Ride The Thunder Movie

By Tami Jackson – jackson.tamara@comcast.net


Though his service post-dates the Vietnam War, many of the men who mentored Rich Botkin, heroes he greatly admires, were Vietnam Veterans.

In Ride the Thunder, Botkin attempts to give a “30,000 foot view of and a fighting hole view of the war through the experiences of … 3 American Marine officers and … 2 South Vietnamese officers.”

The book, the story, highlights the difference between the North Vietnamese (NVA…the Communists) and the South Vietnamese (RVN) — the RVN were good guys. Incredibly hard-fighting good guys.

Ride the Thunder instructs about the Covan (trusted advisors), the TQLC (RVN Marines) and more, about which the average American is woefully uninformed.

Protagonists in Ride the Thunder include Americans (the late) USMC Col. John Ripley, USMC Col (Ret) Gerry Turley, USMC Capt George Philip, and Vietnamese Marine LtCol Le Ba Binh (“the Chesty Puller of the Vietnamese Marine Corps”) and Vietnamese Marine Nguyen Luong.

Ride the Thunder spans the years of American involvement in the war (1954 – 1975), with special emphasis on American and Vietnamese Marines. A central event in the book is the Easter Offensive, which was much bigger (by about 50%) than the better known Tet Offensive.

Radio talk show host and Botkin friend, Hugh Hewitt, divides the story into: pre-Tet; Tet; Tet to the Easter Offensive; Easter Offensive to collapse; and what happens in Vietnam afterwards.

In the days of the Vietnam War, America was experiencing unprecedented demonstrations against the war, spurred on by mis-reporting by many in media, including the venerable and trusted Walter Cronkite.

Subsequent generations of Americans have been taught that Vietnam was unwinnable, that the US involvement was ignoble, that our military were unheroic in that conflict…all of which are lies and distortions.

Why was Vietnam lost?

Many contributing factors, but 2 were chief among them.
The likes of Cronkite, John Kerry, and Jane Fonda helped form an intensely negative national perception of the war. And the very liberal 93rd Congress passed the Case-Church Amendment (prohibited direct US involvement) and the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 (prohibited US funding and indirect support), thereby pulled the plug on all US support and funding.

The title of the book, and now the movie, comes from the famous Teddy Roosevelt “Man in the Arena” speech of April 23, 1910.

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Map of the Vietnam War

THIS IS A FULL Collection of 4 pages of FIRE BASES, AIR FORCE BASES, Naval and Medical, BROWN WATER Naval, and any and all bases DOD during the Vietnam War 1963 to 1975

Great link for in-country Vietnam vets, or those curious about the Vietnam War… Thanks to Ed Creamer, Col Wayne Morris USMC (Ret) and LT Don Tyson USN (Ret) for sharing.

Locations included in map:

Phu My
Rach Gia
Tan An
Cao Lanh
Cai Lay
Dai Loc
Quang Ngai
An Khe
Phu Cat
My Lai
An Loc
Loc Ninh
Phuoc Vinh
Trang Bang
Cu Chi
Dat Do
Phuoc Le
Cam My
Gia Ray
Tri Tam
Lai Khe
Ben Cat
Duc Pho
Bong Son
CMAC (Le Van Duyet)
PTF Base
Camp Tien Sha
Camp Fey
Monkey Mountain
Blackhorse Base Camp
LZ Katum
90th Replacement Battalion
Camp Alpha
7th Airforce HQ
Air America Terminal
US Embassy Annex
US Embassy
Cam Lo
LZ Russell
LZ Brillo Pad
OP Hill
LZ Alamo
LZ Blackfoot (Hill 1018)
LZ Swinger
LZ Cider
LZ Mile High
LZ Roberts
LZ Chu Pa
FSB Ban Me Thout
FSB Gray
LZ Lima Zulu
8 Inch Hill
Duster Hill
Pump Station 6
Golf Course
Hon Cong Mountain
LZ Goat
LZ Flexer
Pump Station 8
Pump Station 10
FSB McNerney
Pump Station 9
French Fort
LZ Hardcore
LZ Charlie Brown
Mai Loc
Song Mao
FSB Tuy Hoa
Riverboat South
III Marine Amphibious Force HQ (Camp Horn)
LZ Young
Hill 14
Hill 110
LZ Bols
Tam Ky Airfield
LZ Sheryl
FSB Arsenal
Sin City
FSB Bradley
LZ Erskine
LZ Cunningham
LZ Razor
LZ Shiloh
LCU Ramp
Frank Doezema Compound (MACV)
Tun Tavern
LZ Smith
FSB Barbara
Firebase Airborne
Qui Nhon Port Facility
Coastal Division 16 Pier
DeLong Piers
Coastal Division 14 HQ
Naval Support Facility
LZ Colt
LZ Sparrow Knob
Hill 10
Hill 69
Camp Hockmuth
Chu Lai Harbor
Americal (23rd Inf) Div HQ
Gia Ray
Xuan Loc
Cam Ranh Port
China Beach
Hill 327
Hill 34
Hill 55
Con Thien
Ha Tien
Hill 861
Hill 1015
Hill 950
Hill 881N
Hill 881S
Khe Sanh
Fire Support Base Alpine
Newport Terminal
FSB Tango
Chau Doc MACV
Nui Sam
ATSB Tinh Bien
Hill 664
Solid Anchor (Nam Cam Base)
Rach Soi
Binh Thuy
Crum Compound
FSB Rach Kien
FSB Tan Tru (Scott)
Tigers Lair
LZ Phoenix
LZ Cindy
LZ Manchester
LZ Pleasantville
LZ Mildred
Hill 497
FSB Carolyn
LZ Pineapple
FSB Bludgeon
Hill 707
Hill 410
Hill 270
Hill 76
LZ Hurricane
LZ Artillery Hill
LZ Bayonet West
LZ Chippewa
LZ Ann
LZ Paradise
LZ Clifford
LZ Bowman
LZ Fat City
Cau Ha
LZ Nancy
LZ Crook
LZ Columbus
LZ Victor
LZ Xray
LZ Albany
LZ Golf
LZ Mary
LZ Two Bits
LZ English
LZ Orange
LZ Easton
LZ Uplift
Camp Addison
Camp Radcliff
LZ Pluto
LZ BanMeThout East (LZ Gray)
LZ Lonely
LZ Athena
LZ Weigt-Davis
LZ Jean
LZ Jackson Hole
LZ Joan
LZ Vera
LZ Oasis
LZ Blackhawk
LZ Action
LZ Schueller
LZ Jenny
Camp Fidel
LZ Linda
LZ Crystal
LZ Hammond
LZ Jupiter
FSB 16
LZ Hardtimes
LZ Pony
Fire Support Base 15
Fire Support Base 12
Fire Support Base 13
Camp Enari
Fire Support Base 5
Fire Support Base 6
LZ Rawhide
FSB Sledge
Firebase Rakkassan
Firebase Bastogne
Firebase Henderson
Firebase O’Reilly
Firebase Ripcord
Firebase Barnett
Firebase Maureen
Firebase Jerome
Firebase Langley
Firebase Rifle
Vandergrift (LZ Stud)
Firebase Sarge
Firebase Tomahawk
Firebase Birmingham
Firebase Veghel
Firebase Thor
Firebase Lash
Firebase Spear
Firebase Blitz
Firebase Brick
Firbase Normandy
Firebase Checkmate
Firebase Satan II
Firebase Fist
Firebase Tennessee
Firebase Falcon
Firebase Strike
Firebase Nuts
Firebase Gladiator
Firebase Kathryn
Firebase Jack
Camp Carroll
Firebase Blaze
Firebase EaglesNest
LZ Sally
Camp Eagle
Camp Evans
LZ Betty (Currahee)
FSB Currahee
FSB Rendezvous
LZ Ross
LZ West
Hill 37
LZ Ryder
LZ Professional
The Rockpile
Marble Mountain
LZ Dove
LZ Bluejay
LZ Crow
LZ Sheppard
LZ Snapper
LZ Temnora
LZ Victory
LZ Mellon (Location???)
LZ Fox
LZ Geronimo
LZ Thunder Mountain
LZ Tempest
LZ Bingo
LZ Bass
LZ Thunder
LZ Bunker Hill
LZ Irma Jay
LZ Mary Lou
LZ Lane
FSB Miller (Phu Nhon Airfield)
LZ Lowboy
LZ Bird
FSB 4-11
LZ Stinson (Buff)
LZ Uptight
LZ Dottie
LZ Gator
LZ Bayonet
LZ Baldy
LZ Center
LZ Siberia
LZ East
Hill 54
LZ Maryann
LZ No Slack
LZ Bronco
FSB Moore
Dong Tam
FSB Camp Panther
Long Binh
FSB Danger
FSB Dirk/Schroeder
Phu Loi
Cu Chi Base
LZ Phan Thiet
Lai Khe
Black Virgin Mountain (Nui Ba Den)
Camp Holloway
Quang Loi (LZ Andy)
Bear Cat
LZ Austin
LZ Kelly
Thunder III
LZ Thunder I
LZ Thunder II
LZ Dolly
LZ Grant
LZ Jamie
LZ Jake
LZ Diana
LZ Rita
LZ Tina
LZ Vicki
LZ Becky
LZ Christine
LZ Ike
Tay Ninh West
LZ Ann
LZ Barbara
LZ Ann
LZ Crook
National Assembly
Soldiers Monument
Presidential Palace
Notre Dame Catholic Church
Hotel de Ville
Continental Palace
Phuoc Vinh
Plei Mrong
Ban Me Thuot
Buon Ho
Cheo Reo
DODO Camp (Paradise Island)
Polei Krong
Polie Kleng
Binh Khe
5th Special Forces Group HQ
A Shau
Trung Dung
Bien Hoa
Song Be
Dong Xoai
Bu Prang
Bu Dop
Bu Ghia Map
Duc Phong
Nhon Co
Ban Don
Tra Bong
Mang Buk
Duc Co
Tieu Atar
Duc Lap
Plei Me
Plei Djereng
Ben Het
Dak Pek
Dak Seang
Chi Lang
Ba Xoai
Ba To
Minh Long
Gia Vuc
Chuong Nghia
Lang Vei
Moc Hoa
Ban Me Thuot East
Long Thanh North
Nakhon Phanom
Bac Lieu
Quang Long Airfield
Tuy Hoa North
Tuy Hoa
Qui Nhon Airfield
Phu Bai Airfield
Ky Ha Marine Air Facility
Marble Mountain Airbase
Cam Ranh Bay Air Force Base
Phan Thiet Airfield
Tan Son Nhut
Bien Hoa
Tan Tich
Tan An
Vinh Long
Can Tho
Vung Tau
Dau Tieng
Chu Lai Airfield
Da Nang
Nha Trang
Pleiku Airbase
Dak To
Dalat Cam Ly
Quang Tri
Dong Ha
An Hoa
Bu Krak
Phu Cat Airbase
Lane Army Helipad
Phan Rang
Gia Nghia
Camp Coryell
Bao Loc
An Khe Arifield
Kontum Air Field
8th Field Hospital
36th Evacuation Hospital
85th Evacuation Hospital
27th Surgical Hospital
USS Sanctuary
93rd Evacuation Hospital
24th Evacuation Hospital
AFV HQ (Free World Building)
1st Australian Field Hospital
1st Australian Logistics Support Group
FSPB Coral
FSB Spear
FSB Andrea
FSB Carmen
FSB Serle
FSB Horseshoe
FSB Bridge
FSB Cherring
FSB Thrust
FSB Arrow
Nui Dat
Ba Long Valley
An Lao
An Lao Valley
Plain of Reeds
A Shau Valley
Charlie Ridge
Happy Valley
Phu Nhon
Worth Ridge
Elephant Valley
Ban Me Thuot
Que Son Valley
An Khe Pass
Plei Trap Valley
Bong Son Plain
Hill 441
Hill 947
Hip Duc Valley
Operation Desoto Jan 27-30 ’67
Antenna Valley Operation Essex Nov 7-16 ’67
Operation Swift Sep 10-15 ’67
Operation Swift Sep 4-10 ’67
Operation Hastings Jul 18-30 ’66
Hill 937
Hill 724
Hill 823
Hill 1338
Ngok Kom Leat
Hill 830
Hill 882
Hill 889
Hill 875
Happy Valley
Ia Drang Valley
South Ambush
Crow’s Foot
Arizona Territory
Operation Shenandoah II
Iron Traingle
Dodge City
Battle of Phu Dong 05/16/68
Go Noi Island
Ruong Ruong
Kham Duc
173rd Drop Zone – Operation Junction

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Where Do You Live?

By: Ed Creamer

I find there are times when doors open and memories sit beside me. Now that may sound like a strange statement to make. But I believe we all have those times. Times when our mind takes a breather from the rush of today and stops just long enough for an instant in time to remember. The times that caused us to live where we live.

I’m not talking about what street we live on or if we live in up state or by the river or even in the heart of the city. I’m talking about what in our mental house makes us who we are and why we are that person. The people and the things that caused us to build the number of rooms we have in our mental makeup.

There are rooms devoted to my parents, my family and some uncles I had. Some of the rooms belong to teachers I had in school. One room in particular belongs to the judge who could have locked me up at age 18 but instead gave me a choice. I have rooms for my senior D.I., a room for my Company Commander who promoted me to Corporal when I was an 0311 and the First Sheriff who told me, “Corporal, you’re too dumb to carry a BAR”. He then pointed me toward aviation as a career.

Over time, as I received more promotions and made Warrant, rooms were set aside for people who touched my life and helped point the way toward where I would live. There’s a special room in my house for my first squadron commander. Not only did he help define who I was as an officer but what the definition of SLJO was.

During each of my two tours in combat I found there needed to be rooms set aside for those that cheated playing acey-ducey. I’ve even set aside a room for the mess cook who never learned how. And, if you’re the one who short sheeted my rack, your room is the four holer.

Then, there are the rooms for those who walk with me every day. I can visualize some of them dressed in their flight suites. Can hear the terrible jokes some of them told. I even think that when I sit down to put words on my monitor screen, the doors open for some to sit with me. For these are the rooms for those that gave their lives defining what the words “ultimate sacrifice while defending freedom” meant.

Now you know. And, if you stop and think about it, it’s a house like your house. It’s a house built with memories and touched by the lives of others. And in this house, you are never alone. It’s where you live.

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D-Day through the eyes of an 11 year old

Project Vigil:Stanley Stockins
On June 6th, 2014, my 11 year old son wanted to say thank you to the soldiers who fought and died on Omaha beach on D-Day morning 70 years earlier. This is how he did it.

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The History of HMM-163’s “Evil Eyes”

By Norm Urban

HMM-163, to my knowledge, is, and has been, the ONLY U.S. Marine helicopter squadron that has distinguished itself for almost 40 years, using a non-standard, nonregulation, unofficial paint scheme. evil-eyesIn Viet Nam, at least in 1966, most other Marine Sikorsky H-34 squadrons painted the transmission hump a specific color. But HMM-163’s were Marine green, with the “Evil Eyes” on the engine clamshell nose doors. This started while I was there, in January 1966. Soon, some Marines in the field were requesting support from the “Evil Eyes” choppers. Today, “Evil Eyes” are STILL painted on the nose of HMM-163’s Boeing H-46s.

Who did it? Who was the first? Why? How did it spread to all the squadron birds? How was it approved by the Group (MAG 16), and the Wing (1st MAW)? How has it survived through different groups and wings for almost four decades?

Today’s HMM-163 Boeing H-46 with “Evil Eyes” on nose
Today’s HMM-163 Boeing H-46 with “Evil Eyes” on nose

The H-34s at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and the Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar, are painted in HMM-163 colors, one with “Evil Eyes” on the nose, so clearly, it’s a significant question.

From February to October 1965, The HMM-163 “Ridgerunners” helicopter squadron became rather famous for it’s operations in Viet Nam. This was primarily due to a LIFE magazine cover story that appeared in the April 16, 1965 issue. The story, with photography by Mike Burrows, documented the combat death of Marine H-34 pilot, 1/Lt, James E. Magel and the rescue of wounded and paralyzed 1/Lt. Dale Eddy, while on a strike mission transporting South Vietnamese troops. For most U.S. citizens, this was the first time they were made aware of the extent of America’s involvement in Viet Nam.

April 16, 1965 LIFE magazine cover showing wounded 1/Lt Dale Eddy and Crew Chief James Farley

Later, in October 1965, HMM-163 relocated to the Marine Corps Air Station at Futema, Okinawa. LtCol Charles A. House replaced LtCol Norman G. Ewers as the new commanding officer. Since all the squadron personnel had finished their tour in Viet Nam, virtually all pilots and enlisted Marines were new replacements from other squadrons and bases. It was clear to LtCol House, and many in this composite squadron, that we needed to shake off the Life Magazine image, and begin jelling as a new unit.

And there wasn’t much time! The squadron was scheduled to return to Phu Bai, Vietnam in three months, on Jan 1, 1966.

One day, late in October ’65, Capt. Al Barbe, 1/lt Duel “Chris” Christian, and an unknown third officer, were discussing this need for unit cohesion symbol, when the Commanding Officer, LtCol House happened to join them. They tossed about various ideas to develop and build morale and espirit d’ corps. Suddenly, Al Barbe said, “I’ve got it!”

Al Barbe, HMM-163’s Intelligence Officer (S-2), was an experienced pilot who had left the Marine Corps to fly H-34s for Air America in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia for some time before re-joining the USMC and the squadron. He had married a Thai bride, had a home in Thailand, and was well versed in the SE Asian culture. Barbe suggested that two things upsetting to Orientals were evil spirits and being watched. This led to his idea of painting eyes on the clamshell nose doors of HMM-163’s Sikorsky H-34 helicopters.

After drawing a basic design, they presented the idea to LtCol House, who liked the concept and approved it immediately. Stencils were created and tested on one H-34, while still on Okinawa.

On January 1, 1966, HMM-163 flew by C-130 to Phu Bai, Viet Nam, relieving HMM-161 And taking over their H-34 helicopters. Painting of what were then called “Genie Eyes” (after the “I Dream of Jeannie” TV show), began immediately.

Painting the “Genie Eyes” for the first time. January 1966. Photo by Ted Mayberry
Painting the “Genie Eyes” for the first time. January 1966. Photo by Ted Mayberry

By March ’66, HMM-163’s “Genie Eyes” were being called “Evil Eyes” by ground Marines and squadron members. In August or September 1966, orders came from Wing to eliminate white paint on Marine helicopters. So the “MARINES” on the aft fuselage was changed from white to black, and other white markings, including the “star and bars” U.S. insignia, were to be eliminated or toned down. However, HMM-163 was now aboard a carrier off the coast, and used the excuse that they were therefore not directly under Wing command, so the “Evil Eyes” remained white. HMM-163 H-34 med-evac.

Note “Star and Bars” painted over with spray paint and white eyes
Note “Star and Bars” painted over with spray paint and white eyes

In October 1966, the squadron once again returned to Phu Bai, Viet Nam, still with black and white “Evil Eyes”. LtCol Otto Bianchi, now Commanding Officer, was a good friend of Major General Louis B. Robertshaw, First Marine Aircraft Wing Commander. Nevertheless, when Robertshaw, on a visit to Phu Bai, saw the “Evil Eyes”, he began to read Bianchi the riot act. However, also in the room, was the Marine General commanding the ground Marines in the area. He interrupted to say that; “It sure is great to have the “Evil Eyes” back here at Phu Bai!” Robertshaw relented and the “Evil Eyes” remained.

And have remained, ever since! Today “Evil Eyes” is the squadron logo, identity, trademark, and even radio call sign.

The above information has been collected from personal memories, interviews with HMM-163 veterans and internet sources. Any clarifications, additional information or corrections would be appreciated.

Norm Urban

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The War of 1812

Battles at Sea and on Lakes
The Marines’ participation in the War of 1812 was both on land and aboard vessels sailing the high seas and lakes. In four major sea battles, Marines helped win three, and earned a reputation for deadly marksmanship.

In September 1813, Marines and woodsmen fought with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet that defeated the British in the bloody Battle of Lake Erie. This battle ended British and Indian attacks on the frontier, and opened the Northwest for American expansion.

Two hundred Marines fought during the crucial battle of the war. A Navy/Marine force met the lead elements of the Duke of Wellington’s 28,000 man British Army, fresh from victory over Napoleon at Waterloo, and defeated them on Lake Champlain.

Marines also fought on land, most notably at Bladensburg, Maryland, and at New Orleans.

The Battle of Bladensburg
In August of 1814, at Bladensburg, Maryland about 13 miles from our nation’s capital, 103 Marines and 400 sailors made a vain attempt to block a force of 4,000 disciplined British troops from advancing on Washington. The Marines stopped three headlong charges before both their Commanders (a Navy Commodore and a Marine Captain) were wounded and captured.

They were finally outflanked and driven back. The Commanding Officer of the British reported, “They have given us our only real fight.”

Andrew Jackson at New Orleans
Nine thousand British troops sailed from Jamaica and landed near New Orleans. An occupation force of Navy and Marines skirmished with the British in the bayous, killing 300 British and buying nine days for Major General Andrew Jackson to organize a defense of the city. For almost two weeks, beginning on 28 December 1814, the British shelled and assaulted the American position.

General Andrew Jackson
General Andrew Jackson

On 8 January 1815, an over-confident British commander led two regiments in a frontal assault across a flat plain into Jackson’s lines. 2,100 British were shot down in twenty-five minutes. The next day the British left American shores, badly beaten. Major General Jackson commended the Marines for their conduct and heroism, as did Congress, by passing an official resolution commending the “high sense of valor and good conduct” of the Marines.

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The Barbary Pirates War

For centuries, the inhabitants of present-day North Africa had made their living by extorting tributes from maritime countries that crossed the Mediterranean Sea.

Most European countries accepted this arrangement as a cost of doing business, and paid the tributes. The Federal Government of the new American nation did not have the deep pockets that their European counterparts did. Thus, they balked at paying what they considered exorbitant tributes to maintain free trade.

In 1801 the ruler of Tripoli declared war on the United States because of our refusal to pay extortion money for the protection of the United States ships sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. re-created a Navy, and once again, the Marines were aboard.

Lt Presley O'Bannon at Derna by Col. Charles Waterhouse
Lt Presley O’Bannon at Derna by Col. Charles Waterhouse

The new Frigate Philadelphia, during blockade duty in Tripoli Harbor, was unlucky (or ill-captained) and ran aground in the harbor, and was captured by the Bashaw of Tripoli, one Yusuf Karamanli. Her crew of approximately 300 officers and men was captured and held for ransom.

A force of sailors and Marines, under the command of Navy Lieutenant Steven Decatur, snuck aboard the Philadelphia and, under the very guns of the fort in Tripoli Harbor, burned her to the waterline, to deny her use to the Tripolitanians. No lesser a person than Lord Horatio Nelson himself praised this action as the “most bold and daring act of the age. This still left the captured crew as a pawn for the Bashaw to use to extort tribute from the United States.

Attack on Derna, Tripoli
In 1805, with the blockade of Tripoli Harbor dragging on, President Jefferson authorized a former envoy to Tunis named William Eaton to attempt an overland attack from Egypt to try to pressure the Bashaw into releasing the hostages.

He was accompanied by a Marine Guard of 7 men under the command of Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon.

They supported the Bashaw’s brother, Prince Hamet, who Yusuf had forcibly deposed, in his bid to regain his throne, and gain the release of the Philadelphia hostages.

The Marines, with 400 of a mixture of European and Arabic mercenaries, and a few of Prince Hamet’s men, crossed 600-miles of Libyan Desert to attack the city.

Along the way, though vastly outnumbered, the Marines would stand by Eaton and Hamet during numerous small “mutinies” staged by the mercenaries to try to extort more money from Eaton.

Eaton’s first stage in the expedition was to attack and seize Derna, a seaport between him and Tripoli. This would give him a base to rest and re-supply with goods from the US Navy.

During the attack, the Marines would fight hand to hand in the city, while the navy bombarded the city from the harbor.

When the city surrendered, the Marines would raise the “Stars and Stripes” over the captured fortress, the first time the American flag was raised in the Old World.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, diplomatic maneuvering (and a reduced amount of tribute) had secured the release of the Philadelphia hostages, so Eaton and the Marines were evacuated from Derna to Navy ships, and the overland expedition came to an end no closer to Tripoli.

Despite never having been returned to his throne, as a token of gratitude, Prince Hamet presented his own Mameluke sword to Lieutenant O’Bannon. A replica of that sword was adopted for use and carried by all Marine Officers. The Mameluke Sword is the oldest weapon still in use today by any of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Lt Presley O’Bannon’s attack on Derna was commemorated by the phrase “To the Shores of Tripoli,” inscribed on the Marine Corps’ Battle Colors.

With the defeat of Tripoli, America would see very few years of peace before again having to defend her shores. As always, the United States Marine Corps would rise to the defense of our country.

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First Amphibious Landing

The attack on New Providence, Bahamas was led by Captain Samuel Nicholas and was the first amphibious raid in the history of the Marine Corps. It was done to support General Washington’s new army.

General Washington did not have the minimum amounts of ammunition needed to mount an attack on Trenton against the British. Eight vessels under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins set out with a battalion of Marines, commanded by Captain Samuel Nicholas, for the British colony. The forts located at New Providence were known to have a large quantity of badly needed gunpowder.

Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Marine_Corps
Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Marine_Corps

Landing on 3 March 1776 the Marines made the first amphibious assault, taking the British defenders completely by surprise. The British withdrew from Fort Montague and the Marines captured the fort without firing a shot. Unfortunately, the British had moved the majority of the gunpowder to their main fort at Nassau. The Marines spent the night at Fort Montague; confident the next morning would bring a great victory.

During the night the British governor evacuated most of Fort Nassau’s gunpowder by ship to avoid capture by the Marines. The morning of the fourth, Nicholas demanded and received from the governor of New Providence, the surrender of the fort. The fortress yielded only twenty-four barrels of gunpowder, which was a disappointment to the victorious Marines. However, the Marines stripped the island of cannon and ordnance supplies before departing.

The expedition to New Providence was not over for the Marines. On their way home Commodore Hopkins’s squadron fell under attack with a British frigate.

In the ensuing battle, Marine sharpshooters fired their weapons from the ships riggings and masts, killing many British sailors.

The British frigate broke off the engagement and headed for home. Seven Marines died in the action, becoming the first of many Marines who would die in the fight for independence.

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Birth of the Marine Corps

When the Revolutionary War began, a debate ensued regarding the need for a Navy. One reason the colonies went to war with England was over the issue of taxation without representation. In order to fund a Navy, the newly formed “federal” government would need to raise money. Many colonies were apposed to such matters, but as the war progressed, a need for a Navy to stop British supply lines increased. Therefore, in October of 1775, the 2nd Continental Congress formed a Navy. Eight merchant ships in the Philadelphia Harbor were converted and outfitted with guns and officially became ships of the United States.

With the newly formed Navy, Congress now discussed the need for a Marine Corps. The British still had the strongest Navy and as previously discussed had a Marine Corps. In turn, Congress determined that the small American Navy too needed a Marine Corps. On 10 November 1775, Congress passed that two battalions of Marines be raised and to this date Marines around the globe meet on 10 November to celebrate the birth of the Corps.

First Commandant
With the formation of the Corps, the 2nd Continental Congress commissioned Samuel Nicholas, a Philadelphia merchant, as a Captain. As the senior Marine, Nicholas was ordered to raise the required number of Marines to form the two battalions. Although never officially called “commandant”, Nicholas is considered the first traditional Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Birthplace of The Marine Corps
Nicholas went throughout Philadelphia recruiting for his two battalions. It was difficult, however, to find individuals with a maritime background that wanted to serve. There was one particular venue, however, where 100 Rhode Island maritime men were recruited. This would be at the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. Tun Tavern is now
recognized as the birthplace of the Marine Corps and was later established as the recruiting Headquarters of the newly formed Marine Corps.

Tun Tavern, Philadelphia
Tun Tavern, Philadelphia

The owner of Tun Tavern, and a close personal friend of Samuel Nicholas, was Robert Mullen. Mullen was so successful in his recruiting exploits at Tun Tavern; he was commissioned a captain in the Marine Corps and is now known as the first recruiter in the history of our Corps.

The Marines long-standing nickname “Leatherneck,” goes back to the leather collar, or
neckpiece, which was worn from 1775 to 1875, was intended to ensure the Marines kept their heads erect, and to protect their necks from sword slashes. The high collar on the blue dress uniforms commemorates it today.

The quatrefoil (cross-shaped braid atop officer frame-type “barracks” covers) has been worn ever since 1859. The design, of French origin, is a distinguishing part of the Marine Officer’s uniform. Popular belief is that in the mid-1800’s, crossed pieces of rope were sewn to the top of officer’s covers so that sharpshooters in the ship’s riggings could readily identify them.

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My Men Are My Heroes – The Brad Kasal Story

Last summer, a friend gave me a copy of “My Men Are My Heroes”, the book which tells the story of Marine First Sergeant Brad Kasal, the senior NCO in 3/1’s Weapons Company in Iraq during the November 2004 Battle for Fallujah. As I had several other books I was either reading or planned to read, I put this one in the queue with anticipation of reading it in a few months. Last week as I packed for a beach vacation and brought it along.

As a Marine, I thoroughly enjoyed the book which was full of familiar stories, jargon, history, and acronyms. The author did a good job keeping the material organized and sectioned. Much of the book provided great insight into Marine training and preparation required to succeed in combat as well as the complicated logistics and rules of engagement in combat situations.

Long before you’ll read about “The House Of Hell” where First Sergeant Kasal is shot (as seen on the book cover), the author takes you briefly through Kasal’s life growing up in Iowa, his joining the Corps, and into the challenging career of a Marine Grunt.

You’ll read about how Kasal was considered by some Marines to be the toughest Marine (mentally and physically) they had met and how he could “outrun, outfight, outshoot, and outthink the much younger men he led”. Many of his Marines called him “Robo-Grunt” because he was able to run them into the ground lone before he got tired.

After being medevac’d from Fallujah, First Sergeant Kasal endured unimaginable physical pain during the many surgeries and long recovery process but he describes his greatest pain as not being able to return to the fight with his men in Iraq.

“To this day, many consider it a miracle that I lived after the severe blood loss and trauma caused by seven gunshot wounds and several dozen shrapnel wounds. I simple see it as just the love for a fellow Marine and a little bit of toughness and stubbornness. Throughout this entire ordeal from the time of being wounded until I was medically evacuated close to an hour later, and despite the multiple wounds and loss of blood, I never lost consciousness or quit my post while guarding that doorway. While some may call this heroic, I just call it loyalty. It was because I loved the Marine next to me and I was determined to do anything it took to keep him alive, even at my own risk. He would have done the same for me. It’s called being a Marine – we’re all brothers and a family.”

Kasal struggled with depression, doubt, and fear during his rehabilitation. He offers his advice to others in similar situations which includes not being afraid to ask for help, not being afraid to talk about what you’re thinking and doing, and understanding that you will succeed or fail based on your own willpower.

I was very impressed with First Sergeant Kasal’s endurance, bearing, unselfishness, courage, loyalty to the Corps, and love for his brother Marines. A true Marine leader.

“My Men Are My Heroes” should be required reading for all Marines, especially Infantry Marines and Corpsmen.

In May of 2006, Brad Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism
In May of 2006, Brad Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism

I understand that Sergeant Major Kasal is still serving. Always Faithful!

Thank you Marine for sharing your experiences and love of Corps in “My Men Are My Heroes”. Semper Fi Brother!

~Cpl. Beddoe

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The Lieutenant Don’t Know

In “The Lieutenant Don’t Know“, Marine Lt. Jeff Clement of Combat Logistics Battalion 6, provides a gripping and descriptive view into navigating the hostile and challenging terrain of North Helmand Province in Afghanistan where the supply routes between the main base Camp Leatherneck, and the various remote outposts are described by Jeff as either ‘bad’ or ‘worse’.

The Lieutenant Don't Know
A Combat Logistics Battalion is responsible for keeping forward operating bases within a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) supplied with fuel, water, and other critical supplies as well as recovering destroyed or blown-up trucks from the field, among other things.

Whump! IED. IED. IED!

Slide35Lt. Clement tells of the daily challenges faced by the Logistics Marines where IEDs were commonplace and Rules of Engagement restricted their role ‘outside the wire’ to a defensive one. Often averaging five miles per hour, their large truck convoys were constant targets of bombs and snipers. However, the lieutenant goes on to explain that “Freedom was outside the wire”, contrasting their ability to be decisive and get things done while on the road and under fire was far easier than dealing with the politics and administrative REMF personnel who had no idea of reality outside Camp Leatherneck.

“The Lieutenant Don’t Know” is a great read for its insight and straightforwardness. After you read this book, you’ll have a renewed appreciation for the Marines serving in logistics capacities. Marines from any era or MOS discipline will appreciate the familiar and timeless hard-charging attitudes and logistical frustrations we all know and love.

Clement writes “Our sense of normal is distorted. I think this is essential to getting our jobs done, but sometimes Marine leaders take this distorted sense of reality for granted. Like when somebody forgets to provide food to Marines in training. “You haven’t eaten in 48 hours?” Suck it up! You’re Marines! You’ll get food when you get there!” or when somebody doesn’t plan for some kind of shelter in case there is a huge storm during a parade or ceremony; “You’re getting wet, oh well, you’re Marines… your amphibious! Suck it up!”

“Why do Marines do whatever they’re asked? The lieutenant don’t know.

The thing is, the Marines will do whatever they’re asked. Conditions that would cause a mutiny in the Army or Navy will be accepted by the Marines. Sure, we’ll complain… griping is part of who we are. It’s when the Marines stop complaining that we have problems.”

Know your Marines, know yourself, and know your shit!

Bravo Zulu Lt. Clement! “The Lieutenant Don’t Know” now has a permanent spot in my military must-read bookshelf.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffclement

Yut! Drive On!

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Once, Always Marine

A great reflection from Fred Reed…

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Navy SEAL’s advice to grads: Make your bed every morning

During a commencement speech at the University of Texas, the commander of the forces that organized the raid to kill Osama bin Laden delivered some key advice on success.

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed,” U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McCraven told the graduates of his alma mater on May 16.

McCraven, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, relayed several lessons he has learned in 36 years as a Navy SEAL, starting with some advice that was music to the ears of exasperated mothers everywhere.

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” he said. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.

“Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

“That’s what I always tell my son — make the bed first thing in the morning!” Natalie Morales said during TODAY’s Take on Wednesday.

McCraven’s 10 lessons also included accepting the help of others, measuring a person by the size of his or her heart, fighting through adversity, not being afraid of failure, and charging into difficult situations head-on. He also encouraged graduates to “be your very best in the darkest moment” by finding inner strength and to never lose hope or give up.

Follow Scott Stump on Twitter and Google+.

Source USA Today

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GovX honors Staff Sergeant Doug Siers

Profile: SSGT Doug Siers
U.S. Marine Corps, Reserve

SSGT Doug Siers
SSGT Doug Siers
“With 13 years in, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Marine Corps. I was fortunate to be able to serve with a variety of units during my time on active duty and in the reserves.

I served with Security Forces in Washington, D.C. and then with the Infantry with 3rd Marines out of Hawaii where I traveled the world. I also served with 24th Marines, Mobilization Command, and finished my last stint on active duty with Wounded Warrior Battalion West as a staff member taking care of our Wounded Warriors.

I currently work at GovX.com as the Customer Support Manager. Although all of my duties in the Marine Corps were great experiences, I would have to say training, traveling and suffering together with my fellow grunts of both 2/3 and 3/3 are at the top of my list as my most memorable moments, but there are too many to list.

Semper Fi to all of those with whom I have served and to those who served before me, and will serve after me. Your service is greatly appreciated.”

From Cpl. Beddoe: Semper Fi Staff Sergeant!
For more about GovX, visit their website.

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For those of us that remember SOS –Ed Creamer

1 – 1/2 Lb. (24 oz) of lean ground beef (80/20)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat, drain. Back to the pan, add butter and stir. Add chopped onions and cook until they are translucent. Add flour, stir and cook for two to three minutes. Add garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and mix thoroughly. Add milk and stir until it thickens.

Serve over toast, biscuits, eggs and have some Tabasco handy!

Submitted by: GySgt Joe Shirghio, USMC (Ret)

Photo Credit

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