January 31, 2011

Marines, a special breed

A snippet from Herman Wouk's book WAR AND REMEMBRANCE, and a tribute from Naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison for those special breed of American fighting men, the marines.

The battle of Guadalcanal started slowly with a small amount of Japanese troops committed and not properly supported against American troops who were also not being supported properly and were not being reinforced. They were being bombarded by naval air bombardment, naval shelling, enemy night attacks, and malaria among the troops. The American forces were short on food and water. They lived off captured Japanese rice and they burned Japanese gasoline. The Americans had formed a perimeter around Henderson field and were defending it against wild and bloody banzai charges. But the beleaguered marines and airmen clung to the perimeter until the tide turned.

These defenders were marines, the navy's elite amphibious combat corps. The words of the American naval historian, Samuel Eliot Morison, perhaps explains all; He wrote: Lucky indeed for America that in this theater and at that juncture she depended not on boys drafted or cajoled into fighting but on "tough guys" who had volunteered to fight and who asked for nothing better than to come to grips with the sneaking enemy who had aroused all their primitive instincts.

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