As America’s rapid response armed service, the US Marine Corps early saw the advantages of adding air power to its traditional amphibious capabilities. Marine Corps aircraft, flown by legendary figures such as Medal of Honor recipient “Pappy” Boyington and his Black Sheep Squadron, helped win pivotal victories in World War II, Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The May-June issue of Semper Fi, the magazine of the Marine Corps League, which we publish for the League, looks at what’s ahead for Marine aviation. With its long-awaited new bird, the tilt-rotor Osprey, racking up impressive service in Iraq and now Afghanistan, the Corps must aggressively update its other rotary wing aircraft, as well as acquire a new generation of fighters.
The article explains the urgency behind these replacement programs and what the Corps expects from birds that Pappy and his boys would’ve given their eyeteeth to command.
The May-June issue also reports on the status of the Corps as described to Congress recently by General James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps. As with aircraft, other Corps equipment has experienced accelerated wear and tear in the harsh deserts and remote mountains of Southwest Asia. Marines, too, have borne an unusually heavy load of deployments as Leathernecks stepped up to fill an unaccustomed role as a “second land army.”
One piece of equipment that earned a lasting place in military lore in WWII was the Marine Raider knife. This stiletto blade served what we’d now call special ops forces, and is highly sought after by collectors. A worthy successor to the Raider Stiletto is made today by Ek Commando Knife Co., whose president co-authored the article.
Although less well-known to a younger generation, actor Hugh O’Brian was, in addition to the iconic Wyatt Earp on the 1950s-60s TV series, a Marine. O’Brian also still holds the record as the youngest Drill Instructor in the Corps, but his influence on youth has not stopped there. For more than 50 years, his Hugh O’Brian Youth foundation (HOBY) has helped mold youngsters into tomorrow’s great citizens.
This year, he will be the grand marshal of the National Labor Day Parade in Washington, DC; Semper Fi is honored to present his story to fans old and new.