Roy Exum: Marines Get It Done

Monday, February 24, 2020
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

In the wake of my Sunday story, which detailed the heroics of Marine Lt. General Chuck Pitman and the time he  “borrowed” a Chinook helicopter to stop a serial killer in New Orleans, there came a little-known story that seems to have gotten overlooked during the 9/11 attacks on our country in 2001. When the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the west side of the Pentagon and the fuel from inside the 757 created an inferno, there came orders to evacuate the huge building immediately.

At a day care facility inside the Pentagon, the supervisor was panicking. Are you kidding me? There were children in cribs, and many toddlers, and no time to get them into strollers or carriers. Suddenly a Marine appeared, asked if he could help, and, when he surveyed the situation, he promised he would be right back.  Sure enough, he returned with about 40 to 50 other Marines. The biggest guys each grabbed a crib, baby and all, as the others herded up the little children, carrying in their arms those that couldn’t yet walk.

The director and her staff also joined the impromptu caravan that made it out of the building and walked to a grassy park about a half mile away.

That’s when Marine Corps “magic” happened. The Marines circled the heavy cribs just like the wagon trains in the Old West once did, forming a tight circle to use as a pen for all the toddlers so they wouldn’t – and couldn’t – wander. Making sure the day care employees were also inside the circle, the Marines formed a perimeter outside of it, the men carefully placed to stand post until the last of the children was turned over to a grateful parent.

“A Marine recognizes what needs to be done, then does it.”

It has also been said, “It's the military, not the politicians that ensures our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's the military who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag.”

* * *

“My only answer as to why the Marines get the toughest jobs is because the average Leatherneck is a much better fighter. He has far more guts, courage, and better officers... These boys out here have a pride in the Marine Corps and will fight to the end no matter what the cost.” -- 2nd Lt. Richard C. Kennard, Peleliu, World War II

* * *

“You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth- and the amusing thing about it is that they are.” -- Father Kevin Keaney, 1st Marine Division Chaplain, Korean War

* * *

“The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps.” -- General Alexander A. Vandergrift, USMC, to the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, 5 May 1946

* * *

“By their victory, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions and other units of the Fifth Amphibious Corps have made an accounting to their country which only history will be able to value fully. Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.” -- Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy

* * *

“I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery.  But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes:  If you f*** with me, I'll kill you all.” -- Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders.

* * *

“I am convinced that there is no smarter, handier, or more adaptable body of troops in the world.” -- Prime Minister of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill

* * *

“Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share.” -- Ned Dolan

* * *

“The Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, had decided the previous night that he wanted to go ashore and witness the final stage of the fight for the mountain. Now, under a stern commitment to take orders from Howlin' Mad Smith, the secretary was churning ashore in the company of the blunt, earthy general. Their boat touched the beach just after the flag went up, and the mood among the high command turned jubilant. Gazing upward, at the red, white, and blue speck, Forrestal remarked to Smith: "Holland, the raising of that flag on Suribachi [Feb. 23, 1945] means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years."  [NOTE: The flag-raising on Iwo Jima has been immortalized in a photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal)

* * *

“We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of this island, and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwestern corner, doing nothing. What the hell is going on?” Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., USA, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the assault on Grenada, 1983

* * *

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines don't have that problem.” -- Ronald Reagan, President of the United States; 1985

* * *

“Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They're aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They've got really short hair and they always go for the throat.” -- RAdm. "Jay" R. Stark, USN; 10 November 1995

* * *

“They told (us) to open up the Embassy, or "we'll blow you away." And then they looked up and saw the Marines on the roof with these really big guns, and they said in Somali, "Igaralli ahow," which means "Excuse me, I didn't mean it, my mistake". Karen Aquilar, in the U.S. Embassy; Mogadishu, Somalia, 1991

* * *

“I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold.” -- 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates, USMC, in Belleau Wood, 19 July 1918

* * *

“Do not attack the First Marine Division. Leave the yellowlegs alone. Strike the American Army.” -- Orders given to Communist troops in the Korean War (Almost immediately, the Marines were ordered to not wear their khaki leggings.)

* * *

“Hell, these are Marines.  Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima.  Bagdad ain't s**t.” -- Marine Major General John F. Kelly

* * *

“They (Women Marines) don't have a nickname, and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine Post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines.” LtGen Thomas Holcomb, USMC Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1943

* * *

“The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand.” -- Attributed to Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)

royexum@aol.com

Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, Feb 23, 1945. The flag was flown by six Marines of the 5th Marine Division atop Mount Suribachi who used an old water pipe for its pole. Three of the Marines in the photograph were later killed in the Battle of Iwo Jima. The world-famous photograph, taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press on February 23, 1945, was first published in Sunday newspapers two days later and reprinted in thousands of publications. It was the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and was later used for the construction of the Marine Corps War Memorial in 1954, which was dedicated to honor all Marines who died for their country since 1775.
Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, Feb 23, 1945. The flag was flown by six Marines of the 5th Marine Division atop Mount Suribachi who used an old water pipe for its pole. Three of the Marines in the photograph were later killed in the Battle of Iwo Jima. The world-famous photograph, taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press on February 23, 1945, was first published in Sunday newspapers two days later and reprinted in thousands of publications. It was the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and was later used for the construction of the Marine Corps War Memorial in 1954, which was dedicated to honor all Marines who died for their country since 1775.
- photo by Joe Rosenthal

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