Battle Streamers of the United States Marine Corps: Part 4

We continue in our journey through American history towards present day America in the fourth installation of our 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the Marine Corps. In this edition, you’ll learn that the early Marines not only fought against foreign military aggression, but also against pirates and rebels within our own borders. As you’ll see, it is very clear why the Marine Corps is recognized as a Department of the Navy. An overwhelming number of early Marine campaigns were under the direction of the Navy and fought at sea. 

Operations Against West Indian Pirates

In the early 1820’s, the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico was infested with pirates accountable for almost 3,000 attacks on merchant ships. Having caused significant financial loss while also frequently murdering and torturing their victims, the pirates were ruthless in their attacks on commerce. Fed up with the incessant pillaging of merchant ships, the Navy created the West India Squadron in 1822. Led by Commodores James Biddle, David Porter and Lewis Warrington, the squadron was tasked with eliminating piracy in the area. The mission was a dangerous one for a number of reasons aside from the inherent danger of fighting pirates, often in close quarters. The sailors were frequently exposed to brutal storms, blistering heat, yellow fever and malaria. Despite the dangers, the Navy squadron, assisted by the Marines, relentlessly defeated the pirates over a period of 10 years. By the early 1830’s piracy in the Caribbean was nearly non-existent and the sailors returned home having completed a rigorous mission that made essential shipping lanes once again safe for all nations. 

Indian Wars

It is no secret that the United States military fought several wars against Native American Indians. Many, however, many do not know that the United States Marine Corps also fought in some of the campaigns. Beginning in 1811 in Florida, the Marines assisted with operations against Indians. The Marines took part in the Battle of Twelve Mile Swamp, where a group of Indians ambushed a convoy of wagons being escorted by the Marines. One Marine lost his life and was the first killed in the line of duty since 1806.  By 1836, the Marines had been involved in a number of battles against the Indians, including the Creek Indian War, the War against the Seminoles and the Battle of Hatchee-Lustee. The Marines also patrolled the coasts of southern and eastern Florida as well as the Everglades. These patrol groups were known as the “Mosquito Fleet” because of the dense mosquito population in the areas in which they worked. 

Mexican War

In 1845, the United States annexed Texas, making it a state and infuriating Mexico, as they believed Texas was part of their territory and did not rightfully belong to the United States despite the Texas Revolution in 1836. In 1846 tension between the United States and Mexico boiled over and the Mexican War was underway. The Navy’s Pacific Squadron, assisted by the Marines, successfully blockaded Mexico’s eastern and western coasts and also captured many of Mexico’s vital ports. After completing the blockade, Navy troops entered from the Gulf of Mexico and fought their way up the rivers to capture other Mexican forts and supply lines. Attacks then shifted from the east to the west where the Navy successfully captured California. They then began to work from both the east and the west to squeeze Mexico into surrender when Mexico City was captured. As part of the treaty, the Rio Grande was established as the border between Mexico and Texas and the agreement still holds true today.

Civil War

During the civil war, a key to the northern victory was the Union Navy’s blockade of the southern coast. Spanning more than 3,000 miles from Virginia to Texas, the blockade cut off the supply lines, effectively crippling the confederate economy, and also prevented foreign countries from intervening. Most Marines in the Civil War served as “seagoing detachments” on the ships of the blockade squadrons. When the Marines did participate in attacks on land, they were primarily amphibious based attacks that led to landfall under the direction of the Navy. For example, the Marines were instrumental in the sinking of CSS Alabama and the seizing of Mobile Bay in 1864. Other Marines were tasked with searching the seas for Confederate ships that were raiding commerce. Many Marines also served on the Mississippi river in gunboats, patrolling the waters and maintaining the Union blockade on Confederate commerce.  The defining characteristic of the early Marines was their penchant for battle on the water as a department of the Navy.

 

Marine Corps Expeditionary

Established in 1919 and first awarded in 1929, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Streamer is issued to a unit that “engaged in a landing on foreign territory, participated in combat operations against an opposing force, or must have participated in a designated operation for which no other service medal is authorized.” When representing the Marine Corps as a whole, the streamer is adorned with twelve silver stars, four bronze stars and one silver “W.” The stars represent the roughly 76 expeditions in which the Marine Corps participated and the silver W is in recognition of the defense of Wake Island during the dawn of WWII.

 

Spanish Campaign

In 1898, long-standing tensions between the United States and Spain reached a breaking point when the American ship USS Maine was sunk by a Spanish explosion on February 15th. The vast majority of the crew on board the ship perished in the strike. Emotions from the tragedy led to a quick and resounding victory for the United States Navy, assisted by the Marine Corps. On May 1st, the Pacific Squadron of the Navy destroyed the entire Spanish fleet in Manila Bay of the Philippine Islands. Less than two months later, the Navy completed a resounding victory over the Spanish outside of Santiago, Cuba; which was at the time a Spanish colony. The Marines also executed beach landings in Cuba and Puerto Rico, another Spanish colony, during this time, in collaboration with the Army. The streamer was originally issued to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps who “had served in the Philippine Islands between the dates of May 1st and August 16th, 1898.” Those serving in the West Indies (Cuba and Puerto Rico) were awarded the West Indies Campaign streamer. In 1913 it was discontinued, and the Spanish Campaign streamer was awarded to “any member of the Navy or Marine Corps who had served on active duty during the Spanish American War.”

Stay tuned for next week’s edition of our 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the United States Marine Corps. We will move forward in history to cover the: Philippine Campaign, China Relief Expedition, Cuban Pacification, Nicaraguan Campaign, Mexican Service and Haitian Campaign streamers. Also be sure to check out our previous editions of the series below!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Living a Self-Sustained Lifestyle: Crazy or Just Plain Smart?

Self Sustained Living - Crazy or Just Plain Smart?With the rising cost of living and resurgence in the popularity of growing your own fruit and vegetables, becoming self-sustained is an increasingly appealing option. However, to do it properly, it is more than just a hobby; it becomes an entire lifestyle. Yes, you may be living a more independent and healthy lifestyle, but it will be hard work and you’ll be amongst the minority. Is living a self-sustained lifestyle worth it? I will address some of the things you will encounter as you attempt to live more self-sufficiently.

If you succeed in becoming self-sufficient, you will be able to provide everything that your family needs, without having to rely on any outside suppliers (or the government for that matter). You will build a knowledge base and skill set which will likely surprise yourself. There is no way to go about this half-heartedly; you will need drive, determination and motivation, and you’ll need it in bucket loads.

There are many reasons why you may choose to go down a self-sustained route. For some, it may be something like the desire to be prepared in case of an emergency. Should there be a global, political, economic or environmental crisis, you will be ready to bounce back and continue with your life quicker than others. On the other hand, you may be thinking purely of the environment. There is no doubt that becoming self-sufficient dramatically reduces your carbon footprint; so if you  are conscious about how your actions are affecting the planet and future generations, then this is a way to alleviate any self-imposed guilt. Furthermore, by becoming self-sufficient, the food that you eat is certainly going to be healthier as well. By becoming self-sufficient, you will eliminate the pesticides and other chemicals applied to food that is produced in bulk for mass consumption. Not only is this great for your own health, but it great for the health of the environment as well.

Home Cooked Meals with the FamilyOne of the biggest influencing factors for people to become self-sufficient is the sense of personal satisfaction that they achieve. There is nothing more satisfying than eating a meal made from food that you’ve grown, prepared and cooked yourself! My opinion is that any effort you put into self-sustained living is worth the time. We need to be examples to the next generations. We simply cannot sustain this generational mindset that the government will take care of everyone. There simply isn’t enough money in the coffers to accomplish that socialistic pipe dream.

Another massive advantage to being self-sufficient is that your living costs will go down over time. It is true that you may have some start-up costs, such as buying dried goods like rice and beans in bulk for long term storage or seeds to plant in your garden. However, the amount of food you receive for the initial investment far outweighs the cost of purchasing the products from the grocery store. You will also want to consider purchasing local grass fed beef, local organically raised pork and chicken for long term freezer storage. If you have the land, consider raising the livestock yourself. Over time, you will more than pay for the up-front bulk purchase and storage costs with the amount you save on grocery shopping. Keep in mind, however, you will need to balance these out against the costs. Buying a side of beef and a hog once or twice a year is more expensive up front however; the price per pound will be significantly lower. When you are trying to save money, is spending hundreds of dollars to get yourself set up worth it?

One of the most appealing, fun and rewarding things about taking on this lifestyle is the new range of skills that you are going to learn. Don’t know how to skin a rabbit, make your own soap, or fix a leaky roof? More basically, if you do not know how to cook from scratch with whole foods, you will soon enough! It is all about trial and error and learning. Grandma's Cookbook RecipesDon’t be afraid to try a new food like rabbit or make a meal from a cookbook your grandmother had her entire life. In fact, one of the most rewarding things my family enjoys are simple home cooked meals that we share around our family dinner table. Knowing that I produced the food on the table makes it all the more rewarding.

However, it is important to remember that it is almost impossible for a single person (and even a single family) to do everything themselves. Think back to centuries ago, before the advent of technology, when everyone farmed their own food and washed their clothes by hand – even then, people did not do everything themselves. There was a lot of trade, so they still had to rely on each other. In that sense, it would almost be better to have a whole self-sufficient community. Trying to convince your neighbors and friends to follow suit may be a challenge! So many people have grown up in the “handout generation” that they may not have a clue about where to start. The important thing is not to be too hard on yourself. Self-sufficiency is a difficult lifestyle initially.  Don’t be afraid to ask others who live the lifestyle for help whenever you need it.

All in all, the decision on whether or not to have a self-sustained lifestyle does not have to be a difficult one. I will concede that it is certainly not a way of life that will suit everyone. However, it does have many advantages, namely the sense of freedom and feeling of control over your lifestyle that it will give you. To many, it may seem like living a self-sustained lifestyle is crazy – the hard work and upfront costs might feel like more effort than they are worth. It is more of a mindset that you do not have to be dependent upon commercial suppliers of processed foods. You can easily consume home grown and healthy foods. It just takes more planning up front. You do not have to be dependent on the government to take care of you. You are in control of your life, not the politicians in Washington, DC.Politicians Don't Control Your Life

Those who have already made the transition to a self-sustained lifestyle would probably argue that they are just plain smart! They can live simply, how they wish, without needing to rely on anyone for anything. Ultimately, it all comes down to you as an individual, and as a family. What do you ultimately want to achieve? Are you prepared to put in all of the hard work and dedication? If you think that the pros of living a self-sustained lifestyle outweigh the cons – if you think you have what it takes – then you may well end up having the last laugh!

Battle Streamers of the United States Marine Corps: Part 3

In the third installation of our 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the Marine Corps, we begin to look at the early periods of American history and the Marine Corps’ involvement in each campaign. You may wonder how a modern unit may be awarded a streamer for a campaign that happened hundreds of years ago, so it is important to note that each unit is awarded a streamer based on historical involvement and not just modern campaigns. Once again it is also important to note that some of the streamers are Navy or Army specific, however, if a Marine Corps unit operated as part of the Navy or Army unit that is awarded the streamer, they too receive the streamer in recognition of their efforts. 

Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army)

Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army)

Holding the same value as the Legion of Merit individual award, the Meritorious Unit Commendation is awarded to units for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services for at least six continuous months during the period of military operations against an armed enemy occurring on or after 1 January 1944.” While the service does not necessarily have to be in a combat zone, the unit’s service must be directly related to the combat effort to receive the award. Furthermore, the unit must “display such outstanding devotion and superior performance of exceptionally difficult tasks as to set it apart and above other units with similar missions.” In 1961, the Army authorized the Meritorious Unit Commendation to be awarded to detachments serving under the Army to receive the award, opening it up to the US Marine Corps and other branches of the service. 

Revolutionary War Streamer

Revolutionary War

Formed at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and authorized by a resolution of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775, the United States Marine Corps traces its roots to the Continental Marines of the Revolutionary War. These Marines were the first to carry out overseas campaigns. The first campaign was the raid on New Providence in the Bahamas in 1776. The Trenton and Princeton Campaigns under George Washington’s direction came next in December of 1776 and January of 1777 respectively. The Marines also took part in many sea battles throughout the war including John Paul Jones’ descent on Whitehaven, England in 1778. The Marines, being a department of the Navy, operated in marine settings early on, including serving on the Mississippi river during the Revolution.

 Quasi-War with France Streamer

Quasi-War with France

In 1794, Congress established a Navy to protect American commerce as its expanding shipping lanes came under fire by privateers of Revolutionary France. Once an ally, France became an enemy of the United States during their own Revolution. This led to an undeclared war that was fought entirely at sea, mainly in the Mediterranean and West Indian Waters from 1798-1801. The warship Constellation won two victories over the French during this period, and early Marines assisted in the operations under the command of Captain Thomas Truxtun, who was known for his high standards and crew demands. The battles came to an end when France agreed to a peace treaty, having been thoroughly defeated by the US and British ships who worked together.  

Barbary Wars Streamer

Barbary Wars

In 1801 the United States deployed Navy ships to the Mediterranean to patrol the African coast, form blockades, attack pirate fortresses on the shore and work to prevent the overall success of Barbary piracy. The United States had become fed up with the Barbary States of North Africa (what are now Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya) plundering commerce ships for centuries via piracy. By 1805, the United States gradually pulled out their naval presence and would soon be immersed in the War of 1812. During this period, Barbary Coast piracy began to increase so in 1815 the United States once again sent Navy ships to patrol the waters. After periods of unwavering force, the rulers in Barbary succumbed to US power and came to a diplomatic agreement to stop the piracy. Marines were a constant presence on the Navy ships and were vital in battles such as the destruction of the pirate captured ship Philadelphia and the ship Intrepid’s quest to destroy enemy ships in the Tripoli Harbor. 

War of 1812 Streamer

War of 1812

The Marines played a vital role in all of the Navy’s engagements during the War of 1812. Marines fought in the Battle of Lake Erie and were instrumental in the ship Constitution’s victory over the British ship Guerriere. Aside from assisting the Navy, the Marines also fought extensively on land, engaging in the attack on Fort George, the Defense of Sackett’s Harbor and the capture of Toronto, among other battles.  

African Slave Trade Streamer

African Slave Trade

In 1819, Congress declared that the African Slave Trade was piracy and, therefore, punishable by death. With the new piracy classification, it fell upon the US Navy to patrol the waters of West Africa where the slaves were captured.  Additionally, US Marines operated in South America and Cuba, the primary disembarkation point of slaves. The primary goal was to locate, capture and prosecute people dealing in human trade. The initiative lasted for over 40 years, and the Marines were instrumental in assisting the Navy in their capture of over 100 slave traders.

Stay tuned as we continue our series next week, moving forward in American history to cover the Operations Against West Indian Pirates, Indian Wars, Mexican War, Civil War, Marine Corps Expeditionary, and Spanish Campaign streamers.

View our previous editions in the series:

Part 1

Part 2

Battle Streamers of the United States Marine Corps: Part 2

In the next nine editions of our 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the Marine Corps, we will cover six streamers per week to outline all 54 streamers of the United States Marine Corps. Before outlining each, it is important to note that some of the streamers are for the Navy or Army; however they can be awarded to a Marine Corps unit if they operated as part of the Army or Navy unit receiving the streamer.

Presidential Unit Citation (Navy)

Presidential Unit Citation (Navy)

The Presidential Unit Citation is the highest honor a unit can receive and is awarded to units that “display such gallantry, determination, and espirit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign”. Originally called the Distinguished Unit Citation, the Presidential Unit Citation has been awarded to units for extraordinary heroism dating back to December 7th 1941, which marks the start of the United States’ involvement in WWII.

Presidential Unit Citation (Army)

Presidential Unit Citation (Army)

Much like the Navy’s version of the award, the Army’s Presidential Unit Citation is the highest honor a unit can receive. The criteria for award is exactly the same in that it is awarded to units that “display such gallantry, determination, and espirit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign”. The Army has also been awarding the streamer dating back to the dawn of the US involvement in WWII, beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Joint Meritorious Unit Award

Joint Meritorious Unit Award

The Joint Meritorious Unit Award is the only streamer awarded by the Department of Defense. Established in 1981 by the Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award is given to “joint units or activities where the joint activity must either report through Unified, Combined, or Specified Command channels or pursue a joint mission under the cognizance of the Secretary of Defense; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the commander of a Unified, Specified or Combined Command that is also a joint command; or the Secretary of a military department that has been designated the Executive Agent for the Secretary of Defense”. The award has been granted retroactively dating back to 1979 and is considered to be a high honor, representing the equivalent of the Defense Superior Service Medal.

Navy Unit Commendation

Navy Unit Commendation

The Navy Unit Commendation, established by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal in 1944, is the unit equivalent of the Silver Star Medal for individuals. The streamer is awarded by the Navy Secretary to “any ship; aircraft wing, group, squadron, detachment or crew; or other unit of the United States Navy or Marine Corps which has since 6 December 1941 distinguished itself in action against the enemy with outstanding heroism but not sufficient to justify award of the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation”. Furthermore, the streamer can be awarded for combat service that went above and beyond other units performing a similar duty.

Valorous Unit Award (Army)

Valorous Unit Award (Army)

The Valorous Unit Award is an Army streamer that can be presented to a Marine Corps unit if they served alongside an Army unit and demonstrated equal courage in battle. Representing the second highest award a unit can receive, the Valorous Unit Award is equivalent to the individual achievement, the Silver Star. The award is presented to a unit for “extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent part for actions occurring on or after 3 August 1963”. Despite the high honor, the streamer is awarded for lesser degrees of “gallantry, determination, and espirit de corps” than the recipients of the Presidential Unit Citation.

Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy/Marine Corps)

Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy/Marine Corps)

A mid-level award issued in the name of the Secretary of the Navy, the Meritorious Unit Commendation is given to “any military command which displays exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, heroic deeds, or valorous actions”. Units in the Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard are eligible to receive the award when operating with the United States Navy.

Stay tuned for our next installation, which covers the Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Revolutionary War, Quasi-War with France, Barbary Wars, War of 1812 and African Slave Trade streamers. We will be posting a set of six streamers each week and you won’t want to miss it!

With Budget Cuts, Can the Army Achieve Mission Anymore?

A Smaller Army

Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, salute during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner during a homecoming ceremony Feb. 27 in Fort Knox, Ky.

Last month the Pentagon unveiled its proposed budget for 2015 and according to the US Department of Defense it falls far short of their needs. In fact, the proposed size of the Army is the lowest since World War II. Army General John F. Campbell told members of the readiness subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee that the current level of funding for fiscal year 2015 will allow the Army to sustain current readiness levels, but is not enough to do more than generate the minimum level of readiness required to fulfill the defense strategy.

Additionally, Campbell stressed that if sequestration reductions occur as planned in fiscal year 2016 and beyond, then manning, readiness and modernization efforts will be severely harmed and the Army will not be able to sustain their strategic guidance. This is pretty grim information coming from top level military personnel.

Obama Signs Budget Control Act

President Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2013 and sets in motion a massive draw down of the military forces.

Because of the 2013 Budget Control Act, the Army has had to cancel seven combat training rotations and they have had to significantly reduce home station training and development. This has an incredibly negative impact not only on readiness but it also impacts leader development. If these units had to deploy today should a crisis arise, they simply would not be at top readiness to carry out their mission. This is not only bad for the mission, but it also places our military personnel in harm’s way without all the tools they need to succeed. This could lead to higher casualty rates as they carry out their mission.

These budget cuts could quite literally cripple the Army for years to come. When you cut your active duty forces from 490,000 soldiers to 450,000 it represents a significant cut of forces. In fact, the Army is cutting more active duty soldiers than all the other services combined. The Army will also endure cuts to their investment in next generation weapon systems. They will instead have to rely on upgrades to their current arsenal of weapons. Some experts think that the Army will have to forego new weapon systems until possibly the year 2020. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has indicated that if the Army is forced to comply with the budget caps set in place currently, the Army force will have to be lowered to 420,000. At this level, they cannot sustain foreign operations currently underway.

Honorable DischargeAll these budget cuts mean that a lot of military personnel will be separated from the service against their will. This spring alone, the Army had to identify up to 2000 captains and majors for early separation. I can tell you from experience that these warriors will not want to be separated against their will. When the military decides you are no longer an asset to them and you disagree, guess who is going to win? At this point, it is a numbers game to the department of defense and there is no mercy when cuts occur.

Army leaders have expressed frustration because they feel that the savings the budget targets are arbitrary and disconnected from our current military strategy. Military leaders have repeatedly been called upon to take cuts at home and abroad in the overseas wars as they wind down operations. Is this the beginning of the end of an era for the Army? It begs the question of how committed the military is to taking care of those who have sacrificed over the last twelve years of war.

In my opinion, the department of defense should be doing everything they can to assist these warriors as they transition to civilian life. We can never forget our wounded warriors, those who paid the ultimate price and the thousands of Gold Star families.  Budget cuts aside, these are the people who fought for our freedom at home and abroad.

 

 

The Marines Have Landed: A 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the Marine Corps

The Marines Have Landed: A 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the Marine Corps

Battle Streamers of the United States Marine Corps

Dating back to the American Revolution, the United States Marine Corps has used the practice of awarding battle streamers to units that participated in certain campaigns. There are a total of 54 authorized battle streamers for the United States Marine Corps and each unit may have a different set depending on their historical campaign deployments. In this 10 part series, we will cover each and every battle streamer and include a synopsis of what took place during each campaign.

Before delving into each individual streamer, it is important to cover the history of battle streamers and the flag to which they are attached, as well as how to they got to the present practice of attaching them to the flag staff. The trend follows a general progression from standardization to differentiation among units.

STANDARDIZATION

Due to conflicting information and unreliable documentation during the early periods of the Marine Corps, very little is certain about the early flags; however it is generally agreed upon among historians that the first flag was the Grand Union Flag, carried by the battalion commanded by Captain Samuel Nicholas in 1776. Although most believe that the first flag was the Grand Union Flag, some admit that it is possible that the Rattlesnake (Gadsen) flag was also carried during this time.

Grand Union Flag & The Rattlesnake Flag

Pictured to the left is the Grand Union Flag, and to the right, the Rattlesnake Flag. One or both were the first flags carried by the United States Marine Corps in 1776.

As time passed and the quest for uniformity was developing, the United States Marine Corps adopted a white flag with gold fringe and an anchor and eagle design in the middle during the 1830’s-40’s. Before the Mexican War, “To the Shores of Tripoli” was emblazoned across the top, however after the war; the phrase was changed to “From Tripoli to the Halls of the Montezumas”. Although the Marine Corps developed an official flag, the troops in the field still carried a flag similar to the United States flag. Historians agree that the flag used in the field was red and white striped with a union in the upper left, however the union had an eagle perched on a shield with half a wreath below. 29 stars encircled the entire design to complete the field use flag.

In an effort to combine the two designs and have one official flag for the Marine Corps, in 1876 the Marines began to use the United States flag, however “U.S. Marine Corps” was written in yellow on the center red stripe. This design lasted less than 40 years and in 1914 the Marine Corps adopted a new flag, this time blue with a laurel wreath encircling the Marine Corps emblem. Two scarlet ribbons, one above and one below read “U.S. Marine Corps” and “Semper Fidelis” respectively. A yellow fringe surrounded the entire flag. Due to a lack of modern technology or photography during this time, very few pictures exist; however modern estimations of what they looked like do exist as you can see below.

USMC 1914 Flag

Pictured above are estimations of what the Marine Corps flag looked like circa 1914.

Between 1921 and 1922, all flags were ordered to remove the yellow exterior fringes as well as any “U.S. Marine Corps” wording on the flag. In April of 1925, gold and scarlet were designated as the official colors of the United States Marine Corps; however it was not until 1939 that the official flag was changed to represent these color choices. The new flag design for 1939 is still in use today has remained essentially unchanged since. The current design is shown below.

Official United States Marine Corps Flag

Pictured above is the official United States Marine Corps flag. It has remained unchanged since 1939.

DIFFERENTIATION

After World War I, the Marine Corps began to differentiate among units and adopted the Army’s practice of attaching band decorations recognizing certain battles that each unit served in to the official flag. These band decorations would later be known as the Battle Streamers of the Marine Corps. Realizing that there were numerous streamers for each unit and limited space to attach them, in 1939 the Marine Corps made the decision to attach the streamers to the top of the flag staff where they still reside today.

United State Marine Corps Battle Streamers On Staff

Pictured above are the battle streamers attached in their current position at the top of the staff.

With standardization fully established, the battle streamers represented a way to differentiate between the units within the Marine Corps. There are a total of 54 battle streamers and 50 of them are authorized for the Marine Corps as a whole. Depending on the campaigns that each unit participated in, each unit has a unique set of battle streamers. Battle streamers have been issued since the American Revolution so it is important to note that the streamers do not represent solely current campaigns, but instead historical campaigns as well. In our next nine installations, we will look at each streamer and discuss in depth each campaign. Stay tuned Patriots!

Final Four – Tactical Pack Edition

March Madness Tactical Pack Showdown

In the spirit of March Madness we decided to set up a final four of our own, pitting four of our most popular packs against each other in an effort to find out which pack has what it takes to survive the gauntlet of things thrown at it during use. In the NCAA Tournament, every team is playing the same basketball game, but not all teams play in the same style, and it’s each team’s unique attributes that determine whether it wins or loses. In our tournament, we have a diverse set of packs all competing for the title of champion, however it will be the unique attributes that each possess that will determine which moves on, and which didn’t make the cut.

Here is how it works:

We assembled a panel of three judges to field test each pack and give their opinion on which should advance to the next round of the tournament and why. A majority vote will secure a victory. The determining factors were left up to the judges; however in the spirit of impartiality we selected three judges with diverse backgrounds and interests. The judge’s credentials are listed below for review.

Judge 1:

  • AGE: 45
  • GENDER: Male
  • Military Veteran
  • Weapon Enthusiast
  • Hunter

Judge 2:

  • AGE: 22
  • GENDER: Male
  • Paintball Expert
  • Tactical Gear Enthusiast
  • Outdoorsman

Judge 3:

  • AGE: 32
  • GENDER: Female
  • Outdoor Enthusiast
  • Avid Hiker
  • Rock Climber

So, without further ado, we present the Final Four: Tactical Pack Edition:

ROUND ONE: ROTHCO MEDIUM TRANSPORT PACK VS. PROPPER BIAS SLING BACKPACK

Judge 1: “Being a concealed carry permit holder, I appreciated that the Propper Bias Sling Backpack had a built in compartment to safely carry my weapon. I also enjoyed the one shoulder design that allowed me to quickly slide the pack to the front instead of taking the entire pack off. With that said, I would have to give this round to the Rothco Medium Transport Pack. With lots of MOLLE attachment points and plenty of diverse storage space, I found myself gravitating to this pack more. It is a diverse every day pack that even includes a place for a hydration pouch if I took it out to my stand during hunting season.”

VOTE: Rothco Medium Transport Pack

Judge 2: “The Rothco Medium Transport Pack is a great multipurpose pack without a doubt. It has a compact design that isn’t bulky or overbearing and the padded shoulder straps really made it a comfortable pack. The Propper Bias Sling Backpack had all of those features and then more that really pushed it over the top for me. I loved the single strap design that allowed me to pull the pack in front quickly for access to all of the pouches without taking it off. If I did need to take it off, the quick release buckle made it simple and efficient. I also noticed that the Propper bag allowed me to lock the zippers together so nothing would fall out and that was a great feature when I was pulling the pack to the front of my body frequently. “

VOTE: Propper Bias Sling Backpack

Judge 3: “Without a doubt, the Rothco Medium Transport Pack impressed me more. Being on the trail a lot, I like to take a pack that is multidimensional and the Rothco pack had everything I was looking for and then some. The hydration bladder feature is one that I always look for because it is easier to use that carrying multiple water bottles so that really pushed it over the top. I also enjoyed the different pouches and compartments because it allowed me to better organize my gear than the Propper pack. One thing I really enjoyed about the Propper pack, however, was the fact that I could slide the pack across the front of my body to access accessories while on the go. “

VOTE: Rothco Medium Transport Pack

WINNER: Rothco Medium Transport Pack

Rothco Medium Transport Pack

ROUND ONE: MAXPEDITION SITKA GEARSLINGER VS. 5.11 TACTICAL RUSH 24 BACKPACK

Judge 1: “This matchup proved to be a much more difficult decision. On one hand, the Rush 24 has much more storage room and great internal organization dividers; however the Sitka Gearslinger is outfitted with a concealed carry compartment to carry my weapon and it also has the every-day-carry feel to it that I felt the Propper pack lacked in the previous matchup. I also really enjoy the single strap design for quick access to my firearm should I need it. This one goes to the Maxpedition pack in a close one.”

VOTE: Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger

Judge 2: “I have to admit, although I selected the Propper pack in the last matchup, I’m not the biggest fan of the single strap design. The Maxpedition Sitka is a great pack but it didn’t really meet my needs as an everyday outdoor pack. The 5.11 Rush pack on the other hand really blew me away. My first impression of the pack was that it had tons of room to carry everything I need during a day outdoors. Not only was it spacious, but 5.11 did a great job of creating practical organization pouches. I found myself enjoying the easy access to items without digging through the pack to find what I was looking for. While I would use both packs for different situations, my vote is for the 5.11 Rush 24 Backpack.”

VOTE: 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack

Judge 3: “The Rush 24 had all of the features I liked in the Rothco Medium Transport pack and then some! Since I spent a fair amount of my previous review on the hydration bladder, I need to note that the Rush 24 actually features the tube hole on both sides of the pack which is a great feature for flexibility. When not in use, the Rush 24 allows the tube hole to be covered up, preventing moisture from entering into the pack, something I haven’t seen before. The Rush 24 also took organization to the next level. Numerous pouches and compartments allowed me to have easy access to everything without a struggle. The Sitka did have one feature that I really enjoyed and that was sheer ruggedness of the material. It was tougher than any fabric I had seen before and Maxpedition bills it as completely abrasion and water resistant.”

VOTE: 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack

WINNER: 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack

5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack

CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND: ROTHCO MEDIUM TRANSPORT PACK VS. 5.11 TACTICAL RUSH 24 BACKPACK

Judge 1: “I voted for the Rothco pack but not the 5.11 Pack. Therefore, I’m casting my vote for the Rothco Medium Transport Pack. The real selling point for me was the fact that the medium transport pack was a more compact version of the 5.11 Rush pack. I prefer a pack that I can grab and go without much bulk to it. Oh, and the Rotcho Medium Transport pack is far less expensive!”

VOTE: Rothco Medium Transport Pack

Judge 2: “This one was an easy choice for me. I loved the diversity that the Rush 24 provided. It has lots of space, perfect organization, and represents a true everyday pack in my opinion. If I had to get any pack on the market now, it would be the 5.11 Tactical Rush 24.”

VOTE: 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack

Judge 3: “I’m the only judge that picked both of the finalist packs in the first round so this decision was a little tougher to me. Both have the features that I look for in a pack, but what it really came down to for me was the additional space that the 5.11 pack gave me. Both had great organizational components and are hydration bladder compatible, but I can see myself using the 5.11 Rush pack more. “

VOTE: 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack

CHAMPION: 5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack

5.11 Tactical Rush 24 Backpack - Mutli view