The U.S. Marines and Our Flag! Re USS Mayaguez, Etc.

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R.W. “Dick” Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437) –1972

~History, Flags, Flag Raisings, etc.~

Whenever Amereicans, and perhaps others, think of Marines, many of them most likely recall to mind the highly-publicized flag raising photograph by Joe Rosenthal on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. But, that was in fact the raising of a second flag on Mount Suribachi that day, a “replacement” flag, the actual flag raising having occurred earlier that day by the Marines of Lt. Schrier’s (Easy-2-28) 40-man combat patrol. Because of that photograph, However, more than anything else, I believe, we have come to associate Marines with our flag and flag raisings over foreign lands. Or, as Lt. Col. David W. Szelowski USMCR (ret.) puts it…
“Most of the time, Marines do not go out of our way to be obnoxious; we are just doing what Marines have done for over 200 years. A good example is the fact that Marines always raise the American flag over mountains or cities they have conquered. From Mt. Suribachi to the City of Hue, to Kuwait City to Baghdad, U.S. Marines have raised the Stars and Stripes-in the latter examples, much to the chagrin of higher headquarters.”“You don’t get these kinds of problems with the Army.  So what is it about the U.S. Marines that they stick U.S. flags on everything and do more with less, a less that is either old or an army hand-me-down? We call it Esprit de Corps, but it goes deeper than that. We learn and maintain myths of the past, which also means living up to those historical examples. Marine Corps boot camp is the longest of the services; it is where we mold young men and women into the mythical image called a Marine.”

“You can be in the Army, you can join the Air Force, but you become a Marine. All of the other uniformed services have songs; the U.S. Marines have a hymn. The basic pattern of Marine Corps uniforms comes from the late nineteenth century; our emblem “the Eagle, Globe and Anchor” has remained largely unchanged since 1868. The buttons on our dress blues, whites and greens date back to the founding of our Corps. The Marine Corps is the only service that requires its officers to carry a sword, whose pattern dates back to 1805.”

“I think that the path of being a Marine was established long ago. On the 10th of November 1775, the Marine Corps was first established…in a tavern. To this day, no matter where in the world, Marines celebrate the founding of our beloved Corps, much to the confusion of the other services.”

“A few years ago, a congresswoman from Colorado felt that the Marine Corps was radical and extreme. She contended that the Marine Corps was not politically correct, nor did we seem to be part of the Department of Defense’s transition to a “kinder and gentler” military.  She was correct, and the Marine Corps took it as a compliment”

GyG’s FURL Archive

The following is a quotation of remarks on this subject by the famous “Marine’s Marine,” General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller.

(From the book, A Fellowship Of Valor, by Col Joseph H. Alexander, USMC Ret, 1997, Harper Collins, we learn the following regarding the flag raising in Seoul, Korea on 27 Spetember, 1950…)

“An envious Army officer from Almond’s staff chided Chesty Puller: ‘Ever since that flag-raising picture on Iwo Jima got published, I’m convinced you Marines would rather carry a flag into battle than a weapon.’ Puller regarded the man icily, ‘Not a bad idea,’ he growled, ‘a man with a flag in his pack and the desire to run it up on an enemy position isn’t likely to bug out!”
Pfc Leguirre Shown With Flag
Seoul 1950

Marines have indeed been carrying and raising our colors since their beginning in 1775.
In his book, The United States Marines: A History, General Simmons writes of The New Providence Raid,
“…on 3 March, 1776, the landing party went ashore…Nicholas ran up the Grand Union flag (not yet the Stars and Stripes)…”
Grand Union Flag
(“…possible that the Rattlesnake flag was also carried on this expedition.”
(MCO P10529.3B)
Don't Tread On Me
Rattlesnake FlagFirst Navy Jack
First Navy Jack

I do not know how many total combat-related flag raisings (and others of note) there have been for the Corps.The following examples are those I have thus far found documented, listed here in random order. In some cases, some text is provided together with links to the source; but generally I have not attempted to directly support remarks and/or pictoral representations with direct links, as I would very much like to do. Why? Well, the Internet is not forever, and it has been my observation and experience that attempting to provide URLs/links to up-to-date websites is fruitless. To be sure, there are many really great websites out there–but they come and go as with the wind–here today, and gone tomorrow. For further information beyond what is found here, I recommend that the interested viewer simply use Google, and/or another search engine, to find those current sites to obtain information in addition to what is available here.

From the book, Marine Corps Book Of Lists, Nofi, 1997…
1.Fortress Derna, North Africa, 24 April, 1805
2. Customs House, Monterey, California, 7 July, 1846
3. The Palacio Nacional, Mexico City, 13 September, 1847
4. Customs House, Cavite, Luzon, Phillipine Islands, 3 May, 1898
5. Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, 23 February, 1945
6. Shuri Castle, Okinawa, 28 May, 1945
7. U.S. Embassy, Seoul, Korea, 27 September, 1950
8. The Citadel, Hue City, Vietnam, 19 February, 1968
9. U.S. Embassy, Kuwait City, 28 February, 1991

MORE FLAG RAISINGS!The following are additions to my listing of documented flag raisings. I will add information here as discovered.
WOLMI-Do Island, September 15, 1950

“…The Marines, after the planting of the Stars and Stripes atop Wolmi, worked their way downhill and southward through the thickets and shale cliffs toward the stubborn promontory of Sowolmi-do. Here a die-hard group of North Koreans still held out, using their big guns against Wolmi……On Wolmi’s crest Lt. Col. Taplett talked by VHF radio to Strike Charlie, a flight of eight Marine Corsairs led by Maj. Robert Floeck from the jeep carrier SICILY.
Taplett requested that the Sowolmi-do lighthouse area be hit. Floeck’s planes bore down on the area, and five 500-pound bombs and many rockets showered down into the area…”
Re Wolmi-DoAssault
SS MAYAGUEZ, May 16, 1975
“…In a scene reminiscent of swashbuckling Barbary pirates, 48 Marines, 6 Air Force explosive disposal experts and 6 Civil Service crewmen from MSC’s USNS GREENVILLE VICTORY went over the rail of the destroyer escort USS Harold E. Holt onto the captured American vessel SS MAYAGUEZ and raised the American Flag…”
Marines Raising Flag On Mayaguez
TARAWA, November 20, 1943
“…Both armies showed magnificent courage in the vicious and bloody Battle of Tarawa. The Marines lost 1,090 men killed and 2,300 wounded…The British Resident landed on D-day plus two; and on the following day the American commander, General Julien Smith, hoisted the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack together on adjoining coconut palms…”
Go To: TarawaOn The Web, Here!
SAIPAN, JULY 10, 1944
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, USN, Commander, Fifth Fleet (left), and Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, USMC,
Commander, Fifth Amphibious Corps Attend flag raising ceremonies at Smith’s headquarters, Charan Kanoa, Saipan, marking the end of organized Japanese resistance on the island, 10 July 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.

OKINAWA, July 2, 1945
“…Buckner was hit and killed by a coral fragment thrown up by a Japanese artillery shell fire on June 18. Geiger assumed temporary command of 10th Army until relieved five days later by Army Lieutenant General Joseph A. Stilwell. On June 19, the Japanese commander ordered all remaining defenders to fight to the death. On the 21st, the 10th Army pushed through to the southernmost point on Okinawa. Ushijimi and his chief of staff committed hari kari, ritual suicide, rather than accept defeat. Geiger announced the island secured and a formal flag-raising ceremony took place on June 22. The 82-day
Okinawan campaign was officially declared over on July 2…”
Re Campaign ForOkinawa
Shuri Castle Flag
“LtCol Richard P. Ross, commander of 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, braves sniper fire to place the division’s colors on a parapet of Shuri Castle on 30 May. This flag was first raised over Cape Gloucester and then Peleliu.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 121832″
Victory On Okinawa, Here!!!!!
SURRENDER OF WAKE ATOLL, September 4, 1945
“…Raising the U.S. flag over Wake Island on 4 September 1945, as a U.S. Marine Corps bugler plays “Colors”. This was the first time the Stars and Stripes had flown over Wake since its capture by the Japanese on 23 December 1941. The officer saluting in the right foreground is Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara, Japanese commander on Wake. Colors carried by the U.S. party, right background, include the U.S. Marine Corps flag…”
Re JapanCapitulates
Surrender Wake
Surrender, Wake Island, 1945
“…The U.S. flag was formally raised over Mili on 28 August, and most of the Japanese there began the trip home to Japan on the following day…”

The Citadel, Hue City, Vietnam
19 February, 1968

Go To GyG’s Marines and Flags #2 Here!!!!!
Go To GyG’s Globe and Anchor Sites Here!!!!!
To Contact GyG — Post Here!!!!!

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About Gunny G

GnySgt USMC (Ret.) 1952--'72 PC: History, Poly-Tiks, Military, Stories, Controversial, Unusual, Humorous, etc.... "Simplify...y'know!"
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2 Responses to The U.S. Marines and Our Flag! Re USS Mayaguez, Etc.

  1. Pingback: The U.S. Marines and Our Flag! Re USS Mayaguez, Etc. | BLOGGING BAD ~ What Folks Are Saying/Thinking!…Gunny G… | Gunny G: "IF" EVER THE TRUTH BE KNOWN.......... BLOGGING BAD!

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