Happy 243rd Birthday USMC!

This note I received seems a fitting way to salute the Marines who read this blog.

Marines: Happy 243rd Birthday! To commemorate not only the Birthday, but also all veterans’ service and the Centennial of Armistice Day tomorrow, please enjoy this excerpt from John W. Thomason’s Fix Bayonets, from the story “Battle Sight.” I think it’s an appropriate and succinct summary of the Corps’s essential role in bringing about victory in the Great War.

The Americans of the 2nd Division* were new troops, untried in war, regarded with uneasy hopefulness by the Allies. Their successes came when the allies very greatly needed a success; for not since 1914 had the Boche appeared so terrible as in this, the spring of 1918. For a space the world watched the Bois de Belleau uneasily, and then with pride and an awakened hope. Men saw in it, foreshadowed, Soissons, and the 8th of August, that Ludendorf was to call “the black day of the war,” and an event in a car on a railroad siding, in the misty November forest of Senlis.

* notably commanded by Brigadier General Charles A. Doyen, USMC, and Major General John A. Lejeune, USMC – the only time an army division was commanded by Marines

Charge your glasses and Toast Those Who Have Gone Before.

Semper Fidelis,

The Battle of Belleau Wood is just one of the Corps great moments.  Also, this was the battle during which a couple of legendary phrases were uttered.

The French, who were in retreat (go figure) repeated told the Marines to withdraw from their position. The Marines commander responded, “Retreat? Hell, we just got here”.

Also, Sgt Dan Daly, who had already won two Medals of Honor, had to get his men across a wheat field and into the woods. That’s when he shouted, “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” The casualties were bad but they took their position in the forest.

After this Battle General Pershing said, “The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle.”

It was after this Belleau Wood that the Germans simply called the Marines “Teufel Hunden… Devil Dogs”.  (Teufelshunde)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Greg Hlatky says:

    The USMC: When it has to be absolutely, positively destroyed overnight.

  2. Joy65 says:

    God Bless ALL who presently serve, have served and have given their lives in military service to our country.

  3. Kathleen10 says:

    Americans are super proud of our Marines. All you have do is to see one in full gear to know why.
    At our local public school yesterday, there was a lovely Veteran’s Day ceremony, with the children singing “She’s a Grand Old Flag” and other patriotic songs, and veteran relatives of the students were honored. That appreciation for our veterans never seems to waver in the culture, only the horrible 60’s were shameful on that score. Now that I think of it, those people are still causing trouble.
    I love these quotes Fr. Z. So American!

    As a side note Fr. Z. Please don’t visit your Mom in November 2020. [?]

  4. Andreas says:

    Many thanks for noting this, Father. As a senior Navy officer I had some years ago the honor and pleasure to have been cross-assigned to a Marine Air Group for some time. I can tell you without reservation that there are none better! To all Marines, a very Happy Birthday!

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you Fr. Z, a raised November 10 glass to you, all Marines out there, Greg Hlatky, Kathleen10, Joy65, Andreas. Semper Fidelis.

    A poem from WW II. Now, it’s a bit off theologically, but for a young Marine rifleman in the jungles of Guadalcanal in 1942 wracked with dysentery (or maybe it was malaria), subsisting on captured Japanese rice (things were really grim for a few months), while fending off Japanese banzai charges and naval bombardments, it’s not bad at all.

    And when he gets to the Pearly Gates
    To St. Peter he will tell,
    One more Marine reporting sir
    I’ve served my time in Hell.

    A raised glass to Fr. Vincent Capodanno, KIA 1967, Medal of Honor.

  6. JustaSinner says:

    To this day, 2nd Div Marines use the phrase:
    Semper Fi Marines!

  7. Sword40 says:

    A thank you to all of the kind words shared above. My wife and I both served from 1962 through 1966. Our oldest daughter served from 1985 through 1989. And last but NOT least, our second oldest son served from 1991 through 2017, retiring as a CWO4. I was a radar operator, my wife was a Base Newspaper editor, our daughter was a jet engine mechanic and our son was in armor.
    we are a Marine family. Oorah and Semper Fi.

  8. Happy Birthday to all Marines and special prayers for the dearly departed Marines. My dad, may he rest in peace, was a Master Sargent and served in Korea, my oldest brother in Vietnam, and my younger dearly departed brother in Guam…all Marines. Even my dearly departed SD was a Marine and fought in WWII. God bless them, every one.

  9. Kathleen10 says:

    Semper Gumby, oorah! Thank you for mentioning Fr. Vincent Capodanno! What an incredible chaplain, man, Marine. There is a DVD on EWTN that is really well done on his life, and even for people who have no interest in military matters, it is fascinating to see someone who, if not a saint, a very, very good and amazing man. He died with his men because that’s the way he wanted it.
    Isn’t his cause being considered?

    Oh, Fr. Z., you visited your Mom for the election, but as we know, it hasn’t worked out well in Florida, so I was joking that you should probably not go back to see her in Nov. 2020, when the next presidential election comes round again. Somehow you caused a fiasco.

  10. Brian C. 0311 says:

    Thank you Father Z. Semper Fidelis.

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    Kathleen10: You’re welcome, and Yes the cause of Servant of God Fr. Vincent Capodanno is being considered.


    A Holy Card can be requested there.

    Semper Fidelis to all here.

  12. jaykay says:

    God bless the USMC, and thank God for their service. I met some Marines in a bar in Western Crete, Chania, in 2001, just after 9/11. Great guys, we had a good time. But by God, I would not have dreamed of getting in their way. Ever.

    But I wouldn’t be too hard on the French. No, really. Remember Verdun. “Ils ne passeront pas” is their “hell, we just got here”. They’d been fighting for 2 years at that stage, with massive losses. And don’t forget their absolutely suicidal “élan” charges in the very early days of the War, in blue jackets and red trousers (they abandoned those quickly) against massed machine guns. They abandoned those charges quickly as well! And then held the Marne. Very practical people, fundamentally, when they get over themselves and the whole “gloire” thing.

    General Pershing’s comment about a Marine and his rifle was foreshadowed by the devastating British regulars’ rapid fire in 1914, when the advancing Germans were slaughtered, and thought they were facing machine-guns. The Brits learned that after the Boer War, when the very necessary Army reforms concentrated on the basics – shooting rapidly and well.

    Would that our Church would revert to the basics, and learn again to give a good account of itself in warfare of a much more dangerous nature.

    And God bless the USMC.

  13. AA Cunningham says:

    It should be noted that both Reverend James W. Jackson FSSP and Reverend Daniel Nolan FSSP at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Littleon, Colorado are former Marines. [RETIRED Marines.]

    Semper Fidelis to my brothers in arms.

  14. mburduck says:

    As a member of the Parris Island Living History Detachment, I had the honor of going to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Belleau Wood. Wearing WWI uniforms and carrying WWI weapons, we stepped off through the wheat at the exact time the Marines did so 100 years earlier–5:00pm, 6 June.

    Our detachment also celebrated the birthday this past weekend at The Alvin C. York Historic Park in Pall Mall, TN.

    This coming weekend I will be participating in The Crucible along with other members of our detachment. Each one of us will be wearing uniforms and carrying weapons from different periods of Parris Island history. As usual, I will represent WWI. Our detachment is affiliated with the Parris Island History and Museum Society.

    Semper Fidelis.

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