“I had to keep my promise, which was to bring my guys home,” said Sgt. Christopher Farias. “I promised my best friend’s wife that I would get him home. I could hear him screaming and I knew I had to do something.”
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Because there are positive roles models too!
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“I had to keep my promise, which was to bring my guys home,” said Sgt. Christopher Farias. “I promised my best friend’s wife that I would get him home. I could hear him screaming and I knew I had to do something.”
To read more CLICK HERE.
One of the Few, the Proud and the Youngest
by: Norman Fulkerson
The citizens of Flora, Indiana said their final farewells to Cody Green, a proud United States Marine, on May 5, 2012. News of his death sent shockwaves through the blogosphere. He was simply too young to die. While he bravely faced death on three separate occasions –and never lost his cheerful spirit– the final engagement with an intransigent enemy proved fatal. His adversary was not a member of the Taliban, as you are probably thinking, it was leukemia. While the disease might have taken his life, it did not rob him of his cheerful attitude and generous spirit. There is something else about Cody which makes his story all the more moving. He was only 12 years old at the time of his death and is most likely the youngest Marine, even if only an honorary one, that has ever existed.
Cody was first diagnosed in 2001 with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of cancer that appears most often in children. He was two months shy of his second birthday at the time. Over the next eleven years he would endure aggressive treatment which, on three separate occasions, sent this fast growing cancer into remission. Each time it came charging back until March 2, 2012 when he was admitted into Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana.
His online obituary describes him as a person who, although very young, had an indomitable and upbeat spirit. He never asked “Why Me,” and “fought the illness with grace and humility”. It also pointed out how he never complained about his treatment and always thanked the nurses who cared for him.
This solicitude for others was also shown towards his mother Tracy. In August of 2011 she was seriously injured at the Indiana State Fair grounds when a freak storm whipped up and toppled a concert stage, killing seven people. In spite of the fact that he was fighting a life and death struggle, Cody was always more concerned about his mother after the injuries she sustained that day. Her well being came first and this included the times where chemotherapy caused young Cody severe nausea and vomiting. Forgetful of self he would apologize to her for holding bucket.
This care for his mother is what led him to keep meticulous track of his numerous medications and when to take them. He did not want her to worry. This selfless attitude was consistent with the way he lived his life. He was always the kid to look out for the welfare for others before thinking about himself.
The story of his courageous battle with cancer eventually caught the attention of a local retired Marine, Sergeant. Mark Dolfini. He found Cody’s style of bravery identical to that of the Marines and arranged for the young man to be named an honorary member of “the few, the proud.” Along with this distinction he was given his own Marine Aviator Wings.
On the evening of Friday, April 28th Cody’s lifelong fight was finally coming to an end. It was then that Sergeant Dolfini chose to give him something no other kid in America will ever receive. Attired in his full dress blue uniform the Marine Sergeant took his post outside the dying young man’s room and remained there –on guard– from 7:00 PM Friday night till 3:30 AM the next morning. The Marine would only bend from his rigid position of attention long enough to salute Cody’s mother whenever she would enter or leave the room. Sergeant Dolfini only left his post because he felt it was time for the family to be alone with Cody who eventually passed away later that day.
For eight solid hours this little boy received the watchful guard of a United States Marine who took the motto Semper Fidelis one step further.
by Jeremy Nobile
About 40 years passed since Lance Cpl. Joseph Panetta had seen his Lima Company captain, Col. John W. Ripley, in the jungles of Vietnam.
Considering the length of time and numerous Marines who served under him, Panetta was skeptical Ripley would even recognize him at the July 2008 reunion in Orlando, Fla. for Marines of the 3rd Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Division — an outfit better known as “Ripley’s Raiders.”
“After those 40-some years, I didn’t expect him to remember me,” Panetta recalled, “but he came right up to me and said, ‘Joe, how ya been?'”
Panetta, who was only 19 when he began his tour in Vietnam, was astonished.
“He said, ‘Joe, I remember you by your eyes,’ and I was stunned,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.
To read more CLICK HERE.
Below is an article about Women in Combat with a stirring video by former Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Barrow. It is worth noting that this great man died within days of his friend, the late Colonel John Ripley. Both men testified before congress on the issue of sending our women into combat, a move which Colonel Ripley described as a “quest to neuterize all our institutions under the holy name of equality“. These great men have unfortunately been ignored. Take time to watch this stirring testimony on this issue by General Barrow. He is, like Colonel Ripley, a southern Gentlemen, a great warrior, and another example of An American Knight.
DESTROYING THE MARINE CORPS–WOMEN IN COMBAT
by Andy Weddington
There’s been rumor floating around the retired Marine community for a month or so now women will soon go through formal infantry training–officers to Infantry Officers Course and enlisted to Infantry Training Battalion. Fact or fiction? Credible nods from some senior active duty Marines suggest that’s the plan. Stunning. Is this of our commandant’s ordering or being so ordered? If true, it doesn’t matter. It’s a gargantuan mistake.
“The mission of the Marine Corps rifle squad is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver and/or repel enemy assault by fire and close combat.” For readers not familiar with the Marine Corps and fighting terminology, “close combat” includes hand-to-hand. (Note: There’s a reason women are not pitted against men in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) octagon.)
That was the mission of a Marine rifle squad long before I became a Marine. That was the mission of a Marine rifle squad taught to me at Officer Candidates School, and so it remained through three decades of service. That is the mission of a Marine rifle squad today. And the mission of a Marine rifle squad is not likely to change any time soon.
Twenty years ago there was a United States government bureaucratic undertaking (pardon the redundancy) to address the role of women in our armed forces. More directly, the agenda (of many engaged in that undertaking) was to expand the role of women in combat.
The “Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces” was a typical government operation–commissioners and information gathering panels and surveys and fact-finding visits to military installations and formal committee hearings and findings and recommendations. The effort checked every conceivable block. The Commission dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s–the paperwork was in order. It looked good. But if the truth be known, results either ignored or conveniently tailored to meet the desired end state was the modus operandi. No surprise.
But the Commission, and their work, missed the point. And the critical point they missed, probably intentionally ignored, was eloquently addressed in the thoughts of one man–a retired United States Marine–before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1991. During a 41 year career that Marine advanced from private to general. He commanded and fought, including close combat, in three wars–World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He was awarded our nation’s second and third highest decorations–the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Silver Star, and others–for his leadership and heroism under combat conditions.
That infantryman, of unimpeachable credibility and authority, spoke for about 13 minutes. The succinct, sometimes emotional, and compelling sentiments of General Robert H. Barrow (1922-2008), 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps, about women in combat, delivered eight years after he retired, are as germane today as when spoken. His blunt analysis is absolutely correct. So are his sobering conclusions. Time to watch the video.
Then entertain a single question…
Will the Marine Corps be destroyed?
Hero of the Easter Offensive
by Norman Fulkerson
The history of the 20th Century saw the spread of Communism the world over the virtual river of blood left in its wake was unprecedented. Communist expansion was greatly facilitated in the West through subtle psychological maneuvers and a policy of appeasement which weakened the anti communist’s will to resist.
From ping pong matches with China to baseball games in Cuba, Western leaders carried out a foolishly optimistic approach to the advancing red wolf. While Communist leaders conquered vast territories at gun point –putting hundreds of millions to death in the process– those same optimists dreamed of disarming the enemy with conciliatory smiles and concessions (a policy which continues until today).
That dream was proven to be a nightmare forty years ago when a handful of brave South Vietnamese soldiers and American servicemen faced and ultimately repelled the largest Communist onslaught of the entire Vietnam War. It was all made possible through fortuitous circumstances which placed Colonel Gerald Turley, then a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel, in a crucial position of authority for four adventurous days. His fearless decision making and intestinal fortitude turned certain defeat into a stunning victory and prevented a humiliating outcome for American forces.
First Salvos of the Easter Offensive
At the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, there were over 500,000 American servicemen in the country. Over the next years that number would be drastically reduced when President Richard Nixon took office in January of 1969. His Vietnamization program was aimed at getting American troops out of the country and turning the war over to the Vietnamese.
In the following years massive amounts of Soviet and Chinese weaponry made its way to North Vietnam. This included Soviet MiG aircraft, T-54, T-55 and PT-76 Russian tanks, Surface to Air (SAM) and heat-seeking missiles and an abundance of 130 MM to 152MM artillery. In March of 1972 there were only 50,000 American servicemen in the country. The imminent withdrawal of American support and the buildup of armaments in the North proved to be demoralizing to the South Vietnamese anti communist resistance. They had good reason to be discouraged.
However, what the Vietnamese did not realize at that time, was the quality of the American advisors who returned to help. One of those men was Colonel Gerald Turley. He had already served in the Korean War and had now voluntarily returned to Vietnam for a second tour of duty in a war that was becoming more unpopular by the day.
On Wednesday March 29, only days after arriving in the country, Colonel Turley was in the middle of a four-day trip visiting the firebases, along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). He spent the night at the 3rd ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) Division Headquarters in the AI TU combat base, located five miles south of the Dong Ha village.
The following morning was spent in briefings followed by lunch. When he stepped out of the dining tent the area was suddenly struck by intense artillery fire. It was the first salvos of the historic battle that would come to be known as The Easter Offensive.
“So many artillery shots were going off,” said Colonel Turley, “you could not distinguish one from the other.” Before the sun set that day, over 11,000 rounds rained down on the South Vietnamese firebases and surrounding villages in the northern part of Quang Tri province; and more was to come.
The Hunted Become the Hunters
For eighteen hours the South endured a hellish barrage. On the morning of March 31, the Army Colonel in charge of the 3rd ARVN Division began to suffer from combat fatigue. He eventually approached Colonel Turley with a surprising request.
“Would you mind taking over here for a couple of hours,” he asked.
“I am Marine and am only here as an advisor,” Colonel Turley replied. “I can’t do that.” When the Army Colonel insisted, Colonel Turley asked for his name and Social Security number which he quickly scribbled down on a piece of paper. This seemingly insignificant incident made Colonel Turley the Senior Advisor in charge of the entire 3rd ARVN Division and changed the course of the battle. For the next four days he made numerous critical decisions which ultimately broke the back of the adversary.
His task would not be an easy one however. His newly acquired area of responsibility spanned the five northernmost provinces of South Vietnam. Between his location in the Command and Control bunker (COC) and the DMZ was twelve firebases manned by South Vietnamese Marines and their American advisors. Over the next days ten of those firebases, including Camp Carroll with its 1,500 troops and twenty-six artillery pieces, fell into enemy hands that were advancing in a three pronged attack.
By Easter Sunday over thirty thousand civilians were making their way down Highway 1 in a desperate attempt to flee the wrath of the adversary. Communist NVA artillery fire was strategically placed right on top of them. Those surviving the deadly rounds melted back into the masses and kept moving. South Vietnamese soldiers, seeing the futility of resistance, removed their military insignias and blended in with the frenzied mob.
“It was absolutely the worst scene I have ever witnessed,” said Colonel Turley, his words trailing off as if the image was too painful to revisit.
The NVA, seeing the South’s weakness, exploited it to the maximum degree and began an unhindered advance towards the Dong Ha Bridge with 30,000 troops and 200 tanks. They were in for a big surprise upon their arrival. The brave men of the 3rd Division under Colonel Turley’s leadership were about to turn the tables. From being hunted, they were about to become the hunters.
Caught In the Cross Hairs of Naval and Air Gunfire
Colonel Turley, who was personally given a carte blanche for B-52 strikes in I CORPS by an Air Force Lieutenant General, ordered over fifty such missions. He then ordered the 3rd ARVN Division to commit its reserve Battalion, the famed “Soi Bien” or Sea Wolves, commanded by Major Le Ba Binh, and legendary Marine Corps Captain (later Colonel) John Ripley. It was the equivalent of playing ones last card.
Leaders in the Army Regional Headquarters at Da Nang, eighty miles south from AI TU, did not realize the gravity of events along the DMZ. They ordered Colonel Turley not to blow the bridge since it would be useful for a counter offensive. Colonel Turley knew there would be no counter measure if the bridge was left standing and courageously ordered Colonel Ripley to destroy it.
With the Dong Ha bridge in flames NVA tanks made a futile rush for the Cam Lo bridge west of the city. Their elongated column provided a perfect target for Naval Gunfire from the USS Buchanan sitting in the Gulf of Tonkin and the B-52 strikes which Colonel Turley had requested hours earlier. The column of Russian tanks was now caught in the cross hairs of naval and air gunfire.
“When the thundering noise and the violent shock waves of the 250 or more bombs… finally subsided, [Colonel] Ripley reported “hearing the cries of the survivors, but no more engine noises.”
“…Continue Naval Gunfire”
Later in the afternoon of that same day another problem developed when an EB-66 Electronic intelligence aircraft was shot down. The only survivor, Lieutenant Colonel Iceal Hambleton, was a ballistic missile expert with top secret clearance.
The Air Force called for a cease fire in a seventeen-mile-radius of the downed pilot which practically encompassed the entire area of operations of the 3rd. Division. When an American Jolly Green HH-53 helicopter tried to rescue the pilot it was struck by a SAM Missile and burst into flames. Ten more aircraft were lost during the eleven-day rescue mission.
Once again Colonel Turley would have to go directly against orders from higher command. To stop firing would have spelled certain defeat and he was not about to lose this battle.
“Fully realizing the fragile defensive posture of the 3rd Division and the seriousness of again violating a direct order,” Colonel Turley said, “I authorized the advisors to commence their pending fire mission.”
It was decided that a three mile radius around Lieutenant Colonel Hambleton was a sufficiently safe distance. In an act of selflessness Colonel Turley accepted full responsibility for the pilot’s safety and directed Lieutenant Joel Eisenstein in the COC to continue coordinating naval gunfire with the USS Buchanan.
No More Ping Pong Games
The Easter Offensive continued through the rest of April. However, the Communists were simply unable to overcome the devastating blow given to them by a Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. They were finally halted just outside Quang Tri City on May 1st.. Thus the fall of South Vietnam to Communism was delayed for a full three years and more importantly, America, the anti-communist bulwark in the world, was saved from a humiliating defeat.
It would be an exaggeration to say Colonel Turley’s actions alone are what halted the Easter Offensive. There were many brave men who fought and some who gave the full measure during those fateful days. However, there is a striking difference between Colonel Turley’s actions and theirs. If they survived they could only expect awards and praise –which they richly deserved–, whereas Colonel Turley knew that he would likely receive reprimand, scorn and possibly jail time for his perceived insubordination.
It is for this reason that Colonel Turley is truly the hero of the Easter Offensive. He chose to make war against communism at a time when so many others simply preferred to play games and smile.
 Colonel Gerald Turley, The Easter Offensive: The Last American Advisors, Vietnam 1972 (Annapolis, Md.: US Naval Institute Press, 1995) p. 27)
 Comments made during a lecture Colonel Turley gave at the headquarters of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. Hereafter referred to as TFP lecture.
 Colonel Gerald Turley, p. 66)
 TFP Lecture
 From an official report about the Easter Offensive, prepared by Colonel Turley, for the purpose of getting Colonel John Ripley’s Navy Cross upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
 The details of this daring feat, for which Colonel John Ripley earned the Navy Cross, are narrated in his biography, An American Knight: The life of Colonel John Ripley USMC.
 Colonel Gerald Turley, p. 205
 Dale Andrade, America‘s Last Vietnam Battle: Halting Hanoi’s 1972 Easter Offensive (University Press Of Kansas) Pg. 76
 Colonel Gerald Turley, Pg 203)
September 4, 1967, Quong Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam. A routine, pre-dawn, sweeping operation by a Marine company was turning into a major battle with a large force of the North Vietnamese Army. Three additional companies of Marines were committed. Fr. Vincent Capodanno, M.M. was granted permission to accompany the reinforcements, as he knew there would be many wounded and killed.
At 2:45 p.m., two platoons came under heavy fire on one side of a hill. The chaplain, left his relatively safe position on the other side, and raced across an open area
|Father Capodanno praying with the troops.|
raked by fire to be near the men. To repel the enemy, tear gas was dropped on the U.S. position. The Marines had gas masks, but Father Capodanno, seeing that a chocking Marine was without one, gave him his. He continued to go to wounded Marines and help them back to the defensive perimeter or administer last rites.
As he ran toward a mortally wounded man, shrapnel from an exploding mortar inflicted multiple wounds to his right arm and leg. Fr. Capodanno, his arm held stiffly at his side, reached the Marine, and prayed with him until he died. Refusing medical aid, the chaplain worked his way over to several other wounded Marines to comfort them.
|Fr. Capodanno (right) comforting a wounded Marine.|
A sergeant, who had been wounded five times, lay dazed on an exposed slope. The chaplain reached him and dragged him into a depression to save his life. As the fighting raged, Father Capodanno was wounded a second time, but still refused to leave the battlefield.
About 6:30 p.m., three Marines moved to destroy an enemy machine gun; two were killed and the third wounded. Fr. Capodanno reached the injured man, and as his right hand was useless blessed him with his left. Just then a medic who had been coming to aid the wounded Marine was shot. Father ran to the medic, positioning his body between the medic and the enemy. The machine gunner opened fire killing both men.
Father Capodanno suffered 27 bullet wounds, from his head to his spine. Immediately, news of his death circulated throughout the battlefield, and was radioed to the command center as: “Number 21 is KIA.” Twenty-one is the code for the chaplain.
Fr. Vincent Capodanno had come a long way from his birth on February 13, 1929 to an Italian immigrant family on Staten Island, NY. He was the youngest of ten
|Fr. Vincent R. Capodanno, M.M.|
children born to the devout, Catholic family. Although he never spoke of an interest in the priesthood during his early years, he frequently attended daily Mass on his way to a local, public high school. When he graduated, he continued the practice, as he took a job as a clerk in an insurance company and attended night classes at Fordham University. At the age of 20, he decided to become a Maryknoll missioner, and after nine years of study and preparation was ordained.
Two months later, Father and five other Maryknollers were sent to Taiwan. For the next year, he studied the Hakka-Chinese dialect to prepare him for his ministry to this minority group in the mountains of western Taiwan. He spent the remainder of his initial six-year assignment undertaking a variety of responsibilities. Then, after a traditional six-month furlough, he was assigned to Hong Kong. Father Capodanno expressed a desire to return to Taiwan, but was refused. He then requested permission to join the Navy Chaplain Corps and serve with the Marines in Vietnam. This was approved and, in late 1965, he was commissioned a lieutenant. In April 1966, he was assigned to the 7th Marine Regiment, south of Da Nang. As the only Catholic chaplain in the regiment, he had to see to the spiritual needs of the men in three battalions, spread over a wide area.
Father Capodanno lived as close to the combat Marines as possible, spending more time at combat bases, where he knew he was needed, than at the battalion command post. He marched with them, carried the same loads, went on patrol with them, shared his rations, and made himself fully accessible to them. On Sundays, he said Mass at each of the battalions, often traveling from one to the other by helicopter. In 1966, he participated in six combat operations, and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
Normally, chaplains are transferred from field combat units after six months. Fr. Vincent Capodanno served eight months before being attached to a medical battalion to serve the hospitalized. He longed to be with the field unit again, and often visited his old battalion during its operations. When his year-long tour of duty was coming to an end, he requested a six month extension. It was approved, and he was assigned to the 5th Marine Regiment in the Que Son Valley, where some of the fiercest fighting was going on. He voluntarily joined the officers who “walked the line” at night to visit the forward posts and assure that the defenses were ready. Fr. Capodanno stayed close to the fighting men, comforting them, saying Mass, hearing Confessions, listening to their problems, writing to their families. Then came the fateful day in September.
Fr. Vincent R. Capodanno received the Medal of Honor from his country for his heroism, and has been made a “Servant of God” by his Church for his selflessness towards others. His cause for canonization is being considered.
About the Author: Lawrence P. Grayson is a Visiting Scholar in the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America. He also serves as State Director for Pro-Life Activities, Knights of Columbus, Maryland.
I just came across a story today about Pfc. Ricardo Peralta, who joined the Marines to carry on the legacy of his brother, Navy Cross Recipient Sergeant Rafael Peralta.
Sgt. Peralta died very much like Michael Monsoor when he led a group of other Marines through a series of house clearings, during the November 2004 Battle for Fallujah. They were successful in the first three house, but things went bad in a hurry as they charged the fourth.
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project describes how Sgt. Peralta “found two rooms empty on the ground floor, but upon opening a third door he was hit multiple times with AK-47 fire that left him severely wounded. He dropped to the floor and moved aside in order to allow the Marines behind him to return fire.”
Moments later terrorist inside the room threw a grenade at the Marines. Sgt. Peraldas describes how “The two Marines with Sgt. Peralta tried to get out of the room, but could not. Sgt. Peralta was still conscious on the floor and reports indicate that despite his wounds, he was able to reach for the grenade and pull it under his body absorbing the majority of the lethal blast and shrapnel which killed him instantly, but saved the lives of his fellow Marines.”
In a Newsweek article about the event, Cpl. Robert Reynolds explained how Sgt. Peralta collapsed onto the floor in a “pool of blood,” after being shot. “Then Reynolds spotted what is the dread of every infantryman: a grenade bouncing toward the squad. “It was yellow and it came from a room to our side,” he says. Reynolds says he watched Peralta reach out and drag the grenade under his body.”
Pfc Ricardo Peralta was only 14 when his brother died in such a selfless way, but is quoted in the above article as saying, “I knew what I had to do, and that was to enlist in the Marine Corps.”
Staff Sgt. Don Nicholas disproves the old refrain: Old soldiers do not, in fact, fade away. They re-enlist.
At 59, Sgt. Nicholas is the oldest of the 6,000 soldiers in the 25th Infantry Division in eastern Afghanistan, the Army says. And he is probably one of the very few Vietnam vets now back for more in Afghanistan. He’s certainly the only one who saw first-hand the ugly end of that war from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon.
“It’s really not a fascination with war itself,” Sgt. Nicholas explains. “It’s more trying to keep people from getting killed. I’m taking the spot of some 19-year-old.”
Raised in Magnolia, Ohio, Sgt. Nicholas dropped out of high school and joined the Marines in 1971, expecting—almost hoping—to go to Vietnam. At the time he was a believer in the domino theory. He remembers telling a local TV reporter at the recruiting station that he didn’t want his children “living under communism.”
Read more click here.
9 September 2010, Gulf of Aden: During the pre-dawn hours this morning, elements of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and COMPHIBRON Three of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group embarked on USS Dubuque facilitated the capture of nine suspected pirates and the safe rescue of 11 crew members from the Motor Vessel Magellan Star who barricaded themselves in the engine room until friendly forces arrived.
The Maritime Raid Force is composed of elements of the MEU’s command, ground, logistics, and aviation combat elements – as well as members of the USS Dubuque’s crew. Specifically, Force Recon Marines who initially boarded the hijacked vessel from Navy Special Warfare boats supported by attack helicopters from HMM-165, and a command and control element, security force (who also boarded the vessel), and snipers from Battalion Landing Team 1/4. The raid was staged from the USS Dubuque and supported by USS Princeton, CG-59, and the Turkish Frigate TCG Gokceada, F-494.