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News | Nov. 9, 2020

Honoring their sacrifice: Marine Corps turns 245

By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Carl P. Watts, Jr. Defense Supply Center Columbus

This year we celebrate the 245th Birthday of our Corps.  On Feb 23, 2020 we commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the raising of our flag on Mount Suribachi.  Iwo was a bloody, 36-day long chapter in the World War II Pacific saga as our brothers fought and died for control of the tiny atoll.

More than 6,800 Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen were either killed in action, died of wounds or were declared missing and presumed dead. The Marine death toll stands out as more than twice that of all of World War I. In total, the Marines suffered more than 26,000 casualties.  Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded for the battle – more than any other combat action in American history.

As a young Marine serving in Vietnam in 1967, I served with senior officers and enlisted Marines who fought in legendary battles all across the Pacific theater, including Iwo. I don’t believe that, at the time, I fully grasped or appreciated the magnitude of their actions for country and Corps.  As we celebrate 245 years of service to our country, we should take a moment to remember the actions that took place during those fateful 36 days in our history.

The 5th Marine Division’s Protestant Chaplain, Warren Cuthriel, asked his colleague Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn to prepare and deliver a sermon at the nondenominational dedication ceremony for the fallen of Iwo.  It became an anthem for all of us who have and will serve our Corps.

You can read his eulogy here.

For 245 years the battle history of the Marine Corps is filled with places that stand out in American military history: Tripoli, Belleau Wood, Wake, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, Chosin, Khe Sahn, Hue, Fallujah, and many more. We celebrate a birthday and more importantly the memory of our brothers and sisters.  Happy Birthday, Semper Fi!