Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Marine Corps

Photo courtesy of the Commandant's Marine Corps Birthday web site.

When I was in the Navy I always knew that if I was in real trouble, I could count on the Marines. In the 1990s, I had to arrange a submarine change of command on short notice. A color guard is a traditional part of the ceremony, marching in with the the nation's flag as well as the flags of the Navy and Marine Corps while the national anthem played. The day before the ceremony, at our only available rehearsal, the base color guard, made up of Navy sailors, showed up. They did not strike me as particularly military looking. Two of the sailors needed haircuts and the woman member of the team was pregnant. Call me sexist, and some will, but a pregnant woman carrying a flag, in military formation or not, does not look particular fearsome or military. They could barely march either.

I was in charge and I was in a panic. Then I remembered, there were Marines on the base as part of a weapons security detachment. I promptly dialed them up and asked to speak to their commanding officer. I was told that he was on leave, and my heart sank, but it shouldn't have. It turned out the executive officer was acting as C.O. and was ready to make a command decision.

"We can do it," he said to my great relief, "I only want a few things for my Marines." Oh crap, I thought, here it comes. The major continued "I want my Marines to get a meal on board the ship." "Done," I replied. "And I want them to be given a tour of the submarine and be given an official photograph of the submarine signed by the Commanding Officer." "Done" I said again, with what I hoped wasn't too audible relief.

The next day the Marines showed up and they looked great, they marched with precision and the ceremony was a great success. The old and new skippers were both happy and I had learned a valuable lesson, when you're in trouble, call the Marines.

I made sure those Marines got all that was promised as well.


  1. What a great tale!

    On peacetime joint maneuvers with regular Army(Legs), Brits, Canadians, and US Marines, I found the Marines to be the most consistently disciplined and fine tuned. (Even more so than my Airborne brethren.)

    A big Semper Fi for their birthday!

  2. 'Dawg, agreed. The Marines are the best.