Just Another Extraordinary Man

USN Chaplain Corps 001Commander Leo Stanis, Chaplain Corps, U. S. Navy, served in the US Army during World War II. He was inspired to one day become a military chaplain. In 1967, he re-joined the service—this time as a Navy chaplain, and his service took him to Vietnam where he teamed with a local Catholic church to recover religious relics from the control of the North Vietnamese. When he wasn’t doing that, he was taking care of Marines at a place called Con Thien.

Jim Coan[1] wrote about this place, located just south of the so-called Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Ask any Marine who was there, and he’ll tell you there was nothing demilitarized about it. It wasn’t only the enemy that was trying to kill Marines … sometimes, it was tragic human error. Conan tells us that human error was “… inevitable. Someone would make a mistake, and lives would be lost. That happened on August 15, 1967 at Con Thien. Ron Smith, a corpsman assigned to 1st Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines had just removed his boots to wash out his socks in his helmet when he heard a loud explosion. That dreaded cry went up: ‘Corpsman, get a corpsman over here!’ HM3 Smith, accompanied by another corpsman named Bob Wilson, ran barefooted over to the scene of the explosion. Both corpsmen had been through a lot that summer, but nothing could have prepared them for what they saw laying on the ground beneath a pall of smoke and dust. Two blood-covered Marines lay writhing in pain out in an old minefield. They were combat engineers clearing mines out of an area of Con Thien called ‘Death Valley’ where some Dyemarker bunkers would be constructed.

“The two Navy corpsmen never hesitated. They made two perilous trips through the deadly minefield to the side of the mortally wounded engineers and carried them to safety. One of the Marines was Corporal Gerald B. Weaver; he died in the arms of his corpsman Bob Wilson while expressing concern for his family, asking over and over, ‘How can my mother make it without me?’ The second Marine, Lance Corporal Andre R. Latesa, held Navy Chaplain Leo “Chappie” Stanis’ hand tightly, reciting the Lord’s Prayer over and over, while the two corpsmen worked rapidly to save his life. He would later succumb to his grievous wounds.”

Highland Vespers The moaning wounded
 The crying dead
 Are growing quiet. 
His weary arms droop 
From signing the cross 
Over these lost. 
Where mortars whistled 
In the long rice grass 
Now it is only the wind 
And his hymn is of return.
Highland Vespers
The moaning wounded

The crying dead

Are growing quiet.

His weary arms droop

From signing the cross

Over these lost.

Where mortars whistled

In the long rice grass

Now it is only the wind

And his hymn is of return.

Al Hemingway also wrote of A Place of Angels. “For the Marines manning that outpost just south of the DMZ, Con Thien was hell on earth when the NVA attacked.” Marines had another name for the firebase; they called it the meat grinder.

“Incoming! To men in combat, this warning means just seconds to find any obtainable shelter before enemy shells land. And for the Marines manning the desolate outpost at Con Thien, those seconds meant the difference between life and death.

“There is nothing more terrifying than to experience the feeling of sheet helplessness during an artillery barrage. There is something impersonal about the deadly whine of metal fragments as they search out victims to maim. These thunderous projectiles would hurl white-hot shrapnel everywhere, both large and small, ripping, tearing, and slicing human flesh. Prolonged shelling of this nature can also be psychologically detrimental.”

“’I can’t stand that artillery,’ one shaken Marine confessed. ‘There’s no warning, no rhyme or reason to who gets hit and who doesn’t.’”

“While traveling between companies to hold religious services, Navy Chaplain Leo Stanis had a rule. He never said mass for more than 25 individuals at a time. He would state from the outset: ‘Men, before we start, look around you. In case we receive incoming, we don’t all want to jump into the same hole. Let us pray…’”

TIME Con ThienThe old adage that there are no atheists in foxholes applies to moments such as these when everyone is experiencing sheer terror —when the prospects of meeting their ultimate fate confronts them head-on and there is nothing they can do to alter the next few moments —which often seem like hours. It is also a time when the comforting words of men like Leo Stanis are most needed. “’Incoming at Con Thien many times makes us feel that the earth is removed and that the mountains are carried into the ocean,’ the chaplain said.”

“The Marines at Con Thien found solace in Stanis’ words. Anywhere he opened his Bible on ‘the hill of angels,’ that spot became his altar. And anytime a Marine feared for his life, he was there to alleviate his dismay. He was truly a man of compassion.”

Commander Stanis came under fire several times; he was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received while in the service of God and His Marines. Yes, an exceptional man … and what many people do not realize is that there were hundreds of Chaplains just like him: men of God in military service. It is a tradition that began during the American Revolution. During the Vietnam War, 3 chaplains received the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity for service above and beyond the call of duty —all three of these men were Catholic priests.

 

___________

Notes:

[1] Con Thien: The Hill of Angels, 2007

Danger —Marines at Work

 

Last week, I wrote briefly about the 1st Parachute Battalion during World War II.  One of the Marines assigned to this now legendary battalion was cited for bravery, as follows:

FULLER“The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Robert Green Fuller, Private First Class, U. S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving with the FIRST Parachute Battalion, FIRST Marine Division, during the assault on enemy Japanese forces at Gavutu, Solomon Islands, on 7 August 1942. When the progress of his unit was retarded by heavy opposition, Private First Class Fuller displayed courageous disregard for his imminent danger by attacking a heavily fortified gun emplacement from which the deadly fire was emanating. Charging forward against the withering blasts of hostile weapons, he unhesitatingly engaged the enemy in perilous hand-to-hand combat and killed all eight of the Japanese, thereby annihilating a strong and hazardous obstacle. His daring aggressiveness and valiant devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

Robert G. Fuller served in the Marine Corps for a total of five years, and while information about this hard-fighting Marine is limited, I suspect that he may have been part of the initial training and organization of the Parachute Battalions.  I was able to learn that his home of record was Newburyport, Massachusetts. His publisher indicated that he is responsible for several short stories … but more than this about his subsequent life or professional accomplishments is a mystery to me.

What I know for certain is that Mr. Fuller wrote a book entitled, Danger! Marines at Work originally published in 1957. It is the fictional story about the Marines of the 1st Parachute Battalion that takes place when the battalion, having lost half of its strength, was withdrawn to New Caledonia for rest, retraining, and refitting.  Some of the characters in the story are recognizable to me based on what I know about certain World War II Marines.  For example, I believe that the character General Burgermeister is modeled on General William H. Rupertus (now deceased).  The shenanigans are the sorts of things Marines do whenever they lack constant supervision.  The comedy is similar to McHale’s Navy —but this is about Marines.

The new Battalion Commanding Officer arrives from Headquarters Marine Corps, where he’s been languishing for the past ten years.  The major perceives that for some reason, his Commanding General is not very happy to have him on board.  Following a very disappointing “first meeting” with the general, Major Barrow is driven to his new command, which has been placed in garrison at T0ntouta; there won’t be a change of command ceremony because the previous commanding officer went over the hill.

Here’s a snippet of what transpires during his first week in command:

Major Barrow’s spirits picked up considerably as he wandered through the tent rows a few days later. The wonderfully clean streets and the neatness of the men’s pyramidals again indicated to him that his troopers were Marines, and, under proper leadership, could be reclaimed—disciplined—into a compliant military organization. He had made some headway in this awesome task but was increasingly aware that the actual depth of his paratrooper’s conniving’s was still not known to him. Japanese houseboys!

Glancing into the pyramidals, he noted the perfectly made bunks and the orderliness of the men’s gear. The top blankets on the cots were taut as drumheads, the shoes properly placed together and the rifles neatly racked. But halfway down one company street he paused, noticing that the bunks were unmade in the rest of the tents to the end of the line. In one pyramidal he saw a pair of slim legs walking around a bunk. The legs belonged to a girl. She was tucking in blankets and when finished, moved on to the next unmade bed. She winked at him.

“Who are you,” Barrow demanded, “and what are you doing in this area?”

“I’m Marie,” the black-haired, bright-eyed girl answered with a smile. “I’m the new maid.”

“Maid?” Barrow looked down at the girl, blushing as he found himself staring at the bold, up-thrust lines of her lovely figure. “How long have the men had a maid?”

“I don’t know.” Her dazzling smile almost blinded the major. “A girl friend of mine once worked for them for four months. She had to leave because she is indisposed. She is going to have a …”

“Ahem,” Major Barrow interrupted. “You’ll have to leave this camp immediately. We can’t have a girl among all these men.”

“Now where could there be a better place for a girl to be than among men.” Marine giggled, bending over to tuck in the blanket on a bunk, accenting the lovely roundness of her hips as Barrow tried to look away. “And such handsome men!”

“Regardless,” Barrow said, loosing his collar, “I want you to leave this place. I don’t want any women around here.”

“How long have you been in the Marine Corps?” The girl again showed the major the whiteness of her teeth in a gay smile. “You don’t talk like any Marine I ever met.”

“I’ll arrange for your transportation right away,” Barrow said determinedly. “You must leave this camp.”

“Well, I shall not leave this camp,” the girl said firmly. “I have a contract.”

Barrow escorted the maid back to the command section. Captain Nugent looked up from his desk in the adjutant’s office as Barrow entered with the lady.

“Hello, Marie,” Nugent greeted her.

It is definitely a laugh-out-loud book. You can find it online at Amazon.

 

Parachute Marines

1st Para RegtPrior to the outbreak of war with Japan, Marine Corps planners were taking seriously the predictions of Lieutenant Colonel Pete Ellis[1]; during the 1930s, Marines began to experiment with commando type operations as part of larger amphibious training exercises. Annual fleet training programs included the deployment of raiding and patrolling parties, generally disembarked from high-speed transports and destroyers, making landfall in rubber boats. The idea of creating commando-type units matured two years prior to Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. American Marines were impressed with the audacity in which British commandos executed raids against German installations.

Similarly, Marine Corps parachute units could trace the motivation for their development to the expansion of special purpose forces by European powers during World War II. Although the Marines had limited experience with parachute employments, some experimentation had been taking place since 1927 when 12 Marines parachuted from a transport plane over Anacostia. However, the realization of such forces only occurred after the outbreak of war in Europe.

Marine Parachute battalions began forming in October 1940. As envisioned, these would be specially organized infantry battalions with one platoon of 75mm pack howitzers (two guns), three units of fire for every man, three days rations and water, and the potential for additional attachments of light anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons.

The first of these battalions went into action with the 1st Marine Division during the Guadalcanal campaign on 7 August 1942. The 1st Parachute Battalion conducted an amphibious assault on the small island of Gavutu and later helped to seize the neighboring island of Tanambogo.

In many respects, the 1st Parachute Battalion had the toughest mission during the campaign for Guadalcanal[2]. It was a battalion of only 361 Marines —about half of a regular infantry battalion, they lacked the infantry weapons available to all other infantry organizations (heavy mortars and machine guns), and many of their squad automatic weapons were of inferior design (Reising sub-machineguns[3]). The landing occurred at H Plus Four, which removed any element of surprise. A coral reef reduced the landing area to a boat basin, which was well defended by the Japanese and subject to flanking fires from Tanambogo. A steep coral hill dominated the coastal area and worst of all, these 361 Marines were attacking a much larger force. Their only advantages were these: they had a high level of training and esprit, and they were pissed off.

Gavutu-TanambogoPreceding the landing, the island was continually bombed and strafed by sea borne aviation assets, but the bombing produced few casualties and only managed to destroy one three-inch Japanese gun and the seaplane ramp within the boat basin. While the Japanese were still stunned by the air assault, Company A Marines assaulted the dock, encountering little opposition, but it didn’t take long for the Japanese to recover and they stopped the company advance after they had only advanced 75 yards. Then the Japanese began to focus on the two subsequent waves of landing craft, inflicting heavy casualties.

Still, Company B was able to land against stiff opposition, and Company C came in 7 minutes behind them. Captain Richard Huerth, the commanding officer of Company C, was killed as he exited his landing craft. Also killed was Captain Emerson Mason, the battalion intelligence officer. Two platoons of Company C set up positions firing into Tanambogo while Company B began moved around Hill 148, which gave them cover from Japanese weapons on Tanambogo. On Gavutu, the Japanese were well fortified in caves; several Marines were killed when they approached too close to what seemed to be benign hollows. One of these Marines was the battalion communications officer. It appeared to the Marines that the caves were impervious to grenades, so they began hurling in satchel charges.

Twenty minutes into the battle, the battalion commander, Major Robert H. Williams, was taken out of action by a Japanese bullet and could not be immediately retrieved. The Battalion Executive Officer, Major Charles A. Miller took command and immediately called for supporting fires. He then ordered Company B (with survivors from Company A) to continue their attack on Hill 148. The Marines worked their way from enemy dugout to dugout employing concentrated fire and demolition charges to destroy these well-fortified Japanese. Captain Harry L. Torgerson and Corporal Johnnie Blacken distinguished themselves by attacking Japanese positions. Sergeant Max Koplow and Corporal Ralph Fordyce ran into the hollows and unloaded their automatic weapons. Sergeant Harry M. Tully began picking off Japanese snipers.

“The island was a maelstrom of machinegun fire and explosions. Tracers crisscrossed all along the Marine beachhead. American mortars on Gavutu pounded Tanambogo. Japanese antiaircraft guns aimed horizontally on Tanambogo hammered the Americans on northeast Gavutu. A Navy destroyer pounded Tanambogo with its five-inch guns. Japanese soldiers on Hill 148 raked Marines crawling for cover among splintered trees and ravaged buildings and sheds. Navy Dauntless bombers dropped 500 pound bombs, Marine automatic riflemen and machine gunners raked the caves to suppress the Japanese fires. The earth shook both islands. Smoke rose in a gigantic cloud, stretching 1,000 feet into the air where aviation fuel had been set on fire. In the midst of that raging battle, individual men clung to whatever cover they could find, trying to stay alive.[4]

A few moments ago, I mentioned that the Marines of the 1st Parachute Battalion were pissed off. From all accounts, and particularly indicated by the citations of personal decorations, there is little doubt that these Marines were hot headed and highly motivated killers. One citation reads as follows:

“The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Robert Green Fuller, Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving with the FIRST Parachute Battalion, FIRST Marine Division, during the assault on enemy Japanese forces at Gavutu, Solomon Islands, on 7 August 1942. When heavy opposition retarded the progress of his unit, Private First Class Fuller displayed courageous disregard for his imminent danger by attacking a heavily fortified gun emplacement from which the deadly fire was emanating. Charging forward against the withering blasts of hostile weapons, he unhesitatingly engaged the enemy in perilous hand-to-hand combat and killed all eight of the Japanese, thereby annihilating a strong and hazardous obstacle. His daring aggressiveness and valiant devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

Supporting fires from dive-bombers and Navy destroyers arrived around 1430; the battle area was so small that bombs dropped from friendly aircraft wounded some Marines. Reinforcements began to arrive at 1800; their arrival allowed the Para-Marines to evacuate their dead and wounded. Major Williams survived his wound.

 

Notes:

[1] Improvise, Adapt, Overcome; Fix Bayonets Essay 27 June 2014

[2] Jon T. Hoffman, Silk Chutes and Hard Fighting: U. S. Marine Corps Parachute Units in World War II

[3] In 1943, Marines refused to accept the M50 as a combat weapon. The weapons were withdrawn from the Fleet Marine Forces and transferred to stateside security detachments and the OSS.

[4] James M. Christ, Battalion of the Damned: The 1st Marine Paratroopers at Gavutu and Bloody Ridge, 1942

Revolutionary War Marines

“At no period of the naval history of the world is it probable that Marines were more important than during the war of the Revolution.”

—James Fenimore Cooper

Given the factual history of this period, Mr. Cooper may have overstated the role or significance of our Revolutionary Marines. What is undeniably true is that Continental Marines served aboard ship to enforce the captain’s orders, to attack the enemy with musket ball and shot from high in the ship’s rigging, and conduct operations ashore as their officers may direct.

I think it is fair to say that the formation of a new country and any of its constituent parts, including the Naval Services, was a difficult task. Hardly anything was working as a well-oiled machine. There was much to do in organizing a new country, and so little time within which to see it done.  Resources were scarce in terms of men, material, and money.  There was a dearth of anyone who could boast military experience; colonial populations were farmers, booksellers, tinkers, and lawyers.  To complicate matters further, not everyone was convinced that we should have a separation from the mother country.

The Second Continental Congress convened on 10 May 1775; it was mainly composed of the same delegates that participated in the first congress. On 13 October 1775, the Second Continental Congress appointed a Naval Committee, which consisted of John Adams, John Landon, and Silas Deane. These individuals exercised congressional oversight of the Continental Navy and Marines.

In accordance with the Continental Marine Act on 10 November 1775, Congress ordered:

“That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates as with other battalions, that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies; unless dismissed by Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalions of Marines.”

It was initially supposed that these two battalions of men would come from George Washington’s army and that they would participate in the planned invasion of Halifax, Nova Scotia —the main British supply base. In reality, only one battalion of 300 men was formed by December 1775. It was a woefully inadequate number of troops to launch an amphibious assault against a garrison of Hessian soldiers numbering close to 3,000. In any case, General Washington was hesitant to support the Navy; he was having trouble raising his own army and suggested that recruitment for Marines take place in Pennsylvania and New York.

Tun Tavern PhiladelphiaAt this time, the senior Marine officer was a Captain by the name of Samuel Nicholas, whose commission was dated 28 November 1775. By his date of rank, Nicholas became the ranking Marine officer and is regarded as the Marine Corps’ first commandant. He established a barracks at Philadelphia and implemented a rigorous recruiting effort centered at Tun Tavern, Philadelphia.

The time between 10 November 1775 and the date upon which the Continental Marines embarked on their first amphibious assault mission on 4 January 1776 was hardly enough time to train men in this specialized form of warfare —and yet, this is precisely what happened.

On 4 January 1776, Commodore Esek Hopkins took command of the first American naval fleet, which consisted of seven small vessels: Andrew Doria, Alfred (commanded by John Paul Jones), Hornet, Columbia, Cabot, Providence, and Fly. A colonial newspaper reported, “The first American fleet that ever swelled their sails on the western ocean … sailed from Philadelphia amidst acclamation of many thousands assembled on the joyful occasion.[1]

In addition to normal stores and provisions, six of the ships embarked Continental Marines. Aboard the Alfred, Captain Sam Nicholas commanded two lieutenants and a company numbering 60 Marines. On Columbus Captain Joseph Shoemaker commanded two lieutenants and an additional company of 60 Marines. Andrew Doria accommodated Lieutenant Isaac Craig and 44 Marines. Captain John Walsh commanded Lieutenant John Hood Wilson and 40 Marines embarked on Cabot. Aboard Providence, Lieutenant Henry Dayton commanded 20 Marines.

The Naval Committee prepared two letters of instruction, which were delivered to Commodore Hopkins on the January 6th. The first letter was general in nature, directing him to ensure the good order and discipline of the fleet, that peace be preserved among ships company and Marines, that he feed and cloth all of those placed under his command, and that their health be properly administered should they become sick or wounded. He was ordered to provide sufficient instructions to his ships’ captains in the event of separation while at sea, appoint officers to command captured British ships, and accord special attention to the proper care of arms and munitions to ensure that they were always ready for action.

A second letter was marked “most secret.” In it, the Naval Committee sought to impress Commodore Hopkins with the need for successful operations, emphasizing the belief among some in the Congress that a Continental Navy was an inane scheme. Naturally, when a British fleet began operating in southern waters, Southern Delegates began to form more favorable ideas about an American Navy.

Congressional optimism was the genesis of Commodore Hopkins’ further orders: to visit upon the unnatural enemies of the colonies all possible distress upon the sea. Hopkins was first ordered to proceed to the Chesapeake Bay, there to “seek out and attack, take, or destroy all of the Naval forces that you might find there.” In part, the operation was directed in retaliation for John Murray, Earl of Dunmore’s destruction of Norfolk, Virginia.  Sadly for Hopkins, he did not obey these orders.

In spite of the best hopes of the Naval Committee, Commodore Hopkins, and all of his Navy and Marine Corps officers, nature interfered: the fleet’s seven ships were locked in ice and stood frustratingly idle until mid-day on 17 January 1776. The ships finally left their moorings in Philadelphia and headed south —directly into a raging gale, within which, Hornet and Fly collided. The Hornet was required to return to port, and the Fly remained behind the rest of the fleet in order to make minor repairs.

In spite of every attempt at secrecy, the British were well aware of Hopkins’ departure from Philadelphia —they just weren’t quite sure where the ships were heading. As early as the previous August, British General Thomas Gage began to suspect that a rebel naval force might engage British possessions and property in the Bahamas Islands. His warnings, along with those of British Captain Andrew Law that American ships may be moving against the Bahamas, were dismissed by Governor Montfort Browne as “another” in a series of false rumors. Governor Browne was not a prudent man.

Then, as now, Nassau was the administrative center of the Bahamas Islands. On 3 March 1776, Commodore Hopkins landed the first-ever amphibious assault by American naval infantry. The force consisted of 234 Marines and 50 sailors of ships’ company. Under covering fire of Providence and Wasp the Marines overwhelmed Fort Montague[2], from which the British retreated to Fort Nassau and then surrendered. While Commodore Hopkins did manage to secure some military hardware, the much-desired gunpowder consisting of 162 barrels escaped his attention and was safely evacuated to the Fort at St. Augustine, and this was attributed entirely to Hopkins’ lack of tactical experience.

Nichols 001On the morning of 4 March, Captain Nicholas led an assault into Nassau. An emissary of the governor met the Marines at the entrance to the town and demanded to know their intentions. Captain Nicholas informed them it was to seize all military equipment and to have a short visit with the governor. Nicholas learned that the town had been abandoned, the governor was in his residence, and members of the provincial council were hiding in the rocks. Captain Nicholas promptly moved his men into the town and took possession of the now-abandoned fort, and when in his judgment the town was secure, Nicholas sent word to Commodore Hopkins that it was then safe to bring the fleet into Nassau harbor.

Soon after Commodore Hopkins came ashore, he met with Governor Browne who, by every account, was an ill-mannered host. In fact, Browne’s insolence ultimately landed him and two other officials in the Alfred’s brig. Apparently, Governor Browne might have been able to forgive the American Marines for many of their transgressions, but drinking all of his liquor was not one of them.

Now came the task of loading captured weapons and munitions, which included 88-cannon, 15 mortars, 4,780 shot and shell, and 38 casks of gunpowder. Meanwhile, Captain John Trevett led a second landing in the Bahamas, a night raid that successfully captured several ships along with naval stores. Hopkins fleet returned to Rhode Island on 8 April 1776. Of the battalion of Marines, 7 were killed in action and four were seriously wounded.

In recognition of his intrepidity in action, Captain Nicholas was promoted to major on 25 June and tasked with raising four additional companies of Marines to man four new frigates then under construction.  Commodore Hopkins, on the other hand, was chastised for his failure to carry out his orders.

Continental Marine CaptainIn December 1776, the Marines were tasked to join General Washington’s army at Trenton to help slow the progress of British troops southward through New Jersey. Unsure of what to do with these Marines, Washington assigned them to a brigade of Philadelphia militia, who were similarly attired in green uniforms with white piping. Although the Marines arrived too late to have a meaningful impact at the Battle of Trenton, they did assist in the decisive victory at Princeton.

Continental Marines landed and captured Nautilus Island and the Majabagaduce peninsula —an effort to reclaim Maine (which the British had seized and renamed New Ireland). The Marines were forced to withdraw with heavy losses, however, when Commodore Saltonstall’s force failed to capture a nearby fort. Later, a group of Marines under Navy Captain James Willing departed from Pittsburg, traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, captured a ship from the Gulf of Mexico, and conducted successful raids against British loyalists on the shores of Lake Ponchartrain, Louisiana. The last official act of the Continental Marines was to provide escort security for a stash of silver crowns, on loan from Louis XVI of France, from Boston to Philadelphia. These funds were used to open the Bank of North America.

What we can say about American Marines is that they have been in the fight to create and defend the United States of America even before the official Declaration of Independence, on 4 July 1776. At the end of the Revolution, both the Continental Navy and Marine Corps were disbanded in April 1793. In all, 131 Marine officers and roughly 2,000 enlisted men served in the Revolutionary War. Congress reestablished the Naval services as the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps in 1798.

OLD EGA 001

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA — THANKS ONLY TO THOSE

WILLING TO PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE IN THE CAUSE OF LIBERTY

 

 

Notes:

[1] I have always found it curious that the only people who appear dockside to send our sailors and Marines off to war are the mothers, fathers, wives, and sweethearts of those soon-to-be combatants, and a far larger number of our citizens who would never place them selves in harms way, for any reason, much less the defense of their nation.

[2] Neither Fort Montague nor Fort Nassau was in good state of repair and readiness for action. At the appearance of the American ships, Governor Browne sounded an alarm of three guns, the discharge of which caused two of the three carriages to collapse. Browne was also unable to muster more than 70-armed militia to defend Nassau.