11 Things you might not know about the Marine Corps
November 10 is the U.S. Marine Corps celebrates its 237th birthday. “The few, the proud” who serve are not only part of one of the most effective fighting forces in history, but also one of the most storied organizations in the world. Here are 11 things you might not know about the Marines.
1. The first retired Marine to ever receive an honorary promotion was in a Stanley Kubrick movie.
2. From the Halls of Montezuma…
In 1801, the United States decided to do something about piracy in the Mediterranean, and President Jefferson sent in the Navy. In 1805, the Marines finished the job. The Battle of Derne, on the shores of Tripoli during the First Barbary War, was the decisive action of the war, and the first overseas land battle fought by the United States military.
In 1798, the Marine Corps began issuing “one stock of black leather and clasp” to Marines. The item was worn to protect their necks when fighting with swords. Today, the standing collar on the dress coat of the Marine Corps uniform is a vestige of the leatherneck tradition.
More people. The Army had 89 divisions; the Marine Corps had 6. (As goes the saying, “The Marines win battles; the Army wins wars.”) Perhaps more importantly, however, is that there was an ongoing rivalry between the Army and the Marines. Because the leaders of the Allied Forces were Army generals, there was no chance they’d share the spotlight on the biggest operation of the war. Even when the invasion looked grim, the Marines who watched from the U.S.S. Texas were never unleashed. As journalist W. Thomas Smith has written, the leadership didn’t want headlines the next day to read “Marines save Rangers at Normandy.”
In the 1993 film Demolition Man, Sandra Bullock’s character makes reference to the Fast Food Wars, of which only one restaurant survived—Taco Bell. This is probably in no small part because the founder of Taco Bell was Glen Bell, a Marine who served in the Pacific Theater in World War II.
During the Korean War, a Marine Corps fighter pilot nicknamed “magnet ass” shot down three MiG fighter jets. (He earned his nickname because of how often his planes were targeted and hit by anti-aircraft weapons.) None of that was scary enough, apparently, because after he got back from the war, he became a test pilot. As part of Project Bullet, he set the transcontinental speed record, flying a Vought F8U Crusader from California to New York at 725.55 miles per hour. (The project was so named because he flew faster than a .45-caliber pistol round.) By the time the pilot—John Glenn—was recruited by NASA and became the first American to orbit the Earth, it must have seemed like a pretty boring day at the office. In 1998, we strapped him into another spacecraft and made him the oldest person to ever go into space, at age 77. It was a safe bet because clearly the man is invincible.
The U.S. Marine Corps celebrates its birthday on November 10, 1775, the day the Second Continental Congress passed the Continental Marine Act of 1775, ordering, “That two battalions of Marines be raised…” The Continental Marines disbanded in 1783, and was formally reestablished in 1798. The first Marines enlisted at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, which is considered the birthplace of the Marine Corps.
On March 20, 1779, Captain William Jones of the Continental Marines placed a recruiting advertisement in the Providence Gazette: “The Continental ship Providence, now lying at Boston, is bound on a short cruise, immediately; a few good men are wanted to make up her complement.” He’s been recruiting Marines ever since.
Be sure to check back with us next week for more interesting Armed Forces Trivia!