Redeployment author Phil Klay's service as a Marine made him part of what is arguably the most revered part of the United States military. The Corps is not technically a branch of the U.S. military, but is a special service affiliated with the Navy. The Army was established by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775 and the Navy on October 13, 1775. The Marine Corps began as a naval infantry by order of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775 when volunteers responded to the recruiting call at taverns around Philadelphia. The owner of Tun Tavern, Robert Mullan, was one of the first to accept the call and his establishment is now affectionately known as the birthplace of the Marine Corps. Service members designated as Marines have served in every naval action since. The Corp's official date of U.S. Congressional origin is July 11, 1798.
Marines began as guards for the Navy's vessels and their role was initially based on Britain's own fighters of the same title. Over time their roles expanded to include infantry and amphibious duties. The Marine Corps Act of 1834 separated the Corps into a service distinct from the Navy. As the nineteenth century turned to the twentieth, Marine responsibilities grew, including guarding Navy bases in the Pacific and Caribbean. The Marines expanded again in number and added roles in World War I, and were a major part of the Allied victory in World War II. Marines were particularly revered for their role in the amphibious warfare of the Pacific theater of World War II and they paid dearly in casualties, approximately 90,000. During the Korean War, the Marines' specialty for amphibious assault was crucial and led to further expansion of the Corps. The Vietnam War proved to be the most costly of all conflicts for the Marines. Almost 800,000 served and most were heavily involved in ground combat, leading to over 100,000 casualties. Since Vietnam, Marines have performed numerous roles, participating in peacekeeping operations, various missions and interventions in Central America, the Persian Gulf War and the wars in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn).
Marines are considered "soldiers of the sea." They are often the first responders of the U.S. military, specializing in water-based deployments. Marines use the equipment and skill of the Navy for transportation and support. Sailors perform their duties on ships, while Marines are expeditionary, operating on both land and sea. Marines often work alongside the Army in ground combat operations, and while they operate similarly in this arena, Marines specialize in rapid response and in the initial seizing of territory. Marines are also responsible for guarding the United States' embassies around the world.
Phil Klay from the author's website.
Five U.S. Marine Corps privates with fixed bayonets with their noncommissioned officer (NCO). Navy Yard, Washington, DC, April 1864, courtesy of Wikipedia.
3rd Battalion 3rd Marines, conducting a dawn patrol in Nawa District, Afghanistan, photography by Sgt. Mark Fayloga.
This article was originally published in May 2014, and has been updated for the
February 2015 paperback release.
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