Posted in Images Military History

Now what did you say about my mom?

Cpl Martin F. O’Donnell of 52d Co., 11th Marine Regiment brandishes a Lewis machine gun captured from bandits at El Chufon, Nicaragua on 19 Oct 1928. (USMC photo)
Posted in Military History

Twins earn Navy Cross in same battle

Leslie (top) and Paul Hansen volunteered to attack an enemy machine-gun position with their amtrak (similar to this LVT driving down the ramp), earning them the Navy Cross

You may never have heard of the Hansen brothers, but twins Paul and Leslie own the distinction of being the only twins to earn the Navy Cross. In fact, they fought side-by-side when they accomplished the feat.

On 26 December 1943, the First Marine Division poured onto the beaches of Cape Gloucester, New Britain. As the Marines worked their way into the jungle, the amtraks (amphibious tractors) of the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion ferried in their ammunition and equipment. One of the first amtraks ashore was commanded by 23-year-old Philadelphia native Sgt. Robert J. Oswald Jr., with Pfc. Paul Hansen at the wheel and Pfc. Leslie Hansen manning a machinegun (both 20, from Bergen, N.Y.).

When heavy fire from Japanese pillboxes halted the Marine assault force attempting to capture the island’s airport, Oswald’s crew volunteered to destroy the enemy position. The job of charging the pillbox was dangerous enough, but onboard were tons of fuzes and 37-mm shells. Scores of enemy soldiers would be firing at a slow-moving, unarmored amphibious tractor loaded with explosives. Continue reading “Twins earn Navy Cross in same battle”

Posted in Images Military History

Disney artist at war

Gen. Douglas MacArthur (second from left) studies a relief map of Cape Gloucester with officers and staff before the 1st Marine Division lands on New Britain Island.

Before the United States entered World War II Richard “Dick” Kelsey worked for Walt Disney, having been an art director for Bambi, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Pinocchio animated films. Here he is as a Marine captain (far left), creator of the relief map MacArthur studies prior to the Cape Gloucester operation. Among Kelsey’s many other credits, he later helped write Alice in Wonderland and was even part of the Disneyland design team. Continue reading “Disney artist at war”

Posted in Military History

The ‘Fightingest’ Skippers of the 7th Marines

Senior officers of 7th Marine Regiment at New Britain, January 1944. From left to right: Lt. Col. Odell M. Conoley (Commanding 2d Battalion), LTC Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller (Regimental Executive Officer), Col. Julian N. Frisbie (Regimental Commanding Officer), Lt. Col. Henry W. Buse Jr. (Commanding 3rd Battalion), Lt. Col. John E. Weber (Commanding 1st Battalion), and Capt. Joseph E. Buckley (Commanding Regimental Weapons Company).

While researching the Battle of Cape Gloucester, I came across this photo of the 7th Marine Regiment’s commanders in January 1944. Granted, any group of officers that includes Chesty Puller (second from the left) has an epic advantage over the enemy, but when you consider these officers’ service records, it really shows how stacked this unit was, and perhaps why the 7th Marines were called the “fightingest outfit in the world.”

One Marine officer enlisted during World War I and served as a drill instructor (Frisbie)… two fought in Nicaragua (Puller and Frisbie)… Frisbie also faced rebels in the Dominican Republic… Puller saw action in Hayti… Two were China Marines (Conoley and Puller)… Two would later serve in Korea (Puller and Buse), and Buse also served during Vietnam… Continue reading “The ‘Fightingest’ Skippers of the 7th Marines”

Posted in Military History

How to recruit a Marine in 1880

While pouring through old Marine Corps valor citations I came across instructions for Marine recruiters from 1880. It’s fascinating to see what duties a Marine performed 140 years ago versus today.

Five U.S. Marine Corps privates with fixed bayonets under the command of their noncommissioned officer (NCO), who displays his M1859 Marine NCO sword. Navy Yard, Washington, DC, April 1864.

Instructions for Recruiting Officers of the US. Marine Corps, 1880

The marines are strictly infantry soldiers trained for service afloat. Their discipline, equipment, character, and esprit du corps being that of the soldier, they necessarily give to a Ship-of-War its military character. As sentinels,they watch over the magazines, store rooms, gangways, galleys, and all lights and fires required for the use of the ship; they guard all the public property and all prisoners of war, which at times may outnumber the crew; and at all times Continue reading “How to recruit a Marine in 1880”