Saturday, August 30, 2003


Do Marines Surrender? A controversial subject.

Now and then this question comes up, but usually Marines seem to have little in the way of facts for their assumptions and their assertions that "Marines Don't Surrender" --but the fact is Marines have surrendered. Nor is there a complete summing up of the subject in any one book under one title; but the info is out there, though somewhat piecemeal. George Smith's book, "Carlson's Raid," devotes an entire chapter, for instance, to the surrender note controversy regarding Carlson's alleged attempted surrender during the Makin Raid of 17-18 August 1942.

Yes, Marines have surrendered. It's just one more reality, for some, in the profession of arms.

Most notably, there have been occurances of surenders for the Marine Corps in the opening days of World War Two's Pacific war at Guam, the Phillipines, Wake Island, and China. And then there was the little-known, for many years, alleged surrender attempt during the Makin Island Raid, already mentioned above.

Later, in Korea, 1950 there was a surrender that occurred at Hell Fire Valley during the Chosin Reservoir operation.

There were also Marine surrenders that occurred even further back through Marine Corps history during the 1700s and civil war times. (See Nofi's Book of Lists.)

Most Marines prefer not to discuss Marine surrenders nor to admit that there have ever been such.

Here is one remark from LtCol Evans F. Carlson himself, famed leader of Carlson's Raiders, as found in Gen. Peatross's book, "Bless 'Em All."

"...While discussing the various aspects of the raid,the only critique of the operation there would ever be Carlson suddenly had paused and, almost self critically and apropos of nothing, interjected: No commander ever expects to fail in an operation, but he should have a plan ready, ...."

Is it dishonorable for a Marine to surrender under extreme conditions when they no longer have the means to resist? It would appear it might well be dishonorable if he were not prepared to consider surrender, under some conditions.

In addition to the above topic, there are various other points of usually accepted Marine Corps history that people are either entirely ignorant of, and/or prefer to disregard or deny entirely. For instance, the phony red NCO/Officer stripe story regarding Chapultapec; Tun Tavern vs. Conestoga Wagon as the birthplace of the Corps, etc. Gen Simmons goes so far as to write that July 11, 1798 is the true birthday of the Corps.

Marine Corps historians, including BGen Edwin Simmons, have brought examples of these things out in their published writings, yet erroneous teachings continue. Why? As I've now come to mention often, I, not too long ago received an e-mail from a Marine colonel (retired), in response to his reading of some of my writings on topics like these, suggesting he didn't give a rat's ass about facts, tradition was all that counted w/him. People just don't want to hear what they don't want to hear.

Well, we all choose our own medicine--myself, I have a lousy memory, and I find it easier to believe and pass on the available facts that are not difficult to remember. Facts don't change, but opinions, stories, and perceptions do.

Semper Fidelis
Dick Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
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