Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A War For Us Fought By Them

A War for us fought by them

By William Broyles, Jr.

- The longest love affair of my life began with a shotgun marriage. It was the height of the Vietnam War and my student deferment had run out. Desperate not to endanger myself or to interrupt my personal plans, I wanted to avoid military service altogether. I didn't have the resourcefulness of Bill Clinton, so I couldn't figure out how to dodge the draft. I tried to escape into the National Guard, where I would be guaranteed not to be sent to war, but I lacked the connections of George W. Bush, so I couldn't slip ahead of the long waiting list.

My attitude was the same as Dick Cheney's: I was special, I had "other priorities." Let other people do it.

When my draft notice came in 1968, I was relieved in a way. Although I had deep doubts about the war, I had become troubled about how I had angled to avoid military service. My classmates from high school were in the war; my classmates from college were not - exactly the dynamic that exists today. But instead of reporting for service in the Army, on a whim I joined the Marine Corps, the
last place on earth I thought I belonged.

My sacrifice turned out to be minimal. I survived a year as an infantry lieutenant in
Vietnam. I was not wounded; nor did I struggle for years with post-traumatic stress disorder. A long bout of survivor guilt was the price I paid. Others suffered far more, particularly those who had to serve after the war had lost all sense of purpose for the men fighting it. I like to think that in spite of my being so unwilling at first, I did some small service to my country and to that enduring love of mine, the United States
Marine Corps.

To my profound surprise, the Marines did a far greater service to me. In three years I learned more about standards, commitment and yes, life, than I did in six years of university. I also learned that I had had no idea of my own limits: when I was exhausted after humping up and down jungle mountains in 100-degree heat with a 75-pound pack, terrified out of my mind, wanting only to quit, convinced I wouldn't take another step, I found that in fact I could keep going for miles. And my life was put in the hands of young men I would otherwise never have met, by and large high-school dropouts, who turned out to be among the finest people I have ever known.

I am now the father of a young man who has far more character than I ever had. I joined the Marines because I had to; he signed up after college because he felt he ought to. He volunteered for an elite unit and has served in both
Afghanistan and Iraq
. When I see images of Americans in the war zones, I think of my son and his friends, many of whom I have come to know and deeply respect. When I opened this newspaper yesterday and read the front-page headline, "9 G.I.'s Killed," I didn't think in abstractions. I thought very personally.

The problem is, I don't see the images of or read about any of the young men and women who, as Dick Cheney and I did, have "other priorities."

There are no immediate family members of any of the prime civilian planners of this war serving in it - beginning with President Bush and extending deep into the Defense Department. Only one of the 535 members of Congress, Senator Tim Johnson of
South Dakota
, has a child in the war - and only half a dozen others have sons and daughters in the military. The memorial service yesterday for
Pat Tillman, the football star killed in
Afghanistan, further points out this contrast. He remains the only professional athlete of any sport who left his privileged life during this war and turned in his play uniform for a real one. With few exceptions, the only men and women in military service are the profoundly patriotic or the economically needy. It was not always so. In other wars, the men and women in charge made sure their family members led the way. Since 9/11, the war on terrorism has often been compared to the generational challenge of Pearl Harbor; but Franklin D. Roosevelt's sons all enlisted soon after that attack. Both of Lyndon B. Johnson's sons-in-law served in Vietnam

This is less a matter of politics than privilege. The Democratic elites have not responded more nobly than have the Republican; it's just that the Democrats' hypocrisy is less acute. Our president's own family illustrates the loss of the sense of responsibility that once went with privilege. In three generations the Bushes have gone from war hero in World War II, to war evader in
Vietnam, to none of the extended family showing up in Iraq and Afghanistan

Pat Tillman didn't want to be singled out for having done what other patriotic Americans his age should have done. The problem is, they aren't doing it. In spite of the president's insistence that our very civilization is at stake, the privileged aren't flocking to the flag.

The war is being fought by Other People's Children. The war is impersonal for the very people to whom it should be most personal.

If the children of the nation's elites were facing enemy fire without body armor, riding through gantlets of bombs in unarmored Humvees, fighting desperately in an increasingly hostile environment because of arrogant and incompetent civilian leadership, then those problems might well find faster solutions.

The men and women on active duty today - and their companions in the National Guard and the reserves - have seen their willingness, and that of their families, to make sacrifices for their country stretched thin and finally abused. Thousands of soldiers promised a one-year tour of duty have seen that promise turned into a lie. When Eric Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, told the president that winning the war and peace in
would take hundreds of thousands more troops, Mr. Bush ended his career.

As a result of this and other ill-advised decisions, the war is in danger of being lost, and my beloved military is being run into the ground. This abuse of the voluntary military cannot continue. How to ensure adequate troop levels, with a diversity of backgrounds? How to require the privileged to shoulder their fair share? In other words, how to get today's equivalents of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney - and me - into the military, where their talents could strengthen and revive our fighting forces? The only solution is to
bring back the draft. Not since the 19th century has
America fought a war that lasted longer than a week with an all-volunteer army; we can't do it now. It is simply not built for a protracted major conflict. The arguments against the draft - that a voluntary army is of higher quality, that the elites will still find a way to evade service - are bogus. In World War II we used a draft army to fight the Germans and Japanese - two of the most powerful military machines in history - and we won. The problems in the military toward the end of Vietnam
were not caused by the draft; they were the result of young Americans being sent to fight and die in a war that had become a disaster.

One of the few good legacies of
Vietnam is that after years of abuses we finally learned how to run the draft fairly. A strictly impartial lottery, with no deferments, can ensure that the draft intake matches military needs. Chance, not connections or clever manipulation, would determine who serves. If this war is truly worth fighting, then the burdens of doing so should fall on all Americans. If you support this war, but assume that Pat Tillman and Other People's Children should fight it, then you are worse than a hypocrite. If it's not worth your family fighting it, then it's not worth it, period. The draft is the truest test of public support for the administration's handling of the war, which is perhaps why the administration is so dead set against bringing it back.

This is...
Gunny G's...
Marines Sites & Forums

By R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
Semper Fidelis
GyG's G&A Sites & Forums is an informational site and not for profit. Copyrighted material provided soley for education, study, research, and discussion, etc. Full credit to source shown when available.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Ribbon Creek Incident,Plt #71,Parris Island,S/Sgt McKeon,Drownings,USMC Recruit Training,Jack Webb,The D.I.,Full Metal Jacket,Old Corps,New Corps,etc.
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952(Plt #437)--'72
"Sea Stories:
The traditional means by which wisdom is passed down from one generation of Marines to the next"
-Author Unknown

For Information regarding Ribbon Creek, Plt #71,
S/Sgt McKeon, PISC, etc. CLICK HERE!!!!!

More Info Also On GyG's History & Traditions Site HERE!!!!!
Note: The Thread Re Plt #71, S/Sgt McKeon, Etc. is a very long thread--you may not reach all the posts via the top link (above)--you may have to go to the next link (above) and backtrack through the pages to find all the posts/responses/ remaining parts of that thread, if interested.

In order to more fully understand, and discuss, either The D.I. or Full Metal Jacket (FMJ), I think, that information regarding that well known event in 1956 that preceded the making of the movie, The D.I. is in order. Thus, I have provided information regarding The Ribbon Creek Incident (above) to include my message board posts from Marines of Platoon #71, and others with information relating to that event.

Marines have always argued among themselves as to how much tougher and better, etc. things were in "The Old Corps"! Nobody has recorded when this first began--best bet is 1775. When will it end? I would say, not as long as there is yet one Marine still standing!

And such it was and has been since one night in 1956 when something now referred to as The Ribbon Creek Incident occurred. Because of that, new arguments as to whether "boot camp" is as tough as it once was, or tougher, have gone on and on without ceasing. Many have always thought that this event of 1956 was a turning point in the way recruit training was to thereafter go for the Marine Corps, and much discussion has ensued as to what was right and wrong as a result of this. This webpage will not end such arguments, nor should it. But perhaps it can serve to bring out a few interesting points unknown to a now younger breed of Marines.

Most of us generally first learn of our Corps before we are Marines. That is when we first see a Marine movie--maybe John Wayne as Sgt John M. Stryker, in Sands of Iwo Jima; or, Retreat Hell, a movie of the first Marines to go to Korea in 1950, or maybe Battle Cry--or any one of dozens more movies about Marines. Whatever movie it was, most likely we never forgot it, nor did it leave us untouched as an individual.

Cinema serves an important social function and is a part of our American culture. The "movies," to some extent at least, contribute to our thinking and beliefs in nearly every aspect of our everyday life. True, movies are not history, nor is it facts (but it might be these things to some extent), it is entertainment, produced with profit in mind, not history or social value. Still it effectively models, shapes, and reinforces our beliefs, perception, and values. But, to what extent this occurs is debatable.

There have been several films produced the theme of which deals wholly or in part with Marine Corps recruit training and the Marine Drill Instructor (D.I.). One of the first was the 1927 "Tell It To The Marines," with Lon Chaney. And there have been many to follow through the years which at least touched upon this topic. Most likely the top two of these films, as far as authenticity goes, would be "The D.I., starring Jack Webb," and "Full Metal Jacket" (FMJ), with R. Lee Ermey." These actors--Webb and Ermey--portrayed drill instructors in each of the above two films. Marines today constantly debate which of the two movies provides the better insight into the "real" boot camp and the "real" D.I.!

Ermey is a former Marine; Webb was not a Marine, although he was a veteran of the Army Air Corps during WW II. Of the two, however, my opinion is that Webb provided the most honest and realistic portrayal of what a Marine D.I. is and should be. He appeared and acted with the bearing of a Marine. He was indeed the man for the role of T/Sgt (Gunny) Jim Moore. The setting and supporting actors, and Marines, of The D.I. were as true-to-life as could be expected.

My opinion is also based on the obvious fact that if all the vulgar language were omitted from FMJ, we would essentially have something of a silent film. The D.I., on the other hand, contains no vulgar language, yet it emerges as the best of the genre. FMJ, although entertaining, is still left with some good points, but sorely lacking when compared to The D.I.

Foul language by D.I.'s was obviously a part of Marine Corps boot camp during both eras of the two films. But it was far from the central, essential, and most critical ingredient in making Marines, then and now, and not as one might think by the direction of FMJ.

The D.I., in many ways, exemplified what the Corps was shooting for in revamping the recruit training of the mid-fifties, shortly after the tragedy of The Ribbon Creek Incident of 1956.

What then makes the difference between the two films? Webb's film was produced in 1957, the post Korean war era; and Ermey's FMJ in 1987, long after the Vietnam war ended, but focussed on the Vietnam era. Thus there was a difference of generations between the two films. There could be many other factors involved. But I think another factor is involved here that makes the difference more so than any other. That factor being the overall "image" of Jack Webb the actor.

Webb had the image of being the all-around American good guy--a Marine in "Halls of Montezuma," a cop in "Dragnet," etc. Ermey, practically had no previous image; therefore he had to be taken at face value as the D.I. that he played on the screen. He came across as foul-mouthed in the extreme, and that alone made the movie far excessive and overdone.
Yet, it was a somewhat accurate account of a D.I's lexicon of verbage, for that time. But that was also the film's major failing point. The film seemed to rely soley on that for shock effect, and provided little else. I am not personally opposed to some use of foul languge by either D.I.s or other Marines, but neither should we be obsessed with its use.

Ermey himself had, in fact, previously served as a Marine and drill instructor, but he was, for the most part an unknown actor at that time. Maybe the above factors had much to do with the way the film was perceived both then and now, maybe not.

Again, in my opinion, I believe the D.I. was the most realistic and honest film yet made regarding the experience of Marine Corps recruit training. I expect I am in the minority here, judging by responses to this that I have received across the Internet, but that is my opinion--take it or leave it.

Jack Webb has been dead these many years, and Ermey has gone on to acclaim as an actor and personality. Ermey, having reached the rank of staff sergeant while on active duty, has now been officially appointed/promoted to the "honorary" rank of gunnery sergeant by the Marine Corps, a title which he uses as a television personality, etc.

This serves to remind me that Benjamin Franklin was the recipient of one or more "honorary" doctorates. Honorary doctorates are not "earned" degrees, nor conferred on the basis of work done or academic achievements met, etc.. I have read, that Franklin thereafter went by... "Doctor Franklin." Some say he even insisted that members of Congress address him as such. Whether or not anyone ever took him seriously and complied, I don't know. Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), and others, BTW, have also been promoted to honorary Marine Corps ranks, but of course, Nabors was best known anyway as a comic.

I have seen Ermey's performances in several movies, and I agree that he is a pretty fair actor, maybe even better than fair, in some cases. As to his judgement in choice of certain parts/roles he accepts to play...well that's another story, I think. I read an RLE Interview (below) where he was questioned on that point, and I believe he just alluded to the amount of pay he received for that dubious part in question.

I do think, and I must honestly say, that the character he has developed on his television presentations is something less than desireable for the image of a United States Marine. In fact it may indeed be a throwback to the old pre-WW II films depicting the military sergeant as a less than super-intelligent character.

The following remarks, I find in the book, The United States Marine Corps In Books And The Performing Arts, by Richard L. Hemenez, Col USMCR (Ret.), McFarland & Company, 2001

The following, in part, regarding Ermey and FMJ...
(Page 455)...
"...Ermey, a former Marine, is also credited as a technical advisor...a heated side feud with Kubrick over Lee Ermey...labeled him 'a fucking pogue lifer'...There was some negative reaction to Ermey's DI speech...It wasn't until later that Lee Ermey went Hollywood and became R.Lee might think he wrote his own lines, except that much of the dialogue comes directly from Mr. Hasford's book..."
and, the following, in part, regarding Jack Webb and The D.I.(Page 443)...
"...In a Leatherneck magazine interview, Webb noted that a large part of his admiration for the Corps stemmed from an uncle who enlisted during WW II at age 38. His name--Frank Smith, PFC Smith was later honored as the name of Joe Friday's partner..."

I discovered the following interesting remarks and information from a few old salt Marines on the Newsletter & Archives at Sgt Grit's ....and requested Sgt Grit's permission to use them here.
There are few younger Marines today who have a very good understanding as to what occurred regarding Marine Corps Recruit training back in 1956, and thereafter. There are still Marines now out there on the Internet==old-timers--who were there and can pass some straight scoop along to you. The following is some of just that, together with some other information on this site on this topic that I have collected along the way.
The following by permission...
Sgt Grit's...
For A Full Line Of USMC Gear, Catalog, Newsletter,
Forums, Chatrooms, Etc.
Click Here!!!!!
"If We Don't Have It, Chesty Wouldn't Want It!"
Your last news letter had a posting by Frank N. Johnson that referred to his
Drill Instructor that played in The D.I. movie with Jack Webb. We had
an acting First Sergeant in HMM-262 back in the early 60's that also
was in that movie. He was a Gunny when we had him as our 1stSgt, but he
was also an ex DI. Gunny Louis Lazarko. He's the guy Jack Webb got into
a bar fight with named Joey. Gunny attended a reunion we had a few
years ago in New River and I made sure I brought my copy of The D.I.
with me to get autographed. We presented him with a D.I. Campaign hat
that we purchased from you.

There were two other distinguished Vietnam
Era "Brothers" in attendance at that reunion that started as 1stLt's in
our squadron. LtGen Fred "Crazy Fred" The Assassin" McCorkle who was
out guest speaker, and LtGen Mike "The Rifle" DeLong who was running
the war in the Gulf at the time. We've had many reunions and they never
grow old, I was thrilled to see our Vietnam squadron CO Col. Ural
"Bill" Shadrick at one in DC in 01.

Your constant reminders to our
"Brothers and Sisters" in the Corps to reach out and reunite with an
old buddy is something that needs to be repeated all the time. The
rewards are worth every penny you spend to mail a letter, make a phone
call, or take a plane ride, don't miss your chance! Life is too short
to miss such a rewarding opportunity. To our younger "Brothers &
Sisters" in harms way Gods Speed to your save return home.
Semper Fi,
Tim McMahon HMM-262 65-67 RVN 66-67

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the movie The D.I. with
Jack Webb as being one of the best. The movie is one of the best I've
seen, made in the 50's with a real Platoon of Marines (Platoon 104
Parris Island). There's a Marine that gets into a barroom fight with
Jack Webb, Louis Lazarko that was our acting First Sergeant then a
Gunny in 1965. He was with HMM-262 in New River. In May of 2002 we had
an HMM-262 All Eras Reunion in New River, I knew the Gunny would be
there so I brought my copy of the movie with me; the Gunny autographed
it for me. He's still tough as nails! We also had the honor of having
LtGen Fred (Crazy Fred) McCorkle as our guest speaker and LtGen Mike
(The Rifle) DeLong, both former Vietnam pilots with HMM-262. It was a
great reunion, and like you always say contact your buddies and keep in
touch you'll cherish the memories.
Semper Fi,
Tim McMahon HMM-262 RVN 66-67

To sort of complete the comments on the famous movie of 1957 (The
D.I.) with Jack Webb, here's some more info. The book "Courtmartial at
Parris Island, the story of Ribbon Creek" written by John Stevens talks
about Platoon 351 which was training from 1 October through 31
December, 1956. That was about four months after the drowning incident
but nothing much had changed. The reason that Plt 351 (my platoon) was
mentioned is that some Hollywood movie producer had approached the
Marine Corps wanting to do a movie about the "brutality" of Marine
D.I's and the Corps wanted no parts of that plan. Shortly thereafter,
Jack Webb approached the Marine Corps with the idea of doing a movie
about a day in the life of a D.I. including the theme from a Kraft
Television Theater show about the death of a sand flea. That approach
was approved and a film production team came to MCRD PI to film
background and absorb the experience. Jack Webb noticed and admired the
drill cadence of one of my Junior D.I's (Cpl E-3 John R. Brown) and
pulled him out to Hollywood to act in the film and be one of the
technical advisors. Brown played a Sergeant O'Neill in the film. You
may recall that he was the one who braced the fire watch and had to
listen to him spit out his General Orders and then pulled liberty with
Webb at the Cotton Club. To this day, no one can find out where John R.
Brown went or what happened to him. Rumor is he met and married a
starlet while in Hollywood. He was a 'character' to say the least! The
other 351 drill instructors were Sgt's (E-4) Eugene Alvarez, J.R.
Strickland and H.W. Jones.

I'm pleased to say that I still meet
and communicate with my senior D.I. after 49 years. Gene Alvarez is an
accomplished author, PHd and a retired professor living in Centerville,
Georgia. At 75 years of age, he's remarkable in all aspects and still
travels back to Parris Island to join with other D.I's including the WW
II gents. Platoon 351 Marines can contact me at jrhd@aolcom if they'd
Semper Fidelis
Joe Featherston
Major, USMC, Ret.

From a book titled Court-Martial at Parris Island, by by John C. Stevens,
III, that recounts the full story of the recruits lost in Ribbon Creek
in April, 1956 comes the following excerpt from pg 156: "Richard
Hudson, a 1948 Parris Island recruit and later a Drill Instructor in
the mid-1950's, remembers, During the time I was in boot camp there
were incidents of "thumping" ....A lot of DIs were veterans of the
Pacific and seemed to be an unforgiving group. I received a hard kick
in the butt when I moved my foot a couple of inches after the platoon
was called to a halt.

One senior DI had a routine that he felt
was good for instilling discipline. He would place a very young looking
DI in his platoon with new dungarees (utilities), hat pulled down to
his ears, and blend him in with the others; this would be in the first
couple of days before they knew each other. Once on the drill field the
"shill" would start screwing up. The DI would then go into his act of
beating and screaming at the individual causing him so much grief.
After a period of time the PLANT would start yelling that he could take
no more, "No, I can't take it. I Can't take it," drop his rifle and
start running across the drill field. In the meantime, the DI had
picked up his rifle and was yelling, "Get back here you
son-of-a-bitch." The PLANT, yelling, "No Sir," continues to run,
whereupon the DI chambered a round (blank, of course) in the rifle and

The 'planted' recruit would scream and fall. The DI would
then turn toward a couple of other DIs awaiting their cue and (say,)
"Carry that worthless bastard off of my drill field." O.K. Sarge, we'll
take care of it."

The plant was carried off the field, and the
awestruck recruits' terror and fear of their drill instructor were
instantly elevated to a new plateau.The routine continued with other
platoons in their formative stages until an officer happened to spot
the charade and, suppressing his mirth, suggested that it not be

Personal note: I was in Platoon 351 (September, 1956)
in 1st Battalion which served as the role model for the movie starring
Jack Webb called The D.I. In fact, the cadence of one of my junior DIs
named Cpl (E-3) John R. Brown caused him to be selected by Jack Webb to
play a role in the movie as Sgt O'Neill and to be a technical advisor
in the movie. Despite the fallout from the court-martial, there was no
appreciable transformation by our DIs to a more kind and gentle mode
with us.

Semper Fidelis,
Joe Featherston

In response to both Kent Mitchell, (Corporal, 55-60) Newsletter of August
7th and GySgt Ted "Shotgun" Baker Newsletter of August 21st, maybe I
can add some clarification to their accounts of the making of The DI
with Jack Webb and a number of active duty Marines in late 1956. I was
a recruit in Platoon 351, 1st RTB at Parris Island from 1October56
through December 31, 1956. Among others, my DI's were (then) Sgt E-4
Eugene Alvarez as SDI and Sgt's Strickland and Jones as JDI's, until
Cpl E-3 John R. Brown joined Plt 351 at the rifle range, probably in
early November. I recall it pretty well because a slightly (sic)
inebriated Cpl Brown summoned the fire watch (me) in the middle of the
night and "gut-checked" me before turning on his heels and walking off.
To say that he was unusual would be a grievous understatement. To know
him was to never, ever, forget him. As Gy Baker said, we probably
picked up both Sgt Jones and Cpl Brown from platoon 253 when they
"outposted" at the end of October. You're right Gunny, Brown supposedly
went "Hollywood" appeared in the DI as Sgt O'Neal, met and married a
French starlet while there.and sometime later went off the radar. No
one with the DI Association can turn up any further news.

By the way, Platoon 351 also had a recruit, named Vincent Sheehan, called
"Shotgun" because his rapid-fire string looked about like that. He was
made to grab a GI can lid in his left hand as a shield, fix bayonets
and charge the targets to prove that was the only way he was going to
kill anything. Another Brown legacy! Agreeing with Kent Mitchell, Brown
was, indeed, a mean little s..t! I can see him taking immediate action
during the movie filming. By the way folks, our SDI (Sgt Alvarez) a
retired PhD from the collegiate system of Georgia will be at MCRD PI
and MCAS Beaufort 3 & 4 October for a book signing with John
Stevens (Court Martial at Parris Island, The Ribbon Creek Incident).
The event is the reunion of WWII DI's. Wouldn't miss this one for the
world! How would you like to see you SDI after nearly 47 years.? Joe
Featherston (1647380), rifle number 441380 (doesn't everybody remember
their rifle number?)
Major, USMC, Ret.

And so, what can be answered to the age-old questions as to Old Corps, New Corps? Which was/is tougher?, etc. These questions still go on and on, never really answered to the satisfaction of all.

In my opinion, the Corps is as tough as it ever was. Individual Marines, however, have changed, most notably in their attitudes.

I have seen articles these last few years where some of today's generals have publicly stated that today's Marines are superior to the Old Corps, etc. That today's recruits are bigger, stronger, better educated, better trained and equipped, etc. And I have seen young Marines themselves pick up on this theme and run with it. And, the old salts-- though few really old salts seem to be regulars on the WWW--have generally conceded the above points, some of which may be true. Often cited in response, is the "Old Breed, New Breed, Only The Marine Breed," quote (paraphrased here) of General "Chesty" Puller. It was back in 1950 that the general made that remark.

My only contact with today's Marines is via the Internet, i.e., Marines who post/respond on Marines' message boards, therefore my opinion is limited to such direct observation.

Unlike older Marines from the '50s and prior, today's "boots" are unwilling to take a backseat in any way to those who came before them. They feel the need to voice their opinions on everything, and to judge the past by their own standards, and demand that they be respected by the older Marines. They claim they also "respect" the old-timers, but actually I can see that many consider talk of the Old Corps as an affront to their own status. (On the other hand, like everything else, it could be that only the bigmouths are heard from.)

I never witnessed anything like this directed toward the older generations of Marines back in the '50s and '60s from regular Marines! We, of the older Corps, indeed come from a far different process of socialization prior to our having become Marines.

That is the major change I see, from my observations of young Marines--an unwillingness to defer to those who came before them, unwilling to be a silent majority as others were in the old days, etc.

So it's not really a case of which is better, the new or the old--such would now be like comparing apples and oranges, I think. Marines can and still do what is expected of one who has claimed the title. Yes, I said "claimed." (Even that has now been effectively changed to "earned," along with the demise of much Naval terminology once a part of every Marine's lexicon.)

Such Old Corps/New Corps questions were at one time valid--much direct comparison, despite obvious differences, could be made between the pre--WW II Marines and those of WW II and Korea, for instance. But America itself has changed dramatically since those days till now. And obviously, the available resources of Americans we draw our new Marines from has changed a great deal. In fact, it has changed so much that I do not believe that a direct comparison can be made any longer between the old and the new individual Marines. Yes, boot camp tears a recruit down while building a new Marine, but there is a very basic difference between the recruit of 1950 and now.

Yet, the Corps is still here as always, a Marine Corps no better or lesser than the Old Corps, but different, in many ways, than it was in 1950.

Without doubt, General Puller's remarks were indeed quite true back then. The difference between today's new Marines and the Old Corps is not principally that the Corps has changed all that much, but that today's youth doesn't come from the same "America" that we came from so many years ago now. Thus, the basic change in attitudes. So these ageless questions regarding Old Corps, New Corps? Which was tougher?, etc., not only cannot be answered--these cannot even be questions any longer.! But don't expect these questions to go away any time soon. Marines have never allowed facts to get in the way of their traditions--and arguing about The Old Corps is traditional for Marines.

Semper Fidelis
Dick Gaines

This is...
Gunny G's...
Marines Sites & Forums

By R.W. "Dick" Gaines
Gny Sgt USMC (Ret.)
Semper Fidelis
GyG's G&A Sites & Forums is an informational site and not for profit. Copyrighted material provided soley for education, study, research, and discussion, etc. Full credit to source shown when available.

Friday, May 20, 2005

About "The Wind And The Lion"

By R.W. Gaines, GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
November 21, 2004

I recently again viewed the film The Wind And The Lion, 1975, (Sean Connery, Candice Bergen), and I noticed that although the story was set in the year 1904, the Marine Corps battle color shown was the one w/the scarlet background, not the battle color w/the blue background as would be correct for that time. As you all know, the background color for the USMC battle color was changed from blue to scarlet in 1925, although it did not become completely effective till 1939. Also noticed the same error in another film, Shores Of Tripoli (John Payne, Randolph Scott). in this case, the blue battle color vice the scarlet was shown on the occasion of the beginning of WW II and Pearl Harbor. Decided to check into the events of the The Wind and The Lion plot to see whether or not the story line of this film had any basis in fact, and perhaps discover what else they had gotten wrong...
Here's what I found.
Dick Gaines
"May 30, 1904 — The bandit chieftain, Raisouli, kidnapped a naturalized American citizen, Ion Perdicaris, in Morocco. President Roosevelt informed the Moroccan government that we wanted "Perdicaris alive or Raisouli dead" and landed Captain J.T. Myers's Marine detachment from the cruiser USS Brooklyn (ACR 3) at Tangier. Shortly thereafter, Raisouli released Pedicaris."
The above incident involving Pedicaris and Raisouli is not specifically mentioned in "Who's Who In The Marine Corps" (below), however it does indicate Capt Myers's Marine Detachment on the USS Brooklyn during that period.
-Dick Gaines

1904: 'Pedicaris Alive Or Raisuli Dead'

"Long before there were suicide bombers, Osama bin Laden or chants of "Death to the Great Satan," a Trenton man named Ion Perdicaris became the 20th century's first American victim of Middle Eastern terrorism.

It all happened in 1904, when the 64-year-old Perdicaris and his stepson found themselves taken hostage from their villa in Tangier, Morocco by a scruffy band of rifle-toting Berber tribesmen on horseback.

The bandits' chieftain was flamboyant, black-bearded Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli, and he wanted to extort a heavy ransom from the Sultan of Morocco -- not to mention embarrass the sovereign by showing his powerlessness to protect foreign citizens.

This was more than a simple kidnapping in a distant land. For President Theodore Roosevelt, it was an opportunity to start waving his "big stick," sending battleships steaming toward the African coast to ensure Perdicaris' safe release.

It also gave Roosevelt the chance to issue one of his most blood-curdling proclamations, a statement that helped ensure his re-election while sending Americans wild with joy:

"Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!"

Still, for all the bluster contained in that ringing phrase, Roosevelt concealed a secret that Perdicaris wasn't even an American citizen.

The strange saga of Ion Hanford Perdicaris began in 1840, when he was born an American citizen in Greece, son of Gregory Perdicaris.

The elder Perdicaris was an Athenian who had emigrated to the United States, married a wealthy young woman from South Carolina and headed back to his native land to serve as American consul. When Ion was 6, the Perdicarises moved back to America and settled in the industrial boom town of Trenton.

There, Gregory Perdicaris built a mansion at East State Street and North Clinton Avenue, published a short-lived newspaper, and turned his wife's wealth into a fortune by creating the Trenton Gas Light company

Young Ion Perdicaris grew up with few cares in his luxurious life. He attended prestigious Trenton Academy, took on a dilettantish love of art and literature and wrote a verse play, "Tent Life," around one of his paintings. It bombed.

In 1862, in the middle of the Civil War, Ion Perdicaris secretly went back to Greece to forswear his American citizenship and be naturalized a Greek citizen. He made this rash move to prevent the Confederacy from confiscating his mother's huge estate there. But few even in his family knew about it.

On a later trip abroad, Ion Perdicaris fell in love with the warm, breezy climes of Tangier and built his own house there, calling it Place of Nightingales and filling it with a menagerie of dogs, monkeys and cranes.

Late in life, he married an English actress and became a fixture in the large diplomatic community in Morocco, who also included another Trentonian -- the American consul, Samuel R. Gummere.

Morocco was then the only independent country try in North Africa. But the sultan, Mulia Abdul-Aziz, was a weak puppet who played with his collection of grand pianos while rival bands of warlords tore his country apart and the European powers jockeyed for influence.

In this chaotic environment, western diplomats banded together and lived apart from the natives -- a situation that was later described by Gummere's niece, Mathilde Bedford.

"[Perdicaris'] villa, like most of the diplomats' homes, was outside the city walls," she wrote in 1964. "Morocco, at that time, had no roads, not even a carriage or wheel of any kind, so we went everywhere, even at night to dinners and dances, on horses and donkeys, and if it rained, I was carried in a sedan chair on the shoulders of four Jews. No Moor would carry 'a dog of a Christian,' so the Jews kindly helped us out."

This carefree existence was shattered the evening of May 18, 1904.

Perdicaris and his stepson, Cromwell Varley, were dining on their terrace when they heard shrieks and barked commands coming from their servants' quarters. As they ran to the scene of the commotion a gang of Berbers brazenly grabbed them, clubbed them with gun stocks and bound their arms.

A housekeeper shouted "Help!" into the telephone before the kidnappers clubbed her too, cut the wire and ordered the captive duo out of the house. Guns to their backs, curved daggers at their throats, they were ordered onto horses and driven off in a wild storm of dust.

After a daylong ride Perdicaris and Varley reached a tent deep in the desert. There, they rested on sheepskins, ate a dinner of couscous and came face to face with Raisuli.

Raisuli was a notorious brigand known as "Last of the Barbary Pirates." But for his admirers, he was a Robin Hood in white robes doing battle with a corrupt sultan.

The raid on Perdicaris' home it turned out, was only his latest and boldest power play against
that sultan. Raisuli issued the hated ruler a list of exorbitant demands for the hostages' release: $70,000 in gold, safe-conduct for all his tribesmen and, most outrageous of all, recognition as the sultan's bashaw, or governor, over two districts around Tangier.

How did Perdicaris, this heir to privilege, react upon meeting the desert warrior Raisuli? Incredibly, the two hit it off.

"I go so far as to say that I do not regret having been his prisoner for some time," Perdicaris would later write. "He is not a bandit, not a murderer, but a patriot forced into acts of brigandage to save his native soil and his people from the yoke of tyranny."

Roosevelt did not see it that way. He was, after all, the swinger of the big stick, the trust-buster, the man who, months earlier, engineered a Latin American revolution to dig the Panama Canal. And he wasn't going to let an obscure tribe of Berbers get away with kidnapping an American.

"Preposterous," said Roosevelt's Secretary of State, John Hay, responding to the ransom demands.

Seven battleships from the Atlantic fleet were dispatched to the Moroccan coast. But even with the public and press crying for blood, Roosevelt knew he couldn't send marines on a rescue mission on unfamiliar soil. And on June 1, he was faced with further trouble -- a confidential message from the U.S. embassy in Greece sending word that Perdicaris was not, as widely believed, an American citizen.

So the United States quietly enlisted Britain and France to put pressure on the tottering sultan and accept Raisuli's demands.

This the sultan agreed to do, on June 21. But to cover his tracks, Hay -- no doubt with some prodding from the hot-blooded commander in chief -- issued a stirring telegram to Gummere in Tangier.

"This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead," went the telegram.

Read for the first time at the Republican national convention, the challenge turned a dull proceeding into a frenzy of all-American excitement.

A few days later, Perdicaris was free and safe, Raisuli was $70,000 richer and Roosevelt was renominated for another term, propelling him to easily win a second term in the November elections.

Forgotten in the excitement was the fact the U.S. government had, essentially, given in to all the kidnapper's demands. And the public was never told Perdicaris' secret that he wasn't even a citizen.

"It is a bad business," Hay wrote. “We must keep it excessively confidential."

And confidential it stayed. Not until 1933, long after all the players in the Perdicaris drama had died, would a historian uncover the truth in official documents.

Into his 70s, Perdicaris came back to Trenton from time to time and visited his substantial real estate holdings. Perdicaris Place, off West State Street, is named after him and his father. He died a wealthy figure in London in 1925.

Years later, the Perdicaris story would be rediscovered by Hollywood in a 1975 movie, "The Wind and the Lion." Sean Connery played Raisuli, but the scriptwriters apparently thought the balding, bearded Perdicaris wasn't a romantic enough character as a man.

So the screenwriters turned "Ion" Perdicaris into "Eden" Perdicaris and cast Candice Bergen in the part.
Back to The Capital Century home page
1904: 'Perdicaris alive
or Raisuli dead!'
By JON BLACKWELL / The Trentonian"





Who's Who in Marine Corps History


Lieutenant General John Twiggs Myers, who earned a permanent place in Marine Corps history as commander of the American Legation Guard at Peking, China, during the Boxer Rebellion, died on 17 April 1952, at his home in Coconut Grove, Florida. A veteran of 40 years as a Marine officer, he retired from the Corps in 1935, after a career that included the Spanish-American War; the Philippine Insurrection; World War I service as Fleet Marine Officer of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet; expeditionary service in the Haitian, Santo Domingan, Cuban and Mexican campaigns; and a total of nearly ten years of sea duty.

General Myers was a great grandson of General John Twiggs, a Revolutionary War hero, and his father, Abraham C. Myers, was a West Point graduate who fought in the Seminole and Mexican Wars and later served as Quartermaster General of the Confederate Army. At the end of the Civil War, Abraham C. Myers took his family to Weisbaden, Germany, where John was born 29 January 1871. The family returned to this country in 1876, and young John attended public schools in Washington, D.C., and Wilkinson's Preparatory School at Annapolis, Maryland, before entering the U.S. Naval Academy in September 1887. Graduating in 1892, he continued to hold the rank of naval cadet until he was appointed an assistant engineer in August, 1894. He was transferred from the Navy to the Marine Corps on 6 March 1895, and accepted appointment as a second lieutenant the following day.

In May 1896, after completing the course at the School of Application in Washington, D.C., and studying ordnance at the Naval Gun Factory in Washington, the general was ordered to the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, where he completed his studies that September. He then served briefly at the Marine Barracks, Boston, Massachusetts, before joining the barracks detachment at Mare Island, California, in November of the same year. He left Mare Island 7 May 1898, to join the Marine detachment aboard the USS Charleston, which sailed a few days later to convoy six troop ships to the Philippines. Enroute, the Charleston stopped at Guam, and on 21 June General Myers (as a second lieutenant) accompanied the captain of the Charleston ashore as head of a landing party of 16 sailors and 30 Marines, which disarmed and made prisoners of the Spanish garrison on the island.

After that, the convoy moved to the Philippines, where the general (by then a captain) was transferred to the USS Baltimore in July, 1899. While attached to that ship during the Philippine Insurrection, he commanded a landing expedition which went ashore under fire to capture and destroy an Insurrect gun at Port Olongapo on 23 September and made another landing under fire at Bacoor on 2 October. He also commanded a 100-man landing force which took over the naval station at Subic Bay on 10 December 1899, the day after it was captured by the Army. On 18 April 1900, the general was transferred from the Baltimore to the USS Oregon, and on 24 May of the same year he was detached to the USS Newark. Meanwhile, a wave of violence, led by an athletic society known as the Boxers, was erupting in China, where a number of foreigners were killed or subjected to gross indignities. The Imperial Government, sympathizing with the movement, did little to stop it, and the foreigners in Peking were soon forced to the take refuge in the legations there. On 28 May E.H. Conger, the American Minister at Peking, telegraphed the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Asiatic Squadron at Taku to send an armed force for the protection of the legation. The following day Myers set out for that city as commander of a force of 48 Marines and three sailors from the Oregon and Brooklyn. Along with detachments of British, Russian, French, Italian and Japanese Marines, they reached Peking at 11 o'clock on the night of 31 May just before the city was encircled.

On 24 June serious fighting broke out on the walls of the legations as hordes of Boxers, armed with swords, spears, clubs, stones, noise-makers and several three-inch field pieces, attempted to overwhelm the handful of foreign troops. A German detachment repulsed the first attack and the Marines hurled back a second, causing heavy losses amongst the boxers. After that the Chinese changed their tactics and began building a tower on the ancient wall above the American Legation, only about 25 feet from the Marines' position. Since this would have allowed the Boxers to fire at will on the troops and civilians below, Minister Conger reported this danger to the British Minister, Sir Claude M. MacDonald, who had been picked by common consent as commander of the international defense. He agreed to the American's suggestion that an attack should be made on the tower and the Chinese barricade behind it.

Myers was picked to head the attacking force, composed of himself and 14 other American Marines, 16 Russian and 25 British Marines. His plan was to have the Russians hit the barricade from the North, while the American and British Marines were to assault the tower, then fight their way to the barricade, along a sort of trench which ran from it to the tower. At a signal from Myers, the attack began about three o'clock on the morning of 3 July.

The Anglo-American force, with Myers in the lead, found the tower empty when they reached it, then proceeded along the trench, where they ran into bitter, hand-to-hand fighting. Myers was badly wounded by a spear during the action in the trench, but the attack continued until the barricade was in friendly hands. In addition to Myers, the allied losses included two U.S. Marines and one Russian killed and two Russian and three British Marines severely wounded. Estimates of enemy losses ran as high as 50 dead. The British Minister called this action" one of the most successful operations of the siege, as it rendered our position on the wall, which had been precarious, comparatively strong." Largely because of it, the disheartened Boxers agreed to an uneasy truce on 16 July.

Myers was brevetted major and advanced four numbers in rank for his bravery, and in President McKinley's message to Congress in February 1901, he mentioned the captain by name. British appreciation was demonstrated a few years afterward, when a monument to the Royal Marines was erected outside the Admiralty in London, facing Buckingham Palace. One of the bas-reliefs on that memorial shows Myers leading the British Marines in the attack on the Boxers.

A relief column finally reached Peking on 14 August and the following month General Myers, convalescing from typhoid fever and the spear wound in his leg, was ordered to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Yokohama, Japan. From there he was a transferred to the Naval Hospital at Mare Island, where he was under treatment until March 1901. After that, except for a short time on Samoa as judge advocate of a general court martial, he remained at Mare Island until December 1902, when he took command of the Marine Barracks at Bremerton, Washington.

The general left Bremerton in May 1903, arriving on the East Coast the following month to take command of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Brooklyn. He held that command until April 1905, then served at the Naval War College in Newport, until he took command of the School for Non-Commissioned Officers at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., in October of the same year. In May 1906, he took command of the barracks detachment there, serving in that assignment until he left Washington that July. The following month he returned to the Philippines, commanding the 1st Marine Regiment there until January 1907, when he was assigned to the USS West Virginia as commander of its detachment and Fleet Marine Officer of the Asiatic Fleet.

In May 1909, General Myers was transferred from the West Virginia to the USS Tennessee for duty as Fleet Marine Officer, Pacific Fleet, but the following month, because of a serious intestinal infection, he was ordered once more to the Naval Hospital at Mare Island. He was hospitalized or on sick leave until January, 1911, when he entered the Army Field Officers Course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Completing that course in March 1911, the general was stationed briefly at the Marine Barracks, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and on recruiting duty in Boston before he entered the Army War College in Washington that August. Graduating in July 1912, he took command of the Marine Barracks at the Washington Navy Yard the following month. His service there was interrupted by expeditionary duty as a battalion commander with the 2nd Provisional Marine Regiment off Santo Domingo in 1912 and with the 2nd Regiment, 2nd Provisional Marine Brigade at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the following year. He left Washington in April 1913, to serve for the next year as commander of the Marine Barracks, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii.

In April, 1914, General Myers returned from that assignment to take command of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, at Mare Island, sailing with that unit for the west coast of Mexico later the same month. The regiment remained aboard the battleship South Dakota in Mexican waters during a period of strained relations between the United States and that country, but did not land. It returned to this country in July and General Myers, still commanding its 1st Battalion, was stationed with it at San Diego, California, until February 1915, when that unit was assigned duty at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California. The battalion was ordered to sea duty with the Pacific Fleet in November 1915, and in February of the following year, after service on the USS San Diego and USS Buffalo, it returned to San Diego.

The general (by then a lieutenant colonel) was detached from the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, in June 1916, when he was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet as Fleet Marine Officer and counter-intelligence officer on the staff of its commander. Serving in those capacities for most of World War I, he was stationed aboard the USS Wyoming until October 1916, and on the USS Pennsylvania from then until August 1918, when he took command of the Marine Barracks at Parris Island, South Carolina. He remained there until the war ended that November.

In January 1919, after a short time at Quantico, Virginia, General Myers assumed command of the Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbor, where he was stationed until August 1921.

He was then named Adjutant and Inspector of the Department of the Pacific, with headquarters at San Francisco, California, serving in that assignment until May 1924. After that, he commanded the Marine Corps Base at San Diego from June of that year to November 1925 when he sailed for Haiti to take command of the 1st Marine Brigade.

The general returned from that tour of expeditionary duty in January 1928, and the following month, reported to Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington. There, after serving on various boards, he was named Assistant to the Major General Commandant in April 1930, serving in that capacity until February 1933. A month later he returned to San Francisco, where he was Commanding General, Department of the Pacific and Western Recruiting Area, until he was placed on the retired list, 1 February 1935, at the statutory retirement age of 64. A major general when he retired, he was promoted to lieutenant general on the retired list in 1942, when the law was passed authorizing such promotions for officers who had been specially commended in combat.

General Myers' medals and decorations included the Marine Corps Brevet Meal, Purple Heart, Spanish Campaign Medal, Philippine Campaign Medal, China Campaign Medal; Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, Mexican Service Medal and the World War I Victory Medal with Armed Guard clasp.

The general was survived by his wife, the former Alice G. Cutts, of Mare Island, whom he married in 1898. They had no children. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery."
Who's Who in Marine Corps History

Monday, February 14, 2005


Ever notice how American Fighting Men--Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines--are, sometimes, played in the movies, and TV, by actors who do not at all represent those values?

Who are these actors? And what are the movies? Is there a listing of these? Well much of the American public just isn't aware that many of the "heroes" they see on the screen are not only just actors, in many cases, they are from among those who never served, are against our constitutional republic form of government, and are against our armed forces being used in any way, shape or form. Some even become cheerleaders for the enemy. It is no more fitting for a war protestor actor to play the part of a United States Marine, than for a Marine to act the part of a war protestor, deserter, etc. In my opinion, most people would refuse to support Hollyweird and its actors of this kind if it knew the truth. And also the big guys at the top who make these movies would feel the heat once the big bucks slow down.

There are many, many actors who are not only veterans, but good solid Americans, and in some cases, they, too, play roles on the screen depicting themselves as American Fighting Men. If the public, had the platform to decide who and what movies we want to watch, things would be a lot different.

Is there a website/Blog where this problem is outlined/discussed? Probably not, at least specifically not what I'm talking about here. But, seems to me like the time is right to publically point this out to the American people--good mission/project for a talented, dedicated Blogger--and bring about a change to lib actors playing the parts of honorable Americans, while they grab the $$$ and run to spew out even more of their commie/socialist crap!

So, if you agree, write your newspaper editor, post on online messageboards, etc. If you are a blogger, write -it-up and pass it on; e-mail it around to your friends, whatever. Let them know you don't like it. Or, if you don't give a damn, just
continue to march--to somebody else's drumbeat!

Semper Fidelis
R.W. "Dick" Gaines

This is...
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Marines Sites & Forums

By R.W. "Dick" Gaines
Gny Sgt USMC (Ret.)
Semper Fidelis
GyG's G&A Sites & Forums is an informational site and not for profit. Copyrighted material provided soley for education, study, research, and discussion, etc. Full credit to source shown when available.