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U.S. Originals

U.S. Marines History

History
On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia passed a resolution stating that "two Battalions of Marines be raised" for service as landing forces with the fleet. This resolution, established the Continental Marines and marked the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.

Serving on land and at sea, these first Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations, including their first amphibious raid into the Bahamas in March 1776, under the command of Captain (later Major) Samuel Nicholas. Nicholas, the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines, remained the senior Marine officer throughout the American Revolution and is considered to be the first Marine Commandant. The Treaty of Paris in April 1783 brought an end to the Revolutionary War and as the last of the Navy's ships were sold, the Continental Navy and Marines went out of existence.

Following the Revolutionary War and the formal re-establishment of the Marine Corps on 11 July 1798, Marines saw action in the quasi-war with France, landed in Santo Domingo, and took part in many operations against the Barbary pirates along the "Shores of Tripoli". Marines participated in numerous naval operations during the War of 1812, as well as participating in the defense of Washington at Bladensburg, Maryland, and fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the defeat of the British at New Orleans. The decades following the War of 1812 saw the Marines protecting American interests around the world, in the Caribbean, at the Falkland Islands, Sumatra and off the coast of West Africa, and also close to home in the operations against the Seminole Indians in Florida.

The Marine Corps were deployed in many operations during the following decades. Some operations and milesstones in their history:

  • Mexican War (1846-1848): a battalion of Marines joined General Scott's army at Pueblo and fought all the way to the "Halls of Montezuma," Mexico City
  • Civil War (1861-1865)
  • several operations in the Orient and the Caribbean
  • Spanish-American War (1898)
  • Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902)
  • Boxer Rebellion in China (1900)
  • World War I: Marine aviation, which dates from 1912, played a part in the war effort
  • Marine Corps began to develop in earnest the doctrine, equipment, and organization needed for amphibious warfare.
  • World War II: troop strength in World War II peaked at 485,113; the war ended in 1945
  • Marine units concentrated on on attaining a "vertical envelopment" capability for the Corps through the use of helicopters.
  • Marines landed at Inchon, Korea in September 1950. The last Marine ground troops were withdrawn in March 1955.
  • July 1958: a brigade-size force landed in Lebanon to restore order
  • Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962: a large amphibious force was marshaled but not landed.
  • April 1965, a brigade of Marines landed in the Dominican Republic to protect Americans and evacuate those who wished to leave.
  • 1965: 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade landed at Da Nang, Vietnam. The Marine withdrawal began in 1969 and ended June 1971. The Vietnam War, longest in the history of the Marine Corps.
  • 1975: Marines evacuated embassy staffs, American citizens, and refugees in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Saigon, Republic of Vietnam.
  • May 1975, Marines played an integral role in the rescue of the crew of the SS Mayaguez captured off the coast of Cambodia
  • Mid-1970s: Marine Corps assume an increasingly significant role in defending NATO's northern flank
  • 1980s: Marine Security Guards, under the direction of the State Department, serve as support against an increasing number of terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies around the world.
  • August 1982: Marine units landed at Beirut, Lebanon, as part of the multi-national peace-keeping force.
  • October 1983: Marines took part in the highly successful, short-notice intervention in Grenada.
  • December 1989: Operation 'Just Cause' was launched in Panama to protect American lives and restore the democratic process in that nation.
  • August 1990: the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait set in motion events that would lead to the largest movement of Marine Corps forces since World War II. Between August 1990 and January 1991, some 24 infantry battalions, 40 squadrons, and more than 92,000 Marines deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield.
  • January 16, 1991: Operation Desert Storm was launched. February 24, the 1st and 2d Marine Divisions breached the Iraqi defense lines and stormed into occupied Kuwait. By the morning of February 28, 100 hours after the ground war began, almost the entire Iraqi Army in the Kuwaiti theater of operations had been encircled with 4,000 tanks destroyed and 42 divisions destroyed or rendered ineffective.
  • 1990-1991 tasks included also: on-combatant evacuation operations in Liberia and Somalia and humanitarian lifesaving operations in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and northern Iraq
  • 1992: Marines landed in Somalia marking the beginning of a two-year humanitarian relief operation
  • Marine Corps aircraft supported Operation Deny Flight in the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • April 1994: a Marine task force evacuated U.S. citizens from Rwanda
  • September 1994: Haiti, as part of the U.S. force participating in the restoration of democracy in that country
  • During this same period Marines were actively engaged in providing assistance to the Nation's counter-drug effort, assisting in battling wild fires in the western United States, and aiding in flood and hurricane relief operations.
  • late 1990's: Marine Corps units deployed to several African nations in order to provide security and assist in the evacuation of American citizens during periods of political and civil instability in those nations.
  • 1998: Humanitarian & disaster relief operations in Kenya, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
  • 1999: Marine units deployed to Kosovo in support of Operation Allied Force.
  • September 2001: soon after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., Marine units deployed to the Arabian Sea and in November set up a forward operating base in southern Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Accepting the challenges of the future
The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory was created in 1995 to evaluate change, assess the impact of new technologies on warfighting, and expedite the introduction of new capabilities into the operating forces of the Marine Corps. Exercises such as "Hunter Warrior," and "Urban Warrior" were designed to explore future tactical concepts, and to examine facets of military operations in urban environments.

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Marine Corps Flag
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The Eagle, Globe and Anchor set within the official Marine Corps seal
The Eagle, Globe and Anchor set within the official Marine Corps seal

   
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Document Information
Source: U.S. Marine Corps History & Museums Div.; U.S. Marine Corps - marines.com
Last modified: 20041024
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