and relies upon the US Navy to provide sea combat elements to fulfill its mission as “America’s 9-1-1 Force”. Ground combat elements are largely contained in three Marine Expeditionary Forces, or “MEF’s”. The 1st MEF is based out of Camp Pendleton, California, the 2nd out of Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, while the third is based on Okinawa, Japan. Within the MEF’s are the individual Marine Divisions (MARDIVS) and Force Service Support Groups (FSSG’s).Force Reconnaissance companies are composed of Marines specially trained in covert insertion, reconnaissance, and surveillance tactics, and some have even received special operations training. The “Recon Marine’s” basic mission is to scout out the enemy and report what they find.

Air combat elements are similarly grouped in the first, second and third Marine Aircraft Wings (MAW’s).

Marine tactics and doctrine tends to emphasize aggressiveness and the offensive, compared to Army tactics for similar units. The Marines have been central in developing groundbreaking tactics for maneuver warfare; they can be credited with the development of helicopter insertion doctrine and modern amphibious assault.

The Marines also maintain an operational and training culture dedicated to emphasizing the infantry combat abilities of every Marine. All Marines receive training first and foremost as basic riflemen, and thus the Marine Corps at heart functions as an infantry corps. The Marine Corps is famous for the saying “Every Marine a rifleman.”

While the Marine Corps does not necessarily fill unique combat roles, only when combined do the US Army, Navy, and US Air Force overlap every area that the Marine Corps covers. As a force, the Marines consistently use all essential elements of combat (air, ground, sea) together. While the creation of joint commands under the Goldwater-Nichols Act has improved interservice coordination between the larger services, the Marine Corps’ ability to permanently maintain integrated multi-element task forces under a single command provides a special ability to respond to flexibility and urgency requirements.

The Marines argue that they do not and should not take the place of the other services, any more than an ambulance takes the place of a hospital. Nonetheless, when a pressing emergency develops, the Marines essentially act as a stopgap, to get into and hold an area until the larger machinery can be mobilized. The opinions of other military men and politicians have, at times, differed, and President Harry S. Truman considered abolishing the Corps as part of the 1948 reorganization of the military. As Truman said, “The only propaganda machine that rivals that of Stalin is that of the United States Marine Corps.” Truman, a former U.S. Army artillery captain, felt that the Marines were useless, despite their many successes in World War II and the Korean War.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

United States Marine Corps
Women Marines

The United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve (USMCWR), established in 1942 as a part of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, was a Reserve unit which provided women for shore duty in the Marine Corps to take over jobs so men could be released for combat duty.

Historical context - women in the Marine Corps

In 1918, the Secretary of the Navy allowed women to enlist for clerical duty in the Marine Corps. Officially, Opha Mae Johnson is credited as the first woman Marine. Johnson enlisted for service on August 13, 1918; during that year some 300 women first entered the Marine Corps to take over stateside clerical duties from battle-ready Marines who were needed overseas.

Beginnings; World War II service

The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was established in February 1943. The first director of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve was Mrs. Ruth Cheney Streeter from Morristown, New Jersey. By the end of World War II, 85 percent of the enlisted personnel assigned to Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps were women.

The first group of women officers was given direct commissions based on ability and civilian expertise. These women were given no formal indoctrination or schooling, but went on active duty immediately. Women Marines were assigned to over 200 different jobs, among them radio operator, photographer, parachute rigger, driver, aerial gunnery instructor, cook, baker, quartermaster, control tower operator, motion picture operator, auto mechanic, telegraph operator, cryptographer, laundry operator, post exchange manager, stenographer, and agriculturist.

After the war; Retention for active duty

On June 7, 1946, Commandant of the Marine Corps General Alexander A. Vandegrift approved the retention of a small number of women on active duty. They would serve as a trained nucleus for possible mobilization emergencies. The demobilization of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, 17,640 enlisted and 820 officers, was to be completed by September 1, 1946. Of the 20,000 women who joined the Marine Corps during World War II, only 1,000 remained in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve by July 1, 1946.

June 12, 1948, the United States Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act and made women a permanent part of the regular Marine Corps.

In 1950, the Women Reserves were mobilized for the Korean War and 2,787 women were called to active duty. By the height of the Vietnam War, there were about 2,700 women Marines served both stateside and overseas. By 1975, the Corps approved the assignment of women to all occupational fields except infantry, artillery, armor and pilot/air crew. Over 1,000 women Marines were deployed in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991.

The women Marines, also known to us old timers as "(BAM's) Broad-Ass-Marines" have continued to serve the Corps at most Marine Corps Bases and have contributed much in combat zones. The Marine Corps first found a "Few good Men" and we are proud to say the Corps found a "Few good Women."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Few, The Proud,
The Marines

The United States Marines have been called many different names over the 237 years, but only one is not acceptable. We gladly accept the simple names <> Marine, former Marine, retired Marine, but never an ex-Marine. After we earned the Marine Corps emblem when we successfully completed boot-camp, we became a Marine for life. You've heard the saying; Once a Marine, always a Marine. Here are other terms we have been labeled with.

Leatherneck: The nickname Leatherneck has become a universal moniker for a U.S. Marine. The term originated from the wide and stiff leather neck-piece that was part of the Marine Corps uniform from 1798 until 1872. This leather collar, called The Stock, was roughly four inches high and had two purposes. In combat, it protected the neck and jugular vein from cutlasses slashes. On parade, it kept a Marine's head erect. The term is so widespread that it has become the name of the Marine Corps Association monthly magazine, LEATHERNECK.

Gyrene: Around 1900, members of the U.S. Navy began using Gyrene as a jocular derogatory reference to U.S. Marines. Instead of being insulted, the Marines loved it. The term became common by World War I and has been extensively used since that time.

Jarhead: For roughly 50 years, sailors had little luck in their effort to insult Marines by calling them Gyrenes. So, during World War II sailors began referring to Marines as Jarheads. Presumably the high collar on the Marine Dress Blues uniform made a Marine's head look like it was sticking out of the top of a Mason jar. Marines were not insulted. Instead, they embraced the new moniker as a term of utmost respect.

Devil Dogs: The German Army coined this term of respect for U.S. Marines during World War I. In the summer of 1918 the German Army was driving toward Paris. The French Army was in full retreat. In a desperate effort to save Paris, the newly arrived U.S. Marines were thrown into the breach. In June 1918, in bitter fighting lasting for weeks, Marines repeatedly repulsed the Germans in Belleau Wood. The German drive toward Paris sputtered, fizzled, and died. Then the Marines attacked and swept the Germans back out of Belleau Wood. Paris had been saved. The tide of war had turned. Five months later Germany would be forced to accept an armistice. The battle tenacity and fury of the U.S. Marines had stunned the Germans. In their official reports they called the Marines "teufel hunden," meaning Devil Dogs, the ferocious mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore.

Soldiers of the Sea: A traditional and functional term for Marines, dating back to the British in the 1600's