Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Making Of The Marine Corps

After The Sands Of Iwo Jima -- Max Boot, Wall Street Journal

The Marines had the idea of enlisting journalists, making their story far more compelling to the civilians back home.

The Marines are the most celebrated but least understood of our four military services. They have done a brilliant job of burnishing their martial image, from the days of the 1949 John Wayne movie "The Sands of Iwo Jima" to today's "The Few, the Proud, the Marines" commercials. With nearly 200,000 personnel and their own aircraft, tanks and artillery, they comprise one of the most capable military forces in the world. But so adept have the Marines become at telling their story—somehow the even less-than-heroic portrayals in "Gomer Pyle, USMC" and "Heavy Metal Jacket" have enhanced their reputation—that it isn't always easy to separate myth from reality.

That is a task that Aaron B. O'Connell, a history professor at the Naval Academy and himself a Marine reservist, tackles with brio in his absorbing account of the Marines between 1941 and 1965, "Underdogs: The Making of the Modern Marine Corps." Prior to World War II, Mr. O'Connell notes, the Corps "was tiny, unpopular and institutionally disadvantaged"—it had just 50,000 men, and it was seen as an adjunct of the Navy. Its commandant was a two-star general who didn't even merit a seat on the newly created Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1942.

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My Comment: Oohrah!

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