This Month in Marine Corps History: March

Learn about the Corps

The following events from Marine Corps history took place in March:


Jacob Zeilin Becomes First Brigadier General Commandant in USMC History
*Image info: Jacob Zeilin
(U.S. government photo/released)

 

Jacob Zeilin Becomes First Brigadier General Commandant in USMC History

On March 2, 1867, Jacob Zeilin, who had served as Colonel Commandant of the Marine Corps since June 30, 1864, was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General Commandant, the first time Congress authorized this rank for the Marine Corps. This statute was repealed in June 1874 so that the rank of Commandant would revert to colonel upon Zeilin's retirement.


9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade Lands at DaNang
*Image info: A Marine HAWK missile launcher in position at the Da Nang Airfield. The HAWK system was designed to defend against low-flying enemy aircraft.
(U.S. government photo/released)

 

9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade Lands at DaNang

On March 8, 1965, the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade landed at DaNang, Vietnam, becoming the first American ground combat troops to arrive in the country. The 3,500 men arrived both via the beach with the 3rd Battalion. 9th Marines Landing Team, and at DaNang Airfield with Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines.


Continental Navy Frigate Boston, Captures British Merchant Ship Martha
*Image info: Official Presidential portrait of John Adams.
(U.S. government photo/released)

 

Continental Navy Frigate Boston, Captures British Merchant Ship Martha

On March 11, 1778, Continental Marines aboard the Continental Navy frigate Boston sighted, engaged, and captured the British merchant ship Martha while en route to France. John Adams, who would later serve as the second president of the United States, was on the ship and attempted to join in the action on deck with the Marines, only to be sent below-deck by the frigate's Captain, Samuel Tucker, for his safety.


First Female Marine Officers Arrive at Mt. Holyoke College
*Image info: Female Marine Officers at Mt. Holyoke College.
(USMC photo/released)

 

First Female Marine Officers Arrive at Mt. Holyoke College

On March 13, 1943, the first group of 71 female Marine officer candidates arrived at U.S. Midshipmen School (Women's Reserve) at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The Navy's readiness to share it's training facilities allowed the group of women to begin their training just one month after the Marine Corps Womens Reserve was created.

After graduation, the women were assigned to be either staff or line officers. Staff officers had jobs similar to civilian jobs, but in a military setting. Line officers, on the other hand, lived on military stations and were charged with being responsible for the activities and training of enlisted personnel.


First Female Marine Officer Reports for Duty in Vietnam
*Image info: Barbara J. Dulinsky
(USMC photo/released)

 

First Female Marine Officer Reports for Duty in Vietnam

On March 13, 1943, the first group of 71 female Marine officer candidates arrived at U.S. Midshipmen School (Women's Reserve) at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The Navy's readiness to share it's training facilities allowed the group of women to begin their training just one month after the Marine Corps Womens Reserve was created.

After graduation, the women were assigned to be either staff or line officers. Staff officers had jobs similar to civilian jobs, but in a military setting. Line officers, on the other hand, lived on military stations and were charged with being responsible for the activities and training of enlisted personnel.


Japanese Launch Final Counterattack on Iwo Jima
*Image info: This photograph by Joe Rosenthal depicts five Marines and a Navy Corpsman raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
(National Archives and Records Administration photo/released.)

 

Japanese Launch Final Counterattack on Iwo Jima

On March 25, 1945, the assault on the island of Iwo Jima appeared to have ended after 35 days of intense fighting. However, that night, 300 Japanese troops launched a final, last-ditch counterattack near Airfield Number 2. Army pilots, Seabees, and Marines from the 5th Pioneer Battalion and 28th Marines fought the Japanese forces until morning but suffered heavy casualties. More than l00 Americans were killed and a further 200 were wounded. Almost all of the Japanese troops were killed in the battle.


Assault on Outpost Vegas
*Image info: This photograph by Joe Rosenthal depicts five Marines and a Navy Corpsman raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
(National Archives and Records Administration photo/released.)

 

Assault on Outpost Vegas

On March 27, 1953, the 5th Marines, supported by the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, counter-attacked enemy-held positions in the first full day of fighting after Chinese forces launched an assault on Outpost Vegas the previous evening. Companies E and F of the 2/7 managed to regain partial control of the outpost that day, despite being down to just three platoons between them. At the time, this was the bloodiest action U.S. Marines had engaged in on the Western Front.


8th & I
*Image info: Commandant William W. Burrows.

 

8th & I

On March 31, 1801, the second Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lieutenant Colonel William W. Burrows, rode then-President Thomas Jefferson in search of, "a proper place to fix the Marine Barracks on." The two chose a square in Southeast Washington, at 8th and I streets, due to its proximity to the Navy Yard, as well as being within marching distance of the Capitol.

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