IN HELMAND WITH THE MARINES
When our plane touched down in Helmand Province, the first thing I noticed was the dust. My lips felt like they chapped immediately. Both the air strip and the sky stretched as far as the eye could see, blending into one in the almost fog-like, gray haze. It was my first time in country. I trailed a handful of soldiers to a waiting bus and eventually made it onto Camp Shorab, the small base serving as headquarters for the approximately 300 U.S. Marines who returned to Helmand in response to the rapidly deteriorating security situation there. I was here to embed with the Marines as a photojournalist. And, more personally, to get a glimpse of the reality of the guys on the ground who are actually doing what we only discussed back in Washington, D.C.
Some of my favorite quotes are from Marines.
They're typically simple and to the point. That isn't surprising since most Marines I know would rather do something than sit around describing it to you. But their quotes are so much harder hitting and less flowery than the ones by politicians about Marines, that it makes me smile. Their actions speak for themselves. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?!” – Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly, USMC
This quote is one of the first things you see when you walk into the National Museum of the Marine Corps and it's one of my favorites. Dan Daly, the Marine who said it, was a 1st Sergeant at the time, and already had two Medals of Honor. He was leading the 73rd Machine Gun Company at the Battle of Belleau Wood, which occurred during the German Spring Offensive in World War I. To inspire his men to charge the Germans, Daly charged ahead of them yelling “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?!” The Marines had to attack six times before the Germans fell back. Later, Daly was awarded a Navy Cross for his actions that day.
“You’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!” – Col. Henry P. Crowe, USMC
Henry Crowe was a Marine Gunner, who is probably best known for the gritty spirit he displayed at Guadalcanal while leading the Regimental Weapons Company of the 8th Marines. The Marines were locked in fierce fighting with the Japanese, when Crowe jumped up and shouted“Goddammit, you’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!” He lead a courageous charge against Japanese positions and later received a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his actions on Guadalcanal.
“Retreat, hell! We’re just advancing in a different direction!” -- Gen. Oliver P. Smith, USMC
Oliver P. Smith commanded the 1st Marine Division during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, which was a decisive moment in the Korean War.
The battle saw 15,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines, alongside another 15,000 UN soldiers, fought through a force of 120,000 Chinese soldiers to reach the sea some 78 miles away, successfully evacuating 98,000 refugees along the way. Smith embodied the Marine spirit when he found out the numerical odds were against them, saying: “Retreat, hell! We’re just advancing in a different direction!” And he meant it – the 1st Marine Division broke through the encirclement and fought its way to evacuation at Hungnam.
There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.
-- GENERAL WILLIAM THORNSON
THE MARINES' HYMN
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
Ever look on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.
This is the official hymn of the U.S. Marine Corps. The author of the words to the hymn is unknown, although the music to the hymn is believed to have originated in 1859. The Marines’ Hymn is the oldest of the service songs of our country and has become a sacred symbol of the pride and professionalism of the United States Marine Corps.
UNITED STATES MARINES
The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also known as the United States Marines, is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for conducting amphibious operations with the U.S. Navy. As of 2017, the USMC has around 186,000 active duty members and some 38,500reserve Marines, which means it is the smallest U.S. military service within the DoD. The average age of Marine recruits is 19 years old.