This Month in History

2 June 1918: At dawn on this date, the crack German 28th Division attacked along the axis of the Paris-Metz road hitting the American 2d Division, including the 4th Marine Brigade. The Marines opened with deadly rifle fire and helped hand the German troops a setback which set the stage for Marine victory at Belleau Wood which would soon follow, although at great cost.

8 June 1995: A Marine tactical recovery team from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit stationed on board the USS Kearsarge rescued a downed U.S. pilot, Captain Scott O’Grady, USAF, from Bosnian-Serb territory in Bosnia.

Fighting Marines 00610 June 1898: The First Marine Battalion, commanded by LtCol Robert W. Huntington, landed on the eastern side of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The next day, Lt Herbert L. Draper hoisted the American flag over Camp McCalla where it flew during the next eleven days. LtCol Huntington later sent the flag with an accompanying letter to Colonel Commandant Charles Heywood noting that “when bullets were flying, …the sight of the flag upon the midnight sky has thrilled our hearts.”

12 June 1961: President John F. Kennedy signed a Presidential Proclamation calling for the American flag to be flown at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, “at all times during the day and night.” Discussions between the Attorney General’s office and Marine Corps officials earlier in 1961 on improving the visibility and appearance of the monument led to the proposal to fly the Flag continuously, which by law could only be done by Congressional legislation or by Presidential proclamation.

Fighting Marines 00115 June 1944: Preceded by naval gunfire and carrier air strikes, the V Amphibious Corps assaulted the west coast of Saipan, Marianas Islands. By nightfall, the 2d and 4th Marine Divisions, moving against heavy opposition, had established a beachhead 10,000 yards wide and 1,500 yards deep.

20 June 1993: The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit returned to Mogadishu, Somalia, to stand ready to assist United Nations forces in maintaining peace in the war-torn country. Earlier that month, the 24th MEU had been ordered to cut short Exercise Eager Mace 93-2 in Kuwait to respond to possible contingency operations in Somalia.

25 June 1950: Shortly before dawn, eight divisions of the North Korean People’s Army crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded the Republic of Korea. Within three days, the South Korean capital city of Seoul had been captured. On 30 June, President Harry S. Truman ordered a naval blockade of the Korean coast and authorized the sending of U.S. ground troops to Korea. Two days later, General Douglas MacArthur, the Commander in Chief Far East, formally requested that a Marine regimental combat team be deployed to the Far East.

25 June 1966: In Vietnam, Operation Jay began about 30 kilometers northwest of Hue, and lasted nine days. The 2d Battalion, 4th Marines landed north of the North Vietnamese 812th Main Force Battalion, and the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines landed south of the enemy’s position. Caught in between the two Marine units, the enemy suffered over 80 dead in nine days of fighting.

Fighting Marines 00726 June 1918: BGen James G. Harbord, the Commanding General of the 4th Marine Brigade, notified American Expeditionary Force Headquarters that Belleau Wood was “now U.S. Marine Corps entirely.” After 20 days of combat, and at a cost of over 4,000 casualties, the 4th Brigade of Marines had proven its fighting heart. The grateful Commander of the French Sixth Army would soon decree that in all official correspondence, Belleau Wood would henceforth bear the name, “Bois de la Brigade de Marine.”

Hat tip: Historical Division, HQMC

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Retired Marine, historian, writer.

8 thoughts on “This Month in History”

  1. Interesting post. Fits my mindset of drifting back in history to something that “happened on this day.” I do that all the time.

    I am adding a ‘trivial’ detail so I can loosely segue into the story I’m reading, and to thank you for the referral on Wendell Fertig in your 2nd post on Corrigedor without veering completely off topic. Your almost throwaway comment on Colonel Fertig inspired us to find out more about the guerrilla insurgency operation he ran in the Philippines, particularly since a dear friend’s parents were both guerrillas in that theater. They Fought Alone was recently brought back into print, and it is an amazing tale. Should be as required reading as The Village. Soooo many lessons to be learned from that book. We should have read it before adventuring anywhere with wildly conflicting interests, motives and power structures of non-western origin within the local population (Afghanistan, Iraq…..) It’s too bad it’s not Marines, or we could talk more about it here. 🙂

    So, thanks for the side trail. We are both engrossed in the book. Here is my “Day in June Marine History.”

    In June 1943, as Fertig was actively ‘entertaining’ emissaries from MacArthur, and discussing best means and methods of his guerrilla operation on Mindanao, the 4th Marine Raider Battalion landed at Oloana Bay on the south coast of Vangunu Island as Operation Toenails, one of ten island hopping operations in “Operation Cartwheel” campaign got underway on June 30. This was one of many actions that coalesced to free New Georgia island.


    1. I want to read that book Baysider … I want them to put it on Kindle Fertig wasn’t a career officer so I don’t think it mattered to him very much, but if anyone deserved a Medal of Honor for his accomplishments in the Philippines, it was he. Moreover, commanding 40,000 men warranted a promotion to Brigadier General (at least). But no, MacArthur could not allow himself to recommend either of these for Fertig. Remember, MacArthur got his MOH for running away, and for some reason thought Willoughby was the finest officer in the US Army. He was far below Fertig, in my view.

      Operation Toenails. We give far better consideration to operations these days. Who wants to be told that their loved one died during Operation Toenails? Good grief.


  2. “Good grief.” I agree!

    I’m not giving anything away here, but the Colonel sent difficult folks off to Happy Valley – his own POW camp! This was an undisclosed mountain location guarded by Moros with whom a sort of truce-ful relationship had been built. And they did NOT punish escapees with 30 days in the ‘cooler’! (Hint: they are muslim, after all, and reverted to the punishment they know best – in full view of other prisoners.)


    1. The lesson would appear to be this: when everyone understands that it is in their best interests to cooperate, they will. Whatever differences we once had seem to melt away —as if they never existed. Apparently, our politicians and other leaders since then have not been able to convince anyone of this mandate … which should make all of us wonder why these people are politicians or other leaders at all. I am singularly disappointed in the direction of this country, for example, but not surprised given the ideology of the idiot overwhelmingly chosen to lead. My belief is that the American people will rue their decision in 2008 and 2012 for a very, very long time. This axiom does come to mind, however: if you can keep your head whilst everyone around you is losing theirs, then you simply do not understand how serious the issue really is.


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