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The United States Marine Corps portal

Emblem of the United States Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines, is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for conducting expeditionary and amphibious operations with the United States Navy as well as the Army and Air Force. The U.S. Marine Corps is one of the four armed service branches in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.

The Marine Corps has been a component of the U.S. Department of the Navy since 30 June 1834, working closely with naval forces. The USMC operates installations on land and aboard sea-going amphibious warfare ships around the world. Additionally, several of the Marines' tactical aviation squadrons, primarily Marine Fighter Attack squadrons, are also embedded in Navy carrier air wings and operate from the aircraft carriers.

The history of the Marine Corps began when two battalions of Continental Marines were formed on 10 November 1775 in Philadelphia as a service branch of infantry troops capable of fighting both at sea and on shore. In the Pacific theater of World War II the Corps took the lead in a massive campaign of amphibious warfare, advancing from island to island. As of 2017, the USMC has around 186,000 active duty members and some 38,500 reserve Marines. It is the smallest U.S. military service within the DoD.

This month in USMC history

Did you know...?

  • ... Sergeant Faustin E. Wirkus was crowned king of La Gonâve, an Island in Haiti, in 1926 and ruled until his detachment returned home in 1929. As king, Faustin made many reforms on the island and his rule was noted as a "peaceful and flourishing time."
  • ... the term "Leatherneck" for a Marine came from 1798, when the Marine Corps began issuing "one stock of black leather and clasp" to Marines. The band of leather was used to protect the neck when fighting with swords.
  • ... Archibald Henderson, the Grand Old Man of the Marine Corps, established the idea of the Marines as “ready to fight”, however, in his time, fighting units were formed by gathering up Marines from Navy ships and shore stations.
  • ... Until 1900, the size of the Corps had never exceeded 3,000 Marines and had been armed almost entirely with rifles.
  • ... before "Semper Fidelis" became the Marine Corps official motto in 1883, there were three unofficial mottos: "By Sea and by Land," "Fortitudine," and "To the shores of Tripoli."
  • ... Marine Corps pilots are now flying more flight hours per pilot than the U.S. Air Force Pilots. See Marine Corps Times Feb 15, 2018
  • ... Overcoming nerve damage to his hand from the Battle of Iwo Jima, in 1992, Colonel Charles Waterhouse became the only Marine to receive the title "USMC Artist-in-Residence".
  • ... Sergeant Reckless, a war horse for 5th Marines made 51 trips to haul ammo for the recoilless rifle section during Battle for Outpost Vegas of the Korean War and was wounded twice in battle.
  • ... 5th Marines is the only Marine regiment to fight in every major war since World War I and is the most highly decorated regiment in the Marine Corps.

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Lemuel Cornick Shepherd mlajsi.jpg

General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. (1896–1990), the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps, was the first Marine to hold the billet of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, which was established the by the U.S. Congress in 1946. He served in this role from October 7, 1946 to April 14, 1948. From January 1, 1952 to December 32, 1955, during the Korean War, General Shepherd served as Commandant of the Marine Corps and was the first Commandant to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the last World War I veteran to become Commandant.

For his gallantry in action at during World War I at the Battle of Belleau Wood, Shepherd earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the French Croix de guerre. During World War II, he led the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in the invasion and subsequent recapture of Guam — and for his leadership he received the Distinguished Service Medal. During the Battle of Okinawa, he organized and commanded the 6th Marine Division — for which he received his second Distinguished Service Medal

Selected quote

Charles C. Krulak.jpg

"Sound morals and ethical behavior cannot be established or created in a day, a semester … or a year. They must be institutionalized our character over time. They must become a way of life. They go beyond our individual services and beyond our ranks or positions. They cut to the heart and soul of who we are and what we are and what we must be: men and women of character.

They arm us for the challenges to come and impart to us a sense of wholeness. They unite us in the calling we now know as the profession of arms. Of all the moral and ethical guideposts that we have been brought up to recognize, the one that, for me, stands above the rest. The one that I have kept in the forefront of my mind . . . is integrity."

— General Charles C. Krulak, USMC (Retired), January 27, 2000

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