Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy 234th Birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps! - by Capt. Cari B. Thomas

I know that you all heard about last week’s tragic collision between a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft and a Marine Corps helicopter. Nine souls were lost… seven Guardians and two Marines. The C-130 crew was on a search and rescue mission, looking for a 12’ skiff lost off of Catalina Island in Southern California. The helicopter crew was on a training mission. Please keep the families and shipmates of these men and women in your prayers.

The Coast Guard and the Marine Corps have a long history and a strong relationship, in both time of war and at peace, in both good times and ones that challenge us, at home and abroad.
Since 1775, the Marines have proudly served our country. In 1797, Congress authorized the Revenue cutters to carry, in addition to their regular crew, up to "30 marines." Congress directed the cutters to interdict French privateers operating off the coast during the Quasi-War with France and thought the additional firepower of 30 marines would be needed by the under-manned and under-gunned cutters.

As the two smallest services, the Marines and Coast Guard share a unique bond. We help one another, in both war and peace. Our only Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Douglas Munro, died in the line of duty. In 1942 at the age of 22 as an E-6, he led a convoy of five boats to evacuate 500 Marines from Guadalcanal. His last words were, “Did they get off?” He died without knowing that his mission was a success.

I personally have served with Marines at several points in my career. In the mass Cuban exodus of 1994, Marines embarked on my ship helped the safety and security of the hundreds of migrants who crossed my deck.

At a joint command in Key West, I worked with Marines and all the various services in the counterdrug mission… using Department of Defense platforms to conduct detection and monitoring operations and embarking the Coast Guard to then do interdiction and apprehension.
At the Naval War College, two of my closest friends were Marines. One, a communications specialist and one an infantry man. Both began their careers as enlisted members of the Marines and both are in command positions now.

But probably the most influential Marine in my life was my Dad.

On the Marine Corps symbol are the Eagle, the Globe and the Anchor. My Dad was each of these to me. He gave me the confidence and drive to spread my own wings and serve my country. He helped show me new places and new things including the sea which is how I ended up in the Coast Guard eventually. And, he was my anchor. Anchors are used to help steady ships and hold them in place from danger in the roughest of seas and that is what he was for me.
These principles he learned from being a Marine. He served in Korea. He was killed in a car accident now almost 20 years ago and I still miss him. But I know he lives on through me and the things that he taught me. I am Semper Fi because of him.

Happy Birthday to the U. S. Marine Corps. Semper Fi, and Semper Paratus.


Marianne said...

Beautifully said Capt. Cari B Thomas,
My heart goes out to the immediate families of the lost 9 and their extended Marine and Coast Guard families. I love your reference of the Eagle, the Globe and the Anchor in regards to your father.

Diana said...


Ida said...

My prayers go out to those 9 lost and their families. May the good Lord give you strength at this time.

Denise and Brian said...

Our thoughts and prayers for the Guardians and Marines lost off Catalina. Thanks for sharing your strong story and the interwoven history of the two services. Best to you, Oscar-182, and the Guardians on this Veterans Day.

coastiewifejenna said...

Semper Fidelis