Sunday, August 19, 2012

William T. Perkins, Jr.

Combat Photographer

United States Marine Corps

Awarded the Medal of Honor

William Thomas Perkins, Jr. (August 10, 1947 - October 12, 1967) was a United States Marine who posthumously received the United States' highest military decoration for valor - the Medal of Honor - for his heroic action on October 12, 1967 during the Vietnam War in which he smothered an exploding grenade with his body to save the lives of three fellow Marines. Perkins is the only combat photographer to have received the Medal of Honor.


William T. Perkins, Jr. was born in Rochester, New York. In elementary school he moved with his family to California and graduated from James Monroe High School, Sepulveda, California, in 1965.

Perkins enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on April 27, 1966 and was discharged to enlist in the Regular Marine Corps on July 6, 1966.

Upon completion of recruit training with the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, he was promoted to private first class on September 22, 1966. Transferred to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, he underwent individual combat training with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment.

From October 1966 to January 1967, he served as a photographer with Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Supply Center, Barstow, California. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on January 1, 1967. For the next four months, LCpl Perkins was a student at the Motion Picture Photography, U.S. Army Signal Center and School, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. In May 1967, he was transferred back to Headquarters Battalion, Barstow.

In July 1967, LCpl Perkins served as a photographer with Service Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division and was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam. He was promoted to Corporal on August 1, 1967. While serving as a combat photographer with Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division during Operation Medina, he was killed in action on October 12, 1967.

William T. Perkins, Jr. is buried in San Fernando Mission Cemetery in San Fernando, California.

Awards and decorations

Cpl Perkins' was awarded the following medals:

Medal of Honor citation

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to



for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a combat photographer attached to Company C, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on 12 October 1967. During Operation MEDINA, a major reconnaissance in force, southwest of Quang Tri, Company C made heavy combat contact with a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army Force estimated at from two to three companies. The focal point of the intense fighting was a helicopter landing zone which was also serving as the Command Post of Company C. In the course of a strong hostile attack, an enemy grenade landed in the immediate area occupied by Corporal Perkins and three other Marines. Realizing the inherent danger, he shouted the warning, "Incoming Grenade" to his fellow Marines, and in a valiant act of heroism, hurled himself upon the grenade absorbing the impact of the explosion with his own body thereby saving the lives of his comrades at the cost of his own. Through his exceptional courage and inspiring valor in the face of certain death, Corporal Perkins reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Marine heroes are trained

Marine Corps Recruit Depot

Parris Island, S. C. 

Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island (often abbreviated as MCRD PI) is an 8,095 acres military installation located within Port Royal, South Carolina, approximately 5 miles south of Beaufort, the community that is typically associated with the installation. MCRD Parris Island is used for the training of enlisted Marines. Male recruits living east of the Mississippi River and female recruits from all over the United States report here to receive their initial training. Male recruits living west of the Mississippi River receive their training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, but may train at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island by special request.

Initial settlements

A French Huguenot expedition, led by Jean Ribault in 1562, was the first European group to attempt to colonize Parris Island. Earlier Spanish expeditions had sighted the area, and named it "Punta de Santa Elena", which now remains one of the oldest continuously used European place names in the United States. The French expedition built an outpost named Charlesfort, and Ribault left a small garrison as he returned to France for colonists and supplies. After a long absence, due to Ribault's delay from wars in Europe, Charlesfort was abandoned after the garrison mutinied, built a ship on the island, and sailed back to France in April 1563. In 1566 the Spanish, led by Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded a settlement named Santa Elena which became the capital of La Florida for the next decade. Spain finally abandoned Santa Elena in 1587. England took control of the region by the 17th century, and Parris Island became home to British plantations after being purchased by Colonel Alexander Parris, treasurer of the South Carolina colony, in 1715. From the 1720s to the Civil War, the island was divided into a number of plantations, initially growing indigo, then later cotton. During and after the Civil War, the island became home to freed slaves, and was a site of freedmen schools taught by abolitionists such as Frances Gage and Clara Barton.

Union forces captured Port Royal Sound in 1861, and Parris Island became a coaling station for the Navy. This function was taken up again after the war, thanks in large part to the former slave turned Congressman Robert Smalls, who fought for the creation of a new federal military installation on the island.

Military use

Marines were first stationed on Parris Island in 1891, in the form of a small security detachment headed by First Sergeant Richard Donovan. His unit was attached to the Naval Station, Port Royal, the forerunner of Parris Island. Donovan's unit was highly commended for preserving life and property during hurricanes and tidal waves that swept over the island in 1891 and 1893.

Military buildings and homes constructed between 1891 and World War I form the nucleus of the Parris Island Historic District. At the district center are the commanding general's home, a 19th century wooden dry dock and a start of the 20th century gazebo - all of which are on the National Register of Historic Places.

On November 1, 1915, Parris Island was officially designated a Marine Corps Recruit Depot and training was continued from then on.

Prior to 1929, a ferry provided all transportation to and from the island from Port Royal docks to the Recruit Depot docks. In that year the causeway and a bridge over Archer's Creek were completed, thus ending the water transportation era. The causeway was dedicated as the General E. A. Pollock Memorial Causeway in April 1984. During the fateful December 1941, 5,272 recruits arrived there with 9,206 arriving the following month, making it necessary to add the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Recruit Training Battalions. As the war influx continued, five battalions were sent to New River, North Carolina, to train, and the Depot expanded to 13 battalions. From 1941 through 1945, the Marines trained 204,509 recruits here and at the time of the Japanese surrender, the Depot contained more than 20,000 recruits.

On February 15, 1949, the Marines activated a separate "command" for the sole purpose of training female recruits. Later, this command was designated the 4th Recruit Training Battalion and it now serves as the only battalion in the Corps for training female recruits, and is the only all-female unit in the Department of Defense.

The Korean War began in 1950 when 2,350 recruits were in training. From then until the 1st Marine Division withdrew from Korea, Parris Island drill instructors trained more than 138,000 recruits. During March 1952, the training load peaked at 24,424 recruits. The recruit tide again flooded during the years of the Vietnam War, reaching a peak training load of 10,979 during March 1966.

On the night of April 8, 1956, the Ribbon Creek incident resulted in the drowning of six recruits, and led to widespread changes in recruit training policies. Supervision of drill instructors was expanded, such as the introduction of the Series Commander.

On October 11, 2002, the Town of Port Royal annexed the entire island, although most visitors still associate the installation with Beaufort, a larger community five miles to the north.

Recruit training

Today, the Marines train about 17,000 recruits at Parris Island each year. Recruit training for those enlisted in the United States Marine Corps includes a thirteen-week process during which the recruit becomes cut off from the civilian world and must adapt to a Marine Corps lifestyle. During training, the drill instructors train recruits in a wide variety of subjects including weapons training, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, personal hygiene and cleanliness, close order drill, and Marine Corps history. The training emphasizes physical fitness and combat effectiveness. Recruits must attain a minimum standard of fitness to graduate. This standard includes a Physical Fitness Test and a Combat Fitness Test. Recruits must also meet minimum combat-oriented swimming qualifications, qualify in rifle marksmanship with the M16A4 service rifle, pass minimum curriculum standards and complete a 54-hour simulated combat exercise known as "The Crucible".

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Family of Chesty Puller

All that have served in the United States Marine Corps for the past century know a lot about the most decorated Marine in the history of the Marine Corps, however, we don't know much about his family life. This will give you a tidbit of his private home life.

Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, considered by many to be the greatest fighting man ever to wear Marine boots, didn't marry until he was 39. He had known the woman he would marry all his life but didn't realize the freckled faced daughter of a family friend had grown into a beautiful woman until 1926 when he ran into her at a dance in Urbanna, VA. It was that night that he decided to marry Virginia Evans.

Lewis was the quintessential Marine, but was seriously lacking in the skills of courtship. Virginia was the belle of the ball and had caught the eye of most of the men in attendance. Lewis had managed to dance with her three times but his attempts at conversation were awkward. Before his fourth dance with her he decided to use the direct approach and so with great confidence he asked her straight out to marry him. Of course she said no. Her excuse was that she hadn't finished school yet, but she was impressed that he had not danced with any other women all night. Before he left for his next assignment in Hawaii, he sent her three very rare orchids at a cost of $10, which was a large sum of money in 1926. Her joyful letter to him evoked the following reply; "Marry me, and I'll buy you three dozen orchids every month of your life."

For eleven years Lewis corresponded with Virginia from his various duty stations all over the world, sending her gifts and reminding her of his desire that they wed. Virginia had long been known by her friends as the independent, career minded girl and so it was no surprise that at age 30 she was yet unmarried. When Lewis was stationed in Philadelphia in 1936, he intensified his campaign to marry her.

Virginia was impressed by Lewis' devotion. He wrote to her every day and his letters were full of passion:

I love you so very much Virginia, that I will never be happy unless you are. I would not want you to marry me, if I had the least idea that I could not make you completely happy. I would rather you marry another person other than me if I knew it would make you happy. You are so fine and you have had too much sorrow in this life. From now on life must be different. Your happiness is all that matters to me.

Lewis and Virginia were married on November 13, 1937, and in every way she was the perfect match for him. Her independent nature allowed her to survive their constant separations and the strain of him being at war. Together they had three children, Virginia McCandlish born in May of 1940 and Martha Lee and Lewis Burwell Jr. born in August of 1945.

Virginia Evans Puller died Saturday, February 4, 2006, she is survived by her two daughters and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren . There is very little written about her, however, in her long life she loved and was loved by one of the finest men to ever wear the uniform of the United States Marine Corps. She also endured some unimaginable sorrows. Her son, Lewis Jr., lost both legs and most of his hands in Vietnam and even though he graduated from law school and raised a family, he suffered from severe depression and in 1994 took his own life. Her husband died in October 1971; she outlived him by 35 years, as many years as God gave them together. She must have been one incredible woman.

The Marines' Hymn (1919)

The Marines' hymn is the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps. It is often also referred to as "The Marine Corps' Hymn". It is the oldest official song in the U.S. Armed Forces. The song has an obscure origin?the words date from the 19th century, but no one knows the author. The music is from the opera Geneviиve de Brabant by Jacques Offenbach, which had its dйbut in Paris in 1859. The Marine Corps secured a copyright on the song on August 19, 1919, but it is now in the public domain.? Excerpted from Marines' hymn on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
From the Halls of Monezuma
The Marines' Hymn
From the halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles,
On the land as on the sea.
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean,
We are proud to claim the title
Of "United States Marines."

Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun,
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun.
In the snow of far off northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes
You will always find us on the job?
The United States Marines.

When we were called across the sea
To stand for home and right,
With the spirit of the brave and free
We fought with all our might.
When we helped to stop the German's drive
They said we fought like fiends,
And the French rechristened Belleau Wood
For the United States Marines.

Here's health to you and to our Corps,
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve?
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes
They will find the streets are guarded by
The United States Marines.