(Archive - Week of March19, 2005)

A fire-team of U.S. Marine heroes will visit you in May

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 sergeant 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 May, 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 May. Bring them to your home and you will be in good company.


* Noah's ARKives