United States Marine Corps 230th birthday
On Thursday, Nov. 10, the US Marines will take their packs off and celebrate with joy. Since Nov. 10 falls on Thursday this year, the day before Veterans Day, it will be a 4-day celebration.
The Marines have come a long way since Nov. 10, 1775. We have been there and done that. And this year for the first time a Marine, General Peter Pace, USMC, is the new Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff. It don't get any better than that. My question is; "Why did it take so long, 229 years to get it right."
I have been a US Marine almost all my life since I started wearing the beautiful uniform at age 16. The history of the Marine Corps had only a few more than 500,000 before me. I had a six digit serial number and the first two started with 5. Within that set of six digit numbers, three of them were 1. It was always my feeling that I was number 1. Some of you boots are not aware of a Marine Corps serial number because your number was always your Social Security number. I am very proud to have served in the United States Marine Corps and I am also proud to have been a member of the Greatest Generation of the 20th Century.
I was lucky enough to "survive" the battles of World War II and the Korean War. As a member of Chesty Puller's warriors of the First Marine Division, we fought the enemies of three nations and lived to talk about it; Japan, Communist North Korea, and China.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARINES
Unfortunately, these young American
(More info can be found on http://www.defendamerica.mil/fallen.html)
US Postal Service will release these stamps on the United States Marine Corps 230th birthday on November 10, 2005.
A fire-team of U.S. Marine heroes will visit you in November 2005
While I served in the United States Marine Corps, the personnel of an infantry platoon consisted of 41 enlisted men and one officer. We had three squads to each platoon and each squad had three fire teams of four men and no women. However, we could have found a place for them.
In each squad, a sergean was the one leader. Each of the fire team leaders had the rank of a corporal. We had a platoon guild, who was a sergeant; and a platoon sergeant, who was a staff sergeant. We had a commissioned officer (lieutenant), who was the platoon officer.
The four best fire team Marines who ever served in the Corps were Lt. Gen. Lewis B. 'Chesty' Puller, Lt. Gen. John A. Lejeune, Sgt. John Basilone, and Sgt. Maj. Daniel J. Daly. These four Marines will visit your home in November, as they are being honored by the U.S. Postal Service with new class 37-cent stamps bearing their images.
Puller is the most decorated Marine in the history of the Corps. He earned five Navy Crosses, and while the communist Chinese broke through the U.S. Army line in North Korea during the battle the Chosin Reservoir, Chesty Puller was quoted as saying: "So they've got us surrounded, good, now we can fire in any direction. The bastards won't get away this time." I had the honor of serving under Puller's command during World War II and the Korean War. I also attended his retirement party and Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Lejeune, the 13th commandant of the Marine Corps, is known throughout the Corps as being the standard for Marine Corps leadership. He was the first Marine to lead a U.S. Army into combat. A large Marine Corps Base in North Carolina is named Camp Lejeune.
Basilone earned the Medal of Honor at Guadalcanal. He was not required to fight another battle. However, he volunteered to for the invasion of Iwo Jima, and this is where he gave his life for his country on the battlefield.
Daly was one of only two Marines in history to be awarded the Medal of Honor twice. He distinguished himself in combat during the Boxer Rebellion and in Haiti.
The set of 37-cent stamps will be a collector's item for many Marines and civilians alike. I know I will purchase my share and I will not have the heart to put them on an envelope and see their faces stamped by a machine at the U.S. Postal Service.
Watch for the stamps in November. Bring them to your home and you will be in good company.
(The following story was e-mailed to me by Clare Brockman and I believe it was received from R.L. Rohrer - both former US Marines.)
Double amputee still serves Corps as martial arts instructor
Story by: Cpl. Jonathan Agg
Story Identification #: 200582693835
Photo by: Cpl. Richard Stephens
Sgt. James Wright, who received the Bronze Star Medal with valor device from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, salutes during the national anthem at the June 1, 2004 presentation ceremony in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. Wright lost both hands and suffered a severe wound to his leg when his vehicle was struck by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq's Anbar province. Despite his wounds, Wright continued to lead the Marines in his charge.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va(Aug. 22, 2005) -- Throughout the annals of Marine Corps history, inspired quotations have framed the heroics of great Marines, transforming passing moments into epic legends to be forever retold and celebrated by the generations of warriors who follow.
Never to be forgotten is the rallying cry of Gunnery Sgt. Dan Daly at the Battle of Belleau Wood, France, on June 4, 1918: "Come on you son's of bitches! Do you want to live forever?"
Eternally remembered is the retort of Capt. Lloyd Williams three days earlier to a French officer at the suggestion that the Marines withdraw from an entrenched fighting position north of Lucy-le-Bocage, France: "Retreat" Hell! We just got here!"
And renown among all Leathernecks are the words of perhaps the most celebrated Marine, Lt. Gen Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at the Chosin Reservoir, Korea, in the Winter of 1950. Puller, then a colonel, learned Chinese forces had completely surrounded his 1st Marine Division, and reportedly told a journalist, "Now we can fire in any direction. The bastards won't get away this time!"
So too will a contemporary Marine be remembered, not only for his extraordinary act of courage and composure under fire, but for a few plainly spoken words that captured the hearts of citizens and generals alike: "Sir, I couldn't pass out. I was in charge."
Spoken by then Cpl. James Wright, these simple words epitomized the fighting spirit of the Marine NCO.
Wright, now a sergeant, was retelling the harrowing experience of how he lost both hands and suffered wounds to a leg in an insurgent ambush in Iraq from his hospital bed at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. Sitting at his bedside was Major Gen. Thomas S. Jones, Training and Education Command commanding general, who was visiting wounded veterans at the hospital that day.
Jones listened to the young reconnaissance Marine explain how he continued to lead his Marines in returning fire and eventually out of the kill zone. Amazed, the general asked how he managed to keep from going into shock and passing out. Wright replied, "Sir, I couldn't pass out. I was in charge."
As a corporal, Wright was the assistant team leader with Company B, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, when his patrol came under intense small arms, mortar and rocket propelled grenade fire in an insurgent ambush. Wright immediately took action, returning fire with his M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, until an RPG hit his humvee.
The blast severed both of Wright's hands and severely wounded his left leg. Incredibly, Wright maintained his composure, instructing his Marines to use a radio to call for help and to apply tourniquets to his wounds. Wright also directed his Marines to concentrate fire on enemy machine gun positions, assisting in the demise of 26 enemy fighters. For his actions, Wright was later presented the Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device for valor.
Now facing a medical board that will likely end his career, Wright refuses to sit idly by. The Marine was offered, and eagerly accepted, a job as a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor at the Martial Arts Center of Excellence here for at least the next several months until he is medically retired from the Marine Corps.
Wright said he was grateful for the chance to return a sense of normalcy to his life. "As active as I was as a Marine, it wasn't in my nature to be sitting around (the hospital) doing nothing," said Wright. "For me to have the opportunity to come back to work has reintroduced me to my life and my passion to be a Marine. I'm grateful for them giving me a chance to come down here. They didn't know what to expect, so it was a big step on their part."
Lieutenant Col. Joseph Shusko, MCMAP director, said Wright is an excellent addition to the instructor cadre at the MACE.
"His character is such that we want him to stay here because he is doing so much for the Corps," said Shusko. "When he sits and talks to the Marines about exactly what happened to him and he doesn't pull any punches, that's all character. It's beautiful to see and it's coming from his heart."
Master Gunnery Sgt. Shane Franklin, MCMAP staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, said Wright's contributions to the instructor staff aren't limited to teaching classes on values and ethics.
"He has an obvious limitation with dual hooks, but he can execute all the hand techniques and grappling techniques with modifications," said Franklin. "Everyone has treated him like any other Marine sergeant. He gets his fair share of knocks in the mat room, but you would never know he was any different than anyone else here."
Jack Hoban, MCMAP subject matter expert, said Wright's character makes him an excellent choice to instruct other Marines.
"The common perception of martial arts is that it's a bunch of techniques. So your first thought is that because the guy doesn't have hands he isn't going to be able to do the techniques," said Hoban. "But really, the MCMAP program goes way beyond techniques. There's a very strong warrior ethic element to it. The Marine Corps core values are a part of it, and also, just like any warfare, there are tactics, strategies, use of terrain and battlefield.
He has proven he is quite capable of living it and teaching it. He has already set the example in so many ways."
Wright said that while he still longs to fulfill his lifelong dream to make the Marine Corps a career, his inability to return to his reconnaissance unit means he might not stay, even if medically cleared.
"I probably will end up retiring, not because I can't help the Marine Corps, but because I just hate to see my buddies deploying and me not being able to go off with them," said Wright. "Even if I do retire, (being at the MACE) gives me an opportunity to give back a little bit and pass on my knowledge and lessons learned in combat. I have some opportunities in the civilian world to make some good career decisions, and I think even (as a civilian) I will be able to give back to the Marine Corps."
Wright said he continues to draw strength from fellow Marines.
"The respect and admiration that I get from my peers at 1st Recon Battalion, especially my team leader, Sgt. (Eric) Kocher, who was wounded with me and who I thought was a great Marine, is motivating," said Wright. "For him to say I did a great job means a lot to me."
Jones said Wright continues to be an inspiration to other troops recovering from combat wounds and likened him to Marine war heroes of yesteryear.
"Sergeant Wright is one of the most inspirational guys who came out of Iraq," said Jones. "He is a phenomenal young man who is all about the Marine Corps. He is just like the heroes who are our legacy."
The Struggle For Survival
AUTHOR Major James P. O'Donnell, USMC
CSC 1985 SUBJECT AREA General EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
In the period between 1943 and 1947 the United States
Marine Corps was involved in a struggle for its institutional
life. For almost 150 years the question of armed forces
unification was mute. As the United States emerged as a
world power, increased calls for reorganization of the
armed forces began to be heard.
With the beginning of the Second World War, it became
obvious from our nation's dismal lack of preparedness
that some form of reorganization of the military was
necessary in the post-war period.
Sides began to form on the unification question even
before the successful completion of the war. Each service
had strong allied and distinct positions to defend. After
several abortive attempts a unification bill was finally
passed by the Senate in 1947. The bill did not provide
statutory safeguards for Marine Corps missions. If passed
by the House of Representatives the bill would spell the
deathblow for the Marine Corps as a viable combat military
organization. In the debate between the Army and the Navy,
the Marine Corps had become an incidental pawn.
In the face of almost overwhelming obstacles, a group
of some twelve Marine officers maneuvered to preserve the
Marine Corps. These officers, collectively known as the
Chowder Society, helped defeat the proposed legislation.
Some of these officers helped draft the National Security
Act of 1947, the legislation that spells out Marine Corps
roles and missions even today. This paper sets the background
for this struggle; develops the struggle in terms of the
individuals involved; and finally outlines the resolution
of the unification struggle.
THE STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL
Thesis Statement: In the period between 1943 and 1947
the United States Marine Corps was involved in a
struggle for its survival as a viable military
I. The Background of the Struggle
A. Unification of the Armed Forces
B. General Marshall's 1943 JCS proposal
C. Inter-Service Rivalry
II. The Struggle Develops
A. The War Department position
B. The Navy Department position
C. The Marine Corps position
D. Truman's Role
III. Resolution of the Struggle
A. The Chowder Society
B. The Battle is Joined
C. The National Security Act of 1947
THE STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL
On the morning of 23 February 1945, Secretary of
the Navy James Forrestal and Marine Lieutenant General
H.M. Smith observed the raising of the American flag atop
Mount Suribachi. This proved to be a very moving experience
for Forrestal. Turning to Gen. Smith, he said,"The raising
of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the
next five hundred years."1 Fifteen months after Forrestal's
moving tribute, the United States Marine Corps was involved
in a struggle for its survival as a vivable military
One would think that the Marine Corps had assured its
continued existence with its performance in the Second
World War. Comprising less than five percent of the 16.3
million Americans who had served during the war, 19,733
Marines were killed in action. Another 67,207 were wounded.
The Marine Corps had suffered nearly ten percent of all the
nation's battlefield casualties.2 What had happened to
place this elite fighting force in jeopardy? The answer
can be summed up in one word--unification. The purpose of
this paper is to examine the Marine Corps' struggle for
survival in the post World War II armed forces unification
controversy. I will review those events and the armed
forces relationships that brought about unification. The
main focus of this paper will be the identification of
the principal individuals who made up the "Chowder
Society", and the contribution they made to the adoption
of the National Security Act of 1947.
For almost 150 years Army/Navy operations were conducted
under the principle of "mutual cooperation." Mutual
cooperation held that Army and Navy commanders would
reach friendly agreements on how to coordinate their forces
in battle.3 This police presented both services with little
problem, since for most of the period, the Army was off
fighting Indians, while the Navy was busily showing the
flag overseas. In those areas where mutual cooperation was
needed its implementation depended greatly on the attitudes
of the Secretary of War or the Secretary of the Navy.
Lindley Garrison, Secretary of War under Wilson, captured
the prevailing attitude in a letter he forwarded to Navy
Secretary Josephus Daniels:
Joe, I don't care a damn about the Navy, and you don't
care a damn about the Army. You run your machine and
I will run mine. I am glad if anyone can convince me
I am wrong, but I am damn sure nobody lives who can
do it. I am an individualist and not cut out for
cooperative effort. I will let you go your way, and
I will go my way.4
The drive for unification of the services first took
form after World War I. The Institute for Government
Research (later to become the Brookings Institute) began
a series of reform movements to reshape the Executive
Department. A congressional committee picked up on this
and sought to reorganize the executive branch in line with
the so called "single purpose"priniciple. President Harding's
representative, Walter Brown, recommended that the Army and
Navy Departments follow the single purpose principle. He
proposed that the two cabinet posts be unified under a
single secretary in a Department of Defense. Brown
further recommended that all functions not related to
national defense be transferred out of the new department.
Subsequent hearings focused on this aspect of the bill,
and when the legislation was finally defeated military
unification was hardly mentioned.5
The movement for an autonomous air force was another
key factor which figured into early armed forces unification
attempts. The need for unification was championed by
Billy Mitchell. In 1925 Mitchell publicly blamed two
serious air mishaps on the splintering of air assets
between the Army and the Navy. These charges led to the now
famous court martial and Mitchell's resignation from the
Army. It also led to the formation of a blue ribbon panel
to study unification and the establishment of a separate
air force. The Morrow Board, as the panel was known,
recommended against both unification and separate air
force. The board did recommend the formation of the Army
Air Corps. As a result the Air Corps Act of 1926 was passed.6
The last measure to seriously address the unification.
process prior to the war was the Economy Measure of 1932.
This measure was defeated primarily by the opposition of
Army Chief of Staff, Douglas MacArthur. The Air Corps
officers changed their tactics from advocating all out
unification to a policy of consolidating their gains within
the Army. These events plus the Depression effectively
quieted the drive for unification.
The unification process began again on 2 November 1943.
Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall made a
proposal for post-war unification before the Joint Chiefs
of Staff. Citing the need for unity of command and economy,
Marshall proposed a single department to be headed by a
civilian secretary. The department would be made up of
ground, naval and air components. The proposal included
a separate supply service, a strong chief of staffs and
a United States General Staff. Marshall's plan stressed
unhindered access to the president coupled with improved
execution of military policy.7 General Marshall had been
appalled by his nation's lack of preparedness prior to
the Second World War. He wrote:
As sick as any (nation) was the United States of
America. We had no field army. There were the bare
skeletons of three and one half divisions scattered
in small pieces throughout the United States. It was
impossible to train even those few troops as divisions
because motor transport and other facilities were
lacking and funds for adequate maneuvers were not
appropriated. The Air Force consisted of a few
partially equipped squadrons serving continental
United States, Panama, Hawaii and the Philippines;
their planes were largely obsolecent and could have
hardly have survived a single day aerial combat. We
lacked mordern arms and equipment. When President
Roosevelt proclaimed on 8 September 1939 that a
limited emergency for the United States we were in
terms of available strength, not even a third rate
Marshall did not desire a return to the pre-World
War II status quo. In 1939 the U.S. Navy was the third
largest navy in the world. The Navy spent more on one
battleship than the Army spent on its entire budget.
In 1939 the U.S. Army rated seventeenth in size, right
behind Yugoslavia. Marshall saw the inequality of budget
process as a signifiant cause of the cost in lives
suffered as the Army was forced to build up for mobilization.9
With the submission of the Marshall unification plan
the lines wre being drawn for the inter-service struggles.
The struggle would soon place Army against Navy, Army
against Marines, and even Navy against Marines. But why a
struggle at all? The armed forces had the same ultimate
mission-- the defense of the nation. Lt. Gen. Victor
Krulak, a key participant in the struggle, gives the
answer quite succinctly:
In time of peace the armed services compete for
dollars, in time of war they compete for military tasks
and material priority. We find ourselves in
competition all the time. Add to this the leavening
of pride in your uniform and your service and you can
see at once that there are the ingredients of a
constant conflict. Now this conflict need not take
virulent form, but when dollars are hard to get or the
tasks are subject of great competition it can become
virulent as it has in the past.10
This virulent competition for the Marine Corps took
the form of the War Department and the United States Army.
The outward manifestation of this competition first took
place in 1916. The Army General Staff sent a proposal to
the joint Army--Navy Board requiring exclusive Army
command of any mixed contingents of Army and Marine troops.
The proposal was based on the Army's assumption that Marine
officers were "ipso facto" less fitted for high commando.11
The proposal died an appropriate death; its effect on the
morale of Marine officers need not be discussed.
In World War I Marines made up a portion of the
American Expeditionary Force. Many Army officers seethed
at the one sided publicity which the Marines received at
Belleau Wood. "OUR MARINES ATTACK--Gain Mile at Veiully"
announced the New York Times. Another headline from the
Chicago Daily Tribune said..."MARINES WIN HOT BATTLE--Sweep
Enemy From Heights." The Marines were praised unceasingly.
Everything accomplished was assumed to have been done by
the Marines. Army troops in the same Division, and those
in the 3rd Division, who were holding the Marne River line,
received no recognition.12
George C. Marshall, General Pershing's operations
officer during World War I, was a pivotal figure in the
Army/Marine rivalry. General Marshall did not like Marines.
He told wartime Chief of Naval Operation, Ernest J. King;
"I am going to see that Marines never win another war."13
These feelings of bitterness were further exacerbated
by the Smith vs. Smith controversy. The problem arose
when Marine Major General Holland M. Smith, commander of
ground forces in Saipan, recommended that Army Major
General Ralph C. Smith, commander of the Army 27th Divisions
be relieved of command. Holland M. Smith believed that
Ralph Smith lacked aggressiveness. Adamiral Spruance effected
the relief. Admiral Nimitz's senior Army commander in the
Central Pacific, Lt.Gen. Robert C. Richardson, fueled an
already volatile situation by convening an board to review
the appropriateness of the relief. Richardson had publicly
expressed his low opinion of Marine officers' ability to
handle units above the Division level. It was rumored that
when Marshall read Richardson's report, he angrily vowed
that he would never permit another soldier to serve under
The struggle was not confined solely to Army/Marine
matters. The Army Air Corps/Air Force and Naval Aviation
were locked in a bitter struggle over missions. This
struggle became so intense that it culminated in the
resignation of the Secretary of the Navy and the relief of
the CNO in 1949. Also, many Naval aviators would certainly
have sacrificed the Marine Corps to ensure the future of
After the Marshall 1943 unification plan the forces
for armed forces unification began the drive that four
years later culminated in the National Security Act of
1947. In April 1944 House committee hearings began on the
subject. Chaired by Representative Clifton A. Woodrum,
the Woodrum hearings gave new momentum to the Army's
unification plan. The unification advocates were beginning
to line up and take sides. No legislation was reported out.
President Roosevelt told all involved, "...knock it off,
we're in a war now add this is no time to have the
services fighting between themselves."16
The Army plan gained added momentum with the Richardson
committee report presented in May 1945. The report reflected
the Army view particularly with respect to a strong chief
of staff. Secretary of the Navy Forrestal sensed that
both public and congressional opinion were shifting to
the idea of a single defense department. To counter, as
he called it, "this Army steam roller"; Forrestal
commissioned the Eberstadt Report outling the Navy position
on the unification question. Ferdinand Eberstadt was
a lifelong friend of Forrestal, and former head of the
Army/Navy Munitions Board. The report broadened the focus
of unification from strictly military matters. It called
for institutionalized procedures for the integration of
military policy with all aspects of high level foreign
As the unification process proceeded towards the legisla-
tive stage, the positions of the services could be summarized
as follows. The Army desired a strong Chief of Staff, a
single military budget, military control, adequate ground
forces, restriction on the Marine Corps as a second land
army, and economy. The Navy wanted status quo organizational
integrity, separate service budgets, civilian control, and
wider integration of the polictical, military and foreign
policy spheres. The Marine Corps sought statutory protection
for Marine Corps' roles and missions, including Marine Air.18
The term Chowder Society became the code name for the
defense of the Marine Corps during the unification struggle.19
While some historians point to the formation of "Chowder"
with the formation of the Thomas--Edson in March 1947, the
efforts of the "Little Men's Marching and Chowder Society"
(taken from a comic strip of the day because the main
character, Barnaby, was extremely short and bore a striking
resemblance to one Lt.Col. V.H. Krulak) began much earlier.
According to Krulak the prime movers of "Chowder" were
Col Merril B. Twinning and Gen. G.C. Thomas, and "the great
mind was Twinning."20 Twinning first became involved in 1942.
He visited his brother, BGen. Nathan F. Twinning, USA, at
Noumea, New Caledonia in December. He was a house guest in
quarters shared by Army generals Collins, Patch and Sebree
his brother and others. Lt. Col. Twinning learned some
"startling" revelations about Army military reorganization
after the war. Twinning became so concerned for what these
plans held for the future of the Marine Corps that the
following day, "Ireported in detail to AAV." (Arthur A.
Vandegrift, then commanding at Guadalcanal.)21
In April 1944 General Thomas was designated the
Commandant's personal representative to the Woodrum Committee
hearings. He did not miss a single hearing session.
Working out of Headquarters in Washington, Thomas became
the Commandant's coordinator for unification matters.
Twinning was instructed to establish the Marine Corps Board
at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico. In order to assist
Twinning, Lt. Col. V.H. Krulak was assigned as the Chief
of the newly formed Research Section of the Marine Corps
Schools. The Research Section would provide Krulak sufficient
cover to work almost exclusively on the unification matter.
The full membership of the Chowder Society never exceeded more
than twelve members.
On 12 April 1945 Harry S. Truman became the thirty-
third president of the United States. Truman came to office
as no friend of the Marine Corps. He had served as an Army
captain in the Field Artillery in World War I. He had risen
to the rank of Colonel in the Reserves. As a Senator he
had served on the senate appropriations and Military Affairs
Committees. He had a strong desire for the military unification.
As a Vice Presidential candidate he had written an article
for Colliers magazine entitled, "Our Armed Forces Must Be
Unified." His view of the Marine Corps was, "Then the Navy
had its own "little army" that talks Navy and is known as the
Marine Corps."22 Truman shared similar views of the Navy.
"When Roosevelt was here," he reportedly said of the White
House, "this place was like a wardroom. As long as I'm here
the Admirals will never get in again."23
Truman's first opportunity for reorganization of the
military cane when Secretary Forrestal suggested legislation
increasing the permanent strength of the Marine Corps.24 This
enabled Truman to send the issue to the Joint Chiefs for
review. As a result, certain Army officers notably General
Eisenhower and General Spaatz aired their views under the
Series 1478 JCS papers. In papers 10 and 11 Eisenhower and
Spaatz wrote at length on the ultimate role of the Marine
Corps. The Marine Corps was not represented on the JCS and
the 1478 papers were highly classified and not availabe to
the Marines. The papers recommended that the Marine Corps
be kept very small, and restricted to units no larger than
a regiment. Among the duties envisioned were, "to protect
United States citizens ashore in foreign countries and to
provide interior guard of naval ships and naval shore
establishments."25 Admiral Nimitz, CNO, responded to these
papers on 30 March 1946. He said, "The basic and major issue
considered in JCS 1478/10 and JCS 1478/11 comprise a
proposal on the part of the Army: a) to eliminate the Marine
Corps as an effective combat element, reducing it to the
status of Naval police units."26
At this point another key figure of the Chowder Society
emerged. BGen. M.A. Edson was a war hero and Medal of Honor
winner. He was the senior Marine on the CNO's staff.
According to Thomas,Edson provided the Marine Corps with a
copy of the JCS 1478 papers. "Edson brought the whole
volume with him. The most intensive study of these papers
led to the conclusion that the salvation of the Corps lay in
having its roles and missions spelled out in legislation if
it should be adopted."27 Col. Heinl, another "Chowder"
member saw the JCS 1478 papers in historic perspective.
"The Army plan embraced almost word for word, the missions
of the British Royal Marines--the only thing left out was
providing bands for the Navy."28 From this time on the
Marine Corps would not trust any unification plan authored
by the Army.
A bill proposing military unification was introduced in
1946. S. 2044 embodied the entire Army unification plan.
This bill produced the famous "bended knee" speech delivered
by Gen. A.A. Vandegrift, Commandant of the Marine Corps. In
a speech written by Twinning, Vandegrift said:
...placing its case in your hands the Marine Corps
remembers that it was this same Congress which, in
1798, called it into long and useful service to the
nation. The Marine Corps feels that the question of
its continued existence is likewise a matter for
determination by the Congress and not one to be
resolved by departmental legermain or a quasi-
legislative process enforced by the War Department
The Marine Corps, then, believes that it has earned
this right--to have its future decided by the
legislative body which created it--nothing more.
Sentiment is not a valid consideration in determining
questions of national security. We have pride in
ourselves and in our past but we do not rest our case
on any presumed ground of gratitude owing us from the
nation. The bended knee is not a tradition of our
Corps. If the Marine as a fighting man has not made a
case for himself after 170 years of service he must
go. But I think you will agree with me that he has
earned the right to depart with dignity and honor, not
by subjugation to the status of uselessness and
servility planned for him by the War Department.29
General Vandegrift's speech met with immediate public
acceptance. The dangers to the Marine Corps' existence were
finally publicly voiced. As a result the Bill was tabled and
died. Another result was Vandergrift's becoming the target
of extreme pressure from both Truman and Forrestal. This
would play a significant role in the later battle.
The direct result of the defeat of S.2044 was the
compromise worked out by Secretary of War Patterson and
Secretary of the Navy Forrestal at Truman's insistence.
The compromise did not call for statutory provisions of
Marine roles and functions. The Marine Corps view of the
compromise was voiced by Vandegrift, "the Navy sold out to
the Army", by not insisting that all functions and duties be
written into law. It was at this juncture that Vandegrift
formed the Edson--Thomas Board.
Working out of two groups, one from Washington and one
from Quantico, this board formalized the struggle to counter
the pending legislation. The group was hampered by many
factors. The Marine Corps itself was not wholly united on
the unification question. Krulak, speaking of the
They did so in the face of some derision, much
misunderstanding, and occasionally, unthinking
hostility by their peers, and often their superiors
which made it worse. It took a certain self-
sacrificial, almost fearless attitude to do so in
view of the fact that among your peers you could not
talk freely about what you were doing.31
To further complicate matters Marine officers were placed
under a "gag order" by Secretary Forrestal. On the day he
reached agreement with Patterson, Forrestal published AlNav
21 which made it clear that support of the proposal before
Congress was expected. To Marines this was extremely unfair.
The War Department continued to lobby Congress, and the
Marine Corps had not been represented at the Forrestal--
General Vandegrift was soon the man in the middle. As
a result of the Patterson--Forrestal compromise a new bill,
S.758 was submitted. It did not include statutory protection
of Marine Corps' roles and functions. The bill passed the
Senate with the concurrence of Vandegrift. Truman had informed
Vandegrift that functions would not be included and that was
final. Vandegrift was caught in the dilemma of acting
aggresively enough to achieve Marine aims without giving
Truman and Forrestal cause for his relief.32
S.758 was introduced in the House as HR2319. The
bill was assigned to the House Committee on Expenditures.
There were several reasons for the assignment. The
committee was a non-controversial in the unification debate.
Its Chairman Clare Hoffman was known as an extreme isolation-
ist in foreign policy. Hoffman had little interest or
knowledge of the military. Unification proponents believed
that Hoffman would turn the chair of the committee over to
former Senator, Representative James Wadsworth. Wadsworth
was a recognized expert on military matters, and a staunch
Army advocate. The Chowder Society intervened again.
Chairman Hoffman was a life long friend of "Chowder" member
Lt. Col. James B. Hittle's father. The elder Hittle and
Hoffman were friends from past politics in Michigan. Col.
Hittle convinced Hoffman to champion the Marine cause.
The Hoffman Committee hearings produced a dramatic effect.
Army anti-Marine hostility was clearly displayed. Hoffman
forced release of the JCS 1478 papers. Army Chief of Staff
Dwight Eisenhower's testimony that he meant the Marine Corps
no harm was compromised. The resultant furor made any hopes
for passage of a unification bill unlikely. Truman realized
that if he did not have a bill that included the roles and
functions of the Marine Corps he would have no bill at all.
Representative Hoffman submitted a new bill(drafted by
Twinning, Krulak and Hittle) H4214.33 The bill gave the
Marines everything it wanted. The Marine Corps had won a
significant legislative victory. The major credit for
this victory must be given to Representative Hoffman. Hittle
summed up the Hoffman contribution best:
...when I saw the completely exhausted condition
Mr. Hoffman was in after fighting the cause of the
Marine Corps, I could not help but think how regrettable
it was that so few Marine officers will ever realize
how close the Marine Corps had been to virtual
extiction, and how very, very few ever knew or ever
would know the extent to which the fate of the Marine
Corps in the Unification Bill depended so completely
upon the efforts of one man, Mr. Clare Hoffman, the
Chairman of the House Committee on expenditures. Mr.
Hoffman had never been a Marine, nor had any of his
relatives been in the Marine Corps, yet candidness
compels me to say that I know of no Marine officer
who fought with more sincerity or more determination
for the Marine Corps than did Mr. Hoffman.34
An additional act of personal integrity was displayed
by "Chowder" member Edson. Faced with the presidential fiat
to remain silent on the unification bill, Edson retired and
testified as a civilian before the Hoffman committee. This
dramatic step was part of the "Chowder" strategy to offset
the compromised position of General Vandegrift. With Edson's
retirement the Marine Corps lost one of its finest officers.
On 26 July 1947 The National Security Act was signed into
law by President Truman. The Marine Corps was organized to
provide "fleet marine forces of combined armes, together with
supporting air components, for service with the fleet in the
seizure or defense of advanced naval bases, and for the
conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the
prosecution of a naval campaign."35
The view of the victory from the Chowder Society was
summed up best by Lt. Gen. Krulak:
There is something that needs saying...I will
say it dognatically. The National Security Act of
1947 has turned out to be a substantial piece of
legislation so far as the Marines are concerned. From
1947 until today, 23 years later, the law has
preserved and sustained the Marines.36
A different view came from Eisenhower. He described the
Marines as; "being so unsure of their value to their country
that they insisted on writing into the law a complete set of
rules and specifications for their future operations and
duties. Such freezing of detail...is silly, even vicious."37
Given the nature of the struggle during the previous
three years, vicious was indeed an appropriate term. To
the members of the Chowder Society the saving of the Marine
Corps was far from silly.
Marine officers can learn many valuable lessons from this
historic period. Never get complacent is one lesson. One
researcher claimed that the Marine Corps has faced a challenge
to its existence on the average of once every eleven years.
As General Vandegrift told us we cannot rest our case on
sentiment or national gratitude. If we do not make a case
for ourselves, we must go. We must strive to be better. We
must remain firmly rooted in our military values and proven
traditions. We must also look to the future with intelligence
and courage. We must learn from our "Chowder" brothers of
forty years ago, and face all challenges to our existence
with courage and tenacity. We must be aware of entangling
political alliances. Our existence is tied is tied by
law to the body that formed us--the Congress. On a practical
level we owe no allegience to any political party or
particular presidential administration save in their
constitutional duties. A good reading of the Constitution
should be required of all officers assigned to such duties
as the White House staff, National Security Council, or
any such political post. As the "Chowder" experience
confirmed, the constitutional system of checks and balances
is a most useful tool.
Finally, all Marines should be inspired by the personal
courage of the men who made up the Chowder Society. Reading
the accounts of these men I could see the deep animosities
and petty jealousy they endured from their own brother in
the Corps. Some Marine officers declined participation in the
unification struggle because they felt the duty beneath them.
They didn't want to get dirty or risk their careers. The
sheer drive of men like Twinning and Thomas and the tenacity
of men like Krulak and Hittle should inspire us all to a
deeper love of our Corps. As long as one Marine breathes
life in this Republic, the names of these brave men should
never be forgotten.