Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Roger Taylor Memorial
MEMORIAL DAY - 27 May 2013

(Noah's note: My thanks to Major John M. Bloodworth, USMC - Ret., of Gulf Breeze, Fla., who recently gave me a bottle of sand from the island of Iwo Jima.)

On a cold November day in 1945, a crowd gathered in Round Lake Beach, Illinois, for the dedication of the Roger Taylor Park. Roger Wallace Taylor joined the United States Marine Corps on June 2, 1944 at the age of 18. He died in the Battle of Iwo Jima on March 2, 1945, eight days before his 19th birthday He was the only man from Round Lake Beach to die in World War II.

Roger died while serving on a machine gun crew. He was reported to have died instantly from his wound. In a letter to Roger’s parents following the battle, his commanding officer, Lt. Richard L. Reich wrote: “…Roger was the caliber of Marine that made the capture of Iwo Jima possible. He could be depended on to finish any task given him and several times volunteered for hazardous jobs that helped insure the safety of his comrades.”

The Battle of Iwo Jima

On February 19, 1945, a titanic battle erupted on the tiny Pacific island between the military forces of the United States of America and the Empire of Japan. The island of Iwo Jima, barely eight-square miles in size, lies between the Mariana’s and the Japanese mainland and became the scene of the one of history’s most brutal battles and one of the most important victories in World War II.

The importance of capturing and occupying Iwo Jima for the United States centered on Iwo’s two airfields and a third that was under construction. Defeating Japan at Iwo would eliminate Japan’s ability to attack the Mariana’s which was the base for American B-29s that had begun bombing the mainland of Japan since November of 1944.

By occupying and defending Iwo the U.S. could also cover naval operations in Japanese waters, provide the new B-29’s with fighter escorts, and be a safe haven for emergency landings for crippled bombers and their ten men crews during their return flight.

Roger’s Division

The 5th Amphibious Corps was given the mission to take Iwo Jima from Japan. The 5th would land the largest force of United States Marines ever in combat and this included the men from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions. Major General Harry Schmidt, who would be the ranking commander ashore during the battle, had stated during the planning phase that “This will be the bloodiest fight in Marine Corps history,” and he expected the fight to be fierce and the casualties extremely high.

The battle for Iwo did not disappoint in that regard. Over 70,000 Marines would be part of the attack on Iwo. In addition, the United States Navy would have nearly 10,000 men on the island building roadways, repairing the airfields, and providing medical care. Another 150,000 more navy personnel were in the warships, transports, and support vessels. The Navy would lose more ships and men than on D-Day in Europe during this battle.

The battle for Iwo Jima came at a high cost for both sides. The U.S. had 24,053 casualties which included 6,821 dead. The Japanese defenders were nearly completely wiped out as 19,977 were killed while nearly 1,000 were taken as prisoners. Located only 700 miles south of the Japanese mainland, both sides knew that if Iwo fell there would be no stopping the American’s from invading Japan.

Iwo Jima would be the fourth campaign in less than a year’s time for the 4th Marine Division. They already had fought on Saipan, Tinian, and Roi-Namur. Each Marine Division brought with it to Iwo 2600 replacements and many of these men had never been in combat and had been in the Marine Corps for less than a year.

The Marines were reluctant to throw such inexperienced men into this battle. They were initially used for unloading cargo and carrying it to supply dumps along the beach front. On D-Day, however, over 2400 men were killed or wounded on the narrow two-mile wide beach-head. This carnage was a precursor of things to come and replacements were soon finding themselves assigned to units already in the fight.

Roger had been assigned to the Replacement Draft for the 4th Division. On the 24th of February he was assigned to Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment. The following morning the 4th Division began its assault on an area they called the “Meat Grinder.”

Iwo Jima has been described as probably the most ingenious fortress and arguably the most heavily fortified island in the history of warfare and the area called the Meat Grinder was the most likely the best integrated and most powerful defense system on the island. This area was also occupied and defended by many of the elite Japanese forces on the island.

The Meat Grinder could only be taken by sending men in on a frontal assault. Tanks could not operate on the rocky hillside and it was impossible to bring up flame throwers and demolition experts. The Marines had to fight through terrain flanked by enemy positions and entire units were decimated with each attempt to silence and secure this area.

The Meat Grinder was composed of Hill 382, its name indicating its height in feet, a shallow bowl named the “Amphitheater,” a bald rise called the “Turkey Knob,” and the village of Minami, with its destroyed buildings but many intact fortifications. Taking and securing Hill 382 was the main objective to end the threat that was the Meat Grinder.

The 2nd of the 24th had not been part of the initial landing force having been brought in during the afternoon. The battalion did cross over the beach with 954 men, yet by nightfall fewer than three-hundred were alive and not wounded. Their battle had only begun.

Although taking Hill 382 was the main objective to silence the Meat Grinder, this was not accomplished by simply being on top of it. The Japanese soldiers were rarely seen during the entire battle as they fought from tunnels and caves within the hill itself. The Marines battled from on top of it having to incinerate the concealed Japanese with flame-throwers, seal entrances to caves, bunkers, and pillboxes with explosives, or find these positions soon re-occupied by other enemy soldiers.

The Marines rarely were able to rest and sleep was nearly impossible throughout the entire battle. Portions of Easy Company did finally occupy the top of Hill 382 by the end of the day of March 1. That evening many Japanese soldiers came out from inside the hill and a night long battle of hand-to-hand combat ensued. The Marines held and defended their hard fought and costly ground.

Letters and records do not specify exactly when or where Roger made his ultimate sacrifice and became another fatality of the battle to take and hold Hill 382. Only the date, March 2, 1945 is known for certain.

The Marines silenced most of the enemies’ positions in this area by March 3. It wasn’t until this was accomplished that they were able to move their wounded to aid stations and take their dead to the cemetery at the base of Mount Suribachi.

Also, before that afternoon arrived: Easy Company, Second Battalion, 24th Regiment, 4th Marine Division no longer existed.

The cost of taking Hill 382, and silencing the Meat Grinder, had left only twelve surviving men. They were merged into another Company and fought on.

The battle continued for the Marines until March 26th when Army Regiments took over and during mopping up action killed 1,602 more Japanese and took over 800 prisoners.

By the war’s end 2,251 emergency landings were made on the island of Iwo Jima by the B-29 bombers. The Marines and Army moved onto another bloody battle on the island of Okinawa. It would be the last battle of the Pacific war.


Roger lived with his parents, the late Mr. & Mrs. Edward Taylor, and his younger sister, Rosemary. Their home was just a short distance from the where the memorial park is located at the juncture of Morningside Drive and Highland Terrace. The Taylor family had moved from Chicago to Round Lake Beach a few years earlier.

Roger was a gifted musician and played multiple instruments. He believed that helicopters were going to be a common form of transportation in the future and aspired to be an aeronautical engineer. Roger attended Grant H.S., graduating third in his class scholastically. He wrote many letters to his family and friends during his short time in the Marines and through these he left a small trail of his final journey.

On that cold November day the fallen Marine was mourned and honored by his family, friends, co-workers and the community. The Park is dedicated to his memory. Roger’s legacy is one of valor and that should not be minimized by the passage time, nor forgotten. Though we did not bear witness to his final hour, let that not diminish the scope of his sacrifice or the honor of his deeds. He fought in a terrible and cruel battle because he believed this had to be done for his country.

As part of the dedication a memorial marker and a commemorative tablet were placed near the tip of the park with these words inscribed:


Gratefully Dedicated To The Memory Of The Man Whose Name It Bear.

Today, – sixty-eight years later – like the island of Iwo Jima itself, their service and sacrifice has faded from much of the public memory.

The Battle of Iwo Jima, however, has remained legendary in Marine Corps history. A bronze statue weighing nearly 100 tons commemorating this battle, and all Marines, is situated near Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Rodney M. Davis
Sgt. - USMC
Medal of Honor
Rodney Maxwell Davis (April 7, 1942 - September 6, 1967) was a United States Marine who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Vietnam War.


Davis was born on April 7, 1942, in Macon, Georgia to Gordon N. Davis and Ruth A. Davis. He attended elementary school and high school there and graduated from Peter G. Appling High School, May 29, 1961.

Shortly after graduation, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in his hometown, August 31, 1961; then reported for recruit training with the First Recruit Training Battalion Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. Upon completion of recruit training in December 1961, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and underwent Individual Combat Training with the Second Battalion, First Infantry Training Regiment, graduating the following February.

He then joined Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division, FMF, at Camp Lejeune and served as a rifleman until May 1964. While stationed at Camp Lejeune, he was promoted to Private First Class, April 1, 1962, and to Lance Corporal, January 1, 1964.

Lance Corporal Davis was ordered to London, England, for a three year tour of duty as Guard with the United States Marine Detachment, Naval Activities. He was promoted to Corporal, January 1, 1966, and to Sergeant, December 1, 1966.

Ordered to the Republic of Vietnam in August 1967, he was assigned duty as a Platoon Guide with Company B, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division. On September 6, 1967, he was operating with his unit in the Quang Nam Province on a search and clear mission during Operation Swift, when they were attacked by a large North Vietnamese force. Elements of the platoon were pinned down in a trench line by mortars, heavy automatic and small arms fire. He went from man to man encouraging them on and also returning fire at the same time. An enemy hand grenade fell in the trenches his men were fighting from and without hesitation he threw himself upon the grenade. He saved his fellow Marines in this selfless act and thus earned the nation's highest military decoration: the Medal of Honor.

Sgt. Davis was survived by his wife, Judy P. Davis, two daughters Nichola Davis, and Samantha J. Davis-Steen, Esq.

Awards and honors

Medal of Honor citation

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress 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 the right guide of the Second Platoon, Company B, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, in action against enemy forces in Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, on September 6, 1967. Elements of the Second Platoon were pinned down by a numerically superior force of attacking North Vietnamese Army Regulars. Remnants of the platoon were located in a trench line where Sergeant Davis was directing the fire of his men in an attempt to repel the enemy attack. Disregarding the enemy hand grenades and high volume of small arms and mortar fire, Sergeant Davis moved from man to man shouting words of encouragement to each of them firing and throwing grenades at the onrushing enemy. When an enemy grenade landed in the trench in the midst of his men, Sergeant Davis, realizing the gravity of the situation, and in a final valiant act of complete self-sacrifice, instantly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing with his own body the full and terrific force of the explosion. Through his extraordinary initiative and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, Sergeant Davis saved his comrades from injury and possible loss of life, enabled his platoon to hold its vital position, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pfc James Anderson, Jr.

United States Marine Corps

First U. S. Marine African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor

Private First Class James Anderson, Jr (January 22, 1947 - February 28, 1967) was a United States Marine who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism while serving in Vietnam in February 1967. When his Medal of Honor was awarded on August 21, 1968, he became the first African-American U.S. Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor.


Anderson was born on January 22, 1947, in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from senior high school, he attended Los Angeles Harbor Junior College for a year and a half.

Private Anderson left college to enlist in the United States Marine Corps on February 17, 1966 and received recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. He was promoted to private first class upon graduation from recruit training in August 1966. He then transferred to Camp Pendleton, California where he received further training with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment.

In December 1966, Private Anderson arrived in the Republic of Vietnam, where he served as a rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division in Quang Tri Province. On February 28, 1967 he was mortally wounded.

Private Anderson was interred at Lincoln Memorial Park in Carson, California (Plot L-6).


A complete list of his medals and decorations includes: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, the Vietnamese Military Merit Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

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 as a rifleman, Second Platoon, Company F, Second Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division, in Vietnam on 28 February 1967. Company F was advancing in dense jungle northwest of Cam Lo in an effort to extract a heavily besieged reconnaissance patrol. Private First Class Anderson's platoon was the lead element and had advanced only about 200 meters when they were brought under extremely intense enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. The platoon reacted swiftly, getting on line as best they could in the thick terrain, and began returning fire. Private First Class Anderson found himself tightly bunched together with the other members of the platoon only 20 meters from the enemy positions. As the fire fight continued several of the men were wounded by the deadly enemy assault. Suddenly, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the Marines and rolled alongside Private First Class Anderson's head. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, he reached out, grasped the grenade, pulled it to his chest and curled around it as it went off. Although several Marines received shrapnel from the grenade, his body absorbed the major force of the explosion. In this singularly heroic act, Private First Class Anderson saved his comrades from serious injury and possible death. His personal heroism, extraordinary valor, and inspirational supreme self-sacrifice 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.

In memory

The United States Navy prepositioning ship, USNS PFC James Anderson, Jr. (T-AK 3002) is named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient James Anderson, Jr.
The name James Anderson, Jr. is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ("The Wall") on Panel 15E - Row 112.
James Anderson, Jr. Memorial Park in Carson, California, at the corner of Wilmington and University. was named after James Anderson, Jr.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Capt. Emil J. Kapaun
US Army Chaplain
Posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor

Kapaun was ordained a priest in 1940, and served under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita in Pilsen, Kan. In 1944, he began serving as an Army chaplain. In 1993, Kapaun was named a "Servant of God" by the Vatican, and is currently a candidate for sainthood.

During the Medal of Honor ceremony, Obama described Kapaun's acts of courage and compassion.

On the battlefield of the Korean War, when commanders ordered an evacuation, he chose to stay and tend to their wounds. When the enemy broke through and there was combat hand-to-hand, he carried on, comforting the injured and the dying, offering them some measure of peace before they left this Earth. When enemy forces bore down, it seemed like the end.

Father Kapaun spotted a wounded Chinese officer. He pleaded with (him) and convinced him to call out to his fellow Chinese. The shooting stopped, and they negotiated a safe surrender, saving those American lives.

Then as Father Kapaun was being led away, he saw another American, wounded, unable to walk, lying in a ditch, defenseless. An enemy soldier was standing over him, rifle aimed at his head ready to shoot. Father Kapaun pushed the enemy soldier aside. And then as the enemy soldier watched, stunned, Father Kapaun carried that wounded American away.

"This is the battle we honor today. An American Soldier who didn't fire a gun, but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all, the love for his brothers, so pure, that he was willing to die so they might live.

He carried that wounded Soldier for four miles on the death march and when Father Kapaun grew tired, he'd help the wounded Soldier hop on one leg. When other prisoners stumbled, he picked them up. When they wanted to quit, knowing stragglers would be shot, he begged them to keep walking.

The president then when on to describe how Kapaun cared for the Soldiers right up until the time of his death.

Obama then presented the Medal of Honor to Ray Kapaun, Father Kapaun's nephew.


Kapaun's Medal of Honor nomination is "for conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, Nov. 1-2, 1950, during the Korean War."

Among the documents and interviews within the nomination package, one of the narratives reads:

"As Chinese Communist forces encircled (3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry during the battle of Unsan,) Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under enemy direct fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers. When the Chinese commandos attacked the battalion command post, Kapaun and other members of the headquarters withdrew 500 meters across a nearby river, but Kapaun returned to help the wounded, gathering approximately 30 injured men into the relative protection of a Korean dugout."

The narrative goes on to describe how the battalion became entirely surrounded by enemy forces. It recounts how Kapaun spent the next day, Nov. 2, repeatedly rescuing the wounded from "no-man's land outside the perimeter."

As the battalion's position became hopeless, "Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded." At dusk, he made his way back to the dugout.

"Among the injured Americans was a wounded Chinese officer," it continues. "As Chinese infantry closed in on their position, Kapaun convinced him to negotiate for the safety of the injured Americans."

The narrative then describes how, after Kapaun's capture, he intervened to save the life of a fellow Soldier who was "lying in a nearby ditch with a broken ankle and other injuries. As Chinese soldiers prepared to execute" the Soldier, "Kapaun risked his own life by pushing the Chinese soldier aside" thereby saving the Soldier's life.

The narrative continues with other acts of bravery and charity, both during the march north and throughout their ordeal at the prisoners of war camp. Kapaun died there, May 23, 1951.

Many prisoners of war were inspired by Kapaun, including Mike Dowe, who at the time was a first lieutenant.

He recounted how U.S. Soldiers ran out of ammunition in the Anju, North Korea, area in early November 1950, when "wave after wave" of Chinese Communist forces launched a surprise attack across the border into Korea.

Thousands of Soldiers were taken prisoner and were forced to march northward in what Dowe termed "death marches." Soldiers who were too weak or injured to keep up were shot, he said.

It was then that Dowe, who was a member of the 19th Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, first saw Kapaun carrying the wounded and encouraging others to do the same.


The POWs eventually were taken to a valley near Pyoktong, near the Yalu River in northwest North Korea near the Chinese border.

"I don't know the name of that valley, but we called it the 'Kapaun Valley' because that is where Father Kapaun instilled in us a will to live," he said.

Kapaun tended to the wounded and encouraged people to share and help each other, Dowe said. He also snuck out of camp at night and stole food, which he would bring back and share with everyone.

Then, in January 1951, the Soldiers were moved to Pyoktong, along the Yalu River. The enlisted were located in a valley and the officers were separated and placed on a hill, Dowe said. Turkish prisoners were co-located with the enlisted.

Conditions in the camps were miserable during winter 1950-1951, which Dowe said was one of the coldest ever in Korea. Temperatures then had dipped to minus 28F.

Dowe said the Soldiers were still wearing their summer uniforms, because they'd been told they would be home by Thanksgiving 1950, not realizing at the time that the Chinese would join the North Koreans in attacking the United Nations forces.

All of the trees in the area had been stripped away, but there was a wood fence around the officer's compound on the hill, Dowe said. Each morning, Kapaun got up before everyone else and went out into the "subzero" weather to collect wood from that fence, he said.

Kapaun would use that wood to heat water for coffee in a pan that he had fashioned from scrap metal. Dowe said he still has vivid recollections of that "little guy with the beard and scraggly hat pulled over his ears, made from the sleeve of a sweater, bringing coffee to everyone. You can't imagine how good that was to start the day off for us."

At night, the men would pass the time telling stories before falling asleep, Dowe said. A favorite topic was describing the food they'd like to order once they got home. "Some of the best stories were told by Father Kapaun, who described his mother's cooking back on the farm," in Kansas, Dowe said. Kapaun was always keeping the men's spirits up, he added.


The chaplain continued to make nighttime forays outside the prison camp to the surrounding countryside, with the purpose of stealing food for the Soldiers in the camps. Dowe often accompanied him on what he termed "ration runs."

Sometimes they would raid a warehouse where 50 pound bags of millet and cracked corn were stored. Dowe said millet is like bird seed and very hard to digest. The two would first distribute it to the enlisted.

Soon, Kapaun became known as the "Great Thief," Dowe said. He explained that the nickname was given to him, not just because he was so successful at stealing food, but also because it was learned that Kapaun prayed to Saint Dismas, who was the penitent thief crucified alongside Jesus, as described in the Bible.

The Chinese often try to brainwash the POWs by lecturing them on the evils of capitalism and the virtues of a communist society, Dowe said.

"Father Kapaun would rebut the lectures with intelligent responses that the Chinese found impossible to counter," Dowe recalled. "That would infuriate them. Some who resisted the lectures would be tortured or killed. We thought Father Kapaun would be killed as well."

At one point, the guards took Kapaun away. "We thought that was the end for him," Dowe said. Then, a few days later they brought him back to camp.

"They were absolutely afraid of him," Dowe said, explaining why he was returned. "There was an aura about the guy. He was fearless. He had a way of addressing people that was frank and straightforward. They couldn't understand why he wasn't afraid like others. Threats and intimidation had no effect on him."

More than half of the prisoners died that winter, Dowe said. They often died at night and the Soldiers would drag the bodies outside. Every day there were burial details. Soldiers assigned to these details would carry the bodies about half a mile past the enlisted area in the valley and across the Yalu to an island where they would be buried.

"Father Kapaun always volunteered for burial details," Dowe said. "He'd recover the clothing from the dead, wash it, and then provide clean clothing to the enlisted."

Besides providing clothing to the Soldiers, Kapaun would dress their wounds, offer words of encouragement and say prayers, Dowe said, adding that he did this despite being warned by the guards not to minister to the Soldiers.


Despite warnings from the guards, Kapaun got up extra early on Easter Day 1950 to begin a special sunrise service. It would be his last Easter.

"It was a fantastic sermon," Dowe recalled, saying it was the most "momentous event" in his life. He said hymns were sung and the echoes carried. Soon, he said, POWs up and down the valley were joining in. "It was absolutely amazing. There were a few who claimed that Father Kapaun seemed to have a halo around him."

The Chinese quickly arrived, but then became too afraid to stop the service, Dowe said.

The week after the sermon, Kapaun collapsed from a blood clot in his leg, Dowe said. There were some American doctors in the camp who treated it and he was walking and eating again soon after.

Kapaun then contracted pneumonia. The military doctors took care of that as well, Dowe said. After Kapaun recovered, guards became upset that he hadn't died. They prepared to remove him to the "death camp," a place where very sick prisoners were taken to die, and where no food or medical attention was given to them.

When the guards came, "we pushed them away," Dowe said. "They brought in troops with bayonets and threatened everyone if people didn't pick him up and carry him away.

"Father Kapaun told everyone to stop resisting and not to 'fight them on my behalf.' I was in tears," he continued, his voice tinged with emotion. "And then he turned to me and said 'Mike, don't cry. I'm going where I've always wanted to go. And when I get there, I'll be saying a prayer for all of you.'"

After the death of Kapaun, some of the guards who spoke English confided to Dowe that they were afraid of the "unconquerable spirit of a free man loyal only to his God and his country."

After the war, which ended in 1953, Dowe was invited to testify to the committee involved in writing the POW Code of Conduct, which is still in effect today. Dowe said Kapaun had a strong influence on him and he shared that with the committee, which emphasized the "loyalty" and "keeping the faith" aspects of the code.

"Father Kapaun instilled that kind of loyalty in others, enabling them to maintain their honor, self-respect and will to live," Dowe said. "I've seen over and over again that those who did not display that loyalty would invariably give up and die, often within 24 hours."

Dowe said Eisenhower gave him a personal commendation for his contribution to the committee. However, Dowe said the real credit should go to Kapaun, whom he credits with saving the lives of hundreds of POWs, directly or indirectly.

Following the war, Dowe went on to serve in the Army, retiring as a colonel in 1970 and then working as a defense contractor. He currently is a scientist at Raytheon.

He said he prays to Kapaun every night, asking him for help and guidance. And, he said, he knows Kapaun is in Heaven praying for him and his fellow POWs.

Dowe said Kapaun had a positive impact on the many non-Catholics in the prison camp as well. He said the commander of the Turkish POWs told him as they were being liberated, "I will pray to my God Allah for Father Kapaun."

Monday, April 1, 2013



BIRTH OF THE UNITED STATES MARINES: The legacy of the United States Marine Corps was born on November 10, 1775, when Congress commissioned Robert Mullan, the proprietor of Tun Tavern, located on Philadelphia's historic waterfront to raise the first two battalions of Marines, under the leadership of Samuel Nicholas, the first appointed Commandant of the Continental Marines. The U.S. Marines have been the first branch of the armed forces to serve in every war since that day, and have mounted over 300 assaults on foreign shores, from the arctic to the tropics.

ROOTS OF THE U.S. MARINES: The United States Marine Corps can trace its heritage the British Royal Marines. Although the current ranks of the Royal Marines number quite small compared to today's US Marines (7,000 vs. 175,000), both Corps of Marines have stood side by side in conflicts around the globe and maintain their close ties. Both Corps of Marines frequently have liaison officers on exchange with each other. The USMC emblem was loosely modeled from the Royal Marines. Neither Corps' emblems incorporates a shield signifying defense, since Marines prefer to be on the offensive and attack the enemy.

During the war of 1812 with England, the British burned nearly every public building in Washington, D.C. (including the White House and the Capital). The Marine Barracks were spared the burning out of respect.

ANCIENT MARINES: The first documented use of marines as a class of soldier in a standing army belongs to the Greeks and Romans. Themistocles, leader of the Athenians, issued a decree that his navy "enlist Marines, twenty to a ship" to turn back a Persian attack. Rome had special legions of "Milites Classiarri" or "soldiers of the fleet". Roman Marines served through out the remainder of the empire's life, not only at sea but also on land.

CONFEDERATE MARINES: On 16 March 1861, The Congress of the Confederate States of America established the Confederate States Marine Corps. On 23 May 1861, Col. Lloyd J. Beall, a West Point graduate who resigned his U.S. Army commission to "go south," was appointed as the Colonel-Commandant. Col. Beall served as Colonel-Commandant of the Confederate States Marine Corps until the end of the American Civil War in 1865.

SEMPER FIDELIS: The Marine Corps adopted Semper Fidelis as its official motto in 1883 (Semper Fidelis is also the title of the official musical March of the Marine Corps). Translated from Latin, Semper Fidelis means "Always Faithful." U.S. Marines use an abbreviated verbal version, "Semper Fi," to voice loyalty and commitment to their Marine comrades-in-arms. Previous mottos of the Marine Corps were:
(1) "To the Shores of Tripoli," adopted in 1805.
(2) "Fortitude," adopted in 1812.
(3) "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli," adopted in 1848.
(4) "By Sea and by Land," adopted in the 1850's.

ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE: Once a Marine, Always a Marine: This truism was adopted as the official motto of the Marine Corps League. The origin of the statement is credited to a gung-ho Marine Corps Master Sergeant, Paul Woyshner. During a barroom argument he shouted, "Once a Marine, always a Marine!" MSgt. Woyshner was right. Once the title "U.S. Marine" has been earned, it is retained. There are no ex-Marines or former-Marines. There are (1) active duty Marines, (2) retired Marines, (3) reserve Marines, and (4) Marine veterans. Nonetheless, once one has earned the title, he remains a Marine for life.

OFFICIAL BIRTHDAY OF THE USMC: All U.S. Marines are gung-ho. But, few can match the vision and total commitment of the famous 13th Commandant, General John A. LeJeune. In 1921 he issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921.

General LeJeune's order summarized the history, mission, and tradition of the Marine Corps. It further directed that the order be read to all Marines on 10 November of each year to honor the founding of the Marine Corps. Thereafter, 10 November became a unique day for U.S. Marines throughout the world.

Soon, some Marine commands began to not only honor the birthday, but celebrate it. In 1923 the Marine Barracks at Ft. Mifflin, Pennsylvania, staged a formal dance. The Marines at the Washington Navy Yard arranged a mock battle on the parade ground. At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Marine baseball team played a Cuban team and won, 9 to 8.

THE MARINE CORPS BALL: The first "formal" Birthday Ball took place in Philadelphia in 1925. First class Marine Corps style, all the way. Guests included the Commandant, the Secretary of War (in 1925 it was Secretary of War, not Secretary of Defense), and a host of statesmen and elected officials. Prior to the Ball, General LeJeune unveiled a memorial plaque at Tun Tavern. Then the entourage headed for the Benjamin Franklin Hotel and an evening of festivities and frolicking.

Over the years the annual Birthday Ball grew and grew, taking on a life of its own. In 1952 the Commandant, General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., formalized the cake-cutting ceremony and other traditional observances. For example, Marine Corps policy now mandates that the first piece of cake must be presented to the oldest U.S. Marine present. The second piece goes to the youngest Marine. Among the many such mandates is a solemn reading of the Commandant's birthday message to the Corps.

Like the U.S. Marine Corps itself, the annual Birthday Ball has evolved from simple origins to the polished and professional functions of today. Nonetheless, one thing remains constant, the tenth day of November. This unique holiday for Marine warriors is a day of camaraderie, a day to honor Corps and Country.Throughout the world on 10 November, U.S. Marines celebrate the birth of their Corps -- the most loyal, most feared, most revered, and most professional fighting force the world has ever known.

ABOUT THE U.S. MARINES: The United States Marine Corps is a force in readiness; always prepared to fight, anywhere, anytime.

There is a special aura surrounding the word "Marine." It means something different from a soldier, a cut above, and more can be expected from this person. Pride and cockiness are the trademarks of Marines, the strongest brotherhood in the world. To serve in the Marine Corps is to serve in an organization that demands and delivers excellence beyond all others. Service in the Marines leaves a lasting impression upon the innermost being of everyone who is privileged enough to serve. "Once a Marine, Always a Marine." To dispute this is to invite a brawl.

Marines enjoy a reputation of prowess in battle, that was earned "in every clime and place" throughout the world in our nation's history.

U.S. MARINES THE WORLD'S GREATEST WARRIORS: Why are U.S. Marines considered the world's premier warriors?
What puts the Marine Corps above the rest? Other military services have rigorous training and weapons of equal or greater lethality. So, why do U.S. Marines stand head and shoulders above the crowd?

The truth lies in each person who wants to be a Marine. They did not just join the Marines. They must prove that they are Marines. Many have tried and failed. Only those who survive the crucible of Marine basic training, have been sculpted in mind and body into a Marine. They have become and proven they are Marines.

Once they have earned the title and entered the Brotherhood of Marines, then the new warrior can draw upon the legacy of his Corps. Therein lies their strength. In return, the strength of the Corps lies in the individual Marine. The character (often defined as "what you are in the dark") of these warriors is defined by the three constant Corps Values: honor, courage, and commitment.

HONOR: Honor requires each Marine to exemplify the ultimate standard in ethical and moral conduct. Honor is many things; honor requires many things. A U.S. Marine must never lie, never cheat, never steal, but that is not enough. Much more is required. Each Marine must cling to an uncompromising code of personal integrity, accountable for his actions and holding others accountable for theirs. And, above all, honor mandates that a Marine never sully the reputation of the Corps.

COURAGE: Simply stated, courage is honor in action -- and more. Courage is moral strength, the will to heed the inner voice of conscience, the will to do what is right regardless of the conduct of others. It is mental discipline, an adherence to a higher standard. Courage means willingness to take a stand for what is right in spite of adverse consequences. This courage, throughout the history of the Corps, has sustained Marines during the chaos, perils, and hardships of combat. And each day, it enables each Marine to look in the mirror -- and be proud.

COMMITMENT: Total dedication to Corps and Country. Gung-ho Marine teamwork. All for one, one for all. By whatever name or cliche, commitment is a combination of selfless determination and a relentless dedication to excellence. Marines never give up, never give in, never willingly accept second best. Excellence is always the goal. And, when their active duty days are over, Marines remain reserve Marines, retired Marines, or Marine veterans. There is no such thing as an ex-Marine or former-Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Commitment never dies.

THE THREE CORPS VALUES: Honor, Courage, Commitment. They make up the bedrock of the character of each individual Marine. They are the foundation of the Corps. These three values, handed down from generation to generation, have made U.S. Marines the Warrior Elite. The U.S. Marine Corps: the most respected and revered fighting force on earth.

U.S. MARINE MASCOT: Thanks to the German Army, the U.S. Marine Corps has an unofficial mascot. During World War I many German reports had called the attacking Marines "teufel-hunden," meaning Devil-Dogs. Teufel-hunden were the vicious, wild, and ferocious mountain dogs of German Bavarian folklore.

Soon afterward a U.S. Marine recruiting poster depicted a snarling English Bulldog wearing a Marine Corps helmet. Because of the tenacity and demeanor of the breed, the image took root with both the Marines and the public. The Marines soon unofficially adopted the English Bulldog as their mascot.

At the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia, the Marines obtained a registered English Bulldog, King Bulwark. In a formal ceremony on 14 October 1922, Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler signed documents enlisting the bulldog, renamed Jiggs, for the "term of life." Private Jiggs then began his official duties in the U.S. Marine Corps.

A hard-charging Marine, Pvt. Jiggs did not remain a private for long. Within three months he was wearing corporal chevrons on his custom-made uniform. On New Years Day 1924, Jiggs was promoted to Sergeant. And in a meteoric rise, he got promoted again -- this time to Sergeant Major -- seven months later.

SgtMaj. Jiggs' death on 9 January 1927 was mourned throughout the Corps. His satin-lined coffin lay in state in a hangar at Quantico, surrounded by flowers from hundreds of Corps admirers. He was interred with full military honors.

A replacement was soon on the way. Former heavyweight boxing champion, James J. "Gene" Tunney, who had fought with the Marines in France, donated his English Bulldog. Renamed as Jiggs II, he stepped into the role of his predecessor.

But there was a big problem. No discipline! Jiggs chased people, he bit people. He showed a total lack of respect for authority.The new Jiggs would have likely made an outstanding combat Marine, but barracks life did not suit him. After one of his many rampages, he died of heat exhaustion on 1928. Nonetheless, other bulldogs followed. During the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s they were all named Smedley, a tribute to General Smedley Butler.

In the late 1950s the Marine Barracks in Washington, the oldest post in the Corps, became the new home for the Corps' mascot. Renamed Chesty to honor the legendary Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, Jr., the mascot made his first formal public appearance at the Evening Parade on 5 July 1957. In his canine Dress Blues, Chesty became an immediate media darling, a smash hit.

After the demise of the original Chesty, the replacement was named Chesty II. He became an instant renegade. You name it, he did it. He even escaped and went AWOL once. Two days later he was returned in a police paddy wagon. About the only thing he ever managed to do correctly was to sire a replacement.

In contrast to his father, Chesty III proved to be a model Marine. He even became a favorite of neighborhood children, for which he was awarded a Good Conduct Medal. Other bulldogs would follow Chesty III (bulldogs don't live long). When Chesty VI died after an Evening Parade, a Marine detachment in Tennessee called Washington. Their local bulldog mascot, Lance Corporal Bodacious Little, was standing by for orders to Washington.

Upon arrival at the Marine Barracks in Washington, Lance Corporal Little got ceremoniously renamed Chesty VII. He and the English Bulldogs who followed him epitomize the fighting spirit of the U.S. Marines. Tough, muscular, aggressive, fearless, and often arrogant, they are the ultimate canine warriors.

English Bulldogs. "Teufel-hunden." "Devil Dogs." They symbolize the ethos of the Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines.

For more info and definitions of U.S. Marine Corps terms check out the following website:
USMC Dictionary.
Semper Fi