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Marine Corps Legends: Private First Class Frank Witek

Private First Class Frank Witek was killed in action on 3 August 1944, in the battle of Finegayan, Guam. He was the 28th Marine to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II.

Frank Peter Witek was born 10 December 1921, in Derby, Connecticut. He was of Polish ancestry. When he was 9, the family moved to Chicago. It was there he finished his student days at Crane Technical High School and went to work at the Standard Transformer Company.

On 20 January 1942, he left for recruit training after enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. He left almost immediately for Pearl Harbor and in January 1943, his family heard from him while he was in New Zealand. From there he went to Bougainville where he fought in three major battles. Then he went to Guadalcanal for a rest. On 21 July 1944, the 3d Division Marines invaded Guam. PFC Witek was a Browning automatic rifleman and scout behind the Japanese lines.

On 8 September 1944, his mother received a telegram from Washington informing her that her son had been killed on 3 August. According to a combat correspondent’s release, he was slain at the battle of the Mount Santa Rosa road block. He had only eight cartridges left on an original 240 rounds when he was found.

On Sunday, 20 May 1945, 50,000 persons, including his mother and Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift, Commandant of the Marine Corps, met in Soldier’s Field, Chicago, to do honor to his memory. PFC Frank Peter Witek, 23 years old, had earned the highest military award his country could give him – the Medal of Honor.
Initially buried in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Cemetery on Guam, PFC Witek’s remains were reinterred in the Rock Island National Cemetery, Rock Island, Illinois, in 1949.

Reprinted with the authorization of the United States Marine Corps History Division

General Robert H. Barrow

General Robert H. Barrow, 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps, was born 5 February 1922 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After attending Louisiana State University, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and was commissioned a second lieutenant 19 May 1943.

Lieutenant Barrow subsequently served as Officer-in-Charge of an American team attached to a group of Chinese Nationalist guerrillas. He entered China via India and after many months of operations along the periphery of the area held by the Japanese in central China, his team entered Japanese occupied territory and conducted intensive guerrilla operations for the last seven months of World War II. For this service, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”. After the war, Lieutenant Barrow remained in China for another year, six months of which was spent in Shanghai and six months in the Tientsin-Peking area.

He returned to the United States in October 1946, and served as Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Atlantic, until September 1948. Captain Barrow then completed the Amphibious Warfare School, Junior Course, Quantico, Virginia.

From 1949 until 1950, he served as Commanding Officer of Company A, 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

During the Korean War, he led Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, in the Inchon-Seoul operation and the Chosin Reservoir campaign. For the latter he was awarded the Navy Cross for holding a pass near Koto-ri on 9-10 December 1950.

In February 1956, he commenced an eighteen month tour with the 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. From the summer of 1957 to the summer of 1960, he served as the Marine Officer Instructor, NROTC Unit at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. In September 1959, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.

Colonel Barrow graduated from the National War College in June 1968. He then served in the Republic of Vietnam, as Commanding Officer, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division (Rein), and as Deputy G-3, III Marine Amphibious Force. During the nine months he served as Commanding Officer of the 9th Marines, his regiment participated in numerous combat actions in the vicinity of the DMZ, Khe Sanh, Da Krong Valley, and A Shau Valley. For extraordinary heroism in Operation Dewey Canyon, he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross.

After promotion to brigadier general, he served as Commanding General at Camp Butler, Okinawa. On further promotion to major general, he became Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. He was promoted to lieutenant general in 1975 and assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps as Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower. In 1976, he was named Commanding General, FMF, Atlantic, at Norfolk.

General Barrow became the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps in July 1978, so serving until appointed the Corps’ Commandant on 1 July 1979.

General Barrow was the first Commandant to serve, by law, a regular four-year tour as a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was instrumental in acquiring approval of production for the Marine Corps of the American-modified Harrier aircraft, in awakening interest in new and improved naval gunfire support, in getting amphibious ships included in the Navy’s new construction programs, and in returning hospital ships to the fleet, especially on station with Marine Corps amphibious task forces.

General Barrow retired as Commandant on 30 June 1983 and returned to his native state of Louisiana. Upon retirement he was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal.

General Barrow died in his sleep on 30 October 2008 and was laid to rest at Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery in Saint Francisville, Louisiana.

In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal, a complete list of his medals and decorations include: the Navy Cross; the Army Distinguished Service Cross; the Silver Star Medal; three Legions of Merit; the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” and Gold Star in lieu of a second award; the Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star; the American Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the China Service Medal; the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars; the Vietnamese Service Medal with one bronze star; four Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry with Palm; the Republic of Vietnam National Order, Fifth Class with Gold Star in lieu of a second award; the United Nations Service Medal; and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Source: United States Marine Corps History DivisionSubscribe To My RSS Feed.

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World War II Marine Veteran Recalls Battle Of Tarawa

Minard Willson, 91, of Mountain Home took bomb shrapnel to a leg on Guadalcanal and got his left arm shot to smithereens on Saipan, but somehow dodged everything in the battle that some historians have called the “fiercest and fastest” of the World War II Pacific Theater — Tarawa.

Willson was a sergeant with charge over 12 Marines in a force of 12,000 U.S. Marines that fought on Tarawa from the Corps’ 2nd Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division.
The amphibious landing started at 9 a.m. Nov. 20, 1943, on the tiny island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll.

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Who’s Who In Marine Corps History: Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone

Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, of Raritan, New Jersey, was awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of his outstanding heroism at Guadalcanal. Later, during the Iwo Jima campaign, he was killed in action on D-Day, 19 February 1945.

At Guadalcanal, where he was serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, he used a machine gun and a pistol to kill 38 of the enemy from his emplacement and earn the nation’s highest military decoration.

At Iwo Jima, GySgt Basilone again distinguished himself, single-handedly destroying a Japanese blockhouse while braving smashing bombardment of enemy heavy caliber fire. For his exploit he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. While at Iwo Jima he was attached to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 5th Marine Division.

Son of an Italian-born father, he spent nearly six years in the U.S. Armed Forces, and was a sergeant at the time he was awarded the Medal of Honor. The citation accompanying his Medal of Honor was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The story about the 38 Japanese bodies comes from PFC Nash W. Phillips, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, who was in the same unit with Sgt Basilone on Guadalcanal.

“Basilone had a machine gun on the go for three days and nights without sleep, rest or food,” PFC Phillips recounted. “He was in a good emplacement, and causing the Japs lots of trouble, not only firing his machine gun but also using his pistol.”

Gunnery Sergeant Basilone’s buddies on Guadalcanal called him “Manila John” because he had served with the Army in the Philippines before enlisting in the Marine Corps.

He was one of a family of ten children. Born in Buffalo, New York, on 4 November 1916, he went to St. Bernard Parochial School in Raritan and enlisted in the Army at the age of 18. After completing his three-year enlistment he came home and went to work as a truck driver in Reisterstown, Maryland.

In July 1940 he enlisted in the Marine Corps in Baltimore, Maryland. Before going to the Solomon Islands he saw service at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in addition to training at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia; Parris Island, South Carolina; and New River (Later Camp Lejeune), North Carolina.

Following World War II, GySgt Basilone’s remains were reinterred in the Arlington National Cemetery, and in July 1949, the USS Basilone, a destroyer, was commissioned in his honor at the Boston Naval Shipyard.

Source: United States Marine Corps History Division

Legendary Marines: Lieutenant General Pedro A. del Valle

Lieutenant General Pedro A. del Valle, who led the First Marine Division through the Okinawa operation in the closing months of World War II, died 28 April 1978 in Annapolis, Maryland. For his outstanding leadership as Commanding General of the First Marine Division, during the attack and occupation of Okinawa from 1 April to 21 July 1945, General del Valle was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. His citation reads in part, “Undaunted by the deadly accuracy of enemy gunfire, he repeatedly visited the fighting fronts, maintaining close tactical control of operations and rallying his weary but stouthearted Marines to heroic efforts during critical phases of this long and arduous campaign. By his superb generalship, outstanding valor and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming opposition, Major General del Valle contributed essentially to the conquest of this fiercely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire.”

Pedro A. del Valle was born 28 August 1893, at San Juan, Puerto Rico. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in June of 1915, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on 5 June 1915.

Famous Marines

After finishing a course of instruction at the Marine Officers’ School, Norfolk, Virginia, he went on foreign shore duty with the First Provisional Marine Brigade in the Republic of Haiti. In May, 1916, he landed from the USS Prairie and participated in the capture of Santo Domingo City and the subsequent campaign in the Republic of Santo Domingo.

A tour of sea duty followed as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Texas, serving with the British Grand Fleet under Admiral Beatty. He participated in the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet. In February, 1919, he was detached to the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia. After another tour of sea duty, on this occasion aboard the USS Wyoming, he was assigned as Aide-de-Camp to Major General J. H. Pendleton and accompanied the General in an inspection tour of the West Indies.

In 1924, he went to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. While stationed there he was Marine Corps representative on the Federal Traffic Board.

In 1926 he was ordered to foreign shore duty with the Gendarmerie d’ Haiti for three years and upon his return to the States in 1928, attended the Field Officers’ Course at the Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia. Upon graduation, he became an instructor which position he left twice on temporary duty with the U.S. Electoral Mission in Nicaragua.

After a tour of sea duty as Squadron Marine Officer aboard the USS Richmond, during which he participated in the operations resulting from the Cuban Revolution of 1933, he was ordered to Headquarters Marine Corps.

From October 1935, to June 1937, he was Assistant Naval Attache, attached to the American Embassy at Rome, Italy, and on duty as an observer with the Italian Forces during the Ethiopian War.

He returned to the United States to attend the Army War College, Washington, D.C., and following graduation was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps where he was Executive Officer of the Division of Plans and Policies.

He became Commanding Officer of the Eleventh Marine Regiment, Artillery, in March 1941, in which position he was found upon his country’s entry into World War II. He remained as commanding officer of the regiment and led it overseas in 1942 and participated in the seizure and defense of Guadalcanal as part of the First Marine Division, Reinforced, from 7 August to 9 December of that year. For his outstanding achievements in this operation he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

From May to July 1943, he served as Commander of Marine Forces, less aviation, on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Russell and Florida Islands. He returned to the States to become President of the Marine Corps Equipment Board.

Again he went to the Pacific on 1 April 1944. This time as Commanding General, Third Corps Artillery, Third Amphibious Corps, and took part in the Guam Operation in July and August of 1944, for which he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit.

He next became Commanding General of the First Marine Division and was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership of this organization on Okinawa from April to 21 June 1945.

Upon the termination of the war he was ordered back to Headquarters Marine Corps to become Inspector General, which post he held until assigned his final duties as Director of Personnel on 1 October 1946. He retired on 1 January 1948.

In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit with Gold Star, his decorations and medals include the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Ethiopia 1935-36; Presidential Unit Citation, Guadalcanal 1942 and Okinawa 1945; Expeditionary Medal with Bronze Star, Haiti 1916; Dominican Campaign Medal, Dominican Republic 1916; Victory Medal, 1918; Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, Nicaragua 1930; American Defense Service Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with five Bronze Stars; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Order of the Crown of Italy, Italy 1936; East African Medal, Ethiopia 1936; Colonial Order of the Star of Italy, Ethiopia 1936; Italian Bronze Medal for Military Valor, Ethiopia 1936; Cuban Naval Order of Merit, Second Class, Cuba, 1936; Ecuadorian Decoration of Abdon Calderon Star, First Class, with Diploma, Ecuador 1942.

Source: USMC History Division

Sergeant Major Francis Drury Rauber

Sergeant Major Francis Drury Rauber, the 2nd Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, died on 19 February 1991. He served as the Marine Corps senior enlisted man from 1 September 1959, until his retirement from active duty on 28 June 1962.

Born 10 July 1901, in Rochester, New York, Sergeant Major Rauber graduated from high school there in 1918, then saw two years active duty in the National Guard. He began his first enlistment in the Marine Corps on 9 December 1921, rising to the rank of sergeant prior to his honorable discharge in February 1926. During this time, he attended recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, then was assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade at Port au Prince, Haiti; the 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Expeditionary Force, the forerunner of the Fleet Marine Force; the Marine Barracks, Norfolk, Virginia; and the 29th Company, 4th Regiment, Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California.

Upon the outbreak of World War II, he again offered his services to the Marine Corps, and on 1 May 1942, reenlisted and was re-appointed to the grade of sergeant. In January 1943, he completed First Sergeant’s School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

His service in the rank of Sergeant Major dates from February 1943 when he was named Post Sergeant Major at the New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, and Sergeant Major of the 3d Marine Corps Reserve District.

In March 1948, he was transferred to the West Coast for assignment to Fleet Marine Force, Pacific as Sergeant Major with the 9th Marines, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. Arriving in Guam, Mariana Islands in May 1948, he served in this capacity until November, and in Tsingtao and Shanghai China until April 1949, when he returned to Camp Witek, Guam.

In March 1950, Sergeant Major Rauber embarked for the United States for a brief assignment as Sergeant Major, Inspector-Instructor Staff, 19th Infantry Battalion, Rochester, New York. Ordered to Cherry Point, North Carolina in January 1951, he served consecutively as Squadron and Group Sergeant Major with MCGIS-5 and MACG-1, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing. In March 1952, he joined the Marine Corps Air Station, Miami, Florida as Operations Squadron 3 Sergeant Major, becoming Headquarters Sergeant Major in June 1953.

Transferred to Washington, D.C. in April 1954, the Sergeant Major began a four-year tour of duty as Sergeant Major of the Personnel Department, Headquarters Marine Corps. In May 1958, upon being transferred to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, he became Sergeant Major of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. Following this assignment, he returned to Headquarters Marine Corps and in September 1959 assumed the Marine Corps top enlisted billet as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.

Source: United States Marine Corps History Division

Legendary Marines: General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.

General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., was promoted to general and assumed the duties of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on 23 October 2010. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, he graduated from St. Michael’s College and was commissioned in 1977.

General Dunford’s assignments in the operating forces include Platoon and Company Commander, Co K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines; Company Commander, Co A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines; and Company Commander, Co L, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines. He served as the Operations, Plans, and Training Officer in 2d ANGLICO and the Regimental Executive Officer, 6th Marines. He commanded the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines and the 5th Marine Regiment. He served as the Chief of Staff, 1st Marine Division.

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Other assignments include Aide to the Commanding General, III MEF and a tour in the Officer Assignment Branch, HQMC. He has also served as the Marine Officer Instructor, College of the Holy Cross; as a member of the Commandant’s Staff Group; and as the Senior Aide to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Joint assignments include service as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chairman, JCS; Chief, Global and Multilateral Affairs Division (J5); and Vice Director for Operations (J3).

As a general officer, he has served as the Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division; the Director, Operations Division, Plans, Policies and Operations, HQMC; and the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations; and most recently as Commanding General, I MEF and Commander, Marine Forces Central Command.

General Dunford is a graduate of the U. S. Army Ranger School, Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, and the U. S. Army War College. He holds an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University and an M.A. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Source: United States Marine Corps History Division

Leatherneck Legends: Corporal Duane Edgar Dewey

Corporal Duane Edgar Dewey, of South Haven and Muskegon, Michigan, the first person to receive the Medal of Honor from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, earned the Nation’s highest award for heroism on 16 April 1952, when, although already wounded, he smothered an exploding enemy grenade with his own body to save the lives of his comrades.

Legendary Marines, Marine Corps History

Corporal Dewey earned the Medal of Honor near Panmunjom, Korea, while serving as leader of a machine-gun squad with Company E, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He had been wounded, and was being treated by a Navy medical corpsman when an enemy grenade landed at the squad’s position. Yanking the corpsman to the ground, and warning members of the squad, Cpl Dewey flung himself on the grenade shouting, “Doc, I got it in my hip pocket!”

Suffering critical injuries, he was evacuated to Japan, and later the United States for treatment and was released from active duty on 19 August 1952. After presenting the award on 12 March 1953 at the White House, President Eisenhower told him, “You must have a body of steel.”

Duane Edgar Dewey was born 16 November 1931 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and attended school in Muskegon until 1947. He then worked for six months on a farm in South Haven, and for a year as a foundry worker at National Motors, Inc., in South Haven.

Enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve on 7 March 1951, he completed recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, and underwent intensive combat training at Camp Pendleton, California, until embarking for Korea in September 1951. Before he was wounded he had participated in the United Nations summer-fall offensive of 1951 and the second winter of Korean fighting.

After treatment of his wounds at the front he was evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan, then to the U.S. Naval Hospitals at Mare Island, California, and Great Lakes, Illinois. Following his recuperation at Great Lakes, he was released from active duty on 19 August 1952.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Cpl Dewey’s awards include the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal with two battle stars, and the United Nations Service Medal.


Source: United States Marine Corps History Division

Legendary Marines: Master Gunnery Sergeant Leland “Lou” Diamond

Master Gunnery Sergeant Leland “Lou” Diamond, who was on many occasions decorated for bravery and offered a commission, lives in memory as one of the most famous of all “Old Breed” fighting Leathernecks.

Diamond, who died in 1951, represents a legend, which inscribed a colorful chapter in Marine Corps tradition and history.
“Lou” Diamond’s face, sun-bronzed and accentuated by a neatly trimmed gray goatee, was well known at posts and stations throughout the world. His comrades called him “Lou,” but he was thought of, often, as “Mr. Marine” and “Mr. Leatherneck.”

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Leland Diamond was born 30 May 1890, at Bedford, Ohio. Although he first enlisted at the age of 27, somewhat older than most recruits, the difference never was noticeable. His salty, hard-driving personality soon expressed itself in both word and deed, and no Marine ever showed more devotion to the Corps.

Because of the incredible voice, which matched his 5-foot, 11-inch, 200-pound frame, “Lou” was once dubbed “The Honker.” Though cool in training and battle, he was rarely quiet. According to his World War I buddies, “The tougher the action, the louder “Lou” would yell.” Many of his comrades at Guadalcanal considered him “a human air-raid warning system.”

Though in the military service, Diamond lived informally, going hatless and wearing dungarees practically everywhere. He even accepted one of his decorations in dungarees. When receiving the citation awarded him in Australia by General A.A. Vandergrift, “Lou” looked the general in the eye and said, “I made my landing in dungarees-guess they’re good enough to get my commendation in.”

Diamond’s informal language occasionally drew frowns from Chaplains within earshot. His earthy manner of speech, however, never appeared to detract from his role as a morale-booster for his unit, nor from his ability as an instructor and leader, as amply attested to by recruits who trained under his wing.

Self-confidence, even cockiness, was one of the sergeant’s outstanding characteristics. He considered anybody with less than ten years in the Corps a “boot.” While he bawled out recruits who sometimes instinctively saluted him, he frequently failed, himself, to salute less than a field grade officer. Despite his peculiarities and, in many ways, because of them, he was a “Marine’s Marine.”

Opportunities to apply for a commission were rejected by the grizzled campaigner, who explained that “nobody can make a gentleman out of me.” Though not a “spit-and-polish” Marine, Diamond prove himself an expert with both 60- and 81mm mortars, his accurate fire being credited as the turning point of many an engagement in the Pacific during World War II.

Diamond enlisted in the Marine Corps at Detroit, Michigan, 25 July 1917, listing as his former occupation “railroad switchman.” As a corporal in January 1918, he shipped out from Philadelphia aboard the USS Von Stuben bound for Brest, France. He saw action with the famous 6th Marines in the battles at Chateau Thierry, Belleau Wood, the Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and the Meuse Argonne. Promoted to the grade of sergeant, he marched to the Rhine with the Army of Occupation. At war’s end, “Mr. Leatherneck” returned to America, disembarked at Hoboken, N.J., and 13 August 1919, received an honorable discharge from the Corps.

But railroading and civilian life in general did not suit his fancy, and on 23 September 1921, “Lou” again walked into a Marine recruiting office. Promotions were rapid for him and while serving as Assistant Armorer at Parris Island, South Carolina, in February, 1925, he regained his sergeant’s stripes.

“Mr. Marine” itched for more action and he soon got it-in Shanghai with Company M, 3d Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. But the Sino-Japanese controversy, in “Lou’s” opinion, was “not much of a war,” and on 10 June 1933, he returned to the United States, disembarking from the USS Henderson at Mare Island, California. By then he was a gunnery sergeant.

Diamond returned to Shanghai with his old outfit, the 4th Marines, ten months later; was transferred to the 2d Marines in December 1934; and returned to the States February 1937. Two years after his promotion to Master Gunnery Sergeant, 10 July 1939, he was assigned to the Depot of Supplies at Philadelphia to help design a new infantry pack.

Following the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, “Lou” shipped out to Guadalcanal with Company H, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, arriving at the beaches 7 August 1942. He was 52 years old. Among the many fables concerning his “Canal” service is the tale that he lobbed a mortar shell down the smoke stack of an off-shore Japanese cruiser. It is considered a fact, however, that he drove the cruiser from the bay with his harassing “near-misses.”

An indication of Sergeant Diamond’s value to the Corps is found in a letter of commendation for “outstanding performance of duty on Tulagi and Guadalcanal,” from General Alexander A. Vandegrift, Commander of the 1st Marine Division, and later Commandant of the Marine Corps. The letter states in part:

“To every man in your company you were a counselor, an arbiter of disputes, and an ideal Marine. “Your matchless loyalty and love of the Marine Corps and all it stands for, are known to hundreds of officers and men of this Division, and will serve as an inspiration to them on all the battlefields on which this Division may in the future be engaged.”

After two months on Guadalcanal, physical disabilities dictated “Mr. Leatherneck’s” evacuation by air against his wishes. He was moved to the New Hebrides and later to a hospital in New Zealand, where he proved to be a somewhat obstreperous patient. Somehow, he acquired orders to board a supply ship for New Caledonia, where a friend ordered him back to Guadalcanal-the supposed location of his old outfit. Upon his arrival, however, Diamond discovered that the 1st Marine Division had shipped out to Australia, a distance of over 1,500 miles. “Lou” made the trip, without orders, by bumming rides on planes, ships and trains.

But “Mr. Marine” was destined to see no more combat. On 1 July 1943, he disembarked from the USS Hermitage at San Pedro, California, and twelve days later was made an instructor at the Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. He was transferred to Camp Lejeune on 15 June 1945, and joined the 5th Training Battalion with the same duties.

A familiar sight in the early morning on the company street thereafter was “Old Lou,” standing with watch in hand and whistle in mouth, awaiting the first note of reveille to break the men out.

Master Gunnery Sergeant Leland Diamond retired on 23 November 1945, and returned to his home in Toledo, Ohio. His death at the Great Lakes, Illinois, Naval Training Center Hospital, 20 September 1951, was followed by a funeral, with full military honors, at Sylvania, Ohio.


Source: United States Marine Corps History Division

Marine Corps History: From Sea To Bloody Streets

During a time of severe post-World War II cutbacks and uncertainty for the Marine Corps, a new war began in the Far East, bringing the experience and fighting spirit of the Corps back into the fold. This forged a new legacy in the world’s expeditionary force-in-readiness.

In 1950, The Communist Army of North Korea swept into South Korea in an effort to unite the estranged nations as a single communist entity. In response, the United Nations landed at the Port of Pusan to help defend the weaker democratic nation. The 1st Marine Provisional Brigade, drawing from Marine forces worldwide, was soon raised to support the small force holding the perimeter around the Port of Pusan, the last free place in Korea.

In an effort to turn the tide, UN Supreme Commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur decided a surprise attack on the Port City of Inchon would put the odds back into the allies’ favor. Codenamed “Operation Chromite,” an amphibious assault and a breakout from the Pusan Perimeter had the potential of landing a one-two punch that would cut the communist’s already stretched supply lines and throw the proverbial “stick in the wheel” of their relentless advance.

“There were only 70,000 Marines at the time,” said Richard Olson, a veteran of the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade at the Pusan Perimeter. “MacArthur wanted a whole division, but that was funny because Camp Pendleton didn’t even have a full battalion.”

Various Army units had been hastily trained in amphibious warfare to conduct the assault, but they were getting called back to the perimeter at Pusan due to manpower shortages. Finally, it was elements of the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade at Pusan that got the job. MacArthur needed a professionally trained amphibious force that could undertake the task head-on, and the Marines were there to answer the call.

Inchon was lightly garrisoned by North Korean forces, but the biggest challenges posed were natural to the harbor itself. The channel was narrow and long, the current strong, tides had a 32-foot-range and a 10-foot seawall rounded the harbor. Not to mention it was on the northwestern coast of South Korea across the country from Pusan on the southeastern coast of the peninsula.

In the face of all that stood before them, at 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 15, 1950, the Marines of Battalion Landing Team 3 landed on Green Beach at Wolmi-do Island, supported by nine tanks from 1st Marine Division. After landing, the Marines held the causeway to the mainland, where Inchon was located.

Later that day at 5:30 p.m., when the tides returned to a passable level, Marines of Regimental Combat Team 5 launched their assault on Red Beach, filing over the seawall with bamboo ladders. They covered the advance of Marines on Green Beach across the exposed causeway. It was in this landing that a legendary image of the Korean War came to be, as 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez led the way over the seawall. Marines pushed into the city, fighting door to door in the city’s streets.

As the battle was unfolding, elements of 1st Marine Regiment, led by Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, landed far to the south of Green Beach at Blue Beach. Facing little resistance upon landing, Puller’s men quickly reconsolidated with the landing forces, and staged for the push toward the ultimate objective: the South Korean capital city
of Seoul.

“We cut in behind the North Koreans, crossed the country and closed their resupply lines to North Korea,” said Wiedhahn. “Inchon definitely turned the tables.”

With the Marines taking Inchon, and the Army breaking out of the Pusan Perimeter, the North Koreans were effectively cut-off and forced into retreat. Operation Chromite was a great upset to the communists, but the war had only just begun.

First African-American Marines To Be Purple Heart Recipients

Staff Sgt. Timerlate Kirven and Cpl. Samuel J. Love read an award citation for the Purple Heart they each received for wounds sustained during the Battle of Saipan in 1944.
They were the first African-American Marines to receive the Purple Heart.

The Marine Corps is a fighting force that owes its effectiveness in part to the diversity of the Marines who serve in it.

Unfortunately, this was not always the case. Up until World War II, African-Americans were denied the right to serve in the Marine Corps.

In 1941, Executive Order No. 8802, issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941, began to address the discrimination in employment practices to include the armed forces.

During the second world war, the nation was segregated under the Jim Crow laws, and the Marine Corps was no exception. Black recruits were not sent to either recruit depots in Parris Island, S.C., or San Diego for training but were completely segregated at a new training facility in Montford Point, N.C.

Initially, the drill instructors were white, but as recruits with prior service from other branches of the armed forces graduated training, they replaced the white drill instructors. The officers, however, remained white. The Marine Corps did not have a black officer until Frederick C. Branch was commissioned in 1945.

The first black recruits volunteered in early June 1942, and three months later stepped foot on Montford Point Camp to begin training as the 51st Composite Defense Battalion.

“A lot of pressure was put on these young men to perform to a very high caliber,” said Robert B. Bruce, associate professor of history at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. “Any imperfection would have been seen as a failure of black people in general.”

Two battalions, the 51st Composite Defense Battalion, and later, the 52nd, were specifically trained for combat. The battalions were deployed in the Pacific Theater.

A total of nine black Marines died in World War II, and these Marines had jobs other than infantry, according to the National Archives.

Before the desegregation of the Marine Corps in 1949, more than 20,000 Marines passed through the gates of Montford Point.

Gunnery Sgt. William D. Mike III, drill band instructor at the Navy School of Music, Norfolk, Va., said he believes his success and the way Marines view each other can be directly credited to the example set by the Montford Point Marines.

“These men paved the way,” said Mike. “They set the precedent for the African-American Marine today. They are the backbone of what we have today for our Marines.”

Mike said he has never felt discriminated against in the Marine Corps, or felt as though his heritage has had any impact on his career as a Marine.

“I strongly feel that the Marine Corps has made tremendous strides across the board for all Marines,” he said. “All Marines are now given an opportunity to do things that back when segregation played a part, they would not be able to.”


Marines.mil

Thomas J. McHugh, Sergeant Major Of The Marine Corps

Sergeant Major Thomas J. McHugh served as the 3rd Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps from 29 June 1962 until 16 July 1965.

Sergeant Major McHugh was born 23 December 1919 in New York City, the son of the late Peter and Bridget Porter McHugh, immigrants from Scotland and Ireland, respectively. He grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he received his education, and enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve on 3 October 1938. He was called to extended active duty 7 November 1940, and integrated into the regular Marine Corps in May 1943.

Following his entry into service, Sergeant Major McHugh served at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia; the Training Center, New River (later Camp Lejeune), North Carolina; and the Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. Promoted to sergeant in March 1942, he joined Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines and that June sailed aboard the USS Barnett from San Francisco for the Pacific area.

During World War II, he was attached to the 1st Marine Division with his unit, taking part in the Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, and Peleliu campaigns, and rose to platoon sergeant and gunnery sergeant prior to his return to the United States in November 1944. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in the Peleliu operation.

On his return to the United States, Sergeant Major McHugh served as Noncommissioned Officer-in-Change of the Rifle Range, Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point. In July 1945, he was ordered back to Camp Lejeune where he served as Company First Sergeant and Company Gunnery Sergeant with the Infantry Training Regiment, with the 1st Infantry Battalion of the 1st Special Marine Brigade, and with the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines. He was redesignated a technical sergeant in December 1946 and remained at Camp Lejeune until September 1948.

Transferred to the West Coast, he embarked in November 1948 for Guam, where he joined the 5th Marines, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, Fleet Marine Force, as Company First Sergeant and Company Gunnery Sergeant. Upon the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, he took part in combat operations with the 1st Marine Brigade and, subsequently, the 1st Marine Division as First Sergeant, Company H, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines during the Pusan Perimeter, Inchon, Seoul, and Chosin Reservoir campaigns. He was promoted to master sergeant in Korea in December 1950, and returned to the States in March 1951.

That summer he was assigned briefly as Assistant Battalion Sergeant Major of the Officer Candidate Class Battalion, Special Training Regiment, Parris Island, South Carolina. In August 1951, he began a 3-year tour of duty with the U.S. Naval Reserve Officer’s Training Corps unit at Yale University. He served there as Assistant Marine Officer Instructor, and Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge of Recruiting and enrolling candidates for the Officer Candidate Class and Platoon Leader Class programs.

Sergeant Major McHugh returned to Camp Lejeune in August 1954, and served briefly as Acting Sergeant Major of the 2d Engineer Battalion, 2d Marine Division before filling the billet of Division Field Sergeant Major. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant major, 31 December 1955.

In July 1957, he again embarked for duty overseas with the 1st Marine Brigade, Fleet Marine Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. During his three years there, he served consecutively as Sergeant Major of the 1st Marine Brigade, the 2d Battalion, and the 4th Marine Regiment (Reinforced).

In July 1960, he was assigned as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Landing Force Development Center, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico. The following May, he became Sergeant Major of Marine Corps Air Station, Quantico. While serving in this capacity, he was selected for the Corps top enlisted billet, and assumed his new duties as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on 29 June 1962.

Following his tour as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, he was ordered to Okinawa, Japan, for duty as Sergeant Major of Camp Smedley D. Butler, serving in that capacity until September 1966.

Upon his return to the United States, Sergeant Major McHugh became Sergeant Major, Marine Corps Schools Quantico, Virginia. Upon redesignation of that command, he was Sergeant Major of Marine Corps Development and Education Command. Transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in May 1968, he served as Sergeant Major, Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic until April 1969, when he was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam.

In February 1970, he was transferred to Okinawa, Japan, and assumed his new duties as 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Sergeant Major until his retirement on 1 December 1970.

Sergeant Major McHugh’s personal decorations include: the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, the Purple Heart, and the Navy Achievement Medal.

Source: United States Marine Corps History Division

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