Monday, November 26, 2012

Marine Corps: Born in a bar

U.S. Marines Birthplace

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. mentalfloss 

Tun Tavern is where the Marine Corps held its first recruitment drive during the american Revolution. 

 In the year 1685, Samuel Carpenter built a huge "brew house" in Philadelphia.  He located this tavern on the waterfront at the corner of Water Street and Tun Alley.  The old English word tun means a cask, barrel, or keg of beer.  So, with his new beer tavern on Tun Alley, Carpenter elected to christen the new waterfront brewery with a logical name, Tun Tavern. In 1756 Col. Benjamin Franklin organized the Pennsylvania Militia.  He used Tun Tavern as a gathering place to recruit a regiment of soldiers to go into battle against the Indian uprisings that were plaguing the American colonies.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Continental Congress later met in Tun Tavern as the American colonies prepared for independence from the English Crown.  On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned Samuel Nicholas to raise two Battalions of Marines.  That very day, Nicholas set up shop in Tun Tavern.  He appointed Robert Mullan, then the proprietor of the tavern, to the job of chief Marine Recruiter -- serving, of course, from his place of business at Tun Tavern.  Prospective recruits flocked to the tavern, lured by (1) cold beer and (2) the opportunity to serve in the new Corps of Marines.  So, yes, the U.S. Marine Corps was indeed born in Tun Tavern.  Needless to say, both the Marine Corps and the tavern thrived during this new relationship. USMC Heritage
Tun Tavern burned down in 1781, near the end of the American Revolution.

All Things Masonic

 The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia contains a Tun Tavern-themed restaurant with a lunch menu, alcoholic beverages, and bread pudding. The decor of the tun tavern restaurant features a large painting depicting famous Marines from the founding of the corps to the present day.

Roaming the Planet:: The museum’s Tun Tavern captures the warmth of the original and features food inspired by the Colonial era.

There is even a Tun Tavern Marines Motorcycle Riding Club.

Tun Tavern Marines

But then again:
From the book, The Marine Corps Story, by J.Robert Moskin, 1992, Little, Brown and Company"...The two battalions were never raised; but onNovember 28, the Congress commissioned thirty-twoyear old Capt. Samuel Nicholas, a PhiladelphiaQuaker, and innkeeper and a blacksmith's son, asthe first Marine officer. A hundred volunteers,recruited in Rhode Island, arrived atPhiladelphia by December 5...probably signed upin Robert Mullan's Tun Tavern."
And, from the book, The United States Marines AHistory, by Edwin Howard Simmons. 1998, NavalInstitute Press"...According to legend, the recruiting redezvouswas Tun Tavern, but it is more likely that it wasthe Conestoga Wagon, a tavern owned by theNicholas family on Market Street between Fourthand Fifth Streets."
And, from the book, Marine Corps Book Of Lists,Albert A. Nofi, 1999, Combined Publishing"...Eight Hoary Old Marine Corps Legends That AreNot True. 1. The first Marine recruiting stationwas established in Tun Tavern, in Philadelphia,the proprietor of which was so adept at securingrecruits, by liberally plying them with drink,that he was made a captain in the Corps. Alas for"romance," the story is untrue. It probably gotits start from the fact that Samuel Nicholas,effectively the first Marine Commandant, actuallydid own a tavern in Philadelphia, the ConestogaWagon, which apparently served as hisheadquarters for a time. However the owner of theTun Tavern did become a Marine officer, about ayear after the creation of the Corps, whichprobably gave rise to the legend. Legends and Myths Of The Corps

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Surviving Depression

There are many stories of those who don't survive once they come home and try to live normal lives.

"About one out of every five veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have some form of PTSD and depression, according to a federal study. Last month (January 2010), the Department of Veterans Affairs said the suicide rate among veterans between 18 and 29 years old climbed 26 percent from 2005 to 2007. The VA also said 20 percent of the 30,000 suicides reported in the U.S. are committed by veterans. The suicide rate among veterans is nearly twice the rate for civilians, according to reports." Hidden wounds

Anna and John Bigham hold a photo of Lance Cpl. Mills Bigham, Anna’s brother and John’s son. The 23-year-old Marine committed suicide in October (2009). His family has founded Hidden Wounds, a nonprofit organization based in Columbia that provides temporary support to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. – C. Aluka Berry/

"Mills Bigham wrote about his first kill in his journal on Oct. 3, just 16 days before he took his own life.Bigham said he wanted to tell the story “so you can understand the way death may or may not affect the living party. “As he approached the fallen attacker, Bigham said he could see “it is abruptly clear he is leaving his world, and soon. 'He is suffocating in his own blood. He is blowing blood bubbles through his red teeth. He is crying. There are bubbles coming from the two holes in his chest. One to the left of his heart, and the other to the right. Death took him and there were no new bubbles. He cried no more. I checked his ID. He is 12. I wept that night.'"
But while PTSD and returning from the field is a dramatic and tragic path into pain and sadness, it is not the only path of depression in the Marine Corps. Simpler, more mundane problems can drive the mental health of these young people. Isolation from their families, family problems and lack of stimulation take their toll as well. Marine leaders are encouraged to be observant and react in a "convincingly and genuinely concerned" manner."

"When a Marine appears depressed, anxious or isolated, it is a red flag that something needs to be done. Getting help before the problem becomes too big can get a depressed or anxious Marine back on track and help unit readiness at the same time."  Leader's guide
Depression takes many forms and has warning signals to watch for. But when it's internalized, blown over and ignored, it can be internally and externally very destructive.

"Darren Evans, the Marine facing charges in the beating death of Lance Cpl. Mario Arias, had been suicidal but allowed to drink by leaders, witnesses said in military hearing Thursday. " Camp Pendleton Dispatch
Ultimately it takes observation, peer support and compassion to identify depression issues in Marines. Vigilance is required on the part of officers, family members and fellow Marines to identify and help those who may need a little support to survive.

“In the combat lifesaver course, one of the things the instructors teach you to do in combat situations is self-aid (providing medical attention to yourself), buddy-aid (assistance from a fellow Marine) and then corpsman-aid (assistance from a Navy corpsman),” said Sgt. James A. Lyon. “When it comes to depression, Marines can’t do it alone. That’s why it’s very important for all Marines to look out for one another.”  Marines protect Marines

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Marine Ranks: Lance Corporal

My Marine, and most of the India Company he graduated with, is now a lance corporal, or E-3. Congratulations to all of them!
It is equal in rank to Crewman in the Navy, Private First Class in the Army, and Airman First Class in the Air Force. A Lance Corporal is above a Private First Class, but under a Corporal in the Marine Corps. Generally, a Lance Corporal has no command authority until he or she reaches the rank of Corporal. Wikia
The USMC is the only component of the U.S. Armed Forces to currently have lance corporals. Promotion to lance corporal, is based on time in-grade and the conduct of the Marine. Further promotion to the NCO ranks (Corporal and above) is competitive and takes into account the individual service record of the Marine. There can only be a certain number of Corporals and Sergeants in each MOS, so even with a qualifying cutting score promotions may be delayed due to an excessive number of corporals occupying billets in a certain MOS.

The "Lance Corporal Underground" is the term for the network for information to be transmitted as it becomes known across the ranks.
Term used in the Marines to refer to the gossip passed around by those of a lower rank (usually lance corporals) about deployments, promotions, and any other topic pertaining to a unit's agenda.
Lance Corporal: So, I heard through the Lance Corporal Underground that we are going to Okinawa in May.
Other Lance Corporal: STFU I'm peeing. Urban Dictionary

The Lance Corporal Underground is a powerful force within the Corps. It acts as an information superhighway as fast as any internet connection, phone line or otherwise for your inter-company and battalion rumors. It’s remarkably accurate for the most part–that is, unless you are unable to filter out the things that get tacked onto the rumors like titties and beer. Terminal Lance

The Urban Dictionary also has an entry under Lance Corporal, but I can't share it in public.

Its pretty clear the Lance Corporals of the Marine Corps take the bulk of the risk.
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jason Phillips crosses a poppy field as Marines conduct a security patrol outside Forward Operating Base Hanson, Marjah, Afghanistan, April 30, 2011. The security patrol was done in order for Marines to inspect the well being of a nearby village. Phillips is with Guard Force, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alberto B. Vazquez/Released) public intelligence

And the bulk of the casualties.
Members of Marine Lance Cpl. Benjamin Whetstone Schmidt's platoon who recently returned from Afghanistan pose at Camp Pendleton, Calif. with a cross they made as a memorial tribute. Placement of religious symbols at the base has been prohibited while the Marine commandant considers the issue in light of a complaint last year by an atheist group. COURTESY PHOTO My San Antonio

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Marine Special Ops

The U.S. Marine Corps has several Special Operations units functioning These are the basics:

* US Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC): Marine SOF under a new command structure
Marine RECON and MARSOC – Changes in Structure / Operations In the past few years, as the United States has ramped up its battle against terrorists worldwide, the special operations community has grown and changed to better prepare our special operators to do their mission. The Marine Corps has also changed the way they do business on the special ops side of the house. With the development of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC), the Marine Corps joined forces with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to perform a variety of special operations missions around the world, including foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action and other missions. Marine RECON and MARSOC
* Force Recon: Elite Reconnaissance Marines who carry out deep reconnaissance operations
The primary role of Force Recon marine is to gather intelligence in support of USMC operations.
Amphibious operations: scout swimming, beach/coastline reconnaissance, small boat operations; deep reconnaissance; unconventional warfare; foreign internal defense (FID); special reconnaissance; direct action; and counter-terrorism.
Force Recon Marines are trained in parachuting, including high altitude techniques, skiing and amphibious techniques, including working with SCUBA gear. .Force recon

And more of the same ...

* Division Recon: Highly trained Recon Marines
* Maritime Raid Force; USMC counter-piracy specialists
* Maritime Special Purpose Force: Marine Expeditionary Unit special ops
* Scout Snipers: Elite Marine snipers
* ANGLICO: Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company - elite USMC JTAC / JFO unit
* Radio Reconnaissance Teams: Marine Corps tactical SIGINT specialists
* Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team: An elite cadre of Marines, tasked with security operations
* Recapture Tactics Team: Elite Marine security team
* Special Reaction Team: Specialized USMC S.W.A.T. team

Here is a quote from a Marine lieutenant who is considering attending MARSOC in the near future:
"MARSOC likes for you to be (at least a noncommissioned officer) before you can tryout, which means that you have to do about three years or two deployments before you can tryout. The tryout consists of a pool portion to see if you know what you are doing in the water. Then, you take a (physical fitness test) and see between the two of those if you can go to the three-week screener. They give you a packing list and do not tell you much more than that - you just go and have fun for three weeks. Similar to the Army's SFAS and BUD/S Indoc, which screens you prior to entering, the MARSOC training school is the goal of the screener. I think that it is more intimidating than anything else, as I hear that it is physical, but if you can run a 300 PFT you will do well physically, but you still need to be able to learn new operations and tactics."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest post: Support military wives

In honor of my Marine's wife who chooses to live this way
and take care of business as needed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


My children, all three of them, are my heroes. The Marine is my knight, my warrior, my amazing shining beacon. My middle son is my humor, my baby, my support, my gentle man. My small son is my future, my energy, my thinker, my scientist, my bundle of potential.
These are my heroes. The people who lend me strength, heart, inspiration and motivation to do what is right and what is next in the order of my life.

Marines are heroes to many, those of other armed forces, those of other countries -- all heroes to somebody.

Heroes are individual to we who see them, who regard them and know them as such. Heroes are those who protect us, inspire us, impress us and encourage us to reach our potentials as human beings and connect with who we are individually.

Others don't have the right to tells us who are heroes should or should not be.

And so, while personally not especially inspired by Whitney Houston, I don't feel that any one of us has the right to say others should not regard her as a hero, or mourn her as one. While it is indeed wildly inappropriate to move flags to half-staff for her, it is also not ours to judge her personally and comparing one person to thousands is also wildly inappropriate. Certainly there are individual Marines who share her battles with addiction and life. You cannot match an individual and a whole corps of individuals, that is absurd.

My friend Phyllis Galvan McGeath has created a petition, which I wholeheartedly support, about the choice of flying the flag at half-staff
 The flag should be flown at half-staff through out the entire state for active duty military, law enforcement and firemen, and people elected to public office who serve our country.
This honor and sign of respectful mourning should be reserved for those who actually serve our communities and country by remembering the sacrifice they made and paying respect for their devotion to America!NOT Based on Fame, Fortune or Talent.  Flag petition

In the mean time, this is MY Marine Hero, and I'll stick with him, thank you:

... and I will be sad for the loss of an amazing and inspiring voice and the family members who are still missing her. RIP Whitney.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Working Marines: USS Bataan

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (March 28, 2011) Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU) embark aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group is deploying to the Mediterranean Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julio Rivera (Released) Marines embark

USS Bataan (LHD-5) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship commissioned in 1997. She is named to honor the defense of the Bataan Peninsula on the western side of Manila Bay in the Philippines during the early days of US involvement in World War II. Ship's Sponsor, Linda Sloan Mundy, wife of former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Carl E. Mundy Jr., christened the new ship "in the name of the United States and in honor of the heroic defenders of Bataan."

She served in the Iraq war between 2003 and 2007; provided relief services to victims of Hurricane Katrina; served as a testbed for the V-22 Osprey; assisted in humanitarian relief efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake; and on On March 23, 2011 was deployed to Libya to assist in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. Wikipedia

The mission of Bataan is to enable the Navy and Marine Corps team to accomplish a seamless transition “….from the sea” to the land battle, as the lead ship and centerpiece of an Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG). A multi-mission ARG is capab...le of amphibious assault, advance force, and special purpose operations, as well as non-combatant evacuation and other humanitarian assistance missions. USS Bataan on facebook

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit works ... and plays hard, on and off the USS Bataan.

Lt. Col. David Monroe, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit executive officer, inserts a large torch into a boiler aboard USS Bataan, Jan. 30, 2012. The ship’s boilers are used to generate electricity and hot water. The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are currently deployed with Amphibious Squadron 6 aboard the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group. The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission, capable force, comprised of an Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); a Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its Command Element. Photo: Staff Sgt. Wayne Campbell 22ndmeu

The USS Bataan soccer team, comprised of Marines and sailors with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and USS Bataan, play soccer against a Portuguese team during a Lisbon, Portugal, port visit, Jan. 24, 2012.
Bataan is 844 feet long, with a beam of 106 feet. Her well deck is 267 feet long and capable of holding three LCACs. Two steam propulsion plants, developing a combined 70,000 horsepower, drive the 40,500-ton ship in excess of 20 knots. The ship's living areas can accommodate approximately 3,200 crew members and embarked troops.

USS Bataan is the Navy's first amphibious assault ship designed and built from the keel up with accommodations for female sailors. This "Women at Sea" modification provides it with living areas for nearly 450 female officers, chiefs, enlisted personnel and embarked troops. 

GULF OF ADEN-Female Marines and Sailors with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) conduct weapons handling exercises as part of female search team training, Aug. 17-20. The 22nd MEU is currently deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) as the U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, also providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility., Sgt. Amber Blanchard, 8/18/2011 3:49 AM

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rest in Peace Corp. McGeath

"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must -- at that moment -- become the center of the universe."
-Elie Wiesel at Nobel Peace Prize presentation. (copied from Philip McGeath's facebook quotes)

Corporal Philip D. McGeath, killed in action Feb. 18, 2012, Kajaki, Afghanistan
Phyllis's baby died in Afghanistan last week. I would like to hold that mom in my arms and ... I don't know what. Nobody can make it better.
I know this family because when my Marine went to boot camp, I became part of a parents', loved ones' group and we shared and supported one another there. This young man is the brother of one who graduated from boot camp with my son. He was killed by suicide bombers in Afghanistan.

In his profile on facebook Philip said, "If you're in the arms of a Marine you're either in the last moments of your life....or the safest place you'll ever be."
An anti-tank guided missilman, he liked bodybuilding, running and Peyton Manning. He was a member of Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.
He had a wife Sarah, an older sister and was the oldest of six brothers, three of whom were Marines.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marines in the sky

Marine makes debut flight

Marine Corps aviation had its inception on 22 May 1912, when Lieutenant
Alfred A. Cunningham reported to the Naval Aviation Camp, Annapolis, Maryland. 
The following July, he was ordered from Annapolis to the Burgess Company plant
at Marblehead, Massachusetts, where actual flight training was conducted.  He
soloed on 1 August 1912, after 2 hours and 40 minutes of instructions.  Thus
Lieutenant Cunningham, whose Naval Aviator Number was 5, became Marine Aviator
Number 1.  A brief history of Marine Corps aviation