Happy Birthday, Marines!!!

2011 November 10
by justrand

Today marks the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corps!  Hoorah!!  The Marines have fought and died in defense of our freedom across the globe during those 236 years…including a tiny strip of sand named Wake Island.

When you think of habitable islands you most likely think of the Hawaiian islands, Jamaica, Guam, the Bahamas, etc. These islands have mountains (or at least hills), they’re fairly big, they have airfields, etc.

What Wake Island has in common with those REAL islands is an airfield. Period. In fact, it essentially IS an airfield, and almost nothing else…because there’s no room for anything else. The highest point on the “island” (it’s really an atoll) is about 6 feet. You can walk around the entire “island” in less than an hour (I did).

On December 7th, 1941, at the exact moment that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor they attacked Wake Island (it was December 8th there). Bombers from the Marshall Islands pounded the Marine garrison, as a Japanese naval force surrounded this tiny strip of coral and sand. Three cruisers, eight destroyers, and two troop transport ships with 450 “Special Naval Landing Force” troops stood just offshore…ready to mop up and move on.

Facing this mini-armada: 449 Marines, along with 12 fighter planes, 68 Navy personnel, and a thousand unarmed civilian construction workers.

No contest, right? The Japanese thought so, and expected Wake Island to fall within hours of their initial bombing rum (which destroyed 8 of the 12 U.S. fighter planes on the ground). Instead, it took 15 days…and the Japanese would need to add two of their top of the line aircraft carriers, with supporting ships and aircraft, and 1,500 Imperial Marines to finally subdue Wake Island.

Ultimately, of course, the Japanese would prevail, but it took 20 warships, hundreds of bombers, and nearly two thousand troops to do so, and the final tally speaks to the ferocity, ingenuity and courage of the Marines who fought against that overwhelming force:

  • American losses – U.S. Marines 47 killed (2 MIA), with virtually all the remaining Marines being wounded.  3 U.S. Navy personnel and 70 civilians were also killed.
  • Japanese losses – nearly 900 killed, at least 300 more wounded, two destroyers sunk and 28 land-based and carrier aircraft either shot down or damaged.

A nearly 20:1 ratio of casualties…not too shabby, Marines.

The Marines, Naval personnel and civilians alive at the end were either executed or taken prisoner. The brutal treatment of those who surrendered would result in the Japanese commanders being convicted of War Crimes after the war. Admiral Sakaibara, who led the assault and ordered the executions, was hanged on June 18, 1947.

You can read more about the battle here:  A Magnificent Fight It is a stirring (though long) account, but well worth your time.

The Marines have fought numerous engagements in defense of our freedom, always with honor, courage and valor. They have always been faithful…but never more so than during the 15 days of the siege of Wake Island!

Semper Fi, Marines…and Happy Birthday!

30 Responses leave one →
  1. 2011 November 10 8:50 am
    bc3b permalink

    The one true branch of the service with the Army close behind. And, I say that as an Air Force veteran.

    Happy birthday!

  2. 2011 November 10 8:54 am
    JustMary permalink

    Happy Birthday, Marines! Thank you for your service!!!!

  3. 2011 November 10 9:44 am
    judyt2012 permalink

    Thank you for 236 years and praying for 236 more of keeping us safe and free

  4. 2011 November 10 10:09 am
    mulletover permalink

    Congratulations to all Marines. My son lives and works near Camp Lejuene, and his next door neighbors are three marine lieutenants. They are fine young men, all have deployed to Afghanistan, and all have safely returned. They are American treasure, and we are proud to know them.

    The Few, The Proud, The Marines.

  5. 2011 November 10 10:25 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Not often mentioned is the executions carried out by the Japanese after the capture of Wake. — http://www.spokesman.com/video/2007/oct/10/voices-war-wake-island-capture/

    A movie `Wake Island` was released in 1942. Tuned for the consumption of the homefront crowd. Bore little resemblance to reality, other than some names. But if you wish, you can get it here — http://www.moviesdatacenter.com/Movies/Wake-Island-1942.html

  6. 2011 November 10 10:34 am
    justrand permalink

    drdog, I saw that movie as a kid and it was kind of exciting…but it really didn’t bear much scrutiny. Except the drawing in of the Japanese destroyers in the first engagement…that was pretty close.

    When I was on my way to Okinawa while in the Marines the pilot announced they had hit head-winds and was going to have to land at Wake Island for re-fueling. I was excited. Then he starts banking towards it and announces those on the right-side of the plane can see it below. I was on that side and my first thought (and next few) was: “WHAT island??? We’re gonna land on THAT?”

    it is tinier than tiny. My respect for the defenders of that island went through the roof after we landed. We were there a little over an hour, and I really did walk around (most of) the little bitty thing in that time (I skipped wading across the lagoon). And it really is 6 feet tall at its “highest” point.

    What the Marines did was amazing !

  7. 2011 November 10 10:36 am
    mulletover permalink

    Civil suits at Penn State will easily be $100 million and could run to $250 million!


    That’s a expensive cover up.

  8. 2011 November 10 11:45 am
    justrand permalink

    Hey…a special shout out to my bud IP…Semper Fi, bro!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. 2011 November 10 11:49 am
    drdog09 permalink


    Since you were there. Was there ever a memorial erected for the fallen?

  10. 2011 November 10 12:37 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    How odd that its a British paper that is willing to lay out the facts in my country — http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100116105/barack-obama-is-facing-an-anti-big-government-revolution/

  11. 2011 November 10 12:38 pm
    justrand permalink

    yes there is: http://www.yorktownsailor.com/yorktown/massacre.html

    but during my very brief stop I did not see it

  12. 2011 November 10 1:01 pm
    drdog09 permalink

  13. 2011 November 10 1:23 pm
    brucefdb permalink

    Yeah marines! Bailed this old swabbie out when I was stuck in Viet Nam and got me back to my ship way back when. The Navy, my own branch, would have just let me rot in Saigon. I love those guys. So many are so selfless and amazingly happy….at least the ones I ran into those many years ago.

  14. 2011 November 10 1:59 pm

    Happy birthday and thanks.

  15. 2011 November 10 2:03 pm

    gregory – I saw that clip last night and was like “wow, just wow” and this guy get away with a simple tweet walk back, think a right leaning ‘journalist’ (I use that very loosely) person would be afforded the same?

  16. 2011 November 10 2:13 pm

    ot: http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/10/china-telecom-looking-to-expand-into-us-consumer-market-eyes-20/

    China telecom with eventual infrastructure in the US, what could go wrong.

  17. 2011 November 10 2:25 pm

    More taxes please.

    Be sure to thank Lamar Alexander and Mike Enzi.

  18. 2011 November 10 3:32 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    Pipeline. The piece I don’t understand is why a pipeline of such length?? We see all the time references to refining capacity being at the maximum quite often. Seems to me that a refinery that is juxtaposition-ed between the ND oil find and the Canadian oil sands would be a sensible siting for a new refinery.

    But then I am no oil man and I am sure that the EPA and DoE had their hands in this whole process. Sigh…

  19. 2011 November 10 3:35 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Personally I think the States screwed up the internet sales tax thing. There is such a thing as the US Commerical Code. Its managed by the States. (Yes is not tax code, but what the hell.) They all should have gotten together and agreed on a national standard rate that they would all apply. Get it out of the hand of the Feds.

    My big fear is that this idea would be morphed into the basis of a national VAT.

  20. 2011 November 10 4:12 pm

    19. Chicken and egg problem?

  21. 2011 November 10 5:14 pm

    (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was about 10 minutes into a foreign policy speech in South Carolina on Thursday when she was drowned out by the shouting of protesters.

    About 30 people rose in unison and began shouting a scripted message during Bachmann’s address aboard the USS Yorktown, a World War Two aircraft carrier.

    The group, which later identified itself as being part of Occupy Charleston, accused Bachmann of “dividing Americans” and promoting discrimination.

    “You cater to the 1 percent,” they yelled.

    Bachmann stopped speaking and was escorted from the stage by law enforcement officers. After about three minutes, the protesters shouted: “Have a pleasant day,” and marched out chanting “We are the 99 percent.”

    Expect more of this.

  22. 2011 November 10 5:37 pm
    justrand permalink

    KH, the Left cannot abide free speech. The very first thing the Communists have done in EVERY revolution is to outlaw ALL speech except what the government approves. And the OWS crowd are cut from that same cloth.

    Yup…more of this, a lot more.

    Obama must be sooooo proud of his little Trotskies!!

  23. 2011 November 10 6:06 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Obama must be sooooo proud of his little Trotskies!!

    Thos little Trotskies are what just might lose The Won the election. People are getting tired of this crap and this close to the election you don’t want to tick people off.

  24. 2011 November 10 6:30 pm
    JBoz permalink

    JR – I have also set foot on Wake Island. I too was en route to Okinawa. It was 1968, and I was 10 years old. Dad was a US Army officer and we lived on Okinawa on 2 different occasions. Formative years – interesting place to be. Wake was a brief stop, but after staring at the Pacific for what seemed like a decade, we were excited about the 2 hour stopover.

  25. 2011 November 10 6:40 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    Happy birthday Marines and many more.

    Great news – Hugo is given 6 months to live. Could not happen to a better humanoid. Hope he rests in Hell.


  26. 2011 November 10 7:21 pm
    justrand permalink

    gnqanq…damn, we have to wait 6 more months? This evil butt-buddy of Obama’s should go ahead and leave NOW!

  27. 2011 November 10 7:58 pm
    Deckard permalink

    Sharing the sentiment in this thread re: the Marines.

    Almost wound up going to Parris Island after H.S. graduation . . . at least I was already accustomed to the hot humid Southern summers.

  28. 2011 November 10 7:59 pm
    JBoz permalink

    Another OWS protester crosses over to the big blue tarp in the sky. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45246660/ns/us_news-life/t/man-shoots-self-occupy-vermont-protest/#.TryNyGA5t8c

    Anyone have an accurate body count? It’s gotta be getting up there.

  29. 2011 November 10 8:53 pm

    Late to the gyrene party, semper fi all troops. Had and engine failure out of wake one time, spent a few days at the BOQ. Old ww 2 bunkers were still there.

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