This Month in History

4 July 1801: President Thomas Jefferson reviewed the Marines, led by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, LtCol William W. Burrows and the Marine Band, on the White House grounds. The smartly uniformed Marines performed drills and fired various salutes in observance of the new nation’s 25th anniversary.

McDonnell Douglas A-4 0016 July 1990: One of the oldest and most versatile attack aircraft in Marine Corps history, the A-4 Skyhawk, retired from the Corps’ active aviation structure after over 30 years of service. The last two Skyhawks from MAG-32 flew their initial flight from Cherry Point to NAS Patuxent River on this date.

7 July 1941: The 1st Marine Aircraft Wing was activated at Quantico, Virginia. Within a year of activation, the Wing would participate in the Marine Corps offensive at Guadalcanal. That bitter campaign would be the first in a series of legendary battles in which the Wing would add luster to its reputation. The 1stMAW would earn five Presidential Unit Citations for gallantry in campaigns spanning World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

11 July 1798: President John Adams approved “An Act for Establishing and Organizing a Marine Corps”, and it became law. The following day, the President appointed William Ward Burrows as Major Commandant, United States Marine Corps.  In August, Major Burrows opened his headquarters in Philadelphia, at that time still the capital of the new nation.

14 July 1993: The USS IWO JIMA was decommissioned after over 30 years of service in a ceremony at Norfolk Naval Base, Virginia. The ship was named for the World War II battle during which three Marine divisions ousted 20,000 entrenched Japanese troops. The Iwo Jima was commissioned 26 August 1961, and it was the first ship specifically designed as an amphibious assault ship from the keel up.

18 July 1918: The 4th Brigade of Marines began an attack near Soissons, France, as part of a three-division counterattack against the Germans. In the first two days of battle, the brigade sustained 1,972 casualties.

Fighting Marines 00224 July 1944: The V Amphibious Corps, commanded by Major General Harry Schmidt, landed on Tinian, in the Mariana Islands. The following morning, the 2d and 4th Marine Divisions began a shoulder-to-shoulder southward sweep of the island. Organized enemy resistance faded within a week, and on 1 August, MajGen Schmidt declared the island secure.

26 July 1947: The National Security Act of 1947 became effective, reaffirming the status of the Marine Corps as a separate military service within the Department of the Navy. The Act Provided for Fleet Marine Forces, and confirmed the Corps’ mission of seizing and defending advanced bases, as well as land operation incident to naval campaigns.

28 July 1918: Brigadier General John A. Lejeune assumed command of the 2d Division, U.S. Army in France, and remained in that capacity until August 1919 when the unit was demobilized. He was the first Marine officer to hold an Army divisional command, and following the Armistice, he led his division in the march into Germany.

Hat tip: Historical Division, HQMC

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Retired Marine, historian, writer.

5 thoughts on “This Month in History”

  1. Very interesting, and – as usual – found things to look up and learn. These posts become mind mapping exercises (to which female marketers are strongly inclined anyway).

    “Amphibious assault ship” Honestly, I had no idea what this was “from the keel up” and learned all about it. It’s really fascinating – how they work and what they do. (I’m not kidding – I do find it interesting.) For example, at the request of the Royal Navy, President Reagan consented to loan them the Iwo Jima had they lost one of their two carriers on station in the Falklands war. The planning for this was done under Admiral Lyons.

    It’s sobering to know that Tinnian was secured but 6 days before the bombing of Hiroshima. SIX DAYS! They had to practice, too. I recall the joking of the soldiers watching those loopy practice runs with their tight turns.


    1. Just a little over a year between the two events…

      My good friend Tad Curtis worked under Admiral Lyons during a major NATO exercise. I have long regarded the admiral as one of our national treasures.

      I say that Tad is my good friend, but I suspect that this is only because I have the most damming negatives.


    1. Not at all, my friend. The keyboard did it. That’s our story and we’re sticking with it.


  2. Firstly, I’ve loved that sketch of the Marine for some time now; a close second is the watercolor of a WWII Marine firing his BAR.

    Earlier this year, another amateur historian asked if I could read a few of the Japanese memorial plaques left by families he had taken pictures of. One was at the southern end of the island as you report, next to the cave in which they had established a make-shift CP. Many young lives were lost in one of their last stands, emerging from that cave area. Unfortunately, they were up against very well trained Marines.


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