Posts filed under ‘SHAKO’

SHAKO/FRIDAY FOTO: Devil Dogs

The Devil Dogs’ Dogs

Dog days aboard Wasp

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Bernadette Plouffe)

Marine Corps military working dogs rest at the feet of their handlers aboard the USS Wasp in the South China Sea on October 1, 2018.

O.K., this is kind of an unusual format for the 4GWAR blog, but since November 10 marks the U.S. Marine Corps’ 243rd birthday, we seized on the opportunity to combine the regular Friday Foto for November 9, with a SHAKO feature on a World War I battle that has taken its place with other iconic engagements like Iwo Jima and Tripoli in the history of the Corps.

The nearly month-long Battle of Belleau Wood (June 1-26, 1918) was the first major engagement of American troops on the Western Front in World War I. It also is one of the most significant battles fought by the U.S. Marines, earning them France’s highest military award and the nickname Devil Dogs from the Germans.

Belleau Wood painting

Marines in close combat as depicted in Franc-Earle Schoonover’s Belleau Wood. (National Museum of the Marine Corps collection)

The 4th Marine Brigade, some 9,500 men, was assigned to the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, one of the U.S. units rushed to France just a few months after the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917. The Marine Brigade consisted of two regiments — the 5th Marines and the 6th Marines — each with three 800-man rifle battalions and a machine gun company.

One June 1, a major German offensive moved south to the Marne River, where they were held at Chateau Thierry by French troops reinforced by the U.S. Army. One of the leading German assault regiments, the 461st Imperial German Infantry, occupied Belleau Wood, a former hunting preserve about 50 miles northwest of Paris. It was a nearly impenetrable forest of dense underbrush, trees, boulders and ravines.

In early June, the Marine Brigade was dug into a defensive line near Belleau Wood, facing a wheat field. More than 2,000 Germans with 30 machine guns were dug in amid the trees and rocks. There were 100 more Germans with at least six machine guns concentrated in the nearby village of Bouresches.

Retreating French troops advised the Marines to withdraw. “Retreat? Hell we just got here,” snapped a company commander with the 5th Marines, Captain Lloyd Williams, whose remark that went down in Marine Corps lore.

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Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly. (Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections)

The Marines took and held Bouresches and drove the Germans out of the  But success came at a horrendous cost. Relying on their celebrated marksmanship (“Every Marine a Rifleman”) the Marines advanced about 400 yards across the wheat field without concentrated artillery support. Heavy German machine gun and artillery fire cut the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marines to shreds.  The 6th Marines’ 3rd Battalion managed to make it to the edge of the woods before enemy fire stalled the advance. In the confusion of battle, another iconic Marine Corps legend was born when Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly — who had earned the Medal of Honor twice , in Peking in 1900 and Haiti in 1915 — turned to his men and growled “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?”

By nightfall on the first day of battle, both Marine battalions suffered  debilitating casualties. Six officers and 222 enlisted men of the 4th Marine Brigade were killed in action. Another 25 officers and 834 men were wounded. This amounted to more casualties than the Marines had suffered in their entire history up until that day, Norwich University professor David Ulbrich observed in an anniversary piece for War on the Rocks.

As the Marines moved into Belleau Wood itself, the fighting seemed especially grim, with hand-to-hand fighting, fixed bayonets and poison gas attacks, noted Michael Ruane in a Washington Post column last May.  The headline on his piece noted: “The Battle of Belleau Wood was brutal, deadly and forgotten. But it forged a new Marine Corps.”

Exploding shells splintered the trees, raining down a deadly shower of wood splinters and metal shrapnel. The Americans and Germans grappled in hand-to-hand combat with knives, rifle butts, bayonets and entrenching shovels.

Belleau Wood shattered trees 1918

Tree Damage, Belleau Wood, circa 1918. An inscription on the photograph reads “Every tree in Belleau Wood bears the scars of battle.” (From the collection of Adolph B. Miller (COLL/1068), United States Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections.)

After three weeks of heavy combat, the Germans were driven out of Belleau Wood. The Marines reached the northern edge of the woods on June 26, sending out the report; “Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely.

The victory at Belleau Wood had saved Paris and the French were delirious with joy.  The French government renamed Belleau Wood, the “Bois de la Brigade de Marine” and both the 5th and 6th Marine regiments were awarded the Croix de Guerre.

The Germans, too were impressed with the Marines. An official German report described the Marines as “vigorous, self-confident and remarkable marksmen.” Captured German soldiers and their letters described the Marines as Teufelhunde, or Devil Dogs.”

Marines in gas masks

Marines train with gas masks in France. (Photo: Marine Corps History Division)

 

 

 

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November 11, 2018 at 12:47 am 1 comment

SHAKO: Why Elections Matter in 1 Picture and 4 Maps.

Make Sure You Vote … They Did.

soldiers-voting

PENNSYLVANIA SOLDIERS VOTING 1864 .-SKETCHED BY WILLIAM WAUD. (From Harper’s Weekly, October 29, 1864 via  Son of the South website)

The Civil War was the first time the United States had large numbers of soldiers deployed during a presidential election. Politicians of both parties were convinced that the army would vote for the commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. As a result, most states with Republican governors and legislatures passed laws enabling soldiers to vote, while most states led by Democrats did not.

 

825x550

A political map of the United States (circa 1856) showing free states in red, slave states in gray and territories in green. (From the Library of Congress)

The Dred Scott decision of 1857, in which the U.S. Supreme Court voided the Missouri Compromise (1820) and made slavery legal in all U.S. territories, exacerbated sectional differences between thos e who wanted to abolish slavery and those who sought to protect the institution. That volatile political climate set the stage for the presidential election of 1860.

 

1200px-ElectoralCollege1860.svg

Presidential Election 1860. Red shows states won by Lincoln/Hamlin, green by Breckinridge/Lane, orange by Bell/Everett, and blue by Douglas/Johnson
Numbers are Electoral College votes in each state by the 1850 Census. (via Wikipedia)

In the election of 1860, Southern and Northern Democrats split their support among Vice President John Breckinridge of Kentucky and Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas, while others, seeking to ignore the slavery issue, backed former Tennessee Senator John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party. Those divisions put the Republican, Abraham Lincoln, in the White House with less than 40 percent of the popular vote, and put the slave-holding states of the South on the road to disunion and civil war.

Secession_Vote_by_CountyA.0

While eleven states voted for secession between December 1860 and June 1861, support for leaving the Union was not unanimous in many Souther counties as the above map shows. (Map via Vox)

Likewise, the Union army’s support for President Lincoln may not have been as widespread as historians have assumed, argues one academic. Lincoln was re-elected as president in 1864. He ran under the National Union banner against his former top Civil War general, the Democratic candidate, George B. McClellan — who had been very popular with the troops of the Army of the Potomac.

USAMAP1864

(Map created by History Central)

*******488px-Shako-p1000580

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.

 

November 6, 2018 at 3:35 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Happy Birthday Leathernecks

242 Years Young.

SHAKO USMC Birthday 11-11-2017

(U.S. Marine Corps photo Staff Sergeant Mark E. Morrow Jr.)

Friday, November 10, was the 242nd anniversary of the creation of the United States Marine Corps. The organization has been defending the Republic since before there was a Republic —  by about nine months.

The Continental Congress resolved on November 10, 1775 to create two battalions of Marines. Captain (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 in Philly.

As we have noted in the past, 4GWAR has a warm spot in its heart for the USMC because this blog was born on Nov. 12, 2009 — just two days after the Corps’ birthday.

In the above photo, Marines with color guards from various units stand ready for the Joint Daytime Ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on November 8, 2017. The event honored the 242nd Marine Corps birthday and included the traditional birthday cake-cutting.

In 1952, the 20th Marine Corps commandant, General 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.

USMC uniforms

Marine Corp uniforms since 1775 (the green number with wig, 5th from the right). Photo courtesy of United States Marine Corps Historical Company.

488px-Shako-p1000580

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.

 

 

November 11, 2017 at 12:48 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: Air Force Birthday 2017

Happy 70th USAF!

Air National Guard aides in the relief effort of Hurricane Harvey

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

On this day (September 18) 70 years ago, President Harry Truman signed into law the National Security Act of 1947 which created the U.S. Air Force as a separate branch of the U.S. armed forces. Before that, the Air Force was a part of the U.S. Army.

Rather than commemorate the day with a single photo of fighter jets streaking across the sky, we thought we’d show a range of photos, showing some of the other things the Air Force does.

The photo above shows Senior Airman Austin Hellweg leading a family to an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter in Beaumont, Texas for transport to a safer location during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in August. Most people think National Guard or Homeland Security when you mention natural disasters like hurricanes. But in this violent hurricane season, the Air Force (as well as the Navy, Coast Guard, Army and Marine Corps) have all provided assistance, following Harvey and Hurricane Irma, in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

U.S. Fifth-Generation Fighters, Strategic Bombers Conduct Show of Force with Allies in Response to North Korea Missile Launch

(U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sergean. Joshua Smoot)

In this next photo, a B-1B Lancer bomber prepares to receive fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a mission from Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base into Japanese air space and over the Korean Peninsula. After refueling on August 31, 2017, the Lancers flew with Japanese and South Korean fighter jets as part of a demonstration of America’s  commitment to its allies in the region.

Air Commandos participate in joint force exercise

(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Jeffrey Curtin)

Air Force personnel not only fly aircraft, sometimes they jump out of them. Special Tactics Airmen with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron execute a high altitude, low open (HALO) jump from an MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft, flown by the 15th Special Operations Squadron. The jump came during a total force exercise mission over Terre Haute, Indiana on July 8, 2017.

Hurricane Irma

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Corban Lundborg)

In the photo above, Air Force Reserve Major Nicole Mitchell records weather information while flying into Hurricane Irma September 8, 2017 on a WC-130J Super Hercules. Mitchell is an aerial reconnaissance weather officer assigned to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. To see more photos of this mission, click here.

To learn more about the Air Force and its history — which really goes back more than 100 years, click here.

488px-Shako-p1000580

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.

September 18, 2017 at 2:50 pm 1 comment

SHAKO: Labor Day 2017

Hard Work.

Oops, we missed our annual Labor Day Tribute to the hard-working folks in the armed services again. However, a quick look at the blog’s archives indicates your 4GWAR editor has had this mental lapse every other year, or so.

51st LRS closes UFG

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Franklin R. Ramos)

As we’ve said in past Labor Day posts, 4GWAR likes to pause and take a look at some of the jobs people do in the military that don’t get a lot of attention. Not everybody in the service hits the beach, fires a missile, flies a plane or jumps out of one. So here is a short look at the less glamorous — but still important — jobs that keep the U.S. military ready and able to meet the next challenge — whatever and wherever it is.

Our first photo (above) shows Airman 1st Class Matthew Martinez tightening cargo chains onto a truck at Osan Air Base in South Korea. The photo was taken Wednesday (September 6, 2017). Martinez is a vehicle operator assigned to the 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron. Even the Air Force needs ground transportation.

ARNG delivers hay to landlocked livestock

(Army National Guard photo by Sergeant 1st Class Malcolm McClendon)

Our next photo shows a Texas National Guardsman helping load hay onto Texas and Ohio National Guard helicopters. The hay was going to livestock stranded near Beaumont, Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. This photo was taken Tuesday (September 5, 2017). From hurricanes and tornadoes to wildfires and overseas deployments, the National Guard has got to be ready for anything these days.

Sailors Perform Catapult Maintenance

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexander P. Akre)

Like the airman in our first photo, these two sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis are using a simple tool and elbow grease to get the job done. Seamen Layton Prado and Daniel Ridley tighten bolts with a torque wrench during maintenance on the carrier flight deck. This photo was taken August 28, 2017 when the Stennis was in port at Bremerton, Washington, training for future operations.

LABOR DAY 2017 Marine Corps

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Tyler W. Stewart)

We haven’t forgotten the Marines. Here is Corporal Natasha Williams helping build a structure at Landing Zone Plover at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on August 11, 2017. The structure will be used by students at the Marine Corps Engineer School to practice breaching procedures (like blowing open a door, when kicking it down doesn’t work). Williams is a combat engineer assigned to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion.

LABOR DAY 2017 Coast Guard (2)

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jordan Akiyama)

We didn’t forget the Coast Guard, either, although they do so many daring things on, above and off the water, it was hard to find a photo of someone doing something “routine.”   Here we see Petty Officer 3rd Class Zachary Hensley, a machinery technician stationed at Galveston, Texas with a Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team. He was repairing a range light channel marker when this photo was taken on Sunday (September 3, 2017). The marker was damaged during Hurricane Harvey on Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. Take a look at the background to get an idea of how high up he and his teammates have climbed.

Well that’s our story. Hope you had a good Labor Day holiday and if you’re traveling near the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, or the southeast Atlantic Coast this weekend — be smart, stay safe.

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SHAKOSHAKO 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

(U.S. Army photo via Wikipedia)

September 7, 2017 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Flag Day; U.S. Army Birthday

Happy 242nd!

Washington takes command

On this day (June 14) in 1775, the Continental Congress, urged by future U.S. President John Adams, created the U.S. Army by voting $2 million to fund the colonial militias around Boston and New York City. Congress also ordered the raising of ten companies of expert riflemen from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Together with the ragtag militias in New England and New York they would form the first Continental Army. George Washington of Virginia, one of the few colonials with military command experience (from the French and Indian War) would take command in Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 3, 1775.

Army installations around the world are celebrating the Big 242. The festivities ranged from a band concert in Georgia to a fun run in Hawaii. Many Army bases featured a birthday cake-cutting ceremony, in which the longest serving soldier on post shares cake cutting duty with the newest soldier, according to the Army website.

To read more about the infancy of the U.S. Army, click here.

Flag Day turns 101.

nation-makers

“The Nation Makers” by Howard Pyle (1908) depicts the Battle of Brandywine in 1777, one of the first appearances of the Stars and Stripes flag.

June 14 is also Flag Day in the United States, to commemorate the day in 1777 when Congress adopted the 13-star, 13-red-and-white-striped flag as the year-old republic’s national flag. Flag day was celebrated on various days in various ways around the United States until the 20th century.

As war wracked Europe and the Middle East in 1916, it looked more and more like the United States would be drawn into the Great War. To inspire unity and patriotism, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. In August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress — but it’s not an official federal holiday.

SHAKOSHAKO 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.

June 14, 2017 at 9:44 pm 2 comments

SHAKO: Gen. Beauregard’s Retreat.

Statue Removed.

Beauregard's Statue New Orleans

(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle.)

When your 4GWAR editor took this photo of the imposing statue of Civil War general Pierre G.T. Beauregard in New Orleans in January, we did not think it would soon be a figure of controversy — and eventually removed from public view.

The heroic bronze stood outside New Orleans’ City Park and your editor had just gotten off one of the Big Easy’s lovely streetcars on our way to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which we had never visited in several previous trips to New Orleans.

The statue of the Confederate general, who ordered the first shots of the Civil War to be fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861, is one of many civic artworks around the city.

But it was one of four monuments to heroes of the Confederacy that the New Orleans City Council voted to remove last year. The city already has removed one statute of Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, as well as a memorial to a white rebellion against a biracial Reconstruction-era government in the city, according to the Miami Herald.  The last memorial to come down will be a landmark statue of General Robert E. Lee atop a pillar at a prominent downtown traffic circle.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for removing the monuments in the aftermath of the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church. The killer, Dylann Roof, was an avowed racist who brandished Confederate battle flags in photos, recharging the debate over whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage, the Herald noted.

Beauregard, a French creole from Louisiana is credited with championing the design of that now-incendiary battle flag. A West Point graduate, Beauregard ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New Orleans in 1858 and was in command of the troops that fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor three years later, the New York Times noted.

Beauregard was second-in-command at the first Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) but his star faded during the war, partly because of his vanity and grandiosity — his detractors dubbed him “Little Napoleon” — and partly because of a long-running feud with Davis, the prickly Confederate  president, who was also a West Point grad and hero of the Mexican-American War.

According to the New Orelans Times-Picayune (and who would know better?) Beauregard was appointed superintendent of West Point in January 1861 but the appointment was rescinded one day later when Louisiana seceded from the Union. Although he came from a slave-owning family and fought for the Confederacy, Beauregard argued after the war for black voting rights and integrating schools, transportation and public places. He also had a hand in developing the city’s streetcar system after the war and headed the Louisiana Lottery, the biggest gambling operation in 19th Century America.

The Times-Picayune piece answered a question that had been bothering your editor since we first read the inscription at the statue’s base. The general’s full name was Pierre Gustav Toutant-Beauregard, yet the statute identified him simply as G.T. Beauregard. Why? It turns out Beauregard, who didn’t learn to speak English until he was sent away to school at age 12, nevertheless hated his first name, dropped it and the hyphenated last name when he enrolled at West Point.

By the way, not all of the statues in New Orleans are controversial For example, take this gilded statute of Joan of Arc near the French Market.

Joan of Arc

4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle

SHAKOSHAKO 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.

May 18, 2017 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

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