You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced, to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are…You should see the group about me as I write- dirty, bearded, their clothing food-spattered and filthy- they look like the castoffs of creation. Yet they have a sense of loyalty, generosity, even piety greater than any men I have ever known. These rugged men have the simple piety of children. You can’t help loving them, in spite of their language and their loose sense of private property. Don’t ever feel sorry for a priest in the Marines. The last eight weeks have been the happiest and most contented in my life.
Father Kevin Keaney, 1st Marine Division Chaplain, Korean War
On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress passed this resolution authored by John Adams:
“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battalions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”
The Marines for almost 250 years have sustained a reputation as shock troops, troops who will go all out to seize an objective swiftly. Their unit cohesion has usually been the best in the American military, as demonstrated by their fighting retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in December of 1950, during which, in appalling weather and over some of the most rugged terrain on earth, the 1rst Marine Division wrecked the attacking 9th Chinese Army. Good training and firm discipline can produce good troops. To produce elite troops a pride in their unit that can overcome the natural fear of death is needed. Throughout their existence the Marines have possessed this espirt de corps, and that has made all the difference. In the aftermath of the battle of Belleau Wood, a wounded young American was asked by a pretty nurse, “Soldier, may I wash your face?” He was quite eager to have this ministration by the young lady, but first a correction had to be made. “I’m a Marine ma’am, not a soldier, and I would love to have my face wiped!”