Continental Marines

(Philadelphia) Friday, November 10, 1775

Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.

Ordered: That a copy of the above be transmitted to the General.

The General

George Washington was an army man — with considerable experience gained in militia service beginning in 1752. Through his older brother Lawrence, serving as Virginia’s Adjutant General, George received an appointment as major and commander of one of the colony’s four military districts. It was a time when the British and French competed for control of the Ohio Valley. In those days, the Virginia colony extended all the way to present-day southern Ohio.

In 1753, Virginia governor Dinwiddie appointed Washington as his special envoy and sent him into the French territories to demand that French forces withdraw from British territory, and to forge an alliance with the Iroquois nation.  Major Washington completed his mission in record time: 77 days.

In 1754, Gov. Dinwiddie promoted Washington to lieutenant colonel and assigned him to serve as the executive officer (deputy commander) of the Virginia Regiment.  Dinwiddie ordered the regiment to confront the French at the fork of the Ohio River.  Washington set off in compliance with those orders, leading around 150 men.  Washington’s information was that the French had around 1,000 troops involved in the construction of Fort Duquesne.  Typically, Washington’s information was wrong.  The French had around 50 men.  We remember this engagement as the Battle of Jumonville.  It was the event that started the French and Indian War (1754-1763).

A year later, Lieutenant Colonel Washington served as a volunteer militia aide to Major General Edward Braddock, commander of a British expedition sent to deal with the French and their Indian allies.  The confrontation became known as the Battle of the Monongahela, the Battle of Braddock’s Field, and the Battle of the Wilderness.  It was a disaster for the British; but General Braddock wasn’t too pleased, either.

The Captain

Samuel Nicholas was born in Philadelphia in 1744.  He was the youngest of three children of Anthony and Mary Nicholas.  Mary died in 1750; Anthony was a blacksmith with a drinking problem.  He died the next year when Samuel was seven years old.  The children were turned over to their uncle, Attwood Shute, who was then serving as the mayor of Philadelphia.  In 1752, Shute enrolled Samuel in the Academy and College of Philadelphia.

There is not much known about Captain Nicholas between his graduation from school in 1759 and his appointment in 1775.  We suspect that he was an educated gentleman of good reputation — otherwise, he would not have received a commission for service as an officer of Marines.

The Marine Battalions

The Congress formed a naval committee in mid-October 1775.  The naval committee would have the responsibility for managing naval assets, including purchasing ships, appointing officers, directing recruitment, purchasing stores, and issuing orders for naval operations.

A marine committee replaced the naval committee in December 1775.  This committee consisted of one member from each of the thirteen colonies.  It took over responsibility for directing the naval affairs of the Continental Congress.

The naval committee intended that General Washington form two battalions of marines from his existing army.  The marines became necessary when the naval committee developed a plan for an assault on Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Halifax was the primary supply point for Britain’s North American forces.  Only one battalion formed from the Congressional resolution, rather than two.  The battalion allowed for five companies of 300 men.

Congress suspended its plan for the American assault when the Americans learned that the British had landed several infantry regiments and 3,000 Hessian mercenaries.  Canceling the operation gave General Washington some breathing room.  He was struggling to recruit and train men for his land army; he had no interest in drawing forces away from his land regiments to build a force of marines for the navy.  The general preferred that if recruitment must be done for marines, he suggested that this activity take place in New York or in Philadelphia.

That duty, of course, fell upon Captain Samuel Nicholas.

One will note that during the colonial period, America’s soldiers were farmers with some affiliation with a local militia.  They knew about fighting Indians and farming, but they knew far less about fighting in a land army.  And less about fighting from ships.  General Washington’s first priority was recruitment, and his second was training.

Captain Nicholas faced the same challenges, except that his task was to train young men as soldiers of the sea.  His recruits had to be able seamen who were deadly riflemen, who could deliver deadly fire from the riggings from the mainsails.  Sure footing 30 to 50 feet in the air, on a pitching ship, armed with a muzzle-loading musket demanded a certain kind of man.  But what soldiers of the sea knew about fighting on land was next to nil.

As Nicholas’ recruits began to form, he and his deputy, Lieutenant Matthew Parke, stood off to the side resplendent in their green coats,  off-white waistcoats, breeches, and facings.  The sergeant brought the men to order, no doubt snarling at them and using colorful words.  Neither the sergeant nor his recruits were in uniform.  They were dressed as they might have first appeared at the recruitment office.  The sergeant, no doubt a veteran of previous wars with the British Army, may have dressed in native attire, a sword hanging from his waist, a powder horn, and a musket.  Behind these privates was the ship Alfred, Commodore Esek Hopkins, commanding.  There was a mission for the Marines — it would involve the Marine’s First Amphibious Raid.

The fight at Sea

On 6 April 1776, the ship’s voyage northward following the raid on New Providence was in every way routine — which meant that the crew was kept busy with their shipboard duties.  An hour into midnight, the ship’s watch observed two unidentified sails southeast of Alfred’s position.  The officer of the deck ordered beat to quarters, and all hands mustered for action.  One of those ships was a monster, HMS Glasgow, rigged with twenty guns accompanied by her tender.  Captain Nichols deployed his Marines with his able executive officer, 1stLt Matthew Parke, at his side.  Also standing to was 2ndLt John Fitzpatrick, whose station was the quarterdeck. 

HMS Cabot veered off under the weight of Glasgow’s cannon — Hopkins brought Alfred to action.  In one of the first exchanges, Lieutenant Fitzpatrick fell by the weight of a musket ball, killing him instantly.  Of this officer, Nicholas later wrote, “In him I have lost a worthy officer, sincere friend, and companion, that was beloved by all the ship’s company.”

In this engagement, a lucky shot from Glasgow carried off Alfred’s wheel block, making the ship unmanageable.  Hopkins’s other ships joined the fight, sending Glasgow off to Newport, her stern guns firing until out of range.

Joining Washington

At the end of December 1776, General Washington was greatly encouraged by his successful assault against the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey.  On 30 December, Washington crossed the Delaware and re-occupied the city.  At the time, British General Charles Cornwallis commanded a large infantry force at Princeton.  He at once responded by marching toward Trenton.  After an indecisive skirmish at Assanpink Creek, Washington withdrew a short distance eastward to establish his bivouac.

Full of confidence, General Cornwallis made camp believing he had caught the elusive  American.  His plan was to assault Washington at dawn the next day.  General Washington, however, had other ideas.  Once night had fallen, Washington assembled his force and, leaving guards to keep the fires burning throughout the night, set out through rough country to Princeton Road.

At sunrise, the British 17th and 35th Regiments just outside Princeton, setting out to reinforce Cornwallis, spotted an American army rapidly moving toward the city.  Quickly ordering up the 40th Regiment, British Colonel Charles Mawhood opened fire with his field cannon and ordered the 17th forward with fixed bayonets.  Mawhood’s charge hurled the Americans under General Hugh Mercer back in disorder.  Pennsylvania troops under General John Cadwalader, and Marines under Captain Samuel Nicholas, quickly took over the fight.  As the Marines weighed into the line, the Pennsylvanians were repulsed.  Washington, seeing the disorder, rushed to the line, personally reformed the Virginians and Pennsylvanians, and then appealing to the soldier’s patriotic fervor, led these men to extend their line within 30 yards of the 40th and ordered, “Fire!”

The American volley and a British response shrouded the field in thick gun smoke.  As the pall slowly lifted, the Red Coats saw that they had suffered the worst of it and broke their ranks in retreat.  Washington ordered his men to pursue them.  Nichols Marines needed no such encouragement.

Mulai Ahmed al-Raisuli


I am always fascinated by the origin of words.  Berber, for example, generally describes the people who live in Northeast Africa.  The word, however, was Greek — meaning someone who does not speak Greek, a non-Greek person.  The Romans used to refer to German tribesmen as “Berbers.”  Even in medieval times, Greeks, Italians, and Byzantines used similar words to describe various tribes that inhabited what was once called “Greater Libya,” or what is now the entire region of North Africa.

The Berbers of North Africa, however, called themselves by other names.  Our confusion, if that’s what it is, comes from the fact that so many different people controlled that region of the world — at one time or another — all speaking different languages: different languages always equate to different names for the people who lived in North Africa.  The Berbers are the Mauri cited in the Chronicle of 754 during the Umayyad conquest of Hispania (Spain).  Since the 11th Century, the word Moor has been the word most commonly used in place of Mauri.

Modern scholars believe that the historian Herodotus referred to the Mauri as Mazyes.  Latin sources referred to the tribe as Mazaces (later, Massylii).  There were different terms in Coptic.  Everyone in North Africa seemed to know about these people — they raided almost everyone, including the Egyptians.  These names, by the way, are how the Berbers referred to themselves.  I’ll just stay with the Greek/Roman words: Berber, Moors, and Barbary Pirates.


The Berlin Conference of 1884–1885 (also known as the West Africa Conference) coincided with Germany’s sudden emergence as an imperial power.  The conference was organized by Otto Von Bismarck, the first chancellor of Germany.  The outcome of this conference was Europe’s often chaotic scramble for Africa — denied by some modern historians (particularly the European scholars), arguing instead that the partition of Africa had more to do with subsequent bilateral agreements, which is somewhat akin to arguing about who fired the first shot at the O.K. Corral.  It doesn’t matter who started it; what matters is that this conference contributed to the beginning of a period of heightened European colonial activity, which eliminated or supplanted the right of Africans to govern themselves.  Of the fourteen nations attending the Berlin Conference, only six had no interest in colonizing Africa: The United States, Austria-Hungary, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden-Norway, and Russia.

Mulai Ahmed al-Raisuli (1871 – 1925) was a Sharif (noble, highborn person) (descendant of Muhammed the Prophet) and a leader of the Jebala tribal confederacy in Morocco at the turn of the 20th century.  Foreigners saw Raisuli as a brigand.  Some Moroccans saw him as an enemy, as someone to fear.  But among the Jebala tribes, he was a magnificent hero.  Western historians view Raisuli as someone who falls between an English Robin Hood, a feudal baron, and a tyrannical bandit.  He was, according to some, the last Barbary Pirate.  As with every successful Moroccan politician, Raisuli was part criminal and part saint.

Mulai Ahmed al-Raisuli

Raisuli was born in the village of Zinat (a coastal village 16 miles outside Tangier), where villagers referred to him as the Eagle of Zinat.  He was the son of a military leader (Qaid) and quite naturally followed in his father’s footsteps.  At certain times and at certain places, military men became raiders, criminals, brigands — but this was all part of the Berber culture.  No self-respecting Berber chieftain could be a goodie-two-shoe.

While it is true that Raisuli eventually drifted into brigandry, the term is entirely subjective.[1]  Raisuli helped himself to other people’s cattle because everyone and everything located in Raisuli’s territory belonged to Raisuli.  But if it is true that he stole sheep and cattle, he provided these animals to feed the members of his (large) tribe.  Moreover, he didn’t hesitate to terminate (with extreme prejudice) anyone who dared get in his way.  Raisuli was arrested and jailed on more than one occasion — not because of his barbarous acts but because he always seemed to get in the way of influential Arabs.

Some historians claim that the most significant formative event in Raisuli’s life was his arrest and imprisonment by Abd-al-Rahman Abd-al-Saduk, Pasha of Tangier.  Saduk was Raisuli’s cousin and foster brother.  Having accepted Saduk’s invitation to dine, Raisuli was apprehended almost as soon as he stepped inside Saduk’s home.  Culturally, the Pasha’s behavior was an affront to traditional Arab courtesy.  Saduk made this travesty worse by throwing Raisuli into a dungeon at Mogador, chaining him to a wall for four years.  Sultan Abd-al-Laziz released Raisuli as part of a general amnesty, but the Sultan eventually became Raisuli’s greatest enemy.

The primary consequence of throwing Raisuli into prison was that it made him even more dangerous after his release.  Once released, Raisuli became more ambitious, more anti-foreign, and nearly fanatically pro-nationalist.  Then, to make the sultan’s life as difficult as possible, particularly in his relations with foreign powers, Raisuli began kidnapping prominent officials of foreign governments and holding them for ransom.  His first victim was a British journalist named Walter Burton Harris.

Harris lived in Tangier for most of his life (1866 – 1933).  He was wealthy, a socialite, spoke Arabic fluently, and his physical appearance permitted him to pose as a native Moroccan.  His appearance and language skills allowed him to visit places off-limits to most foreign correspondents.  This access helped Harris create or inspire numerous political and diplomatic intrigues — which Mr. Harris dutifully reported to his employer, The Times.  It allowed him to create a problem and get paid for reporting on it (typical of journalists, I’d say).

Raisuli did kidnap Harris, but he didn’t demand money.  Instead, Raisuli demanded that the Moroccan government release several of his tribesmen from prison.  The government’s prompt response to these demands saw Harris released within three weeks.  The strategy proved so successful that Raisuli accelerated his kidnapping efforts — focusing mainly on Moroccan military and political officials.  In between his kidnapping activities, Raisuli demanded tribute payments from villages within his provincial area; the penalty for refusing to pay this tribute was death.  Raisuli used some of this tribute to purchase and employ sailing vessels for seagoing piracy.  Raisuli’s piracy was only marginally successful — no doubt owing to the modernization of European navies.

But there was a lighter side to Mulai Ahmed al-Raisuli.  He was chivalrous, respectful toward his captives, protective of them, friendly, generous to those who demonstrated respect and loyalty, and a well-educated man.  However, his treatment of some prisoners could only be classified as downright cruel and barbaric.  Officials working for the Sultan of Morocco, or the Pasha of Tangier were often tortured, blinded, or their tongues cut out.  On at least one occasion, Raisuli disconnected the head of a  government envoy and returned it to the Pasha in a basket of fruit.

Raisuli’s international reputation began when he kidnapped the Greek-American expatriate Ion H. Perdicaris and his step-son, Cromwell Varley, Jr., and demanded payment of $70,000.00 for their release.  The event triggered a near-armed conflict between the government of Morocco and the United States in 1904, narrowly averted when Morocco paid the ransom and Perdicaris was released.  For a summary of this event, see The Perdicaris Affair.

After Perdicaris’ release, the Sultan appointed Raisuli Pasha of Tangier as governor of Jibala province and released all of Raisuli’s followers from prison.  By 1906, however, Raisuli’s cruelty and corruption prompted the Sultan to oust him from office and declare him an outlaw.  In response, Raisuli kidnapped Sir Harry Maclean, a British army officer serving as a military aide and advisor to the Sultan’s army.  Maclean was ransomed for £20,000.

Raisuli antagonized the Moroccan government for several years, even after Abd-al-Laziz abdicated.  He briefly regained favor with the Moroccan government by siding with Abdel al-Hafad in overthrowing al-Laziz, and for a time, the Sultan restored Raisuli as Pasha of Tangier.  However, at the insistence of the Spanish government, which exercised control over Morocco, the Sultan was removed from office again in 1912.

In 1913, Raisuli began an insurrection against the Spanish and continued a protracted guerrilla war against them for six years.  Eventually, Spanish Colonel Manuel Silvestre defeated Raisuli in the Battle of Fondak Pass, but Raisuli and most of his men avoided capture.

At the beginning of the First World War, Raisuli established contact with Imperial Germany, offering to serve the German cause by leading a rebellion against French Imperialists. Setting aside whether Mulai Ahmed al-Raisuli was a bandit, he was faithful to the culture and traditions of his people; he did not want foreigners in his country, and he did not want his people falling under the heavy boot of European powers. When the French learned of this “treason,” they initiated a punitive expedition into Spanish Morocco.  The French did manage to disperse Raisuli’s forces, but they could not capture him.

In 1921, Silvestre re-engaged the Berbers at a small village named Annual.  It evolved into a fight lasting 18 days.  At its conclusion on 9 August, Spanish military forces (again) serving under Colonel Silvestre suffered the worst defeat in Spanish military history.

In September 1922, Raisuli submitted to the will of Spanish authorities and joined the Spanish army in the Rif War (1921 – 1926).  The Rif War was an armed conflict fought between occupying Spanish (and later, French) colonists and Berber tribes in the mountainous Rif region of northern Morocco.  The Berbers were led by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi, also known as Abd al-Krim, who waged a guerilla war.  At first, al-Krim’s force inflicted several defeats on the Spanish, their mission to seize and re-employ as many Spanish (and French-made) weapons as possible.  Eventually, French troops captured al-Krim and sent him into exile.[2]

In 1921, in an attempt to consolidate control over the region, Spanish troops suffered the catastrophic Disaster of Annual in addition to a rebellion led by al-Krim.  As a result, the Spanish retreated to a few fortified positions while al-Krim ultimately created an independent state — the Republic of the Rif. 

The conflict coincided with the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, who commanded the campaign from 1924 to 1927.  France intervened in 1925 and established a collaboration with Spain that culminated in the amphibious landing at Alhucemas.  Spain had no hesitance in using chemical weapons against the Berbers.  To many historians, the Rif War was one of the last colonial wars in North Africa — and a pre-cursor to the Algerian War of Independence (1954 – 1962). Raisuli was intensely jealous of al-Krim and was not sorry to see him exiled.  Afterward, al-Krim’s followers viciously attacked Raisuli’s palace, killing most of his guards.  The captured Raisuli was promptly placed in a jail near Tamasin — where he died at the end of April 1925.  Mulai Ahmed al-Raisuli remains a folk hero to the Moroccan people — with a somewhat mixed reputation, of course.


[1] At the beginning of the story of Lawrence of Arabia the son of a tribal chieftain shoots and kills Major Lawrence’s Arab escort and guide because he had the affrontery to drink from a well without first gaining the tribal chieftain’s permission.  That is how the Arab mind works, illustrated over a thousand times in any Arab tribal culture you choose. 

[2] Background to Rif War: in July 1909, Spanish workers constructing a rail-bridge providing access to iron mines near Melilla came under attack by Rifian tribesmen.  The incident led to a Spanish military response which cost them more than a thousand casualties.  Spain increased their footprint to 40,000 troops in northern Morocco. 

Call Sign Misty One

Sometimes, the things we do as Americans make no sense at all.  Take, for example naming bridges after loathsome people.  Why would we want to name a bridge after Rachel Carson, the biologist responsible for the early death of millions of people, because she (successfully) fought against the use of D.D.T. in controlling malaria?  We’ve named bridges after crooked politicians, too — such as Huey Long in Louisiana and Oklahoma, after three ne’re-do-wells who were tossed out of office.

Every once in a while, we get it right — as if anyone remembers.  George E. Day has a very short bridge named after him in Western Florida.  Actually, it’s more of a by-pass bridge that takes traffic over the top of the main entrance of Hurlburt Air Force Base along U.S. 98 in Okaloosa County.  It was a nice thought because Mr. Day deserves our remembrance.

Colonel George E. “Bud” Day, USAF

George Everett Day, whom everyone called Bud, was born in Sioux City, Iowa, on 24 February 1925.  After his seventeenth birthday in 1942, Bud dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Marine Corps.  By then, the war in the Pacific was raging.  Mr. Day spent thirty months in the Pacific, assigned to the Third Defense Battalion on Johnson Island.  After his discharge in November 1945, he returned home and joined the U.S. Army Reserve.  By the time his four-year enlistment expired in 1949, Mr. Day had completed his high school and college education, graduating from Morningside College with a Bachelor of Science degree.

He afterward enrolled in the South Dakota School of Law, receiving his Juris Doctor degree and passing the Bar examination, and began a law practice in South Dakota while applying for and receiving an officer’s commission in the Air National Guard.  Later, Bud would also receive a master’s degree from Saint Louis University, a doctorate in humane letters from Morningside University, and a Doctor of Laws from Troy State University.

Like many reservists in 1951, Bud Day was called to active duty during the Korean War.  Sent to pilot training school in March 1951, he received his wings at Webb Air Force Base, Texas, and in 1952 attended all-weather interceptor aircraft.  Bud Day flew the F-84 Thunder Jet during two combat tours in Korea while assigned to the 55th Fighter/Bomber Squadron.  He transitioned to the F-100 Super Sabre in 1957.  Two years later, an incident forced his ejection from the F-100, and he became the first person to live after his parachute failed to open.  See also: Jarhead Adventures.  Between 1959-and 1963, Day served as an assistant professor of aerospace science at the Air Force ROTC detachment at Saint Louis University.

Day anticipated retiring from military service in 1968, but he requested a combat tour in South Vietnam before he did that.  The Air Force assigned him to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Tuy Hoa Air Base, Vietnam, in 1967.  By this time, Day had acquired 5,000 hours as a pilot, 4,500 of those as a fighter stick.  On 25 June 1967, Major Day assumed command of Detachment One, 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Phu Cat Air Base.  Major Day and his pilots flew missions under the program titled Commando Sabre.   This program employed twin-seat F-100F aircraft while performing Fast Forward Air Controller (Fast FAC) missions.  Detachment One’s flights over Laos and North Vietnam were code-named Misty.

On 26 August, Major Day was flying as call sign Misty One, his 26th Fast FAC mission, directing a flight of F-105’s against a North Vietnamese SAM installation north of Thon Cam Son, twenty or so air miles above the DMZ.  Enemy 37-mm antiaircraft fire crippled Day’s aircraft forcing him and Captain Corwin Kippenhan to eject.  Day received a broken arm in three places during ejection, foreign object damage to his eye, and significant back injuries (which were common among those forced to eject from high-performance aircraft.  Kippenhan was able to contact USAF SAR for extraction, but Day, with his injuries, could not utilize his survival radio and was soon captured by NVA militia.

Major Day escaped from his North Vietnamese captors during the night of his fifth day of captivity. Despite his injuries, he evaded the enemy for fifteen days and finally made it across the DMZ toward friendly units.  He was within two miles of the Marine FSB at Con Thiên when a Viet Cong patrol shot him in the leg and hand and recaptured him.  Returned to the unit which had initially captured him, Day suffered inhumane torture as they directed beatings against his broken arm to punish him for escaping.  Major Day became the cell-mate of Navy Lieutenant Commander John McCain and USAF Major Norris Overly.  Throughout his incarceration as a POW, Day was regularly beaten, starved, and tortured.  After five years and seven months as a POW, the North Vietnamese released Bud Day, and he returned to the United States, his wife, and four children.  On 4 March 1976, President Gerald Ford awarded Bud Day the Medal of Honor.

While incarcerated in North Vietnam, the Air Force promoted Day to lieutenant colonel and then colonel.  Initially, Day was physically too weak to return to operational flying.  After his release from captivity, he underwent physical therapy and began conversion training to the F-4 Phantom II with waivers to standard protocols.  Once qualified, the Air Force assigned him as Vice Commander, 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin USAF Base, Florida.  Colonel Day retired from active service when the Air Force passed him over for promotion to Brigadier General.  His aircraft qualifications included single and dual engine jet aircraft: F-80, F-84, F-100, F-101, F-104, F-105, F-106, FB-111, F-4, A-4, A-7, CF-5, F-15, and F-16.

Following retirement, Day was admitted to the Florida Bar.  Besides a law practice, Day wrote of his experiences as a POW in two books: Return with Honor and Duty, Honor, Country.  In 1996, Bud Day filed a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. government alleging breach of contract on behalf of military retirees who were stripped of their medical care benefits at age 65 and told to apply to Medicare.  Day won the case in federal district court in 2001, but the judgment was overturned on appeal.  Congress redressed this situation by establishing the TRICARE for Life (TFL) program, which restored military medical benefits for career military retirees over the age of 65, making military retirees eligible for both programs.

In retirement, Bud Day was an active member of the Florida Republican Party and became involved in the so-called Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth (against John Kerry). He actively campaigned for John McCain in both 2000 and 2008.

General Day is the only individual to receive both the Medal of Honor and Air Force Cross.  His other awards included the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, and POW Medal. Upon his death on 27 July 2013, the Air Force advanced Colonel Day to the rank of Brigadier General.


USAF Medal of Honor

On 26 August 1967, Colonel Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire.  His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained.  He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp, where he was interrogated and severely tortured.  After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam.  Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward, surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs.  He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Bến Hải River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages.  With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone.  Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days.  After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh.  He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him.  Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest task for himself.  Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance.  His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy.  Col. Day’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.

Actually, a short by-pass bridge commemorating the life, service, and devotion of General George E. “Bud” Day may not be sufficient.  I often wonder how many people driving across this bridge know that Bud Day was awarded the Medal of Honor.

First in — Stretched Thin

On 11 September 2001, Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airliners and used them as weapons against New York and Washington, D. C.  The attacks were planned and orchestrated by the mentally deficient Osama Bin-Laden.

In the aftermath of the attacks, the Bush administration announced its war on terrorism.  The Present’s stated goal was bringing Osama Bin-Laden and Al-Qaeda to justice and preventing the emergence of other terrorist networks.  President Bush intended to achieve the goals through economic and military sanctions against states perceived as harboring terrorists and increasing global surveillance on terrorists’ movements.

In the aftermath of the attack, the Inspector-General of the CIA conducted an internal review of the agency’s performance before 9/11.  This report was highly critical of senior CIA officials.  Through the autumn of 2001, the Taliban continued to pressure the Northern Alliance, often with the aid of Osama Bin Laden and his Arab forces.  On 9 September 2001, an assassination attempt by two Arabs posing as journalists mortally wounded Northern Alliance Leader Ahmad Shah Massoud.  This attack was the work of Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda.  The Northern Alliance responded to Massoud’s killing with an aerial attack on Kabul on 11 September.

We now know that Al-Qaeda coordinated Massoud’s murder with the terror attacks on the United States on 11 September.  Since Massoud was an American ally, the US planned to punish Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden as part of its first phase of what became known as the Global War on Terror.

The War in Afghanistan began on 7 October 2001 with allied airstrikes on Taliban and al Qaida targets.  On the ground, American, British, and other Allied special forces troops worked with the Northern Alliance to begin a military offensive to overthrow the Taliban.  This alliance between the Northern Alliance and the Allies led to coordination between Allied air attacks and ground attacks by the Northern Alliance.  These attacks led to the fall of Kabul on 13 November 2001, as the Taliban retreated from most of northern Afghanistan.

But the first troops in Afghanistan after 9/11 weren’t military.  They were CIA officers carrying boxes of cash to recruit Afghan warlords.  It was after that when special operations forces showed up, and after that, an allied bombing campaign.  In 2001, the coalition victory came quickly.  CIA officers took the lead in locating Osama Bin-Laden in the Tora Bora complex but worked with special operators and local Afghan militias.  Bin-Laden’s escape and disappearance into the woodwork meant that the Al-Qaeda organization could not wage further attacks against the United States.

During these early days, CIA (forward) was exceptional and well-suited for the challenge.  Afghanistan in 2001 wasn’t the CIA’s first turn at bat.  Covert operations in Afghanistan began in 1979.  Some contend (and I am one of them) that the CIA’s operation Cyclone set into motion what later transpired: the creation of Al-Qaeda and the attack upon the United States in 2001.

In one of history’s tragic ironies, the covert operation succeeded, turning Afghanistan into a quagmire for the Soviets and eventually leading to their defeat and withdrawal — but elements of the mujahideen and their supporters eventually morphed into Al-Qaeda, a carefully conceived organization with two purposes: to rid the Saudis of potentially harmful radical components they created through Wahhabism, and the pursuit of global jihad without drawing attention to themselves as its creator and primary source of funding.  Despite the thousands of disaffected morons seeking paradise through jihad, neither Al-Qaeda nor the Taliban (both adherents of Wahhabism) could stand up to the might of the US and Coalition military forces.  So, they withdrew (at first into small enclaves, and later en mass) to Pakistan, a Saudi partner in global jihad movements).

In the twenty years since 9/11, the CIA’s involvement in counterterrorism has expanded to the point where it is nearly impossible to differentiate between the work of intelligence gathering and suppression.  One example is that both the CIA and military engage in drone operations, often independently but occasionally as a cooperative effort.  A second example is that while the CIA supervised the operation to locate and kill Osama Bin-Laden, Navy Seals carried out the mission.  Today, both US special operations forces and CIA para-military groups engage in covert activities.

What is the point?

All government agencies suffer the slings and arrows of their civilian/political masters.  The pendulum swings, and with each amplitude comes the waste of billions of dollars in revenues.  The executive’s decision to bring thousands of unvetted Moslems to America’s communities, for example, may score points among the least intelligent of us all.  Still, it results in new demands to expand domestic counter-terror capabilities.  Previously, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has demonstrated incapable — handicapped by federal restrictions on monitoring mosques and its fascination with Bible-carrying Christians.  By law, neither the CIA nor the military can operate inside the United States.

So, while the fusing of intelligence gathering capabilities with military operations does have its benefits, there are also significant risks.  CIA paramilitary operations mean that it is spending less time on data collection and analysis.  We are, in 2021, returning to a period before 2001, which, as before, is a stupidity that could lead us once more to dire consequences.  As recently stated by Dr. Zegart at the Hoover Institution, the CIA’s mission is to prevent strategic surprise, not playing cowboys and Indians on the Afghan plain.

We live in an increasingly dangerous world.  Artificial intelligence is good and well worth the money we’re spending on it, but it isn’t good enough.  We need human intelligence to give us due and timely notice of approaching danger.  This is what we need the CIA to do.  America’s defense requires a coordinated effort, not a disjointed one, and not one that has overlapping responsibilities to the point where no one is quite sure who’s in charge of what.  The tremendous expense of an effective intelligence effort must cause us to realize that there is a difference between battlefield intelligence and strategic intelligence, and we must endeavor not to make it more complicated than it already is.  We do have our national defense interests at stake, don’t we?

Ah yes  — Our national interests. 

To drive home the previous point(s), according to the Afghanistan Study Group (Final Report) in February 2021, it is the United States’ foremost interest to contain the activities of terrorist groups that remain active in Afghanistan that could threaten the US homeland — principally, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).  According to this report, “Our ongoing military presence in Afghanistan, working alongside Afghan security forces, has disrupted these groups and prevented them from attacking our homeland.  A complete withdrawal of our troops would allow the threat to reemerge.  In the long term, the United States must either maintain a counterterrorism force in Afghanistan or have assurances that other verifiable mechanisms are in place to ensure that these groups cannot reconstitute.” Except that seven months later, there is no US military presence in Afghanistan; there are no Afghan security forces and no way to prevent their reemergence.  All that is left for us now is to know, in advance, what we can expect from these radical morons who seek to kills us.  This is what the CIA must now concentrate on; if they are not focused on that, then we should anticipate a very troubling future.

The England Raid


Within American naval history, John Paul Jones is one of the more revered Revolutionary War heroes.  How esteemed is John Paul Jones in Navy society?  Such that his remains are today enshrined at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.

Today, it is possible to observe not one but two John Paul Jones.  The first Jones is the man who saw in himself a hero and a gentleman, one who, despite his low birth, glorified in his ability to rise to high social rank.  While there is little doubt that Jones’s accomplishments in service to the American Revolution were impressive, there was another Jones: arrogant, quarrelsome, immature, rash, and dishonest.  As one example, John Paul Jones designed a fake coat of arms to push forward his agenda.  He did this by combining the coat of arms of Paul with those of Jones — neither of which he could rightly claim.  His crass behavior sullied his reputation.  He was not someone to invite to a dinner party; he was inconsiderate, tiresome, and he would likely steal the silverware.

There are two groups of John Paul Jones “experts.” The first consists of those who rely too heavily upon the personal (and deeply exaggerated) stories told by John Paul Jones himself; the second group involves those who believe that the life and times of Captain Jones deserve deeper reflection.  As an example, early historians declare John Paul Jones as the father of the American Navy.  This claim is altogether untrue — but even worse, it is a claim so often repeated that it serves as an insult to those other early gentlemen who served with equal distinction.[1]

This so-called standard-bearer of the Continental Navy was named John Paul at birth. John had family living in the American colonies.  His brother William Paul settled near present-day Fredericksburg, Virginia.  When John was thirteen years old, his father apprenticed him to a sea captain named Benson, master of the commercial ship Friendship, which took John Paul to the Americas as part of a circuitous trade route.

Commercial shipping in those days was profitable for ship’s officers and crew because, in addition to the standard pay rate, ship’s owners often paid bonuses as a percentage of the cargo’s profits.  Between 1760 and 1768, John Paul served on several commercial ships.  In 1764, he served as Third Mate aboard King George.  In 1766, while serving aboard Two Friends, Paul advanced to First Mate.  In 1768, he abandoned that profitable position and returned to Scotland to seek a new appointment.  Later that year, while serving aboard the brig John at sea, the ship’s captain died from Yellow Fever.  Paul successfully navigated the ship back to port.  The ship’s owners were so pleased that they rewarded John by giving him command of the vessel and a guaranteed percentage of its profits.  He made two successful journeys to the West Indies in that capacity.

During the third voyage in 1770, one of the ship’s crew initiated a mutiny over crew wages.  Jones, then 23-years old, had the crewman flogged.  The flogging was severe, but what killed the man was Yellow Fever.  As it happened, the crewman was the son of a wealthy Scottish family.  Upon return to port, authorities arrested Paul, and he spent some time in prison until granted bail.  Although the crewman died of disease, the flogging incident damaged Paul’s reputation.  The incident prompted John Paul to change his name to John Paul Jones.

A second incident occurred while in command of the commercial ship Betsy when a crewman initiated a mutiny over crew wages.  Jones killed this crewman, whose name was Blackton, by running him through with a sword.  Jones later claimed the killing was in self-defense, but at the time, Jones refused to submit to the authority of an Admiral’s court.  Jones instead went to Virginia to help manage the affairs of his brother William, who had died intestate.

John Paul Jones

With the supporting endorsement of Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia statesman and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Jones successfully applied for a commission in the Continental Navy.  Congress offered a lieutenant’s commission to Jones in December 1775; his first assignment was the 24-gun frigate, USS Alfred.  After Alfred’s raid in Nassau, the Congresses Naval Committee appointed Jones to command the sloop USS Providence.  By the end of 1776, after seizing sixteen British vessels, Jones earned the reputation of a daring and resourceful officer.

USS Ranger was a 116-foot long sloop of war weighing around 314 tons.  The Continental Navy first commissioned this ship in 1777 and appointed John Paul Jones to command her.  On the ship’s first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean as a packet carrier, carrying messages to Benjamin Franklin in Paris, Jones captured two British vessels and sold them in France.  Arriving in France, Ranger was the first American navy ship to receive a salute from a foreign navy vessel.

In 1777, however, the French monarch had not decided to support the rebellious Americans.  The United States Minister to France, Benjamin Franklin, may have hedged his bet on the outcome of the American independence movement by establishing regular communications with British Prime Minister Frederick (Lord) North — or he may have initiated correspondence with North for no other purpose than to increase pressure on the French to support American independence.  If it was the second reason, it worked.  French statesman Charles Gravier, Count Vergennes, concerned that the American rebels and the British might solve their differences, urged King Louis XVI to support the American independence cause.  When the French government communicated its intent to help the Americans, Benjamin Franklin assumed (as an extension of his position as America’s foreign minister to France) the role of advanced base force commander.

Jones arrived in France believing that he would command L’Indien, an American ship under construction in Amsterdam.[2]  Jones made several efforts to press Franklin on this matter, but he was always put off and instructed to bide his time; he would receive his orders in due course.

On 16th January 1778, Benjamin Franklin summoned Jones to Paris.  Among Jones’s instructions, Franklin ordered him to equip his ship (Ranger) and prepare for operations against the British mainland.  As opportunity presented itself, Jones would assault British shipping and coastal settlements as a means of creating havoc among “enemies of the United States,” by sea or otherwise, consistent with the laws of war.

Franklin further directed Jones that since France was still a neutral power, he must avoid returning to France upon completion of his mission.  Franklin knew that the United States and France had reached an alliance agreement, but ratification of the accord was still pending.  Franklin and Silas Deane then sternly admonished Jones to give no offense to the subjects of France or any other neutral power lest he destroys any pendant diplomatic framework.

John Paul Jones, having accepted the views of Robert Morris, believed that effective use of the American navy entailed sending ships against an unsuspecting British enemy, to surprise them, to divert the enemy’s attention away from America’s seacoast, and force them to defend their coastal ports and settlements.  This, too, appears to have been the brainchild of Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane in Paris.

It was several more weeks before Ranger was ready to sail.  The ship, although only recently commissioned, required new sails.  Shipwrights mounted Swivel guns in the fighting tops, altered bow ports to allow firing over the bow, and reprovisioning.

But Captain Jones did not command a happy ship. Ranger‘s officers were tired of Jones’s dalliances in Nantes and Loire, and they had no confidence in their captain’s “crazy schemes.”  Jones’s officers believed that his poorly contrived ideas would only bring them into mortal danger without the benefit of any subsequent prize money.  While still in Portsmouth, as part of his recruiting campaign, Jones promised his officers that they would make a fortune from seizing ships and selling them.  Still, so far in the Atlantic assignment, the crew had not received a single farthing after taking two enemy ships.[3]

Matthew Parke (1775)

There was another problem, as well.  The Naval officers serving aboard USS Ranger thoroughly detested the Marine commanding officer, Captain Matthew Parke.  Captain Parke intended to enforce the observance of proper decorum among the ship’s company.  He insisted, for example, on being addressed by his rank. Ship’s officers complained, “Since no captain of Marines is allowed to any ship or vessel under twenty guns, we take it as hardship peculiar to us, that a person in his capacity should remain in the ship to take the fourth part of the three twentieths which are the shares belonging solely to us (as lieutenants and master of the ship) of any prize money to be divided for her Officers and men.” The navy officers wanted to dispose of Parke and so requested that Captain Jones do so.

Captain Parke, fully aware of this animosity, submitted his resignation to Captain Jones, who, although disgusted with his lieutenants, accepted Parke’s resignation “with regret.” When Ranger arrived in Brest, Jones discharged Parke and replaced him with an army lieutenant named Jean Meijer.

When asked to explain his operational plan to Lieutenant Général le Comte d’Orviliers (Commander of the French Fleet at Brest), Jones proposed to descend upon some part of England, destroy merchant shipping, and kidnap a member of the nobility as a means of guaranteeing the lives (or possible exchange) of imprisoned Americans in England.[4]  Shortly afterward, Jones received orders to move Ranger to the Bay of Brest where the crew might enjoy liberty ashore and partake of French allurements.  Several of the crew, including Marines, took this opportunity to abandon naval service.

As Ranger made final preparations for sea, Marine Second Lieutenant Samuel Wallingford drilled the Ranger’s Marines in small arms proficiency.  The ship sailed on 8 April 1778.  On the 10th, Jones captured a brigantine carrying flaxseed, seized the cargo, and sank the vessel.   On the 17th, he seized a merchantman.  He detailed a prize crew to return the cargo ship to Brest.  A British revenue vessel challenged Ranger the next day but quickly withdrew when Jones went to battle stations.  Ranger’s surgeon later criticized Jones for not employing his Marines to fire into the cutter, as in his opinion, Jones could have quickly taken the enemy vessel.

On 19 April, Captain Jones seized a schooner and a sloop near the entrance of Firth of Clyde.  When Jones decided to sink both ships, his officers threw a tantrum.  The next day, while operating offshore from Carrickfergus, Jones learned from a fishing vessel that HMS Drake, a 20-gun sloop, was anchored nearby.  Jones decided to target Drake for a cutting out — but his officers refused.  They consented, instead, to surprise the British ship by entering the lough and anchoring to her windward side, which would expose the ship to Jones’ musketry.  Owing to poor weather, Jones decided to abandon his Plan B.

Operation Whitehaven

Whitehaven, England — on the northwest coast — was a small, insignificant port town.  A man like Stephen Decatur Sr. would never think of attacking Whitehaven.  On the other hand, Jones knew the British Isles like the back of his hand, and Whitehaven was the place from which he first began his maritime career.

By 22nd April, with the understanding that several commercial ships were at anchor at Whitehaven, Captain Jones prepared to execute a raid.  His officers, however, saw no point in the attack because it promised neither prize money nor naval advantage.  Navy lieutenants Thomas Simpson and Elijah Hall fomented rebellion among the crew.  Jones later observed that these men were inferior officers, for rather than building morale, they excited the men toward disobedience to orders.  Simpson and Hall managed to convince the crew that Ranger was a voting precinct, with the right to judge for themselves whether the captain’s plan was a good one.  Jones contributed to these officer’s further insubordination by failing to press the matter.

The raid on Whitehaven may have been audacious, but it was poorly executed and its result embarrassing.  As Ranger approached Solway Firth, the wind died away, and the ship was left to languish in swells.  At midnight, still, several miles away from Whitehaven, Jones ordered two boats lowered.  He would command one, with Lieutenant Meijer serving as his assistant; Second Lieutenant Wallingford would command the other boat, with Midshipman Benjamin Hill as his second.  In total, thirty men manned the boats.  It took several hours for both boats to arrive at the outer pier.

By then, dawn was just breaking. Without any noticeable concern about his discovery, Jones sent Wallingford’s boat to the northern end of the harbor with orders to set fire to the estimated 150 merchant ships at anchor.  Jones and his men scaled the port’s southern battery walls, spiked the guns, and apprehended four sentinels found asleep on post.  When Jones returned to his boat, he expected to see dozens of ships on fire — there were none.  Wallingford explained that he had lost his “fire” to light the ships.  Jones managed to set one ship on fire before realizing that the town was now up and about, and, as a deserter alerted the town that a raid was in progress, defenders began assembling along the water’s edge.

Captain Jones decided it was time to withdraw his raiders.  As the American navy rowed back to Ranger, the townspeople fired cannon at them and an occasional pistol, causing no damage to the raiding party.  Jones and his weary men arrived back aboard the ship at around 0700.[5]

The second stage of Jones’s plan was to sail across to St. Mary’s Isle, where he hoped to kidnap the Earl of Selkirk and carry him to France as a hostage for the better treatment of American prisoners.  The landing party included Jones, Wallingford, Ship’s Master David Cullam, and a dozen Marines and sailors.  After assigning one man to guard the boat, Jones led his party toward the Selkirk manor. 

Jones led his party ashore with Wallingford, Ship’s Master David Cullam, and a dozen sailors and Marines.  After posting a sentry to guard the boat, Jones led his party toward the Selkirk manor.  En route, Jones learned from the gardener that the Earl was away from home.  His mission a failure, Jones turned about intending to return to the ship.  Master Cullam objected, however, arguing that he and his crew should be allowed to loot the house.  Jones acquiesced, insofar as the sailors would be allowed to steal the silver, but nothing more.

Lady Selkirk handed over her silver upon Cullam’s demand.  In her later testimony, Lady Selkirk described Master Cullam as a disagreeable-looking man with the look of a blackguard.  On the other hand, she was quite impressed with Marine lieutenant Wallingford.  She characterized him as “…a civil young man, in a green uniform, an anchor on his buttons, which were white,” and “he seemed naturally well-bred and not to like his employment.” After filling several sacks of silver, Cullam and Wallingford accepted Lady Selkirk’s offer of a glass of wine, and they returned to the ship.


The Whitehaven raid was barely a footnote in history; the value of damage to enemy ships, cannon, and Lady Selkirk’s stolen silver was minuscule.  The operation did qualify as an early land action involving Continental Marines, but it was nothing worth remembering.

Conversely, the effects of Jones’s raid were tremendous.  The London Chronicle reported the raid stating, “A number of expresses have been dispatched to all capital seaports in the kingdom where any depredations are likely to be made; all strangers in this town are, but an order of the magistrates, to be secured and examined; similar notices have been forwarded through the country and, in short, every caution taken that the present alarming affair could suggest.”

Jones’s Whitehaven raid so aroused England that the Admiralty was forced to recall ships operating off the American seacoast to patrol the United Kingdom’s lengthy coastline — as Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane knew it would.


  1. Feld, J.  John Paul Jones’s Locker: The Mutinous Men of the Continental Ship Ranger and the Confinement of Lieutenant Thomas Simpson.  Washington: Naval History and Heritage Command, 2017.
  2. Hill, F. S.  Twenty-six Historic Ships: The story of certain famous vessels of war and of their successors in the navies of the United States and of the Confederate States of America from 1775-1902.  New York: Putnam, 1903.
  3. Smith, C. R.  Marines in the Revolution: A History of the Continental Marines in the American Revolution, 1775-1783.  Washington: Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps, 1975.
  4. Griffiths, J.  The 1778 Whitehaven Raid.  United Kingdom History (online), 2015.
  5. U. S. Continental Congress, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789.  W. C. Ford & Gaillard Hunt, eds.  Library of Congress, 1904-37.


[1] Esek Hopkins, John Burroughs Hopkins, Abraham Whipple, Stephen Decatur, Sr., and Nicholas Biddle. 

[2] Indien, later commissioned South Carolina was captured by the British in 1782.

[3] A farthing was valued at one-quarter of a penny. 

[4] The poor treatment of Americans under lock and key in England was well known to American sailors.  Jones apparently hoped to change Britain’s neglect of humanitarian treatment of its prisoners.

[5] As a demonstration of varying perspectives about the same event, British historians claim that on their way to the port, Jones’s men became distracted by the strong allure of the nearby public house.  It was here that this half of the crew became intoxicated and were unable to complete their mission.  American historians of the same period argue that heavy rain and gales stopped the operation in its tracks.  The weather conditions were so bad that none of the men were able to strike a light to set the ships on fire.

The Colonel’s Boots

The primary source of Marine Corps recruiting is the pool of Americans, however slight their numbers may be, who are keenly interested in joining America’s elite combat force.  They come from every area of the United States, from the far northwest to the Florida keys, from upper Maine to San Diego, California’s border region.  Some of these men and women are tall, others are only marginally tall enough to meet the Corps’ minimum height standard.  Some candidates are thin, others need to lose a few pounds — and if they pass through the application process, if they are accepted for recruit training, lose pounds is what they will do.  Upon graduation from recruit training, they still may occupy a range in stature, from short to tall, slender to barrel-chested, but they are all hardened by a constant regimen of physical exercise.

When young Marines leave boot camp, they continue to undergo rigorous training at schools of infantry — because every Marine is a rifleman, and depending on their military occupational specialty, technical schools may follow infantry training.  Traditionally, technical schooling is more academic than physical, and so many Marines may experience for the first time as a Marine an environment somewhat less attentive to maintaining top physical condition.  They’ve been home on leave, filled themselves with burgers and milkshakes, maybe a bit too much beer … and they begin to lose their robust strength and appearance.  There’s no longer a drill instructor herding them around or mustering them for organized athletics.

There are essentially two types of Marine Corps units: the operating forces, and the supporting establishment.  Within the operating forces are infantry and aviation units that remain on call to respond to emergencies.  They are our nation’s first responders.  The supporting establishment includes Marines assigned as base or station-keepers, as staff personnel within various headquarters elements, as clerks at supply depots, mechanics at maintenance facilities, school instructors, and recruiters.  Supporting units focus their activities on making sure the operating establishment has what it needs to respond to emergencies.  Recruiters, for example, ensure a constant flow of candidates for recruit training.  That is their mission.  

In the past, the combat strength of the Marine Corps has increased or decreased according to the amount of money appropriated by Congress to maintain this elite force.  Following World War II, for example, Congress reduced the Marine Corps to about 35% of its wartime strength.  When the Korean War suddenly broke out in 1950, it was necessary for Marine Corps headquarters to empty out the supporting establishment in order to form a single combat division/air wing.  By this example, I hope to emphasize the importance that each Marine, no matter what his or her assignment, maintain optimum physical fitness because one never knows when a supply clerk at Barstow will suddenly find him or herself in an infantry battalion sent to resolve one of our national emergencies.

But given all we know about human behavior, people who are not serving at the tip of the spear tend to become complacent.  They develop a lifestyle that deprives them of adequate sleep, nutrition, mental acuity, and physical readiness.  The key to maintaining physical fitness within the supporting establishment is officers and noncommissioned officers who require their subordinates to work out on a regular basis — who lead their Marines by keeping themselves “squared away.”  This doesn’t always happen, however.  When the officers and NCO become overweight, slovenly in their appearance, and lackadaisical about combat readiness, the troops will follow them down that odious road.

This is what happened in one reserve division headquarters.  When the new Commanding General (CG) reported for duty, he found rotund, out-of-shape and lazy colonels, gunnery sergeants, and privates.  Everyone had time to stuff their faces with hamburgers and fries at lunch time, but few had time for a noon-hour workout.  To correct this situation, the general explicitly encouraged his senior staff to start working out several times a week.  Apparently, not one of these senior officers took the CG seriously. Their “flat refusal” to execute the will of the CG caused the CG to call a meeting with his headquarters commandant (HQCMDT), the headquarters battalion commander.

The question addressed was this: if this divisional command post was activated, what should the CG expect of his Marines?  The answer was that they should be proficient with their weapons. Tactically, they should be able to defend the headquarters element against an enemy attack. Fitness wise, they should be able to move on foot fifty miles within a 24-hour period.  Then, at the end of a 50-mile march, they should be ready to confront a determined enemy.

In other words, they should be physically ready to endure the exigencies of combat service.  Since the fat colonels and overweight NCOs had not made any effort to regain their physical readiness, the CG ordered the HQCMDT to devised a training plan to whip these pogues into shape.  They would fire their weapons for familiarization and efficiency, they would engage in field training, and they would begin a series of ever-lengthening forced marches, beginning with a timed three mile march, ending with a 50 mile forced march before the end of the year.  Everyone would participate, no matter what their rank or position within the division headquarters.

The Commanding General approved the training plan.  He and the HQCMDT were about the only two officers in the division command post who were pleased with the plan.  The least happy individual, however, was the CG’s own chief of staff.  I’ll call him Colonel Gresham (not his real name).  Gresham was a veteran of 30-years service.  A former artillery officer who I had known since he was a first lieutenant, Colonel Gresham believed that his long service, high rank, and esteemed position within the division entitled him to privileges denied to everyone else.  The CG addressed this officer’s sense of entitlement by taking away his jeep.  He would have to “march” with everyone else —including the CG, who was a bona fide combat hero during the Vietnam War.

The CG may have addressed Gresham’s inflated sense of entitlement, but that didn’t curtail his constant complaining about having to march, or about his ‘worthless’ USMC issued field boots, or the blisters that formed on his feet.  For a senior officer and a veteran of three decades of Marine Corps service, Gresham behaved more like a rank snuffy malcontent.  In my view, his whining didn’t do much to inspire anyone, or motivate them to “get with” the CG’s program.  Everyone  had blisters on their feet, including the CG.

On the day preceding the scheduled 25-mile march (12 ½ miles out, 12 ½ miles back), Gresham called down to the sickbay and requested a corpsman report to him in his office.  “Doc” soon appeared as requested.  What Gresham wanted to know was how he might avoid getting foot blisters.  Petty Officer 2nd Class Jones (also not his real name) professionally advised powdering his feet, slipping on a pair of dress socks beneath his field socks (reducing friction of foot movement inside his boots).  He also emphasized changing his socks regularly en route since wet socks made the formation of blisters more likely.  Finally, Doc told Gresham that if he should begin to feel the burn of a developing blister, he could apply blister pads, available commercially at the local pharmacy.

That evening, Colonel Gresham purchased blister pads on his way home from work.  Not just one package, mind you — he purchased every package the pharmacy had in stock.  Sometime before muster the following morning, Gresham completely covered his feet, including his toes, with blister pads.  Not only that, he also wrapped his feet with surgical adhesive tape.  That should do it.

Of course, with all this additional material, along with two pairs of socks, his feet no longer fit inside his boots — so Gresham discarded the field socks.  Well, his feet were still too snug, so he discarded the dress socks, too.  But he did apply liberal doses of foot powder inside his boots.  Seemingly, with feet wrapped in blister pads and adhesive, his feet felt just right inside his boots.  The battalion stepped off promptly at 06:30.

For fourteen or so hours, the time it took to completed 25 miles, those marching closest to Colonel Gresham endured his constant bragging about how he had solved the blister problem.  One could almost hear the rolling of eyeballs through his constant gasconade.

The battalion completed its march at around 20:30 on Friday evening. After dismissal, most of the men went home to attend to their feet, as did Colonel Gresham.  Unhappily for Gresham, he wasn’t able to remove his boots.  The heat produced by his feet had melted the excessive adhesive material and essentially glued his feet to the inside of his boots.

Somewhere in America, there is an emergency room physician who is able to tell the story about the amazingly moronic Marine colonel whose boots had to be surgically removed.  Gresham didn’t return to work until the middle of the following week.

This is why Marines were not allowed to wear Army jump-boots.  It would be a crime having to cut them off the feet of senior officers who should never have made it past first lieutenant.  Gresham continued to resist physical fitness training until his retirement several months later; no one was sorry to see him go.

Aviation Etiquette

Some Background

Douglas Bader (1910-1982) was born in St. John’s Wood, London, the second son of Frederick and Jessie Scott MacKenzie.  When Douglas was four years old, his father left for the Great War, was seriously wounded in 1917, and eventually died of his wounds while still in France in 1922.  Douglas may have grown up with only vague memories of his father.  His mother, who was always somewhat detached from her children soon remarried.  He never developed a bond with his step father, Reverend Ernest William Hobbs, and the somewhat unruly child spent a good deal of the rest of his youth with other relatives until he was old enough to attend boarding school.

After spending several years at Temple Grove School, a famous preparatory academy known for austerity and strict behavioral standards, Douglas attended secondary school at St. Edwards.  There, Douglas involved himself in athletics.  On the field, he was known as a particularly aggressive athlete, but the head master was an understanding, tolerant man who was willing to put up with petulant behavior as long as St. Edwards won its various competitions. 

Unhappily, Douglas was a better athlete than he was a student, so it was necessary to place him in a tutoring program.  Eventually, with an increase in the headmaster’s stern emphasis on academic excellence, Douglas became an accomplished student —at least good enough gain acceptance as an officer cadet at RAF Academy, Cranwell.

AVRO 504

Douglas Bader joined the RAF in 1928 continuing to excel in athletics while at Cranwell.  Whatever he did, he did with unmatched zeal, even participating in the prohibited pastime of motorcar racing.  When discovered, motor racing nearly ended his time at Cranwell.  At the end of his first academic year, Douglas placed 19th (of 21 students).  This dismal performance earned him a private session with Air Vice Marshal Frederick Halahan, after which Douglas settled down to his studies.

Douglas took his first flight with Flying Officer W. J. “Pissy” Pearson in an AVRO-504.  The aircraft was a World War I vintage aircraft intended as a fighter-bomber.  One of the finest aircraft of the day, the ‘504’ continued in production until 1932.  Douglas completed his first solo flight on 19 February 1929 after only 11 hours of flight time.  Competing for the RAF Sword of Honor award, Douglas placed second behind Patrick Coote, who later served as a wing commander with British Air Forces, Greece.  Coote was killed on 13 April 1941 while flying as an observer with No. 211 Squadron, Bristol.

Aerial Disaster

Bader received his commission as a pilot officer on 26 July 1930 and was assigned to No. 23 Squadron, Kenley. At Kenley, Bader flew the Gloster Gamecock (of which only 108 were ever produced) and the Bristol Bulldog, one of England’s more famous aircraft in the interwar years. As with most aviators during this period, Bader became somewhat of a daredevil. The Bulldog did have stability issues when flying at low speeds, which meant that stunt flying was somewhat more dangerous than usual. The aircraft’s poor stability at low speeds prompted the Air Service to issue restrictions on aerobatic flying below 2,000 feet. Bader frequently disregarded these restrictions.

After one training flight on the gunnery range, Bader achieved a low 38% on target rate and after taking some heat from fellow pilots, he decided to “show them” by demonstrating his aerobatic skills.  His flagrant disregard of safety regulations prompted one senior officer to remark that had Bader been in his squadron, he’d have him court-martialed.  But Bader’s CO gave his pilots more latitude; he wanted his pilots to realize their own skill limitations.  During the previous year, No. 23 Squadron won the Hendon Air Show “pairs” event.  It was a great accomplishment and there was much enthusiasm for defending the squadron’s title during the Air Show in 1931.  Bader flew with his CO in the pairs event.  Because the squadron had lost two pilots earlier in the year, flight safety was on everyone’s mind.  Everyone, that is, except Douglas Bader.  On 14 December, Bader attempted some low flying stunts in a Bulldog MK-IIA … on a dare by squadron mates and ended up crashing.  Both his legs were amputated—one above the knee, and the other just below.  Bader’s log book entry reflected simply “Crashed slow-rolling near ground.  Bad show.”

After a long convalescence which involved excessive amounts of morphine, Bader was transferred to the hospital at RAF Uxbridge for post-operative therapies in learning how to walk with artificial legs and weaning himself away from morphine.  Despite his significant handicap, Bader wanted to continue flying.  In 1932, Air Under-Secretary Philip Sassoon arranged for Bader to take up an AVRO-504, which he piloted properly.  A subsequent medical examination proved him “fit for flight duty,” but the RAF later reversed this finding on the grounds that King’s Regulations would not allow him to continue flying and he was invalided out of the RAF in May.  He took a job with Asiatic Petroleum (now Shell Oil).

World War II

By 1938, Europe was well down the road toward another world war and Douglas Bader wanted to return to active duty.  In 1939, he accepted an invitation to appear before a board of officers whose task it was to evaluate his fitness for active service.  At that time, the board was only inclined to offer him a ground assignment.  However, with some sympathy for Bader’s situation, Air Vice Marshal Halahan asked the Central Flying School to assess his aeronautical ability.  Bader reported for flight competency tests on 18 October.  Despite the Air Service’s reluctance to offer him full flight status, a medical board endorsed his return to aeronautical duties, and he was sent for flight training in modern aircraft.  He soloed again on 27 November in an AVRO Tutor, and once again throwing caution to the wind, violated air safety regulations by flying his aircraft inverted at 600 feet above ground level.  Over time, Bader transitioned to Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft.

Douglas Bader was 29-years old when he reported for duty with No. 19 Squadron at Duxford in January 1940.  He was the oldest pilot in the squadron.  Between February-May 1940, Bader underwent tactical training, part of which involved aerial screening for convoys at sea.  Within a short time, Bader became a flight section leader.  It was during this period that pilot error caused him to crash a Spitfire while taking off.  Although suffering from a slight head wound, Bader was allowed to take a second Spitfire into the air.  He was subsequently advanced to Flight Lieutenant and appointed Flight Commander of No. 222 Squadron, Duxford.

Douglas Bader experienced his first air combat after the Wehrmacht swept into Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium, and France.  The defensive campaign was a disaster for the Allied Powers, of course, and the British soon began their evacuation from the European mainland.  Bader was one of many RAF pilots participating in Operation Dynamo, which provided air security for the Royal Navy at Dunkirk.

Bader downed his first German aircraft while patrolling the coast near Dunkirk, a Messerschmitt BF-109.  On his next combat patrol, he shot down a Heinkel HE-111, and after that a Dornier DO-17, which was in the process of attacking allied shipping.  On 28 June, Bader assumed temporary command of No. 242 Squadron, flying Hurricanes from Coltishall.  Most of his squadron pilots were Canadians who had suffered high losses during the Battle of France; their morale was low.  At first, the Canadians resisted Bader, but his personality won them over and the unit was re-transformed into a fighting unit.  No. 242 Squadron joined No. 12 Group RAF at Duxford and became fully operational on 9 July 1940 — the Battle of Britain began the next day.

 Everyone knows something about the Battle of Britain, but few people realize that the battle was intended to be the first phase of Operation Sea Lion —the invasion of Great Britain by German land forces.  During the Battle of Britain, Squadron leader Bader destroyed eight additional German aircraft.  His aggressive flying earned him the first of two Distinguished Service Orders (DSOs).

In early Spring 1941, Bader was appointed “acting” wing commander at Tangmere with operational authority over No. 145, 610, and 616 Squadrons.  Bader had his initials “D. B.” painted on the side of his Spitfire, which gave rise to his subsequent callsign: Dogsbody.

Between 24 March and 9 August 1941, Bader flew 62 fighter sweeps over France.  On 9 August 1941, Bader led a section of four aircraft over the French coast when he observed twelve MBF 109s flying in formation 2-3000 feet below.  Bader dived too fast and too steeply to acquire a target and barely avoided colliding with an enemy aircraft.  He leveled out at 24,000 feet to find that he was alone, separated from his section.  He was considering whether to return to base when he spotted three pairs of Messerschmitt 109s a few miles to his front.  He dropped down below them and closed, destroying one and then, turning away, had a midair collision with another Messerschmitt.  At least, that’s what Bader believed, but there was some controversy about what had actually happened[1].  In any case, Bader became a German Prisoner of War.  Despite his reliance on prosthetic legs, Bader made several attempts to escape captivity and he was moved to a more secure location.

Post War

After his repatriation, Bader served in the RAF until July 1946, when he retired as a Group Captain and rejoined Shell Oil Company. In total, Bader’s combat record included 22 aerial victories, four shared victories, six probable victories, one “shared probable,” and eleven damaged enemy aircraft. His wartime honors included Commander of the British Empire, Distinguished Service Order (2), Distinguished Flying Cross (2), and designation as a Fellow of the Royal Air Force Society. A film about Bader was titled Reach for the Sky.

One of his more famous post-war escapades occurred during a talk at an upmarket school for young ladies.  During his talk, he said to the ladies, “So, there were two of the f***ers behind me, three f***ers to my right, another f***ker on my left.” 

At that moment, the greatly disturbed head mistress was moved to interject, “Ladies, the Fokker was a German fighter aircraft.”

Sir Douglas then felt equally obliged to reply, “That may be, madam, but these f***ers were Messerschmitt’s.”

Aviators.  You can’t take them anywhere.


[1] See Also Bader’s Last Flight by air historian Andy Saunders.

National Security and the U. S. Marine Corps

War Office 001Shortly after the inauguration of President George Washington in 1789, Congress created the United States Department of War (also, War Department) as a cabinet-level position to administer the field army and Naval Affairs under the president’s constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States and the United States Secretary of War.  The first Secretary of War was retired army general Henry Knox.  With the possible exception of President James Madison “lending a hand” alongside U. S. Marines at the Battle of Bladensburg in 1814, George Washington is the only Commander-in-Chief to lead a field army in 1794 during the so-called Whiskey Rebellion.

President John Adams considered the possibility of reorganizing a “new army” under the nominal command of retired President Washington to deal with the increase of maritime incidents between the United States and the French Republic in 1798.  Adams considered this possibility owing to his concern about the possibility of a land invasion by the French and his perceived need of consolidating the Armed Forces under an experienced “commander in chief.”  A land invasion would come, but not from France.

Also, in 1798, Congress established the United States Department of the Navy, initiated on the recommendation of James McHenry[1] to provide organizational structure to the emerging United States Navy and Marine Corps (after 1834), and when directed by the President or Congress during time of war, the United States Coast Guard (although each service remained separate and distinct with unique missions and expertise).  Until 1949, the Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy served as members of the presidential cabinet.

Following World War II, particularly as a consequence of evolving military technology and the complex nature of war, Congress believed that the War and Navy departments would be better managed under a central authority.  James Forrestal, who served as the 48th Secretary of the Navy, became the first United States Secretary of Defense[2].  A restructuring of the US military took the following form under the National Security Act of 1947.

  • Merged the Department of the Navy and Department of War into the National Military Establishment (NME). The Department of War was renamed the Department of the Army.  A Secretary of Defense would head the NME.
  • Created the Department of the Air Force, which moved the Army Air Corps into the United States Air Force.
  • Protected the U. S. Marine Corps as a separate service under the Department of the Navy.
  • The secretaries of military departments remained nominal cabinet posts, but this arrangement was determined deficient given the creation of the office of the Secretary of Defense.

While the National Security Act of 1947 did recognize the U. S. Marine Corps as a separate naval service, it did not clearly define the service’s status within the Navy Department. Under this new arrangement, the Commandant did have access to the Secretary of the Navy[3], but many operational matters involving the Marine Corps continued to fall under the purview of the Chief of Naval Operations.  As an example, the U. S. Navy funded Marine Corps aviation, determining types of aircraft made available to the Marine Corps as well as matters pertaining to air station operations.  Accordingly, the Marine Corps, as an organization, remained vulnerable to the dictates of others in terms of its composition, funding, and operations limiting the role of the Commandant in deciding such matters.

USMC SealWithin three months of assuming the office of Commandant on 1 January 1948, General Clifton B. Cates was forced to confront a difficult political situation.  In March, Defense Secretary Forrestal convened a meeting of the military secretaries and service chiefs in Key West, Florida to discuss and resolve their respective roles and missions within the National Military Establishment.  Since General Cates was not invited to the meeting, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Louis E. Denfield, undertook the representation of the Marine Corps as part of the Navy.  The problem was that the Marine Corps has never been part of the U. S. Navy.

Part of the Key West conference involved a discussion concerning likely future conflicts, with everyone agreeing that America’s next war would involve the Soviet Union in Europe.  Should this happen, given President Truman’s mandate to cut Defense spending, then the Army and Air Force would require substantial defense allocations for reinforcements.  In order to fund this potential threat, the meeting concluded that the Marine Corps must receive less money.  Besides, argued the Army and Air Force, there would be no need for an amphibious force in a European war.  The Key West meeting concluded with an agreement that the Marine Corps would be limited to four infantry divisions, that the JCS would deny Marine Corps leadership any tactical command above the corps levels, and a prohibition of the Marine Corps from creating a second land army[4].

When General Cates learned of this meeting, he protested making such decisions without his participation claiming that it violated the intent of the National Security Act of 1947 and impaired the ability of the Marine Corps to fulfill its amphibious warfare mission.  General Cates protestations fell on deaf ears.

Louis A. Johnson replaced James Forrestal as Secretary of Defense in March 1949.  Johnson shared Truman’s commitment to drastic reductions in defense spending in favor of domestic programs.  Both Truman and Johnson made the erroneous assumption that America’s monopoly on atomic weapons would act as a sufficient deterrence against Communist aggression[5].  Neither of these men, therefore, believed that a military force-in-readiness was a necessary function of the Department of Defense.

Given the relative autonomy of the service secretaries and military chiefs under the National Security Act, and as a means of thwarting independent lobbying by either the Navy or the Air Force, President Truman pursued two courses of action.  (1) Truman sought (and obtained) an amendment to the National Security Act that made the Department of Defense a single executive department, which incorporated as subordinates, each of the service secretaries.  The amendment also created the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff[6], subordinating its members to the chairman, the first of these being General Omar Bradley[7].  (2) Both President Truman and Johnson demanded that the service secretaries and senior military leaders “get in line” with the President’s defense cuts.

The intimidation apparently worked because General Omar Bradley changed his tune once he was nominated to become Chairman of the JCS.  In 1948 he moaned, “The Army of 1948 could not fight its way out of a paper bag.”  In the next year, both he and Army Chief of Staff General Collins testified before Congress that Truman cuts made the services more effective.

At about the same time, in a meeting with the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Richard L. Conolly, Johnson told him, “Admiral, the Navy is on its way out.  There is no reason for having a Navy and Marine Corps.  General Bradley tells me amphibious operations are a thing of the past.  We’ll never have any more amphibious operations.  That does away with the Marine Corps.  And the Air Force can do anything the Navy can do, so that does away with the Navy.”

Truman hated the Marine Corps with intense passion, which might afford psychologists years of interesting study.  He did not think the nation needed a corps of Marines when there was already a land army.  In implementing Truman’s budget cuts, Secretary Johnson intended that the Marine Corps be disestablished and incorporated into the U. S. Army.  Toward this goal, Johnson initiated steps to move Marine Corps aviation into the U. S. Air Force.  He was soon reminded that such a move would be illegal without congressional approval.

Neither Truman nor Johnson ever accepted the fact that the Marine Corps, as a combat force, provided unique strategic and tactical strengths to the national defense structure.  What the law would not allow Secretary Johnson or President Truman to do, they attempted to accomplish through financial starvation[8].  Under the chairmanship of Omar Bradley, the JCS was bitingly hostile to the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps, however, was not the lone ranger.  Less than a month after assuming office, Secretary Johnson canceled construction of the USS United States, a then state-of-the-art aircraft carrier.  Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan[9] resigned his office, and a number of Navy admirals joined him, effective on 24 May 1949.  The incident is remembered as the Revolt of the Admirals.

Major Denfeld
Admiral Denfield USN

The revolt of admirals prompted the House Armed Services Committee to convene hearings during October 1949.  A number of active duty and retired admirals appeared before the committee and gave their testimony, including Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Denfield[10].  They had little good to say about Louis Johnson or newly appointed Navy Secretary Francis Matthews.  General Cates also gave testimony, giving his unqualified support to the Navy.  Along with this, he protested the fact that he had not been consulted in matters pertaining to the Marine Corps and the impact of these decisions on the national defense.  Said Cates, “… the power of the budget, the power of coordination, and the power of strategic direction of the armed forces have been used as devices to destroy the operating forces of the Marine Corps.”  The House committee also called General Bradley, who, in arguing in favor of disestablishment of the Navy and Marine Corps rejected the notion that the United States would ever again have a use for amphibious operations.

Replacing Admiral Denfield as CNO was Admiral Forrest P. Sherman, who immediately repudiated General Vandergrift’s agreement with Secretary Sullivan.  He instead approached the Secretary of Defense and requested “a free hand” in matters pertaining to the Marine Corps.  Johnson granted Sherman’s request.  At the beginning of 1950, after two years of forced budgetary cuts, Sherman slated the Marine Corps for additional cuts.  The Marine Corps would be reduced to 24,000 officers and men, a reduction from eleven infantry battalions to six, from twenty-three aviation squadrons to twelve.  Additionally, Secretary Johnson ordered the curtailment of appropriations for equipment, ammunition, supplies, and people and excluded Marine Corps units from various tactical training.  Admiral Sherman assigned the bulk of amphibious ships to support Army training, leaving the Marines with little to do.

War did return to the United States, of course.  When it did, it proved General Omar Bradley and the other joint chiefs were completely wrong in their predictions.  Worse, it demonstrated how unprepared the United States was for its next martial challenges. 

Support for the Marines

Although Representative Carl Vinson (D-GA) proposed a bill that gave full JCS membership to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the measure failed but generated much attention in the American press, particularly in the Hearst news organization.  Public support was already growing for the Navy-Marine Corps when the war clouds once more gathered in the Far East.

Among Truman’s staunchest congressional foes was Representative Gordon L. McDonough (R-CA).  McDonough wrote a letter to President Truman noting how the Marine Corps has always rushed to the nation’s defense.  With this in mind, the congressman urged the president to include the Commandant as a full member of the JCS.  The president’s response to McDonough tells us far more about Truman than is possible in an entire essay.  Truman wrote, “For your information, the Marine Corps is the Navy’s police force, and as long as I am President, that is what it will remain.”  Apparently, Truman failed to consider that he was writing to someone who might use the president’s blistering comments against him later on.  Truman continued, “They [Marines] have a propaganda machine almost the equal of Stalin’s.  When the Marine Corps goes into the Army it works with and for the Army and that’s the way it should be … The Chief of Naval Operations is the chief of staff of the Navy of which the Marines are a part.”

McDonough inserted Truman’s response into the Congressional Record, and it wasn’t long before the press picked it up and printed it.  Press reporting created a firestorm in the United States.  Conservative politicians of both parties and journalists excoriated Truman for his remarks.  The White House was overwhelmed by mail from the public, many who lost loved ones during World War II, expressing their indignation of Truman’s remarks.  Presidential aides scrambled to construct a letter of apology, which Truman personally handed to General Cates at the White House.  He then released a copy to the press.  Afterward, when Truman fired Louis Johnson after only 18 months as Defense Secretary, the matter moved to the back burner.

The nation responds

Immediately following World War II, the Eighth US Army was assigned to occupation duty in Japan.  Initially, there was much work to be done: disarming former Japanese soldiers, maintaining order, dealing with local populations, guarding installations, and prosecuting war criminals. According to the Eighth Army Blue Book[11], “On 31 December 1945, Sixth Army was relieved of occupation duties and Eighth Army assumed an expanded role in the occupation, which encompassed the formidable tasks of disarmament, demilitarization, and democratization.  The missions were flawlessly executed at the operational level by Eighth Army …”

The statement may be undeniably true, but as the Japanese people settled comfortably into their new reality, demands placed on soldiers and their officers lessoned.  What the Blue Book’s history section omits, a dangerous precedent for future soldiers, was that this major combat command became lethargic, pleasure-seeking, and in the face of severe budgetary restraints imposed on it by the Truman administration, reached an unbelievable level of incompetence and ineptitude.

In the early hours of 25 June 1950, the (North) Korean People’s Army, numbering 53,000 front line and supporting forces followed a massive artillery bombardment into South Korea.  There were only a handful of Army advisors in South Korea at the time.  Those who wanted to continue living made a beeline toward the southern peninsula.

In Japan, there was a single battalion in the 21st Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division capable of “mounting out” to interdict the overwhelming KPA army.  The battalion, composed of mostly untrained teenagers capable of little more than standing guard duty in Japan, never stood a chance.

The Marines Respond

At the time of the North Korean invasion, senior officers of the U. S. Marine Corps knew that they would be called upon to address this new crisis.  Lieutenant General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, in Hawaii, flew to Tokyo to confer with General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander Allied Powers (SCAP), in Tokyo.  At the conclusion of their meeting, MacArthur sent a dispatch to the JCS in Washington requesting the immediate assignment of a Marine regimental combat team to his command.

In Washington, General Bradley delayed his response for a full five days.  By the time the JCS did respond, the North Korean Army had already mauled the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division at the Battle of Osan, rendering it combat ineffective.  Closer to the truth, 1/21 was combat ineffective even before it arrived on the Korean Peninsula.  For these young men, the land of the morning calm had become a bloody nightmare.

In late June 1950, Marine Corps manpower equaled around 74,000 men.  The total number of Marines assigned to the Fleet Marine Forces was 28,000, around 11,000 of these were assigned to FMFPac.  Neither the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton nor its east coast counterpart, the 2nd Marine Division, could raise more than a regimental landing team (RLT) of combat-ready troops, with supporting air.  To fully man a combat division, it would be necessary to transfer Marines to Camp Pendleton from posts and stations, recruiting staffs, supply depots, schools, depots, districts, and even Marine headquarters.

General MacArthur had requested an RLT, he would get a Marine brigade, the advance element of the 1st Marine Division that had been ordered to embark.  The officer assigned to lead the Brigade was the senior officer present at Camp Pendleton, Brigadier General Edward A. Craig, an experienced combat leader with 33 years of active duty service.

The ground combat element of the Brigade would form around the 5th Marine Regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Raymond L. Murray.  Murray was already selected for promotion to colonel.  Marines reporting for duty at Camp Pendleton were rushed to the 5th Marines where they would flesh out Murray’s understrength battalions[12].  1st Battalion 11th Marines (artillery) would serve in general support of the brigade with additional detachments (company strength) in communications, motor transportation, field medical, support, engineer, ordnance, tanks, and special weapons.

At the Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California, Marine Aircraft Group 33 was being formed around Brigadier General Thomas H. Cushman.  Cushman would serve as Craig’s deputy and command the brigade’s air element, consisting of a headquarters squadron, service squadron, VMF 214, VMF 323, VMF(N) 513(-), and Tactical Squadron-2 (detachment).

In total, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade arrived in Korea with 6,534 Marines —its equipment, brought out of mothballs dating back to World War II: trucks, jeeps, amphibian tractors, all reconditioned and tested for service.

MajGen Frank E. Lowe USA
MajGen Frank Lowe USA

Major General Frank E. Lowe, U. S. Army (Retired) was dispatched to Korea as the personal envoy of President Truman.  His task was to observe the conduct of the conflict and report his findings directly to the President.  General Lowe advised President Truman that the Army, its senior leadership and combat doctrine were dangerously lacking.  Of the 1st Marine Division, General Lowe reported, “The First Marine Division is the most efficient and courageous combat unit I have ever seen or heard of.”  General Lowe recommended that the Marine Corps have a permanent establishment of three divisions and three air wings.

Whether General Lowe’s report influenced Truman is unknown.  What is known is that the Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of the Navy, and Chief of Naval Operations continued to oppose recognition of the Marine Corps as a viable service and its leader as someone entitled to become a member of the JCS.  Still, public and congressional support for the Marine Corps increased steadily.  The issue of the Douglas-Mansfield bills was deferred until the 1952 legislative session.  Before then, however, Admiral Sherman died suddenly in July 1951, and General Lemuel C. Shepherd succeeded Cates as Commandant of the Marine Corps.

As a result, the 1952 legislative session worked in the Marine Corps’ favor.  The Marine Corps was approved for a peacetime force of three infantry divisions, three air wings, and a manpower ceiling of 400,000 men.  The Commandant was granted access to the Joint Chiefs of Staff with voting rights on matters pertaining to the Marine Corps, as determined by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and on 20 June 1952, President Truman signed into law the Douglas-Mansfield Act.  Some pundits claim that politically, Truman did not dare veto the bill —others argue that Truman finally realized the value of the Marine Corps as our nation’s premier combat force.


  • Catchpole, L. G. The Korean War.  London: Robinson Publishing, 2001
  • Davis, V. The Post-Imperial Presidency.  New Brunswick: Transaction Press, 1980
  • Fehrenbach, T. R. This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History.  Washington: Potomac Books, 2001
  • Krulak, V. H. First to Fight: An Inside View of the U. S. Marine Corps.  Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1999.
  • Montross, L. and Nicholas A. Canzona. S. Marine Operations in Korea, 1950-1953 (Volume 1): The Pusan Perimeter.  Historical Branch, Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps, Washington, D. C., 1954.
  • The United States Naval Proceedings Magazine, Volume 33, Number 3: A Propaganda Machine Like Stalin’s, Alan Rems, June 2019


[1] A supporter of the United States Constitution, Representative from Maryland, and third Secretary of War.  He was also a noted surgeon with many successes during the Revolutionary War.  Fort McHenry, outside Baltimore, is named in his honor.

[2] Forrestal had served in the Navy Department as Under Secretary since 1940 and appointed as Secretary of the Navy in 1944.  Forrestal served as Secretary of Defense from 18 September 1947 until 28 March 1949 when President Harry S. Truman asked for his resignation and replaced him Louis A. Johnson.  Forrestal’s wartime service had taken its toll and he was personally shattered when fired by Truman, with whom he had little patience.  He took his own life on 22 May 1949 while undergoing treatment for severe depression.

[3] During World War II, Chief of Naval Operations Ernest J. King was well-known as a micro-manager.  He treated the Commandant of the Marine Corps as another one of his bureau chiefs and denied the Commandant access to the Secretary of the Navy.  This restriction changed when Admiral Nimitz became CNO, but the relationship was a gentleman’s agreement between Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan, Admiral Nimitz, and Marine Commandant Alexander A. Vandergrift.  The National Security Act of 1947, however, did not clarify the status of the Marine Corps within the Department of the Navy.

[4] During World War II, the Marine Corps fielded six infantry divisions.

[5] Nearly every newly created U. S. Air Force general was a proponent of the use of strategic bombing and atomic warfare as the United States’ principal defense strategy.  Standing in opposition to this ludicrous mindset was nearly every active duty and retired Navy admiral.

[6] The JCS evolved from a relatively inefficient joint board of senior Army and Navy officers who seldom agreed in matters of operational planning or execution.  The Joint Board performed as presidential advisors but had no authority to initiate programs or policies.  Following World War I, the Joint Board was renamed the Joint Planning Committee with the authority to initiate recommendations but had no authority to implement them.

[7] General Bradley detested the Marine Corps almost as much as President Truman and Secretary Johnson.

[8] Because of Truman and Johnson’s defense cuts, the United States had no combat-ready units in June 1950.

[9] Replacing Sullivan was Francis P. Matthews, a former director of the USO who admitted to having no expertise that would qualify him for service as a Navy Secretary beyond his contempt for the Marine Corps.

[10] President Truman demanded Denfield’s resignation and took action to demote the other admirals.

[11] Dated 3 July 2019.

[12] Each of Murray’s battalions were organized with an H&S Company, two rifle companies, and one weapons company.

Chinese Gordon – Part I

Gordon 001
MajGen Charles G. Gordon

All the Gordon’s sons were army officers —descendants of military officers who devoted themselves to the idea that their children would inherit this tradition.  And so they did.  Major General and Mrs. Henry William Gordon were the parents of Charles George Gordon, Major General, British Army, Commander of the Bath (1833-1885).  Owing to his father’s duty stations, Charles grew up in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Ionia.  Charles’ education included the Fullande School in Taunton, the Taunton School, and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.

While still a young lad, Charles’ younger sister succumbed to consumption; her passing devastated him and for several months he withdrew from the family.  An older sister named Augusta, a particularly religious young woman, embraced Charles and she influenced him for the rest of his life.  It was because of Augusta, for example, that Charles grew up to become a staunchly religious person.  Despite his religious beliefs, Charles was a spirited and highly intelligent young man, one who developed the (then) deplorable habit of ignoring authority whenever he believed that its rules were foolish or unjust.  This was a trait that held him back for two years at the military academy,.  At the same time, Gordon had marvelous talents.  He developed into an accomplished cartographer and engineer.  He received his commission to Second Lieutenant of Royal Engineers in June 1852, completed his training at Chatham, and advanced to First Lieutenant in February 1854.  Although trained as a sapper [Note 1], he became adept at reconnaissance, leading storming parties, demolitions, and providing rearguard actions.

His inclination to question or disregard orders aside, Charles Gordon evolved into a fine military officer.  He had charisma, a superior leadership ability, and an unparalleled devotion to his assigned task or mission.  His only problem was that in refusing to obey what he considered an unlawful or poorly conceived orders, many senior officers regarded him as rogue.  Yet it was this very same trait that caused his men to love him.

Over time, Gordon became even more devoted to his religious principles.  He was no zealot by any measure, at least not initially, but someone who maintained the strength of his convictions —and was steadfast in living his life according to those beliefs.  In many ways, Gordon was a fatalist; believing in the after-life, he was not afraid of death and some say, in time, he began to pursue it.

During the Crimean War, Gordon performed his duties at the siege of Sevastopol, took part in the assault of the Redans as a sapper, and mapped the strongpoints of the city’s fortifications.  What made this a particularly dangerous duty was that it subjected him to direct enemy fire from the fortress and he was wounded during one such sortie.  During this war Gordon made several friends who remained so for the rest of his life; friends that would later defend him.

In 1855, the British and French initiated a final assault on Sevastopol.  Following a massive bombardment, sappers assaulted the fortress at Malakoff Hill.  The engagement was a massacre of British and French soldiers and none of the operation’s planned objectives were achieved.  As a participant, Gordon distinguished himself by his courage under fire and his tenacity as a combat leader.

Following the end of hostilities in the Crimea, Gordon served the international commission charged with marking a new border between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire in Bessarabia.  He later performed similar services on the frontier between Ottoman Armenia and Russian Armenia.  It was during this time that Gordon became fascinated with a new American invention and took it up as a hobby: the camera.

Seeking adventure, Gordon volunteered to serve in China during the Second Opium War (1860).  By the time he arrived in Hong Kong, however, the fighting was over.  He had heard of the Taiping Rebellion [Note 2] but didn’t understand it.  En route to China, he read all he could about the Taiping and initially found sympathy for the movement.  Gordon was a young man, reading one individual’s opinion, and allowed himself to be influenced by it, but what made his empathy a bit odd was that the leader of the Taiping —a man named Hong Xiuquan— believed himself to be the younger brother of Jesus of Nazareth.

After disembarking in Shanghai, Gordon made a tour of the Chinese countryside.  The atrocities he witnessed committed by the Taiping against local peasants appalled him and he began to see the Taiping for what they were: cold-blooded killers.  

During the early period of his tour in China, Gordon served under General Charles William Dunbar Staveley [Note 3], who occupied northern China until April 1862.  During the war, Taiping armies came close enough to Shanghai to alarm European residents.  European and Asian legations raised a militia to defend Shanghai.  Legates detailed Frederick Townsend Ward [Note 4] to command this militia.  Apparently, the British arrived in the nick of time.  General Staveley decided to clear the rebels within 30 miles of Shanghai.  He planned these operations in cooperation with Ward and a small force of French soldiers.  At the time, Gordon served on Staveley’s staff as an engineer.

Henry Andres BurgevineAfter Ward’s death, command of his Asian army passed to another American, Henry A. Burgevine (shown right).  It was an unhappy choice because Burgevine was ill-suited to the task of commanding a multi-ethnic mercenary force: he was inexperienced in leading a large body of men, lacked the necessary self-confidence of command, and consumed copious amounts of alcohol, making him unreliable.  The Taiping rebellion was a civil war, of course, but unlike any other in the history of the world and Henry Burgevine was no Frederick Ward.  He was much detested by the Chinese —so much, in fact, that the governor of Jiang-su Province asked General Staveley to appoint a British officer to command this largely mercenary force.  The officer Staveley selected was Brevet Major Gordon.  The British government approved Gordon’s appointment in December 1862.  Gordon, it seems, was exactly the kind of man Governor Li Hong-Zhang was looking for: a man of good temper, clean of hands, and a steady economist.

Major Gordon, unlike many (if not most) Chinese officers, was honest and incorruptible.  He did not steal the money that was earmarked to pay his men, and he insisted on paying the men on time and in full.  Of course, the Chinese bureaucrats did not understand why Gordon insisted on paying his men.  In their view, he should have allowed his men to loot and plunder the countryside for their pay —this was the way of things in China.  Gordon would not have any of that sort behavior among his men.  To instill a sense of pride in his men, Gordon designed their uniforms.  He dressed his regulars in green, while designating blue uniforms for his personal guard.

Major Gordon assumed command of his army in March 1863 and led them at once to relieve the town of Chansu some forty miles northwest of Shanghai.  Gordon quickly accomplished this first test, which was securing the respect and loyalty of his troops.  As a means of encouraging the Taiping to either desert or surrender, he treated all prisoners of war with dignity and respect.

As an engineer, it occurred to Major Gordon that the network of canals and rivers that flowed through the Chinese countryside would be useful for moving his troops and establishing an expedient supply line.  In matters of training and rehearsing his army, Gordon’s ideas were innovative and efficient.  He was vocally critical of the methods Chinese generals used in war fighting.  In contrast, Gordon was sought to avoid unnecessary casualties or large battle losses.  By maneuvering his forces to deny enemy retreat, he found that enemy troops would quickly withdraw from the battlefield [Note 5].  Gordon believed that frontal assaults produced unacceptably high numbers of casualties (which is true).  As his subordinate commanders were Chinese, they did not object to unnecessary carnage, but Gordon insisted on attacking the enemy’s flank whenever possible.  Gordon’s innovative thinking, such as his creation of a riverine force, caused the Taiping army to avoid Gordon’s army on several occasions.  Of some value to Gordon, once the peasants realized that Gordon’s strategy had a telling effect on the Taiping, they were more disposed to coming to his aid, which did occur on several occasions.   The peasants, tired of Taiping terrorism, attacked the retreating Taiping and hacked them to death with simple farming implements.  Among Gordon’s peers, he was“thoughtful and fearless in the face of grave danger.”

Because Gordon’s force was mercenary, their only loyalty was to money and the men willing to pay them.  It was only Gordon’s stern disciplinary policies that kept his force from plundering the peasants, whom they were supposed to protect.  At one point, Gordon ordered the execution of one of his Chinese officers who conspired to take his unit over to the Taiping.  It was a distasteful duty and one that would never survive the modern evening news, but in China, it was a necessary and prudent step to avoid mass desertion.  The fact is that Gordon’s mercenary force consisted of some of the worst elements of Chinese, British, and American society.  Prior to Gordon’s assignment in command, it was commonplace for these mercenaries to enter a town or district, steal everything they could get their hands on, rape the women, and indiscriminately murder local citizens.  It was only Gordon’s harsh discipline that changed this behavior.  Any of his men who were accused of crimes against the people would very likely face a firing squad —from which there was no appeal.

When Gordon defeated Burgevine’s new mercenary force, which had aligned themselves with the Taiping, he had Burgevine arrested and deported.  Burgevine, however made his way back to China, was promptly arrested by the Qing secret service, and was “shot while trying to escape.”  Burgevine was many things but exceedingly bright wasn’t one of them.

Major Gordon was appalled by the poverty and suffering of the Chinese people.  It was this hardship that strengthened his faith because, as he would frequently argue, there had to be a just and loving God who would one day redeem humanity from wretchedness and misery [Note 6].  Nevertheless, it was Gordon’s humanity that brought him the respect and friendship of those who opposed him politically.  He led his mercenary army from the front, never personally armed with anything more than a rattan cane.  His coolness in battle led many Chinese to believe that he possessed supernatural powers; it was only that Gordon was a fatalist and predestinate.  

Imperial troops joined Gordon’s force in capturing Suzhou.  He had let it be known that any Taiping soldier who surrendered would be humanely treated.  After pacifying surrounding towns and villages, Gordon himself entered Suzhou but, given the tendency of his men to loot, he denied them entry into the confines of the city.  Only the Imperial forces [Note 7] would be allowed to enter the city, and when they did, much to Gordon’s anguish, they promptly executed every Taiping who had surrendered.  Angry, he wrote, “If faith had been kept, there would have been no more fighting, as every town in China would have given in.”  Of course, what Major Gordon did not understand was that while it is possible to take a Chinese man out of China; it is impossible to take China out of the Chinese man.  Even today, most Chinese are devoid of a sense of humanity.

As a measure of the man and his integrity, the Emperor of China, in recognition of Gordon’s achievements, subsequently awarded Gordon ten-thousand gold coins, laudatory flags, fine silk clothing, and a title equivalent to Field Marshal.  All of these things Gordon refused —and all because the Imperial troops, in executing the Taiping prisoners, had made Gordon out to be a liar.   Rebuffing the Chinese emperor did nothing to solidify their relationship, but it was consistent with Gordon’s sense of self.  It was after his service in China that the press and his peers began to refer to him as “Chinese Gordon”.  The nickname stayed with him to the end of his days.  Gordon’s father did not approve of his son working in the service of the Chinese government and it was an estrangement that had not been settled before his father’s death.  Charles, of course, felt guilty about his failure to reconcile with his father and deeply regretted it for the rest of his life.

After Gordon’s return to England, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and placed in command of the Royal Engineers near Gravesend, Kent, and tasked to prepare fortifications in defense of the River Thames.  By then, Chinese Gordon has become a press celebrity —except that Gordon wanted nothing to do with it.  He promptly informed the press to leave him alone.  In Gravesend, Gordon volunteered to teach at a local school, called the Ragged School [Note 8].

Tasked with constructing forts, Colonel Gordon disapproved of the notion that they were in any way necessary.  He regarded them as expensive and useless.  The Duke of Cambridge [Note 9], in his role as Commander in Chief of the Forces (head of the British Army) visited one of the construction sites and praised Gordon for his excellent work.  Gordon answered, “I had nothing to do with it, sir.  It was built regardless of my opinion, and, in fact, I entirely disapprove of its arrangement and position.”  Gordon didn’t mince his words, regardless of who he was talking to.  And, of course, Gordon was entirely correct.  It was a waste of limited resources.

Gordon was advanced to Colonel on 16 February 1872.  Afterward detailed to inspect British military cemeteries in the Crimea, and when transiting through Constantinople, he made his manners to the Prime Minister of Egypt, Raghib Pasha.  Pasha opened negotiations with Gordon to serve under the Khedive (Viceroy) Ismai’il Pasha.  French educated, Isma’il admired Europe as a model of excellence, but favored most France and Italy.  He was a devout Moslem who enjoyed Italian wine and French champaign.  The language of Ismai’il’s court was French and Turkish, not Arabic.  It was the Viceroy’s dream to make Turkey culturally part of Europe and he spent enormous sums of money in the modernization and Westernization of Egypt.  The doing of this sent Egypt deeply into debt —even after the American Civil War had transformed Egyptian cotton into “white gold,” Ismai’il’s spending increased Egyptian debt to more than 93-million pounds sterling.

Ismai’il’s love affair with western culture alienated the more conservative members of Egyptian Islamic society.  Ismai’il’s grandfather, Muhammad Ali (The Great) attempted to depose the ruling Ottoman family in favor of his own, but failed due to the interference of Russia and Britain.  With this knowledge, Ismai’il turned his attention south with the notion of building an Egyptian empire in Africa.  Toward this end, Ismai’il hired westerners to work in his government, including Colonel Gordon, both in Egypt and the Sudan.  His chief of general staff was the American brigadier general Charles P. Stone [Note 10].  He, and a number of other American Civil War veterans commanded Egyptian troops.  In the opinion of some, American officers in the employ of Egypt were mostly composed of misfits in their own land.  As harsh as this criticism sounds, it may be based on fact.  Valentine Baker was a British officer who was dishonorably discharged after his conviction of rape.  After Baker was released from prison, Ismai’il Pasha hired him to work in the Sudan.  In any case, Colonel Gordon, with the consent of the British government, began working for Ismai’il Pasha in 1873—his first assignment was as governor of Equatoria Province (present-day Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda).  His mission included extending Equatoria into Southern Uganda with the goal of absorbing the entire Great Lakes region of East Africa.

Gordon 002jpg
Gordon Pasha

While serving in Sudan, Colonel Gordon undertook efforts to suppress the slave trade, and doing this while struggling against a corrupt and inefficient Egyptian bureaucracy—and one with no interest in suppressing the slave trade.  Gordon was later distressed to learn that his immediate superior was heavily engaged in slaving and actively countermanded many of Gordon’s efforts.  Despite his lofty position in the Egyptian government, Gordon believed that the Egypt was inherently oppressive and cruel and he was soon in direct conflict with the system he was supposed to lead.  What Gordon did achieve was close rapport with the African people, who had long suffered from the activities of Arab slave traders.  These same people were being converted from animists to Christians by European and American missionaries, and this gave Gordon some encouragement.  What made the effort a struggle was the fact that the basis of Sudan’s economy was slavery.  Gordon did manage to shepherd a number of reforms that materially improved the lives of the common man, such as in abolishing torture and public floggings.

(Continued next week)


  1. Cleveland, W. And Martin Bunton.  A History of the Middle East.  Boulder: Westview Press, 2009
  2. Karsh, E.  Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.
  3. Marlowe, J.  Mission to Khartoum: Apotheosis of General Gordon.  Littlehampton Press, 1968


  1. A sapper is a soldier responsible for the construction of roads and bridges and laying and clearing mine fields.  They are combat engineers (sometimes called pioneers) who remove enemy obstacles in order to keep the attack in progress.
  2. The Taiping Rebellion was one of the bloodiest conflicts in world history.  It lasted from 1850 to 1864 with estimated dead numbering in excess of 40-million people.
  3. General Staveley’s sister was married to Gordon’s brother.
  4. Ward was born in Massachusetts in 1831.  Because of his rebellious nature, his father consigned him to work aboard a clipper ship commanded by a friend.  The ship made frequent voyages to China.  While in China, Ward became a filibuster.  He was killed while commanding the “Ever Victorious Army” at the Battle of Cixi on 21 September 1862.
  5. The problem with allowing the enemy to withdraw is that they live to fight another day, perhaps under conditions or on terrain of their choosing. 
  6. It is true that there was much wretchedness in the world in Gordon’s day; to find it, he might have looked closer to home —in London, for example.
  7. Gordon referred to the Imperial army as “Imps.”
  8. Prior to 1870, there was no universal school system in the United Kingdom.  The so-called Ragged Schools were a network of privately funded schools that offered free education to children whose parents were too poor to afford the fees associated with available schools.  Unhappily, as with a few other senior British officers, 21st Century writers have used such examples of humanity to suggest, in Gordon’s and William Slim’s cases, that their compassion was likely motivated by their attraction to young boys.  The claims are ludicrous, of course, but this is what revisionists do to in their attempt to destroy the reputations of men (after their death) who occupied prominent footnotes in history.
  9. George William Frederick Charles, also known as Prince George of the House of Hanover, was a professional army officer with the rank of field marshal.  He served as commander in chief for 39 years, a period of time when the British Army became a moribund and stagnant institution.   I am quite sure he had something to say in response to Gordon’s caustic remark.
  10. ‘Urabi was a serving Egyptian officer who participated in the 1879 mutiny that developed into a general revolt against the Anglo-French dominated administration of Khedive Tewfik.  He was promoted to a place in Twefik’s cabinet and began reforms of Egypt’s military and civil administrations, but demonstrations in Alexandria in 1882 prompted a British naval bombardment and invasion.  ‘Urabi was deposed and the British occupied Egypt.