THROUGH THE YEARS...
"Beginning with the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the Marines had survived eleven serious proposals to disband the Corps or merge it with the Army.5"
"...Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, who was inspecting Green Beach on Iwo Jima that morning in 1945, saw the Stars and Stripes go up atop Mount Suribachi and heard the beleaguered troops below come alive with whistles and cheers and shouts of joy. He turned to Marine General Holland M. Smith and said, 'The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years!'1"
Forrestal had been speaking of the first flag raising on Suribachi at about 1020 on the morning of 23 February 1945, not the raising of the second, or 'replacement' flag made famous by the Rosenthal photograph.
"In 1948 Secretary Forrestal--the same Forrestal who had predicted a long future for the Marines on the beachhead below Suribachi--warned the Corps not to begin thinking of itself as a second Army.14"
From the information above, it can be clearly seen that, aside from the question of the continued existence of the Corps, it was the Floyd Gibbons incident during WW I that was the basis for the now age old friction between the Army and Marines, though other subsequent happenings have continued to make matters even worse in that regard.
But the constant threat to the Marine Corps as to its existence had already been present from the start of its history. As the Corps grew and became a potential rival to the Army, so too, I think, the Army also came to think of the Corps as a threat to its own sole existence as the land army, or "standing army" of the U.S. Certainly, this was becoming clear when the Corps became of age as a full-fledged regimental and brigade-sized organization during WW I, and most cerainly, by WW II, and since.
I have heard it voiced many times, and read this too, that much of the support for retaining the Marine Corps in existence came from the fact that there were numerous influential members of congress who had served in the Corps themselves. Of course, this was likely more accurate in the years immediately following WW II, than it is now. But, could it be that the American people--now more than ever in this information age--would not stand for the absence of our Marine Corps? I would like to think so!
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72
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