US Marines carrying generator, Rendova

US Marines carrying generator, Rendova


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US Marines carrying generator, Rendova

A group of US Marines carrying a generator along one of the muddy tracks on Rendova Island (New Georgia). In the background is a 155mm gun, being used to bombard Munda.


Assault Amphibious Vehicle

The Assault Amphibious Vehicle [2] [3] (AAV)—official designation AAVP-7A1 (formerly known as Landing Vehicle, Tracked, Personnel-7 abbr. LVTP-7)—is a fully tracked amphibious landing vehicle manufactured by U.S. Combat Systems (previously by United Defense, a former division of FMC Corporation). [4] [5]

The AAV-P7/A1 is the current amphibious troop transport of the United States Marine Corps. It is used by U.S. Marine Corps Assault Amphibian Battalions to land the surface assault elements of the landing force and their equipment in a single lift from assault shipping during amphibious operations to inland objectives and to conduct mechanized operations and related combat support in subsequent mechanized operations ashore. It is also operated by other forces. Marines call them "amtracs", a shortening of their original designation, "amphibious tractor".

In June 2018, the Marine Corps announced they had selected the BAE Systems/Iveco wheeled SuperAV for the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) program to supplement and ultimately replace the AAV.


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Photo Credit: Cpl.Caitlin Brink/Marine Corps

Make no mistake: these Marines are playing a role. At its best, it's masterful performance art, but with a twist — the tremendous personal responsibility they feel for building raw recruits into disciplined Marines. Despite their gruff, borderline hostile interaction with recruits, DIs are real people with real emotions and tremendous dedication to molding young lives.

Marine Corps Times was afforded access to drill instructors at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, recently to find out some of the secrets behind successful drill instructors.

Here are 11 things drill instructors never want their recruits to know:

11. Boot camp elicits flashbacks.

Marines who come to drill instructor school have about a week of administrative processing before they start their classroom tasks - and they need that time to adjust, said Maj. Chad Craven, director of the East Coast DI school based here. The place has that kind of effect on them. Battle-tested sergeants, staff sergeants and gunnery sergeants re-enter the boot camp environment and regress to semi-recruit mode, he said.

"Now wait a second," Craven said he tells his students. "You've been shot at, you've been IEDed, you've been shelled, you've gotten married and have been there for the birth of your child, yet you stand here saying 'good morning' when it's obviously the middle of the night."

Sgt. Nicholas Lanier, a senior DI who recently wrapped up his three-year tour and headed to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, at Camp Pendleton, California, said going back to boot camp was a huge adjustment.

"Driving back to Parris Island was very, very odd," the infantry rifleman said. "I definitely thought I was going to get screamed at and then everyone was so nice."

10. The 'frog voice' is real.

Drill instructors literally scream so hard at recruits that they can pass out, give themselves hernias, or do serious and permanent damage to their vocal chords. That's why they spend a lot of time at DI school learning to project from their diaphragms.

Even so, most DIs develop that raspy "frog voice." Losing their voice is inevitable, especially during the first phase of boot camp when orders are constantly barked. But at school, they try to teach new DIs how to prevent voice problems turning into something permanent, Craven said.

/>Staff Sgt. Antonio J. Curry, a drill instructor aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, barks out instructions to align his platoon of fresh recruits Aug 30, 2012. Curry, who is on his second b-billet after completing a tour of duty as a recruiter, says his prior experience has helped him become a better drill instrutor for his recruits. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kuande Hall)

Staff Sgt. Antonio Curry, a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, barks out orders to his platoon of fresh recruits.

Photo Credit: Sgt. Kuande Hall/Marine Corps

Still, they need to speak loudly enough for about 100 recruits to hear them, and that requires practice. Schoolhouse instructors will stand a set number of paces away from the Marines as they learn to project their voices, he said.

While they do lose their voices on occasion, they have become masters at getting it back fast. Craven said the treatment is similar to soothing a sore throat, including hot water with honey and lemon. But Sgt. Melissa Sandoval, a DI with 4th Recruit Training Battalion here, said some DIs get a little more creative.

She drinks hot tea followed by a cold drink, she said. But she has also tried pickle juice or lime juice mixed with salt.

"It's something about the vinegar or the acid in the lime juice," she said. "It helps the lining of the throat."

9. Laughing on the inside.

The screaming that recruits must endure might actually be masking a different reaction: laughter. Drill instructors think recruits do and say some pretty funny things.

Lanier said he was tempted to laugh nonstop while on DI duty.

"It's just the things recruits say," he said. "They'll think they're saying something so serious, but it'll come out so ridiculous and you just want to laugh."

Instead he'd scream at them for doing or saying the wrong thing.

/>Sgt. Angela Arounerangsy, drill instructor, Platoon 4003, November Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, motivates recruits as they prepare for the rappel tower aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Nov. 27, 2012. The recruits execute the rappel tower as part of second phase recruit training aboard the depot. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Rodion Zabolotniy)

Sgt. Angela Arounerangsy, a drill instructor with 4th Recruit Training Battalion, motivates recruits as they prepare for the rappel tower at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

Photo Credit: Lance Cpl. Rodion Zabolotniy/Marine Corps

Sandoval agreed and said she had to stop herself from laughing all the time.

"Recruits do crazy stuff, we'll put it that way," she said. "And sometimes you just shake your head. You have to just breathe and think of something else."

Staff Sgt. Juan Rocha, a drill instructor with 1st Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, said he's too busy to even think about laughing in the moment, but he and other DIs will swap funny stories about recruits later.

8. They channel their own DIs.

Putting on the belt and campaign cover transforms a regular Marine into someone he or she probably feared as a new recruit. Once they're in that role, however, they realize how much time and dedication their own drill instructors devoted to the job.

"I remember how perfect they were in my eyes," said Sgt. Richard Kennedy, a San Diego DI with 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. "I hope I'm as perfect in my recruits' eyes as they were in my eyes."

Sgt. Jennifer Thiroux with 4th Recruit Training Battalion here, said she recalls the way her DIs' hair was always perfect and the way they walked and talked. She does the same things now to set a similar lofty example.

Drill instructors also rely on each other to see what works and what doesn't, Rocha said. He'll pick up some of the language and phrases that other DIs on his team use if they're effective.

7. They miss their families.

Getting home at 2300 and heading back out to start the next day, sometimes as early as 0300, doesn't provide a lot of time to be with loved ones. There is a family readiness program here to help Marines and their dependents get through those three years.

Dependents can tour the DI schoolhouse here and see what their Marines will be called on to do over the course of their duties.

"We knew it was long hours," said Gunnery Sgt. Richard Brennan, a senior DI here with 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. "But sometimes it's harder because — while I'm not in Iraq or Afghanistan and she knows I'm safe — I'm still gone, and it's an adjustment for the spouses. They always want you there."

The schedule is demanding, he acknowledged. After running and screaming all day, he'll go home to his kids playfully smacking him in the face while he falls asleep at the dinner table.

The key, he said, is to approach the situation as a team. It's imperative to talk to your spouse about what you're going through, he said. Sometimes he dreams about boot camp and yells in his sleep for his wife to "get on-line," the same thing he's been telling recruits all day. It is important for her to understand what his life is all about.

"I think it'll help to lead to a successful tour here without distraction, and it's good for the relationship," he said.

6. What they wish they had known.

Marines considering drill instructor duty should know it's physically and mentally demanding. Most said they lose weight during the tour they're constantly on their feet and running with recruits.

"I wish I would've known that," Lanier said. "I really had never felt tired or sore or anything like that. You hear it, but you can tell someone all day long you're going to be tired, you're going to be this, but you never know until you get there."

It's also important to recognize that you're leaving your own MOS, a skill in which you are proficient, and picking up something entirely new, Sandoval said.

"You're learning," she said. "The more you train and do the new MOS, the better you'll get. You can't expect so much from yourself."

As a senior drill instructor, Brennan said it's his job to look out for other drill instructors. Just like recruits, drill instructors might not know their limits, he said, so he makes sure they don't overdo it.

5. They're turning you into a Marine.

Some Marines who hear about the addition of core values discussions and foot-locker mentoring say that boot camp should be more physically demanding. But drill instructors say their main job is not to prepare Marines for combat. Their job is turning civilians into Marines, and there's a specific process that has to occur in order for that to happen in a 13-week period.

The core values discussions help to establish a baseline from which all new recruits can adopt the Marine Corps way, Brennan said.

"There are kids who came up in areas that have no values, and to them, stealing or taking things that didn't belong to them was acceptable," Brennan said. "Others already came here with those values instilled, but we still have to find that baseline to bring them together."

/>Sgt. Kadeem Walker, drill instructor for recruit receiving, glares at Rct. Jeremy Reuis, 24, of Platoon 2065, Fox Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, as the new arrivals receive some of their first orders from Marine Corps drill instructors in the receiving building on Parris Island, S.C., on June 4, 2012. The recruits must quickly adapt to their new environment upon arrival on Parris Island.

Sgt. Kadeem Walker glares at a recruit during receiving at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. Recruits receive some of their first orders when they first arrive at the recruit depot during the receiving process.

Photo Credit: Lance Cpl. Octavia Davis/Marine Corps

As a senior drill instructor, responsible for more of the values-based training, he said he has to find the best way to reach them all.

"I was an inner city kid, and now I'm dealing with a kid from the mountains, I'm dealing with a kid who came from the country," he said. "You've got to find it, you can't just try one way, you have to expand your horizons."

4. Squared away for a reason.

One of the primary lessons Marines in drill instructor school learn is that recruits will always be looking at them as they set the example of what it looks like to be squared away.

If they get sweaty or even the slightest bit of dirt on their uniforms, they should be going to change, Kennedy said.

"I have four copies of every uniform ready to change into at any moment," he said. "So if I go out and get a little dirty, I can go, change and come back out in 30 seconds."

Sandoval said in 4th Training Battalion there are about 64 recruits. About 60 of them will be doing what they should be most of the time, she said. But there will always be that one recruit looking around to see what the drill instructor is doing, so they must always know their appearance is on display.

Craven said he tells Marines at DI school not only to check their own uniforms regularly, but to look at each other as well.

"If you have a sloppy looking drill instructor in front of you, then over time that recruit — that future Marine — is going to say, 'Oh, I guess it's OK for me not to square away my uniform, I guess it's OK for me not to look like a poster boy Marine.' "

It's nothing but a basic Marine Corps standard, Craven added — not an artificial standard they create at the depots.

3. Combat-tested teachers.

Instead of relying on stories about Vietnam or Korea from past generations, the current crop of drill instructors can tell their recruits what it's like to be in combat, based on their own experience, and why it's important for recruits to learn a skill that could someday save their lives.

Sandoval said that became clear during the Crucible, the three-day-long final test in boot camp. When they did a night movement, recruits saw what she meant when she said any illumination could alert the enemy to their position. And during simulated gunfire, the recruits understood why they had to speak loudly.

"One recruit was trying to get the attention of another recruit who couldn't hear her over the sounds of grenades and shooting," Sandoval said. "So she said, 'Now I know why they're always telling us to scream.'"

2. They love ITing you.

Aside from their voice, drill instructors say incentive training is one of the most effective tools they have at their disposal when they need to get their point across to a stubborn recruit.

Not only does the repetition of the exercise help recruits learn, Rocha said, but they'll work harder in the future just to avoid it.

When DIs throw values-based training into the mix, that's when real learning begins, Thiroux said.

/>U.S. Marine Sgt. Katheryn Swingle, drill instructor, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, conducts incentive physical training to instill order and discipline during the first phase of recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Oct. 29, 2012. Incentive physical training consists of rigorous exercises such as Marine Corps push-ups, mountain climbers, side straddle hops, and crunches. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Aneshea S. Yee/Released)

Sgt. Katheryn Swingle, a drill instructor with 4th Recruit Training Battalion, conducts incentive training to instill order and discipline during the first phase of recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. IT consists of rigorous exercises like pushups, mountain climbers and crunches.

Photo Credit: Cpl. Aneshea Yee/Marine Corps

"So you can get ITed for having a zipper on the wrong side, because the drill instructor said it should be on this side and it's on the other side," she said. "So you say to them, 'Guess what, recruit? We know why the Marine Corps is the best - attention to detail. That's why we're the best. [I]f we go off to war, that's what's going to get you, that attention to detail.'"

1. They like you. Kind of.

Drill instructors get to know their recruits on a very personal level and are proud of seeing them earn their eagle, globe and anchor. Spending so much time with a young, impressionable adult, and transforming him into a Marine creates a connection, Thiroux said.

"You're theirs for three months, and a bond is created," she said. "They're growing because of what you're teaching them, and you take ownership of it," she said.

/>Sgt. Diego Hernandez, 28, a drill instructor with Platoon 1078, Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, motivates his recruits for their initial drill evaluation Sept. 15, 2014, on Parris Island, S.C. Close-order drill helps instill discipline and unit cohesion. Recruits are graded by drillmasters, experts on the Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies Manual, on their discipline and appearance. Hernandez is from New Orleans. Charlie Company is scheduled to graduate Nov. 7, 2014. (Photo by Cpl. David Bessey)

Sgt. Diego Hernandez motivates his recruits for their initial drill evaluation at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

Photo Credit: Cpl. David Bessey/Marine Corps

Kennedy noted that some recruits are shy while others show up ready to be loud. The DIs quickly pick up on those traits, he said, which might surprise recruits.

"A lot of times I can look at a recruit and I can recognize when they don't want to push on," he said. "We'll watch them."

Knowing that he's having a significant impact on the future of the Marine Corps makes the job important to him, Brennan said.

"With the training we give [recruits] throughout this cycle and the core values that we put in them, and then my twist — the little bit of myself I put into it —I feel like I'm molding my future replacement so I can give back to the institution," he said.


The Untold Story of the Black Marines Charged With Mutiny at Sea

Racial strife aboard a Navy ship left three men facing the threat of the death penalty. They became little more than statistics in the military’s dismal record of race relations in the Vietnam era.

Pfc. Alexander Jenkins Jr. (back left, in glasses) and Pfc. Roy L. Barnwell (far right) with other Black Marines on the U.S.S. Sumter. Credit. From Bart Lubow

One evening in late August 1972, as the American tank-landing ship U.S.S. Sumter was steaming off the coast of Vietnam, a Marine onboard dropped the needle on the turntable in front of him, sending music to the loudspeakers bolted to the bulkheads in the cavernous spaces where hundreds of sailors and Marines slept and hung out. Some members of the crew were not ready for what they heard. “Sun, up down. On the corner, uptown. I turn around and hear the sound. A voice is talking about who’s gonna die next. Cause the white man’s got a God complex.”

Though nobody knew it at the moment, that song was about to set off a series of events that would leave three Black Marines facing charges of mutiny and the possibility of execution or lengthy imprisonment. Others were at risk of being thrown out of the Marine Corps with discharges that would maim their job prospects in civilian America for the rest of their lives. They were caught up in events that were not only about race but also about structural racism not just a matter of individuals and personalities but of a U.S. military establishment that treated people of color differently from white service members — starting with recruitment and induction, through combat deployments, right on through the charges and punishments that arose when conflicts boiled over.

The Marine spinning records that day was Pfc. Alexander Jenkins Jr., a 19-year-old from Newport News, Va., whose outgoing personality had earned him a turn as the ship’s D.J. During tedious weeks at sea, music was one way to pass the time, but while Black Marines listened to songs by white artists with no complaints, some white service members were not so open in their tastes. Jenkins quickly found himself under verbal attack from white sergeants and officers — part of a campaign of harassment and poor treatment that included mess cooks intentionally handing him and his friends cold and inedible food, surprise uniform inspections and capricious punishments from noncommissioned officers. Eventually, it escalated to Black and white Marines physically fighting each other on a ship at sea.

Jenkins kept playing the newest records and tapes he could find by Black artists, many of which reflected the antiwar and Black-liberation movements happening at home, alongside country and western albums and hits by the Beatles. “I was playing ‘What’s Going On’ by Marvin Gaye, and I was playing ‘Bring the Boys Home’ by Freda Payne,” Jenkins recalls. “But playing ‘White Man’s Got a God Complex’ by the Last Poets really set the white guys off.”

Jenkins remembers being pulled into a small room on the ship and questioned by a group of higher-ranking white Marines about the Harlem-based hip-hop pioneers’ spoken-word song, which touched on poverty, prostitution, drugs, the military-industrial complex, white supremacy and the killings of Native Americans and Blacks. They accused Jenkins of playing music that would incite a riot. “If you don’t have a God complex, then this doesn’t apply to you, now does it?” Jenkins told them. “But if you do have a God complex, then you’ve got to listen,” he added. A white Marine captain jumped out of his chair so forcefully that it flipped over. “You think you’re so smart, don’t you?” the Marine screamed in Jenkins’s face. “I’m sorry, sir. I really don’t understand,” Jenkins countered. “It’s a damn record, OK? It’s got a nice beat.” Jenkins was incensed, but he decided against pushing things much further. “I didn’t want to get shot without a trial,” he recalled. Despite Jenkins’s attempt to keep tensions from escalating, relations between white and Black Marines aboard the Sumter were about to get much worse.

Put into service just two years earlier, the Sumter steamed off the coast of Vietnam with more than 150 Marines from a hodgepodge of different units from the American bases on Okinawa, Japan. Among them were Black servicemen who had been pushed to become truck drivers or infantry troops because of racial bias in assessment tests. They were part of a quick-reaction force that could be put ashore anywhere along the coast to fight the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army should the need arise. Until that time, though, they waited.

Even as the Marine Corps publicly announced efforts to reduce racist attacks within the ranks, harassment, mistreatment and violence against Blacks was commonplace and accepted, both in the United States (on bases like Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where the Ku Klux Klan posted a billboard reading “This Is Klan Country” on a nearby highway) and on its outposts in Okinawa and elsewhere. The more besieged the Black Marines on the Sumter felt, the tighter they drew together for mutual support and protection. But such security was ephemeral. Jenkins and two of his close friends were about to have their young lives upended by an incident that was hardly reported and remained almost invisible to the public. The three Marines became little more than statistics in the Corps’s dismal record of race relations in the Vietnam era.

Trouble had already flared up in July outside the gates of the U.S. Navy’s base in Subic Bay, Philippines, during a port call. There, in the town of Olongapo, sailors and Marines availed themselves of every kind of vice in the de facto racially segregated entertainment district. Black Marines and sailors tended to hang out in a neighborhood called the Jungle, while their white counterparts had the run of the bars and brothels elsewhere. An investigation by the director of naval intelligence mentioned “racial incidents” between whites and Blacks during Sumter’s port visit there, where fistfights in the streets and bars were not unusual. Sailors and Marines used the port visit to bring a fresh supply of marijuana and heroin onto the ship for some diversion during long days at sea.

Back on the ship, white officers harassed Black Marines for minor infractions involving their hair and uniforms. Tight quarters left little room for the men to blow off steam, and small routine squabbles soon escalated. The ship’s radio station — the loudspeaker system Jenkins played music on in the evenings — was one of the few sources of entertainment, and now even that became a point of contention.

Days after Jenkins was reprimanded, larger and more intense fights among the Marines broke out. There are varying accounts of what happened and why. Black and white Marines alike recall that a series of fistfights throughout the deployment increased in frequency in the early days of September on Sumter. In interviews with The Times, a half-dozen sailors and Marines who were on the Sumter recalled these fights — some started by whites, others by Blacks. The Marines’ leadership, however, zeroed in on Jenkins, along with Pfc. Roy L. Barnwell and Lance Cpl. James S. Blackwell, as the “ringleaders” who were instigating general unrest and resistance to their orders.

After Jenkins was told he couldn’t play the Last Poets, 64 of the 65 Black Marines on the ship submitted an informal complaint to the highest-ranking Marine officer on board, Capt. John B. Krueger, according to an account written a few months afterward by the defense team that Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell soon needed. In their note, the Black Marines told Krueger that they were being denied the right to play their own music. “Being that races are different in certain aspects, and music being one,” it read, “then the proper officials must make way as to the satisfaction of each and every race regardless of minority.” The Marines then submitted a request for a formal meeting with their battalion commander, who was located on another ship nearby. It was denied, further inflaming interactions between the men on board.

Tense conditions and simmering violence are detailed in the 1973 account written by the legal team. White noncommissioned officers prowled the berthing areas, harassing Black Marines. And when they talked back, they were formally punished. One white lieutenant is said to have had a Black Marine thrown into the ship’s brig — a jail with barred cells — and fed only bread and water for three days for nothing more than not having his uniform completely in order. The same officer returned to the brig to further harass and physically beat the man, according to the legal team’s account. In three separate incidents, one Black Marine had a wrench thrown at him, another was cut with a sharp object and a third was attacked with a knife, though those incidents were never investigated by Marine leadership.

Joe Mueller, a white Marine officer who was then a second lieutenant on his first deployment, remembers differently. In an interview, he recalled Black Marines testing the limits of discipline in a number of ways, including humming the tune of “White Man’s Got a God Complex” as a form of protest. On duty as the officer of the day on Sept. 7, he heard a verbal disagreement outside the mess decks that quickly escalated into the smacking sounds of fists. Somebody hit the switch that flipped the overhead lights from nighttime red to bright white, and everyone froze. Among the dozen or more men involved in the fight, Mueller says, he saw three Black Marines — Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell — standing over a white Marine. Forty-eight years later, Jenkins has no recollection of this particular incident.

Another fight between Black and white Marines broke out the next day on the ship’s tank deck at lunchtime. First Lt. Al Vargas, the commander of the embarked infantry company, remembers being struck in his side as he dove in to help break up the melee. He then ordered all of the men under his command back to their bunks. That’s when Krueger, two first lieutenants, a gunnery sergeant and a staff sergeant came to arrest Jenkins. Jenkins doesn’t deny that he was involved in this fight, but his memory isn’t clear on the details. “I don’t think I hit him, but I’m the one they arrested for it,” Jenkins says.

A twin-rotor CH-46 helicopter landed on the Sumter, loaded at least six Marines — Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell among them — and flew off. A Marine officer assured the ship’s leaders that the “troublemakers,” the oldest of whom was 22 years old, would face discipline elsewhere. For Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell, the days and weeks that followed would have lasting repercussions on the rest of their lives.

The helicopter put the men ashore in Vietnam. In Danang, Jenkins recalled, a colonel sat him down in a room and accused him of either being a communist or a part of the Black power movement. Jenkins was mystified, pointing out that he had volunteered for the Marine Corps, and being on a ship in the middle of the Pacific, he had no telephone and no possible communication with either group. “I said, ‘Sir, this is what’s going on: We’re being treated unfairly. Black men are getting written up for the length of our hair, and harassed about our uniforms.’”

Jenkins says that all the Marines on the ship wanted to go ashore and fight the Viet Cong, but now, without any other outlets, they were fighting each other. “I got to love and trust that guy next to me,” Jenkins told the colonel. “And I’m not going to fight the enemy with him if he doesn’t like Black people.”

The incidents on the Sumter led the Marine Corps to charge Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell with mutiny, for which they could have faced the death penalty if found guilty. It was the first time since the Civil War that American sailors or Marines had been charged with mutiny at sea, according to two people who worked on the case in 1973. They were also charged with various counts of assault, riot and resisting arrest. Although two white Marines initially were charged with assault and one with inciting to riot, all three were acquitted. Only one white Marine, Sgt. Gary L. Wright, was convicted of any crime: dereliction of duty for having “refereed” a fight between Barnwell and a white Marine rather than breaking it up, but he received no punishment. The case did not attract wide public attention, though it was one of many that revealed the institutional racial biases that held strong across the American military decades after the armed forces were desegregated.

Incidents like what happened on the Sumter were common on military bases and warships around the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s — a reflection of what was happening more broadly as the civil rights movement gained traction across the United States. Pervasive mistreatment of Black inmates in base stockades — essentially military jails — sparked riots in 1968 and 1969 at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Carson in Colorado, Fort Dix in New Jersey, Fort Riley in Kansas, Camp Pendleton in California and at Long Binh and Danang in Vietnam. In May 1971, a fight between hundreds of Black and white airmen at Travis Air Force Base in California resulted in the officers’ club being burned to the ground.

Camp Lejeune in North Carolina saw some of the most vicious and persistent fighting between Black and white Marines in 1969. On Jul. 20, three white Marines were hospitalized — one with stab wounds to the back — after 44 Marines fought it out on base one white Marine later died from his injuries. The commanding officer of the Second Marine Division there called it an isolated incident, but his Army counterpart at the 82nd Airborne at nearby Fort Bragg recognized the seriousness of the problem, saying “my men will not sink to the level of the Marines at Camp Lejeune.” A 1971 report by the Congressional Black Caucus laid out the issues in stark relief, saying “subtle racism” had “crippled and impaired the effectiveness of American troops” and observed that “the explosiveness which prevails is made more serious by the amazing fact that many of those in command positions on all levels refuse to realize that even in a relatively controlled society as the military racism can and does exist.”

Just a month after the Sumter fights, a riot aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, a tense sit-down strike on the carrier U.S.S. Constellation, and a beating on the supply ship U.S.N.S. Hassayampa made national headlines and moved the military to investigate the broader source of the unrest. Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, the Navy’s top admiral, ordered an investigation into racial strife. The resulting report found that from July 10 to Nov. 5, 1972, a total of 318 race-related incidents were documented at major Marine Corps installations and that nearly half of those took place on two of the service’s bases in Okinawa, where Jenkins, Blackwell, Barnwell and the rest of the Marines aboard the Sumter had come from. Despite these findings, there would be little accountability among leaders for the racial injustices that were festering within the ranks.

The House Armed Services Committee, led by the staunch segregationist F. Edward Hébert of Louisiana, immediately ordered an investigation of the events aboard the two carriers. The Sumter incident was not included. On Jan. 2, 1973, the subcommittee issued its report, placing all of the blame on Black sailors it called “thugs” and deemed to be mostly of “below-average mental capacity.” It further blamed the programs Zumwalt had instituted to eradicate systemic racism within the Navy for creating a culture of “permissiveness” instead of taking a strict law-and-order approach with Black sailors and Marines.

“The idea of this committee was to show that these equal-opportunity programs were fomenting racial unrest,” said the Navy historian John Sherwood. “The congressmen felt the reforms were the problem, and hopefully Zumwalt would be fired, his programs abolished and the Navy would go back to the way it was in the 1950s.”

Sherwood notes that Hébert was part of a broad coalition of Southern segregationists in Congress — two of whom, Representative Carl Vinson of Georgia and Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi, the Navy later named aircraft carriers for — that had a great deal of influence on the Navy, and by extension, the Marine Corps, in the pre-Zumwalt era. For members of Congress like Hébert, Vinson and Stennis, the civil rights movement was an existential threat to the established order.

Zumwalt held onto his job, retiring in 1974. In the years that followed, his successor continued his efforts on racial equity, but over time the attention to reform petered out. The services have made progress in adding Black and female officers, but have largely failed to place people of color into leadership roles at the very top, which in 2020 are still almost entirely filled by white men. Recently the service chiefs announced a new round of task forces devoted to stamping out structural racism. “We must work to identify and eliminate individual and systemic racism within our force,” the Navy’s top uniformed officer, Adm. Mike Gilday, said in June, adding that the new program would “work to identify and remove racial barriers and improve inclusion within our Navy.” But even as these top-down initiatives are being put into place, experts are repeatedly warning of white supremacy in the ranks.

Back on the ship, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Alexander Holmes of Brooklyn realized that Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell were in real trouble. He felt that if things on the Sumter quieted down completely, the Marine leadership would think that those three were the only problem. “I wanted to keep the tension up,” Holmes recalls.

Holmes was joined by Pfc. Harry R. Wilson and Pfc. Charles S. Ross in trying to keep the heat off their friends who had just been flown off the ship. Holmes passed out butter knives to other Black Marines while on the mess deck at mealtime, just so the white Marines would know that things had not smoothed over. “I knew from listening to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. that the oppressor always feels like when they cut the head off the snake that things will go back to normal,” Holmes says. “But we wanted them to know that, no, the tension is still here.”

It was only when Holmes disembarked the ship in Okinawa in October that he learned that he too was in trouble. He was shown 20 to 25 witness statements from white Marines recounting the incident with the butter knives. Holmes readily admitted what happened and expressed regret. “This white Marine lawyer sits me down and says if I just blame everything on Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell, I’d be home for Christmas,” Holmes said. “He knew I was supposed to be out of the Marine Corps in November anyway, so he was just trying to get me to flip on my friends.” Holmes refused. The Marines eventually dropped their charges of incitement against Holmes, and he flew to Naval Station Treasure Island in San Francisco in February 1973, collected his honorable-discharge paperwork and returned to Brooklyn to begin college.

Back in their jail cells on Okinawa, Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell awaited the arrival of a lawyer from the States. One of Blackwell’s cousins in Chicago got the attention of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, who promised to send a defense attorney. They tapped Ed Bell, a young Oakland-based lawyer who planned to catch a military cargo flight to meet his clients in Okinawa. After informing a Marine officer in nearby Alameda that he intended to spread word of the Black liberation movement among the troops in Okinawa upon his arrival, Bell was told by Marine officials that all charges against Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell had been dropped. Bell took them at their word, turned around and went home. But it was a lie.

The three Marines in Okinawa were never told why the lawyer promised to them never arrived, and they came to rely on a free legal clinic in Koza, outside of Kadena Air Base, where Bart Lubow, a 25-year-old civilian from Long Island, N.Y., worked as a legal assistant. Along with the lawyers Bill Schaap and Doug Sorensen, the legal assistants Ellen Ray and Lubow helped Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell mount a defense during the military’s equivalent of a grand jury hearing. It was Lubow who wrote the near-contemporaneous account of the clashes on the ship. That record, which he shared with The Times, details a military justice system on Okinawa rife with racial animus that disproportionately punished Black Marines, even for noncrimes like dapping, or for showing a closed-fist gesture among other Black service members.

Jenkins denies that he, Barnwell and Blackwell were ringleaders, saying instead that they were perhaps three of the most visible Black Marines who challenged senior leaders for mistreating them on the Sumter. “I think I was singled out not just for the music, but because I was the most boisterous,” Jenkins recalls. “We held classes on Black history on the ship, and I would talk to the other Black Marines about nonviolent resistance.” That didn’t matter. The response the Black Marines received to their organizing, Jenkins said, was violence.

Jenkins, Barnwell and Blackwell, who spent months in the brig in Okinawa, became known as the “Sumter Three” in the Black and underground G.I. newspapers that covered their case. The former Marine lawyer David Nelson recalls that the matter consumed the entire legal office on Okinawa for months. With Schaap and Sorensen pushing for exoneration and the Marine Corps not eager for more bad publicity, the prosecutor eventually felt pressured to resolve the case. The mutiny charges were dropped and eventually the other charges were too, in exchange for the three Marines accepting unfavorable administrative separations in lieu of courts-martial. The outcome could have been much worse. The prosecutor had been pushing for 65 years of prison for each man, with Blackwell facing an additional charge of slander for calling his commanding officer a racist. Jenkins received a general discharge under honorable conditions — a discharge status that is not considered fully honorable and denies veterans certain government benefits — and Lubow recalls that Barnwell and Blackwell each received an “undesirable discharge,” which is another step worse than the one Jenkins received.

Between 1950 and 1980, 1.5 million service members received less than fully honorable discharges, often referred to as “bad paper” discharges, through administrative separations — with racial bias often playing a role in those decisions. In 1972, a Department of Defense task force found that Black service members “received a higher proportion of general and undesirable discharges than whites of similar aptitude and education.” That same year, the rate of service members being discharged with general or other-than-honorable discharges from the Marine Corps was 13 percent — the highest percentage of all of the services. (While the military has taken some steps to rectify racial disparities within its ranks, people of color continue to suffer disproportionately under the military justice system. As recently as 2015, Black service members were “substantially more likely than white service members to face military justice or disciplinary action,” according to the legal justice group Protect Our Defenders.)

The consequences of less than fully honorable discharges are lifelong. Numerous studies have found higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse and suicide among veterans with bad paper. The 1972 task force, which even then called for greater protections of service members’ “fundamental rights,” argued that the issuance of bad paper to a veteran “will haunt him forever: affecting the respect of his family, his standing in the community, impeding his effort to regain a productive and meaningful role in society. The bad discharge is a constant reinforcement of a negative self-image, a reminder that the individual is ‘unsuitable, unfit or undesirable’ in the eyes of his country.” With that stigma, the Sumter Three were all but guaranteed a life of hardship without reprieve.

Upon being released from Okinawa, Jenkins briefly returned to live with his mother and father in Virginia, but feeling that he had outgrown his hometown, he moved to Detroit, where he stayed with his sister and enrolled in college. Using the G.I. Bill to fund his education, he started in the pre-med program at Wayne State University but soon found himself interested in the new up-and-coming technology of computer programming. He married, and when he had a family to support, he left school in favor of getting a full-time job as a truck driver. But Jenkins had trouble sleeping and suffered from depression, paranoia and frequent anxiety attacks that developed after he returned home from Japan. For self-defense, he bought an AR-15 for $500, similar to the M16 he carried in the Marines. One night he fired it at a thief who tried to steal a barbecue from his yard. The experience so shook Jenkins that he sold the rifle for almost half of what he paid, just to get it out of his house. “I felt besieged by the system,” Jenkins says, “because the system was always trying to get me, on something.”

In Detroit’s withering economy, jobs came and went — but sometimes the layoffs were unexplained, in ways that suggested that employers were acting out of racial bias or had found out about his discharge from the Marines. In one case, after excelling as a computer programmer for a bank and earning promotions, Jenkins was called in one day and terminated, with no explanation other than an ominous hint that they had found out something about his past. The stress and frustration grew over decades, leading to an emotional collapse at age 38 that left him briefly hospitalized.

James Blackwell also struggled when he got home. His sister Linda Page puts it bluntly: “When he got out he was a total mess.” In one of Page’s spare bedrooms, he kicked the heroin habit he brought back with him, but he continued to drink heavily. In 1994, at 43 years old, he died suddenly of an aneurysm right outside the Cook County Circuit Courthouse in Chicago. Page says Blackwell worked for the Yellow Pages delivering telephone books and made money as an alley mechanic on the side. She recalls him talking about his time on Okinawa awaiting his court-martial. “They kept him in a shed, and he could only see from peeking out through the cracks,” she says. “He had real bad PTSD.”

Barnwell seems to have fared even worse. His sister Patricia Gorman says Barnwell lived in San Diego after leaving the Marine Corps, frequently moving from one apartment to another. But she only learned that from him much later: When he returned from Okinawa, he didn’t contact his family for more than 25 years. He got in touch in 1998, and she bought him a round-trip train ticket to visit her in Choctaw County, Ala., where they grew up. It was the first time she saw him since he went away to boot camp in 1970. It was soon apparent that he wasn’t about to make himself at home there. Encountering slow service at a restaurant run by white people, he suspected racism and wasn’t quiet about it. On a different day, he was pulled over by the police while driving. After that visit, he never went back to Alabama. In 2001, Barnwell called Gorman to say the cancer he had once beaten was back and he might have H.I.V. Public records indicate Barnwell died April 9, 2001, in Los Angeles of complications from AIDS. His family was never notified of his death, and after 90 days, his remains were cremated and his ashes interred in a mass grave for unclaimed bodies in Los Angeles County.

Jenkins still lives in Detroit, where he has quietly spent the last four decades distancing himself from what happened on the Sumter, while still maintaining a fierce pride in having been a Marine. Jenkins had wanted to join the Corps since he was very young, and studied its history before joining at age 17. He initially hoped to make the military a career, but quickly chafed against systemic racism in the service. “I was full of piss and vinegar back then,” Jenkins says. “I look back to my 19-year-old self and think, What the hell was I thinking?”

He says the only thing that saved him was some advice he got from his uncle, John A. Jenkins, a Korean War combat vet, when he first got home from Okinawa. “I was mad as hell, angry at the world then,” Jenkins says. “He drove it into me that if the cops stop you, that’s their chance to mess you up. It’s almost like coming to America as a foreigner: You have to learn the rules as a Black man to survive. You have to know what to do and what not to do.” Jenkins set out on the straight and narrow, opting out of joints passed around at parties and being meticulous about observing traffic laws. He says he has been pulled over by the police only once or twice since 1973.

After his brief hospitalization in 1991, Jenkins stopped working outside his home and devoted himself to helping his wife, Jerry, advance in her career, and shepherding his daughter, Tanzania, through school to a successful life as a systems engineer. Being charged with mutiny at sea in a time of war shattered Jenkins emotionally — and readily brought tears 48 years later as he discussed it. “I’ve been a recluse all these years, because I didn’t want these questions asked, and didn’t want to talk about it,” Jenkins says. About 15 years ago, he joined a local V.F.W. post to try to meet people. “Most of the guys were Korea and World War II guys who carried these same issues,” Jenkins says. It became difficult for him to keep going back, because so many appeared to be drinking themselves to death.

As Jenkins slowly rebuilt his life, he lost track of the only two people who truly understood what happened to him: Barnwell and Blackwell. Jenkins only just learned of their deaths. “I was hoping that at least one of the two of them would be in a stable situation and be able to be here now,” Jenkins says. “That’s why I feel so alone, you know. I feel very — almost guilty about this situation that neither of those two are here.”

While most days are better, Jenkins struggled with thoughts of suicide as recently as 10 years ago. On days when his mind goes back to the Sumter, his wife can tell, because he falls quiet for hours at a time. “That situation on the Sumter screwed up my whole life,” Jenkins says. “I had to put on a different face to the world just to survive.”


US Marines carrying generator, Rendova - History

The Munda Drive and the Fighting Ninth

Elements of four Marine defense battalions played an important part in the Central Solomons campaign. Attached to the XIV Corps to support of the attack on Munda Point was the 9th Defense Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William J. Scheyer. The battalion was organized with an artillery group (Batteries A and B), a heavy antiaircraft group (Batteries C through F), a light antiaircraft group (Batteries G through I), and a headquarters and service battery The 9th Defense Battalion's participation in the Guadalcanal campaign from December 1942 had provided it needed experience, as the island was typical of conditions to be found in the Central Solomons. Some Marines from the light antiaircraft group were withdrawn from gun crews to train with the battalion's tank platoon for tank-infantry operations. The greatest challenge in preparing for the campaign was Lieutenant Colonel Archie E. O'Neil's conversion of his seacoast artillery into a field artillery unit, at the same time absorbing 145 new men into the group. This was accomplished in 22 days, a feat that Admiral Halsey complimented.

One of the major equipment changes for the campaign was the acquisition of 155mm guns as replacements for the older M1918 French Grande Puissance Filloux (GPF) guns. The battalion exchanged 90mm guns with the Army 70th Coast Artillery Battalion, giving the antiaircraft group new guns. High-speed and standard dual-mounts for 20mm guns were also obtained. These were adapted by the 9th from 37mm gun mounts, giving the light antiaircraft group greatly increased mobility by replacing the stationary naval single-mounts. The 9th Defense Battalion obtained additional .30-caliber heavy, water-cooled machine guns, and trained the battalion band to employ them with Headquarters and Service Battery. The battalion acquired three Landing Vehicle Tracked Alligator amphibious tractors for the operation, and then was augmented by a whole amphibious tractor platoon of nine vehicles from the 3d Marine Division.

This picture gives a clear view of the beach congestion that plagued the landing of the artillery group with its 155mm guns. At right is a .50-caliber antiaircraft gun of the Special Weapons Group. Marine Corps Historical Collection

The antiaircraft group of the 9th Defense Battalion moves ashore at Rendova. Here a TD9 tractor pulls a 90mm gun from an LST. The TD9 tractor would soon prove too light to move through the muddy terrain beyond the beach. Marine Corps Historical Collection

On 27 June 1943, the battalion consisted of a total of 1,459 officers and men, reinforced with additional personnel from the 3d Marine Division and I Marine Amphibious Corps. Most of these Marines had been on Guadalcanal for seven months. At one time or another, 40 percent of them had malaria and the debilitating effects of the tropics had been felt by the entire unit. But the 9th was a well-trained, experienced unit, outfitted with the best equipment then available to Marine defense battalions. In the words of Lieutenant Colonel Scheyer, "the prospect of closing with the enemy was all that was needed to supply morale."

The first Japanese aircraft shot down from the beach was credited to this gun crew on its first day ashore. From the left are 1stLt William A. Buckingham, PFC Francis W O'Brien, Cpl Paul V. Duhamel, and PFC Nemo Hancock, Jr., of the 9th Defense Battalion. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 56812

On 29 June, the 9th Defense Battalion was attached to XIV Corps for the duration of the New Georgia operation. The battalion was given the mission assisting in the capture, occupation, and defense of Rendova Island, by landing on the beaches south of Renard Channel entrance. Here it was to move immediately into position to provide antiaircraft defense. A third mission was to fire 155mm guns on the enemy installations, bivouac areas, and the airfield at Munda. As a fourth task, the tank platoon would support the attack on Munda Airfield. Fifth, the battalion would be prepared to repel attack by hostile surface vessels. When the Japanese forces on New Georgia Island were overrun, the battalion would then move as a whole or in part to Munda to defend the field when Allied air units moved in and began operating. All these assigned tasks reflected the battalion's varied capabilities.

A 40mm gun and crew look skyward for Japanese aircraft as the XIV Corps landing continues. Landing Craft Infantry (LCIs) are run up on the beach in the background, as working parties unload them by hand. Marine Corps Historical Collection

Lieutenant Colonel Scheyer said on leaving Guadalcanal that the Japanese "have a mistaken notion that they must die for their Emperor and our job is to help them do that just as fast as we possibly can." At 1600 on 29 June, the 9th's first echelon, 28 officers and 641 enlisted Marines, combat loaded on board the USS Libra (AK-53) and USS Algorab (AK-25), the vessels assigned to transport the battalion, and sailed from Guadalcanal. At Munda, a Japanese defender observed that a "blue signal flare from Rendova Point went up. I saw four enemy warships . . . this morning, rain clouds hovered over us. At Rendova, four cruisers, three destroyers, eight transports and countless numbers of boats appeared."

At 0635 the morning of 30 June, the first units of the XIV Corps' assault wave began landing on Kokorana Island and East Beach of Rendova. They were met by Coastwatcher Flight Lieutenant D. C. Horton and guides from the amphibious reconnaissance patrols.

Both on Kokorana and on Rendova, lead elements of the 9th found themselves landing ahead of the assault forces, meeting only light resistance. The battalion band soon took out an enemy machine gun position. Major Robert C. Hiatt's reconnaissance party from the artillery group killed another enemy soldier, who was said to have been stripped of souvenirs before hitting the ground. The defenders with drew inland to harass the Americans from the hills and swamps.

Throughout the day, enemy air attacks were turned back by friendly fighters. Allied fighters over the area on 30 June reportedly destroyed over 100 enemy aircraft. One attack by Japanese float planes got through to strike at the naval task force and damaged Admiral Turner's flagship, USS McCawley (AP 10), so heavily that it had to be sunk that night by a PT boat. At 1600, a lone Mitsubishi A6M Zeke fighter strafed the beach without causing any damage and was driven off by defense battalion ma chine gun fire, without causing damage. Both the Algorab and Libra were unloaded with the assistance of the 24th Naval Construction Battalion. The 24th, and other Seabee units, supported the 9th in unloading cargo and moving equipment and contributed materially to the general success of the battalion on those first days and the battalion was "in their debt." On the first day of landing, Battery E of the Antiaircraft Group set up on Kokorana and was prepared to fire by 1645 all Special Weapons Group light antiaircraft guns landed and were emplaced along the coast to protect the XIV Corps' beachhead sites were located for the 155mm and the remaining 90mm batteries. Battery demolition crews ventured near and into enemy territory to blast out fields of fire for the gun positions.

Weather and terrain made unloading and emplacement extremely difficult for XIV Corps, the 43d Infantry Division, and the 9th Defense Battalion. Torrential rains began on 30 June and continued almost without cessation, rendering what passed for roads impassable and causing great congestion on the beaches as men and supplies came ashore. Areas believed suitable for occupation proved to be swampy. Steel matting and corduroy roads constructed with coconut logs were utilized, but even these were ineffective. Tanks, guns, and vehicles of all types mired down in the incredible mud and only the sturdiest tractors or manpower extricated them. The congestion of supplies on the beachhead rendered them and the troops moving them selves and the supplies inland vulnerable to enemy air attack.

The 'Green Dragon' Landing Ship, Tank

Amphibious warfare in the Pacific required ships A with ocean-going capabilities that could also be "beached" in the course of landing operations. This requirement was met with the design and production of the Landing Ship, Tank (LST) that was used in combat for the first time in the Central Solomons, where it earned its nickname because of a camouflage paint scheme. There were 1,052 LSTs built during World War II for the U.S. Navy, with minor differences between the various classes. The LSTs had elevators and deck ramps to connect the main deck and tank deck, providing for smaller landing craft to be transported on the main deck, and a conning tower added over the pilot house. They were armed with 40mm and 20mm antiaircraft guns in twin and single mounts. The LSTs displaced 1,653 tons, with a length of 328 feet, a beam of 50 feet, and were driven by General Motor diesels.

In many cases, 9th Defense Battalion equipment had to be dismantled and carried to assigned areas. The 9th's motor transport section performed as best it could with the resources available and until the majority of its vehicles burned out from the strain of operating in the Rendova muck. Their task was made easier by the amphibious tractors, which were the only sure means of transportation and these had troubles of their own as they threw off their tracks on uneven terrain. "Frances," "Tootsie," and "Gladys" were three amphibious tractors in the beach area manned by nine 3d Division Marines who operated continuously keeping supplies moving from position to position. All tractors were damaged eventually in the Japanese air attacks that followed.

The 9th Defense Battalion's second echelon arrived on LSTs (Landing Ships Tank) 395 and 354 and disembarked at Rendova on l July as Allied fighter cover continued to turn back enemy air attacks. Joseph J. Pratl with Battery A, which came in on LST 354, wrote the ship was "big and slow moving, loaded with ammunition of every description. Unloading was done quickly, 155mm guns and their tractors soon made mud and made a slime which made walking around difficult to say the least." By the end of the day, Captain Henry H. Reichner's Battery A was in firing position. A third battalion echelon arrived in LSTs 342 and 398 and disembarked on 2 July. That morning Captain Walter C. Well's Battery B was emplaced and Battery A commenced shelling enemy positions in the Munda area. On 3 July, both batteries of "Long Toms" fired for effect on the Munda airfield and enemy artillery positions on Baanga Island. At Munda a defender wrote, "They must be firing like the dickens. Sometimes they all come at once. I don't exactly appreciate this shelling."

Supplies are landed by XIV Corps for ComAir New Georgia. The terrain behind the beach did not allow for rapid movement and for the dispersal of supplies which soon piled up at an unmanageable rate and became extremely vulnerable to Japanese attack. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 60590

The combat experience of the 9th paid dividends, especially during the first week ashore. The Marines knew how to dig in for air attacks and this saved lives. At 1335, 2 July, 18 Mitsubishi G4M Betty bombers and Zeke fighter escorts entered the area from the southwest and pattern-bombed the beachhead, causing considerable damage and many casualties. Zero fighters flew over the beach area at tree-top level, strafing and bombing the beach and landing craft. Gasoline storage tanks and an explosives dump were hit and several fires were started in the area. Battery A's Pratl recounted, "we saw the bombers, we assumed them to be American B㬕s. We hit foxholes and the earth shook like a rubber band as three bombs fell" near his battery.

Sailors and soldiers make a corduroy road from coconut logs across an exceptionally muddy spot. Marine Corps Historical Collection

A 155mm Long Tom is dragged through the mud of Rendova en route to a new position from which it could punish Japanese positions and at the same time defend against Japanese counterattacks. Marine Corps Historical Collection

Capt Henry H. Reichner's Battery A loads its Long Toms on an LCT to move to Piru Plantation from Tambusolo Island. These moves were staggered to provide continuous artillery support during this phase and were carried out with speed and efficiency. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 60656

On board a beached landing ship, tank, Francis E. Chadwick, of Battery B, was hauling ammunition for a Navy 40mm antiaircraft gun when the "LST was showered in water. You could feel the heat from the bombs. The noise was deafening." Army and Navy units suffered the most from lack of preparation and the area around the landing beach became known as "Suicide Point."

Four 9th Defense Battalion men were killed, one was missing, and 22 were wounded as a result of the raid. Damage to the battalion included two 155mm guns hit, two 40mm guns hit, three amphibious tractors hit, one TD18 tractor demolished, and an unknown amount of supplies and personal gear destroyed. One bomb landed between the trail legs of one 155mm gun in Battery A, but failed to detonate. This put the gun out of action until the bomb was excavated, pulled clear, and detonated. That day, the battalion bomb disposal teams successfully removed or destroyed a total of 9 bombs and 65 unexploded projectiles of 105mm or larger (Over 9,000 pieces of smaller enemy or damaged friendly ordnance were recovered by the end of the campaign by these teams). Some light antiaircraft guns fired at the raiding planes, but downed none. The damage caused by this attack was due in part to the lack of working surveillance radar, and friendly fighter cover had been withdrawn because of weather. The battalion's SCR270 and 516 radars had not yet been installed and the E Battery SCR268 radar had been fueled with diesel from a drum marked "gasoline," putting it out of action at the time of the attack.

The Japanese struck back hard at the New Georgia invasion force with bombers and fighters. Allied combat air patrols shot down many of the enemy, but some got through to damage Marine positions on Rendova. This area became known as "Suicide Point" after fuel and explosives dumps were hit during the 2 July 1943 raid. Marine Corps Historical Collection

Behind a revetment of sandbags and coconut logs, this 9th Defense Battalion crew manning a 90mm antiaircraft gun keeps vigilant watch against Japanese air attacks on positions at the beach at Rendova. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 60624

Earning special credit during this period were the battalion's attached Navy corpsmen and doctors, who performed their work in the midst of enemy raids and under the most trying conditions. Besides caring for the 9th's casualties at the battalion aid station set up on the exposed East Beach of Rendova, battalion surgeon Lieutenant Commander Miles C. Krepelas treated many Navy wounded, and Army troops returning from New Georgia who could not locate their own medical detachments.


How Women Fought Their Way Into the U.S. Armed Forces

“Why be behind when you could be in front?” an unnamed woman, newly promoted to Army private, asked the Army Times’ Meghann Myers in 2017. She was one of the first women to join the U.S. Army’s infantry, undergoing grueling training along with male recruits and preparing for the realities of combat.

Seventy years before, the thought of a woman training for active combat would have been unthinkable. Though women had just served as active members of the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II, they were in the process of leaving the military.

This was the norm after war—only women nurses were allowed to serve in the military during peacetime, and the hundreds of thousands of women who had served their country during World War II were expected to walk away from their military service and rejoin civilian life. But in 1948, that all changed when women took an essential first step toward becoming equal members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Women have always had a role in the United States’ military conflicts, from the prostitutes who followed the Continental Army, to washerwomen and medical caregivers in the Revolutionary War to Civil War nurses who presided over massive hospitals and worked to feed and clothe soldiers. But only during World War I could women who were not nurses enlist in the armed forces during wartime. Though most women still served in a voluntary capacity, a select few were hired by different military branches and put to work in clerical positions.

Members of the US Army Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), 1942. (Credit: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Then, World War II created an unprecedented need for soldiers𠅊nd dramatically changed the military’s non-combat ranks. In an effort to free up men to fight on the front lines, the armed forces recruited women for non-combat positions like linguists, weather forecasters and telephone operators.

At first, the Army only accepted women on an auxiliary, temporary basis through the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). But as the war continued, recruiting became more difficult. “Higher paying jobs in civilian industry, unequal benefits with men, and attitudes within the Army itself—which had existed as an overwhelmingly male institution from the beginning—were factors,” the U.S. Army notes.

In an attempt to stop the bleeding, Congress, urged on by U.S. Representative Edith Nourse Rogers, decided to allow women to actually enlist in the Army of the United States (essentially the reserves). With the creation of the Women’s Army Corps, or WAC, in 1943, women could now attain military rank and serve overseas. Meanwhile, the WAAC stayed active, too. Women served in record numbers in both branches, performing their duties with distinction. WACs received the same pay, benefits and rank as their male counterparts other military branches followed suit with groups like the WAVES (U.S. Navy) and SPARS (U.S. Coast Guard).

But though women served valiantly in the war effort, their work was often stigmatized and mocked. Sexual harassment was common, as were implications that women had traded sexual favors for their military ranks. Rumors that the program was a Nazi plot to undermine the armed forces were common, and some men resented having to serve alongside women.


The Massive Floating Dry Docks of the Pacific Fleet That Could Carry Battleships and Aircraft Carriers You Never Heard About

The United States Navy, during World War 2, decided to create a temporary forward base utilizing service stations these stations meant the United States Navy could operate throughout the huge Pacific Ocean for more sustained amounts of time.

Creating these pretty much meant they could have a major naval base within a short distance of any operation carried out in the area. The base was able to repair resupply and refit, meaning fewer ships had to make the journey to a facility at a major port, which allowed them to remain in the Pacific for up to a year and beyond.

Columbia (CL-56) docked in Artisan ABSD-1

This was vitally important as if ships were damaged enough (either by storms in the area or damage from the enemy) they would usually have to travel thousands of miles to get to the United States naval base that could carry out essential repairs. The distance to the San Francisco base (the nearest United States naval base) was as far from their location as it would have been to sail from London, England to San Francisco.

These temporary bases provided ships with supplies, ranging from food, fuel, ordnance and other much-needed supplies. This meant that these stations were vital in terms of practical use to the United States Navy and their operations in the area.

USS Iowa at a floating drydock at Ulithi.

These stations were officially named Advance Base Sectional Docks (ABSDs) and were put together section by section. Each part was welded to the next once in their correct position.

There were two different sizes of floating docks created, the largest ones were created using ten sections and could lift 10,000 tons each – being 80 feet wide and 256 feet long. Once these sections were welded together, it became a fully assembled dock that was a whopping 133 feet wide, 827 feet long and could lift up to 90,000 tons.

This was more than enough lifting power for any ship within the Fleet.

SS Artisan (ABSD-1) with Antelope (IX-109) and LST-120 in the dock at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands, 8 January 1945

The smaller dock was put together using eight sections and could lift 8,000 tons each – being 101 feet wide and 204 feet long. Once the sections of the smaller dock were fitted together, it was capable of lifting a ship up to 120 feet wide, 725 feet long and 8,000 tons of weight.

The sections used in the creation of these docks were given the form of a rough hull this allowed the sections to be towed in place at a speed of 6-8 knots. The walls were capable of folding down so that they had resistance to the wind while being towed and helped to lower their center of gravity.

Columbia docked upon Artisan

Each dock had their own generator aboard (fueled by diesel) and quarters for the crew. Once fully assembled every dock had two cranes aboard, that could lift 15 tons these ran on specially placed rails that sat on top of the dock walls.

Enough sections were made during the War that three large and four small docks were able to be assembled. The very first one was complete within 1943 (at Noumea) and a second was being fitted by the end of the year at Espiritu Santo. The total capacity of the dry docks in the Navy by the end of 1943 was 723,000 tons.

AFDB-1 with West Virginia (BB-48) high and dry in the dock USS ABSD-2 at Manus, 12 October 1944 with USS Mississippi (BB-41) drydocked. As the dry-docks were displacement limited, as to their capacity, fuel, and sometimes ammunition had to be offloaded to “lighten ship”. In this instance, 700,000 gallons of fuel had to be offloaded in order to meet the lifting capacity of the dry-dock. USS Iowa at a floating dry dock at Ulithi. USS ABSD-2 at Manus, Admiralty Islands, date unknown A partly submerged ABSD allowing a battleship to sail in, the lifting capacity of the floating dry-docks is dramatically shown, but battleships had to have their ammunition and most of their fuel off-loaded before entering the dry-dock. USS South Dakota in an ASDB 4 LSTs in drydock for repairs Looking at an LST from inside the ASDB Tail end sticking out of the Dry Dock


Marines are testing boots that will prevent injuries

Posted On April 02, 2018 09:46:34

Marine Corps Systems Command’s Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad team has partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to create a boot insert prototype to help improve Marines’ health and performance.

The Mobility and Biomechanics Insert for Load Evaluation, or MoBILE, technology is handmade by the bioengineering staff members at Lincoln Labs with the Marine in mind. MoBILE helps to detect changes in mobility and agility, which will help MCSC make informed decisions on material composition and format of athletic and protective gear.

Marine Corps-MIT Partnership

The team has partnered with MIT since 2012 and coordinates the integration and modernization of everything that is worn, carried, used, or consumed by the Marine Corps rifle squad. It conducts systems engineering, and human factors and integration assessments on equipment from the perspective of the individual Marine.

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MIT Lincoln Labs is one of 10 federally funded research and development centers sponsored by the Defense Department. These centers assist the U.S. government with scientific research and analysis, systems development, and systems acquisition to provide novel, cost-effective solutions to complex government problems.

Load Sensors

MoBILE has flat, scale-like load sensors that are placed within the boot insole to measure the user’s weight during activities such as standing, walking, and running. The insert sensors are positioned in the heel, toe and arch, and they are capable of capturing data at up to 600 samples per second. When the sensors bend with the foot, the electronics register the bend as a change and send the information back to a master microcontroller for processing.

Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad members test the Mobility and Biomechanics Insert for Load Evaluation, or MoBILE, technology at Grafenwoehr, Germany, Oct. 27, 2016. Army photo by Spc. Nathanael Mercado

MoBILE will help users gauge how they are carrying the weight of their equipment and if their normal gait changes during activity, Balcius said. The sensor data provides information on stride, ground reaction forces, foot-to-ground contact time, terrain features, foot contact angle, ankle flexion, and the amount of energy used during an activity.

Ultimately, the sensors will provide operational data that will help Marines gather information on training and rehabilitation effectiveness, combat readiness impact, and route and mission planning optimization.

The Marine Corps is also testing its own version of a jungle combat boot. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

Technology Leads to Healthier Marines

“MoBILE has been compared to a force-sensitive treadmill which is a gold-standard laboratory measurement,” said Joe Lacirignola, technical staff member in the Bioengineering Systems and Technologies Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. “Because MoBILE has a high sampling rate, the accuracy does not degrade with faster walking or running speeds. In the future, this accurate data could help provide early detection of injuries, ultimately leading to healthier Marines.”

Balcius said MoBILE will be tested this summer in a controlled environment on multiple terrains during road marches and other prolonged training events over a variety of distances.

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US Marines carrying generator, Rendova - History

The Coast Guard During World War II

The Coast Guard's first major participation in the Pacific war was at Guadalcanal and Tulagi, the first major Allied offensive of the war. Here the service played an important part in the island landings. Nineteen of the 23 naval transports attached to the campaign's task force were either manned by the Coast Guard or carried Coast Guard members. The Coast Guard's primary role at Guadalcanal, and in almost every subsequent campaign, was to facilitate the landing of troops and supplies.


Coast Guardsmen and Marines unload supplies from the Coast Guard manned attack transport Hunter Liggett in the shadow of the battered Japanese freighter Kinugawa Maru.

The Coast Guard continued its supporting role as the Allies moved north and west from Guadalcanal. In June and July 1943, the Army and Marines made landings at several points on Rendova, New Georgia, and Vangunu islands. Five transports with partial Coast Guard crews participated in the month-long operation.

Vella Lavella, just 40 miles from New Georgia, was the next link in the chain to be attacked. It lay on the other side of the fortified and well-garrisoned island of Kolombangara. In a tactic repeated throughout the war, the Americans bypassed Kolombangara and landed on Vella Lavella.


Coast Guard landing craft and barges deliver supplies to a Guadalcanal beach in late-1942.

On Aug. 15, the partially-manned Coast Guard LST-334 and the fully-manned LST-167 participated in the landings. For weeks both assisted with the supply of the troops ashore.


Two near misses splash close aboard a Coast Guard manned LST on its way to the invasion of New Britain.

On Sept. 24, LST-167 departed Guadalcanal and beached at Ruravai, Vella Lavella. Three Japanese dive bombers appeared as the last piece of equipment rolled off the ship. The LST's twenty anti-aircraft guns blazed away at the three planes as they rolled into their attack. The planes released their bombs and as they pulled out of their dive, one burst into flame and another began trailing smoke.

Despite the accurate and intense anti-aircraft fire, two bombs struck the LST. One penetrated the main deck, exploded, and the blast blew through the side of the ship. A second also went through the main deck and exploded on the tank deck, setting fire to 1,000 gallons of gasoline and 250 drums of oil that had yet to be unloaded.

The explosions caused an intense and lethal fire and forced most of the crew to abandon ship. Two officers and eight men died in the attack and an additional five men were listed as missing.

It took a week for American and New Zealand troops to secure Vella Lavella. Meanwhile GEN Douglas MacArthur began to attack New Guinea, located about 500 miles west of the Soloman Islands. Amphibious landings during a three-day period put 14,000 troops ashore without a casualty. Four Coast Guard LSTs took part in the landings at Finschafen Sept. 22. The Coast Guard-manned LSTs beached, Australian troops aboard stormed ashore, and the LSTs retracted without serious incident. Finschafen fell into Allied hands in only 10 days.


The invasion of Bouganville commences.

Bouganville Island, 75 miles northwest of Vella Lavella and the most northwestern of the Solomon Island chain, was the Allies' next objective. The goal was to secure a portion of the island and build a base to strike at the Japanese stronghold of Rabaul. On Oct. 31, the amphibious forces assembled off Guadalcanal. Nine of the 11 transports attached to the operation had Coast Guardsmen aboard. The initial landing force consisted of more than 14,000 men.

The Coast Guard-manned Hunter Liggett (APA-14) served as the flagship of the amphibious forces and carried more than 1,800 men. On Nov. 1, the invasion force arrived off the island and the boats of the transports went into the water with incredible efficiency.

The Hunter Liggett led the transport column and opened fire on Cape Torokina with its 3-inch guns. With virtually no confusion, the first wave hit the beach about 40 minutes after the transports arrived.

In Empress Augusta Bay nearly 8,000 Marines went ashore in the first wave. Against light opposition, the men landed on 12 predetermined beaches that stretched for more than four miles. The steep beaches, combined with moderate surf, caused nearly 90 landing craft to broach or swamp. Over a period of a couple of weeks more than 33,000 men landed and 23,000 tons of supplies went ashore. Coast Guard-manned LSTs helped move supplies ashore and evacuate the wounded. By the end of the year the island was virtually in Allied hands.


Gun Crew

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