Our schedule of professional events has started to accelerate this month. On the 15th of the month we co-hosted the Spring - 2012 Combat Development Dinner with LtGen Richard Mills, Deputy Commandant for Development and Combat Integration. We had just over 300 attend the dinner. LtGen Mills provided a brief on the future of “Amphibiousity” for the Navy-Marine Corps team and our Nation. It was a great presentation and we thank him for making time to join us. Copies of his briefing slides are posted on our website. Click HERE to see his slide presentation, read a synopsis of his remarks and to see pictures and a video of the event.
On the 29th we will co-host the 8th Annual Ground Logistics Awards Dinner to recognize the top performing Marine logisticians of 2011. General Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, will be the guest speaker and will help present the awards recognizing the top officer, enlisted, civilian Marine and Marine Logistics Unit of the Year. At this time we have 560 signed up to attend. The good news is that it’s NOT too late to sign up and join us. Click HERE to register for the event now.
As we break into April we will we take to the road to host the MCA&F Camp Lejeune Dinner on the 11th featuring LtGen John Paxton, Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force; and Commander, United States Marine Forces Africa as the guest speaker. A week later, on the 19th, in conjunction with HQMC, C4 Division, we will host the 9th Annual MCA&F C4 Awards Dinner to recognize the professional achievements of the Corps’ top performing C4 Marines from 2011. These MCA&F professional events provide superb opportunities for camaraderie and social interaction with Marines and friends of the Corps and offer those attending the unique perspectives of top Marine leaders offering candid views on the key issues affecting Marines. Click HERE to view our entire events schedule and to register for those you can attend.
Advancing Leadership and Recognizing Excellence is our primary mission and so far this year our Commanders’ Professional Library Program has delivered 62 professional libraries to Marine units’ worldwide assisting leaders in mentoring their Marines wherever they are stationed or deployed. Recognizing the professional accomplishments of Marines and providing incentives to spur other Marines to high achievement, our Marine Excellence Awards Program has recognized over 400 Marines this year with a range of awards from certificates to K-Bars, professional books, plaques, Marine swords, bronze awards and more. The Commanders’ Forum Program provided support for four commander developed professional learning opportunities that foster the study of operational art and military history. As always, it is our members who make these various programs available and I thank you for your generosity and support.
All the Best & Semper Fidelis,
MCA&F Recognizes Honor grads
Honor Graduates of Marine Security Guard (MSG) School
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Additionally we have two provocative articles on awards. One, on the award of the Combat Action Ribbon, and another on awards for officers. You may agree or disagree but you will find them thought provoking. This month’s issue also includes a physical conditioning program that can be used by units or individuals to improve their fitness to fight.Finally, go to our blog at http://mcgazette.blogspot.com. Join in the intelligent and interesting conversation on issues of interest to Marines.
In this issue, we bring you a solid lineup of history articles documenting: the seagoing Marines in the Civil War at the Battle of the Ironclads: USS Monitor vs. CSS Virginia; the efforts of HMM-362 supporting the South Vietnamese Army 50 years ago in an effort codenamed “Shufly”; and, the contributions of a Marine leadership legend, Colonel John Ripley, in a MGySgt Ron Keene article, “Captain John Ripley at the Bridge: ‘Please Don’t Let Me Screw This Up!’”
We add articles arming readers with: updates on Marine armor training in its new home at Ft. Benning, Ga.; insights into the Instructor Battalion, The Basic School and the significant role enlisted Marines take on in teaching the officer leaders of tomorrow; and news on what our Marines are accomplishing in Afghanistan.We hope you enjoy this issue. Then as a heads up, our May issue is a special tribute to Marine aviation on its Centennial. It will include a free pull out poster celebrating the history of Marine aviation on its Centennial.
How to Win. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and please include your name and address so we can send your prize. We will hold a drawing of all CORRECT responses one week from the Member Update release date and then announce the winner in the next edition of the Update.
The Prize! In addition to our “Once a Marine – ALWAYS a Marine” Coin, we include a copy of one of Major Gene Duncan’s Books as a bonus.
Here’s our trivia question from last month:
Question: Utterly utilitarian and more linear and voluminous than curvaceous or rakish like others, it leads with clamshells and it’s flatness below makes for a great time at the beach but causes endemic nausea away. What am I and what do I have to do with Marines?
Answer: The preferred answer is the venerable Landing Ship Tank (LST) which took many Marines and soldiers directly to unimproved beaches in amphibious operations since World War II. Derived from British concepts for amphibious ships before the war, the designs came to detailed completion and large scale production in the United States where about a thousand of them were constructed for the wartime effort while only about 80 were made in the UK and Canada. Large and boxy, to allow for accommodation of many tanks and other vehicles, the ships had flat bottoms and a very shallow draft to allow for beaching and clamshell bow doors and retractable ramps to allow vehicles to drive off the ship directly on to dry land. The flat bottom and shallow draft made for problematical seamanship underway, causing disproportionate rolling, pitching and yawing resulting in serious crew discomfort in heavy seas. To counter that problem and aid in sea keeping, the ships were equipped with a ballasting system that takes on water when underway to increase draft and pumps it out when beach landings require shallow draft.
A tremendous and flexible asset, the design was significantly upgraded in the 1960’s with the introduction of the Newport class LST which proved to be a significant improvement over the original designs of WW II. Design features of the new class included higher speed, improved bow door, a bow thruster for greater maneuverability during beaching and docking operations, a helicopter landing deck and a stern gate for launching and recovering amphibian tractors underway. The new class also was capable of carrying up to four, large pontoon floats which were capable of mating up with each other and the bow to form a lengthy causeway to extend standoff distance from the shore in very shallow water.
Tremendous assets, the LST served the Navy-Marine team with distinction until taken out of service with all either transferred to other countries or put in to mothballs. With increasingly lethal, standoff, anti-ship weaponry and the proliferation of naval mines, the LST and beaching operations were deemed too risky to hazard a ship. Amphibious operations now rely on the services of LHD’s, LPD’s and LSD’s with beaching operations only conducted by landing craft, hover craft and amphibian tractors.
Many of the respondents identified various landing craft such as the LCU and those answers almost fit but the landing craft have bow ramps instead of clamshells. Close but no banana.
Congratulations to Carlos Rodrigues of Citrus Heights, California for winning our last contest.
A costly war, both financially and in terms of heavy American and Mexican casualties, the war served as a training ground for many famous Americans who would lead military forces on both sides of the Civil War to be fought some 15 years afterwards, including the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis and the most prominent military leaders of both sides, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.
Mexico’s dictator, Gen Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had signed a treaty recognizing Texan independence following his defeat and capture at the battle of San Jacinto in 1836. Though fraught with fractious political strife following this defeat, Mexico was united in the view that Texas remained a rebellious territory that they would eventually return to Mexican control and sovereignty. As a result, Mexico consistently warned that annexation of Texas by the United States would constitute an act of war. The Republic of Texas agreed to annexation in 1845 and was accepted in to the Union as the 28th state in December 1845 setting the stage for war which was further aggravated by an ongoing dispute about the definition of the border between Texas and Mexico. With Texas a state, James Polk, the president of the United States, supported the Texan claim of the Rio Grande River as the border while Mexico claimed the border was the Nueces river, over a hundred miles to the North. As a result of the ensuing border dispute, President Polk dispatched BGen Zachary Taylor with a force of some 3,500 men to the Nueces and later to the Rio Grande to protect the border and protect Americans from a possible invasion. Concurrently, Polk ordered his Pacific Navy squadron to seize key California ports in an effort to secure California from Mexican control.
Zachary Taylor’s force fought several skirmishes in the vicinity of Matamoros along the Rio Grande and forced the Mexican force to retreat south causing more political unrest in Mexico which resulted in the reinstatement of General Santa Anna who had been ought of favor and power for some years. Taylor pushed south, capturing Matamoros, Camargo and then moved southwest and besieged the sizable city of Monterrey resulting in serious losses to both sides in the hard fought city fighting there and at the subsequent battle of Buena Vista conducted in a mountain pass. Due to unrest in the capitol, Santa Anna withdrew, ceding control of much of Northern Mexico to Taylor.
Introducing fresh forces into the fray, President Polk dispatched a second army of some 12,000 men, including Marines, under MajGen Winfield Scott. This force, under cover of the guns from a powerful naval squadron conducted the first major amphibious landing in American history to seize the port city of Veracruz after a 12 day siege and bombardment in preparation for an invasion of central Mexico. Securing Veracruz, Scott received additional reinforcements, including a Marine battalion raised by Commandant Archibald Henderson for the war. After a 300 plus mile march and a month of hard skirmishing, Scott’s force of 11,000 defeated the over 30,000 strong Mexican force with Marines figuring prominently in the seizure of the citadel guarding the entrance to Mexico City and also with securing the fortified “Palacio Nacionale” ( Halls of Montezuma) the next day effectively ending the battle for the city.
As a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which officially ended the war and the subsequent Gadsden Purchase, the United States acquired land from Mexico comprising all of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and parts of Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming. In return, Mexico received some 18 million dollars and the forgiveness of some sovereign debt.
13 March 1945
On 11 March, with 1/21 in supporting role on the confines of the pocket, 1/9 and 3/9 approached it from the northeast while 3/21, then attached to 9th Marines, attacked from the southwest. 2/9 was in divisional reserve at the time and poised just to the east of Motoyama Village and was engaged in mopping up on the southern edge of the pocket. Essentially surrounded, the pocket was compressed on 12 and 13 March with extensive use of tanks, flame tanks, armored bulldozers, flame throwers and demolition charges. Due to the masterful, well camouflaged and overlapping defensive emplacements, determination of the enemy and relative inability to use indirect fire due to the small size of the pocket and proximity to friendly forces, progress in reducing the pocket took days and resulted in many casualties as the Japanese contested every foot of the advance. For all practical purposes, the operation ended on 16 March.
Iwo Jima was a pivotal battle in the Pacific during WW-II where success in seizing and securing the island led to the ability of air forces to conduct sustained, long range bombing of mainland Japan hastening the end of resistance.
21 March 1945
Between the wars, he saw service in China, served in a variety of staff positions and attended professional level courses at Marine schools. Promoted to MajGen in 1942 and assigned to command the 1st Marine Division, he led them through the Solomon Islands Campaign receiving a Navy Cross for leading the attacks on Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Gavutu and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for leading the defense of Guadalcanal.
Assuming command of 1st Marine Amphibious Corps in July 1943, he led the organization on the assault of Bougainville in the Northern Solomon Islands and then turned over the command to travel to Washington, D.C. as the next and 18th Commandant of the Marine Corps.
World War II ended during his tenure as Commandant bringing institutional challenges as the armed services contracted due to budget constraints and General Vandegrift successfully fought off efforts by the War Department to marginalize the size and mission of the Marine Corps. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service as Commandant and placed on the retired list in 1949, having served as a Marine for 40 years. He died in 1973 at Bethesda and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
His co-authored book, Once a Marine: The Memoirs of General A. A. Vandegrift Commandant of the U.S. Marines in WW II is highly readable and provides great insight into the nature of the war in the Pacific.
MCA&F hosts professional and awards dinners, professional lunches, book signings and more. Check out our professional events schedule at www.mcafdn.org. Click on the link for details and event registration. Here are a couple of events coming up in the near future:
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