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June 23, 2012

Belleau Wood, June 1-26, 1918

Inscribed upon the Marine Corps War Memorial outside Arlington National Cemetery are the names of famous battles. One of them is "Belleau Wood", fought in World War I, this month, 94 years ago. They are carved into the base of the monument, along the top and etched with gold. You can walk right up and touch them. A few years ago I pressed my fingers into "Belleau Wood" in the WWI section of the memorial.


With the collapse of the Eastern front as Russia descended further into civil war, additional German forces were brought to the west to crush the Allies before the American forces could fully engage. The British 5th Army had been badly weakened in the north from two costly offensive operations. The German army pressed their advantage southward, against French and American forces, into the Marne. The US Army Second Division, with a brigade of US Marines, were brought up to halt the German advance.

Belleau Wood is where they were stopped in a desperate 26 day fight. US forces suffered over 9000 casualties, including almost 2,000 killed in action. The number of enemy casualties is not known. That single Marine brigade dug in with bayonets in shallow positions, and over the course of this battle repelled multiple German assaults, until the assaults ended, and Marine Major Maurice Shearer, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, reported "Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely."

After this victory, General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing is remembered as saying "The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle."

Still is. 94 years later.

Semper Fidelis.

Belleau Mike.jpg

"Iron Mike" at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial at Belleau Wood battlefield

*I know I've been doing this a bit lately on weekends "this day in American Armed Forces" battles. I want to honor the memory of those who have gone before who accomplished these things. I hope our moron readers enjoy it. I guess the deal is, on any given day throughout the history of our great nation, there were those who sacrificed everything for it, and I think it's worth remembering.

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posted by Dave In Texas at 05:14 PM

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