SHAKO: Happy Birthday USMC!

November 10, 2019 at 11:49 pm Leave a comment

244 Years and Counting.

November 10 is the 244th anniversary of the creation of the United States Marine Corps. On that date in 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution to create two battalions of Marines.  Capt. (later Major) Samuel Nichols — considered the Corps’ first commandant — advertised in and around Philadelphia for “a few good men” and signed them up at Tun Tavern on the Philadelphia waterfront.

Less than five months later they were at sea heading for the Bahamas and a raid on New Providence and Nassau Town to capture naval supplies from the British, including  shells, shot and cannon — but not much-needed gunpowder.

SHAKO Battle_of_Nassau

New Providence Raid, March 1776, oil painting on canvas by V. Zveg, 1973. It depicts Continental Sailors and Marines landing on New Providence Island, Bahamas, on March 3, 1776, the Marines’ first combat operation. (Photo U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

Since then, the Marines have made numerous assaults from the sea at Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1847, Korea in 1871, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 1898, several Caribbean and Central American nations during the so-called Banana Wars between 1914 and 1934, and the island hopping campaigns in the Pacific from Guadalcanal to Okinawa in 1942 through 1945, and Inchon, Korea in 1950.

In the snow of far-off Northern lands*

One of the Marines’ toughest battles was in the snow and below-freezing temperatures around North Korea’s Chosin Reservoir in late 1950. After swamps and jungles of Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s, and the deserts of Iraq and mountain valleys of Afghanistan since 2002, the Marines are training for winter warfare again — in the Arctic.

On The Attack

Marines move into a tactical position in Setermoen, Norway, on October 31, 2019, during Exercise Reindeer, a U.S.-Norwegian exercise focusing on cold weather training and interoperability. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Justin Toledo)

Since 2017, a small force of 330 U.S. Marines, based near the town of Vaernes on Norway’s midwest coast, have been rotating in and out of the country every six months. Now with the agreement of the Norwegian government, that rotational deployment has more than doubled in size.

Melting Arctic sea ice, caused by climate change, has touched off a race to establish commercial sea lanes across the top of the world as well as accessing untapped fishing stocks and vast underwater petroleum and mineral stores. Territorial disputes have also touched off a mini arms race in the polar region, with Russia, Norway, Canada and the United States all boosting their military presence at a rate not seen since the Cold War.

Birthday Traditions.

The Marine Corps Birthday has been a big deal with the Corps since 1921, when then-Commandant Major Gen. John LeJeune issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921, summarizing the history, tradition and mission of the Marine Corps and directing that the order be read to every command on every subsequent November 10.

Since 1952, the Marine Corps has had another tradition: the cake cutting ceremony. The 20th USMC commandant, Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., formalized the ceremony, stating the first piece of cake must be presented to the oldest Marine present, who passes it to the youngest Marine.

So where ever they may be serving, God bless the United States and success to the Marines, as their traditional toast goes.

*Line from the second stanza of the Marine Corps Hymn.

*** *** ***

SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

.west point cadets.pdf

(U.S. Military Academy photo)



Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Arctic, Asia-Pacific, climate change, Marine Corps, National Security and Defense, SHAKO, Skills and Training, Traditions, Unconventional Warfare. Tags: , , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (November 8, 2019) SHAKO: Veterans Day 2019

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


November 2019


%d bloggers like this: