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The Fighting Leathernecks
In the rarified world of great military history storytelling, we have located a book of remarkable distinction. The new book, “The Fighting Leathernecks,” written by William Douglas Lansford, qualifies with a near-perfect score. For within its pages reside the accounts of some of our Corps’ most legendary figures. And, although you surely may have examined some of these bold accounts on a starlit night around a campfire, trust me, you’ve never heard their stories told with such gusto, and told in such an enjoyable way.
Ahoy, Raiders! The esteemed author, William D. Lansford, is himself something of a legend. He served with the storied 2d Marine Raider Battalion during the early days of the Pacific campaign. He made the landing on Makin Island and took part in the battalion’s “long march” during the hotly contested Guadalcanal campaign.
Lansford’s rough-and-tumble stories of these hard-fought desperate days are filled with the mud-Marines’ salty language. They include the personal accounts of famous Marines we all know and love, and perhaps thanks to this fine work, some with whom you will soon become acquainted. But while Marines everywhere will enjoy reading the chronicles of these famed Medal of Honor winners, the book also gives us remarkable insight into these iron-hard Marines, as flesh and blood human beings.
Notably, we revisit the glory days of such astonishing Marines as Evans F. Carlson, Smedley D. Butler, Herman Hanneken, Anthony Biddle, David M. Shoup, Mitch Paige, John Basilone, Thomas A. Wornham, Clyde Thomason and Eugene Obregon. One other reader wrote, “If most of these names don’t ring a bell, then you’ve let your Marine Corps knowledge dull and tarnish like those who fail to shine the back of their brass. That is all the more reason to buy this book.”
Of course what makes each of their personal stories—really vignettes—more intriguing is that the author personally knew, or served, with most of them. His knowledge of his subjects and his masterful writing skill help bring each of these “Giants of the Corps” to us: up-close and personal.
Additionally, the author includes some interesting stories of some things we’ve, most likely, never heard. Does anyone, aside from our honored surviving Carlson Raiders, remember the 2d Raider Battalion’s “war-games” raid on Lualualei?
Prior to their deployment to meet the Japanese on the jungle island of Makin, Lieutenant Colonel Carlson’s men took on a nearly impossible training mission. In this true-to-life exercise, the Raiders infiltrated and captured a well-protected U.S. base on one of the Hawaiian Islands. None of the high brass, but perhaps Carlson and his Raiders, expected that it could be done. So, grab a copy of this captivating book and find out how the highly trained Raiders managed to do the near-impossible.
A joy to read, this book will keep Marines and other military history buffs intrigued. Cover to cover, from Haiti to the ridges overlooking Seoul, Korea, readers feel they are in the presence of the leathernecks who inspired them to join up. Aside from the author’s somewhat annoying habit of incorrectly referring to the Medal of Honor as the “Congressional” Medal of Honor, this book carries us along with the iron men whose names decorate the mess halls of our youth.
“Ahoy, Marines—shine your brass, then zero in on this outsized history of our Corps’ bigger-than-life heroes.
Editor’s note: A prolific reader and Leatherneck contributor, “Red Bob” Loring is dedicated to supporting social programs improving the lives of citizens in East Pasco County, Fla.
THE FIGHTING LEATHERNECKS.
By William Douglas Lansford.
Published by CreateSpace.
284 pages. Softcover.
$17.96 MCA Members. $19.95 Regular Price.
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Today in USMC History
1968 - The 1st, 5th, 7th and 26th Marine Regiments participated in Operation Meade River in Vietnam.
1992 - Marines of 2/9 landed at Mogadishu, Somalia, to begin Operation Restore Hope. The 15th MEU, RCT-7 and Provisional MAG-16 served.
Related Story: Meade River By Herb Richardson Leatherneck Magazine (April 1969)
Historic Leatherneck Magazine Covers
Leatherneck Staff Artist, Technical Sergeant Robert Fleischauer, felt that our July cover should be commemorative of the Fourth of July. Since the members of the missile units are probably the Corps' best rocketeers, he picked them to perform a standard Fourth of July action. Whether or not the "Honest Johnny" is useful as a combat piece is a matter for debate, but you can't beat it for morale." [July 1957.]
“The Join Up on the Nick” by Major Alex Durr, USMCR, a member of the History Division, Marine Corps University, Quantico, Va.
Hospitalman Daniel T. Bobic, assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 3d Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, rappelled at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, in late April, 2002.
The oldest post of the Marine Corps, Washington, DC, is celebrating 200 years of excellence. Posed near the Barracks main gate were members of the official Color Guard of the United States Marine Corps (left to right): LCpl Joseph N. Keough, rifleman; Sgt Blake L. Richardson, Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps; Cpl Gerardo A. Guajardo, organizational color bearer; and LCpl Gregory A. Serwo, rifleman.
GySgt Verlando Frazier, East Coast Food Service Management Team, looked ready to dig into some of the new items included in MREs.
This photo by Sgt Earnie Grafton of Marines from Fox Co., 2/4 shows varied emotions as they greeted the coalition forces outside Kuwait city.
A fleet of trucks was needed to transport Dr. Felix de Weldon’s original model of the Iwo Jima flag-raising statue from the sculptor’s home in Newport, R.I., to the grounds of the Marine Military Academy at Harlingen, Texas. After the statue’s arrival, a nearly around-the-clock effort by skilled workmen was required in order to have the memorial reassembled and ready for dedication ceremonies on April 16, 1982.
In April this year (1981), two squadrons of AV-8A “Harriers” sailed for the Mediterranean aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau. Purpose of the cruise was to demonstrate the Navy/Marine Corps team’s capability to augment naval forces in any area of the World on short notice and to provide at-sea training for Marine Harrier pilots.
The cover of Leatherneck’s Bicentennial issue is an oil painting by the late Colonel Donald L. Dickson, USMCR. The painting depicts General George Washington’s Colonial troops at Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Va., during the French and Indian War.
Sightseeing tours for the men of the Marine Barracks, San Juan, Puerto Rico, include a trip to the El Morro Fortress. San Juan is now retired as a Post of the Corps.
The Marines in Vietnam have found that the programs which work best are those which operate close to the people. Our July cover is a mixed media (acrylic and charcoal) by Art Editor James L. Hopewell. It catches the spirit of Marines who enjoy their relationship with the Vietnamese around them.
In Naples, Italy, Marines are responsible for the internal security of the Headquarters of NATO’s Southern European Command, while the elite Carabinieri Corpa provides external security. PFC Robert M. Mallard’s NATO shield was admired by a Carabiniere as the two men prepared to take up their side-by-side posts at the entrance of the imposing NATO Headquarters, which appears in the background of this cover.
"We've Fought In Every Clime And Place": Stamping out the Caco Insurrection in the Republic d' Haiti.
January 2002: The Marines engraved another mark in the rich history of the Corps when they came from more than 400 miles offshore to establish a forward operating base south of Kandahar in the war on terrorism. The Marine CH-46 helicopter on the cover, photographed by PH1(AW/SW) Greg Messier, USN, fought in the desert sand to land and resupply Marines such as the ones (inset) photographed by Sgt Joseph R. Chenelly.
January 2001: This firefight during the Frozen Chosin Reservoir Campaign of 1950 was painted by “Chosin Few” veteran Jack Cannon, who served with Company B, 1st Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment and resides in the warmer climes of New Mexico. The cover was part of Leatherneck’s 50th anniversary salute to the Korean War veterans.
January 1992: This cover photograph of runners during Marine Corps Marathon XVI in Washington, D.C., was photographed by Sgt Deirdre Hallett.
January 1991: This month’s cover by Ross Simpson captures the Marines’ waiting-but-ready posture in the Middle East.
January 1982: Participants in the Sixth Annual Marine Corps Marathon presented a colorful spectacle as they began the 26-mile, 385-yard run in Washington, D.C., November 1, 1981. The cover photo, by Tom Bartlett, was taken from a bridge overlooking Highway 50 about a half-mile from the starting line.
January 1981: Nearly 7,800 runners participated in the Fifth Annual Marine Corps Marathon held in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. The oldest finisher was 78; the youngest was 10. Leatherneck staffer Ron Lunn pre-positioned himself near the Nation’s Capitol to photograph runners during their 14th mile of the 26-mile, 385-yard course.
January 1972: This month’s cover, by Marine Combat Artist Peter Gish, shows members of the New Corps sightseeing in the Old World. While on liberty in Athens, Greece, the 3d Bn, Eighth Marines, were able to tour the Erektheon Porch and Cariatides. The water color is from the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Art collection.
Originally Published December 1983 -- Something tells us that we could date the cover without knowing when it was published.
Originally Published December 1972 -- We're not sure what's more interesting, Santa or the old style gas pump.
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This November 1992 article in the Marine Corps Gazette looked at the uniform regulations of 1859 and the attempt to standardize uniforms within the Corps. Read the story and see more pics.
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