Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green speak to Marines and Sailors about the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Belleau Wood, 100 years of women serving in the Marine Corps, and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley.
The 243rd Marine Corps Birthday Message
Think back to before you came into the Marine Corps.
At some point, you saw or met a Marine, and you thought, do I have what it takes to be one of them?
So you made the commitment, you accepted the challenge, and your first act of demonstrating faithfulness: you swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
As a Marine, for hours upon hours, focused on one thing, you worked hard fighting, training, sweating, refining that warrior spirit, earning that EGA.
Ensuring you’d be worthy of the title, Marine.
You joined your first unit. You worked at learning your MOS. You listened to the NCOs and other leaders as they led and shaped you. You received your first promotion. And a second promotion. And with each promotion, your responsibilities increased just like others’ expectations of you. You were proud but you knew that nothing was getting easier. Life, the mission. All of it. And then you deployed. And you were focused. The mission was clear. The challenges were there. You were there with your friends and the rest of the unit. The sorrow, the joy. All of it became real.
Not just lessons and stories from NCOs. And then you came home. And you prepared to do it again. And again. And maybe there were more promotions. Maybe you fell in love and started a family. And now the new Marines are looking to you for advice and leadership. And like those before you, you taught, you trained them, you led them well. And then seemly, overnight, there you are. And now this is you.
Still a Marine.
Continuing to demonstrate your faithfulness to our Corps, our country, and to each other.
You are Semper Fidelis, Marine.
Every Marine needs to see these wheat fields.
On the 6th of June, 1918, Marines crossed the line of departure and attacked the west side of Belleau Wood. Charging through this field through heavy enemy fire. They paid a high price for their bravery. But they fought and they won, because they were Marines. Because they were led by people like Gunnery Sergeant Fred Stockham, a man who gave his gas mask to a fellow Marine, an action of self-sacrifice which earned him the Medal of Honor.
1918 is a proud year for our Marine Corps.
While Marines led the way in Belleau Wood, new Marines were stepping up at home. The first female Marines joined our ranks, bolstering our force during a time of war.
For one hundred years they have served faithfully, helping win battles around the globe including recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. 100 years ago they answered the nation’s call and they have been serving faithfully ever since. This dedication of victory is something we can trace back to every conflict in our history. It defines us. It defines warriors like Gunnery Sergeant John Canley. A leader who led from the front. With his Marines outnumbered, he pushed forward during the battle of Hue City.
Standing tall during firefights and throwing himself into harm’s way to keep his fellow Marines safe.
The only thing I was doing was just responding. The Marines, the young Marines, it shows them that it’s not do as I say, it’s do as I do. Just being that close with’em brings motivation to ’em.
During firefights when we’d be all huggin’ mother earth, he’d be standing up directing us. And I think if you talked to every Alpha Company Marine, we’re amazed that he was never shot.” – John Ligato, Alpha Company 1/1
He is individually and uniquely responsible for saving the lives of a lot of good, young Marines.” – Maj. Gen. Ray L. Smith (Retired) Alpha Company 1/1
My legacy was about taking care of Marines, because I don’t think that there was anyone that was more demanding than Gunnery Sergeant Canley.
The President of the United States, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor to Gunnery Sergeant John L. Canley, United States Marine Corps.”
For 243 years, Marines have fought and won whenever and wherever our nation calls. In the harshest conditions, over the most brutal terrain, and against the most formidable enemies. Marines defend the ideals of freedom with grit and tenacity.” – Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green (Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps)
Though battlefields will change and capabilities evolve, history tells us that true victory comes from the individual Marine. A Marine with steeled resolve, the drive to overcome any obstacle and the warrior spirit to fight and win against all odds.
That is how battles are won. It takes a steadfast faithfulness. Semper Fidelis to Corps, Country, and each other. – Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green
Happy birthday, Marines.
And Semper Fidelis.
Thank you Sgt. Erik Estrada and Rick Robinson for the video.