View Full Version : Do Marines Surrender?

09-22-02, 07:38 AM
Do Marines Surrender? A controversial subject.

Now and then this question comes up, but usually Marines seem to have little in the way of facts for their assumptions, etc. Nor is there a complete summing up of the subject in any one place under one title; but the info is out there, though somewhat piecemeal. George Smith's book, "Carlson's Raid," devotes an entire chapter, for instance, to the surrender note controversy re Carlson's attempted surrender during the Makin Raid of 17-18 August 1942.

Yes, Marines have surrendered. It's just one more aspect of the profession of arms.

Most notably, there have been occurances of such for the Marine Corps, in the opening days of World War Two at Guam, the Phillipines, Wake Island, and China. And then there was the little-known, for many years, surrender attempt during the Makin Island Raid.

Later, in Korea, 1950 there was a surrender that occurred at Hell Fire Valley during the Chosin Reservoir operation.

There were also Marine surrenders that occurred even further back through Marine Corps history during the 1700s and civil wartimes. (See Nofi's Book of Lists.)

Most Marines prefer not to discuss Marine surrenders nor to admit that there has ever been such.

Here is one remark from Evans F. Carlson himself, as found in Gen. Peatross' book, "Bless 'Em All,"

"...While discussing the various aspects of the raid,the only critique of the operation there would ever be Carlson suddenly had paused and, almost self critically and apropos of nothing, interjected: No commander ever expects to fail in an operation, but he should have a plan ready, ...."

Is it dishonorable for a Marine to surrender under such conditions?

In addition, there are various aspects of accepted Marine Corps history that people are either entirely ignorant of, and/or prefer to disregard/deny. For instance, the phony red stripe story regarding Chapultapec; Tun Tavern vs. Conestoga Wagon as the birthplace of the Corps, etc. Gen Simmons goes so far as to write that July 11, 1798 is the true birthday of the Corps.

Marine Corps historians, including BGen Edwin Simmons, have brought examples of these things out in their published writings, yet erroneous teachings continue. Why? As I've now come to mention often, I, not too long ago received an e-mail from a Marine colonel (retired) suggesting he didn't give a rat's ass about facts, tradition was all that counted w/him. People just don't want to hear it.

OK, we all choose our medicine--myself, I have a lousy memory, and I find it easier to believe and pass on the truth.

Semper Fidelis
Dick Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
Gunny G's Marines Sites & Forums

09-22-02, 08:22 AM
Marine Infantryman's Creed:

Every Marine is a Rifleman

This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I WILL...

My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. WE WILL HIT...

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready. We will become part of each other. WE WILL...

Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. WE ARE THE SAVIORS OF MY LIFE.

So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!

Semper Fi, "DO or DIE"

09-22-02, 08:24 AM
I vaguely remember a story that the 4th Marines lost their colors and the unit could not return to CONUS and that's why its HQ remained in Hawaii.

It's not that I can't remember more, I think that's all I ever knew about it.

Semper Fi

09-22-02, 08:34 AM
that's bs!

Col Howard ordered the 4th Marines' colors burned prior to the surrender.

In most cases, itcan be said that the Marine commander was required by higher authority to surrender, e.g. Maj Devereaux at Wake Island, etc.

Note that the 4th Marines were organic to 3dMar Div when formed at CJHP back in 1952.

Also, prior to USMC going to Japan in 1945, the new 4th Marines were formed for the Japan invasion, it was made up mainly of the recently disbanded Marine Raiders and Parachute Battalions! There were ceremonies in Japan w/the new 4th Marines meeting the old 4th Marine POWs.

09-22-02, 08:57 AM
One night I was caught out in the open by myself with my M-60 and about a hundred rounds of ammo. For six-seven hours I had been crawling back to a small hill we were occupying in an operation-taking place in the Arizona territory, South of Da Nang, in South Vietnam.

I knew that I was going to be killed that night. I knew it would soon be over. The enemy force was behind me, and had circled around to my right. Our positions was somewhere up ahead. Somewhere up ahead.

I had gotten separated from the rifle squad and my a-gunner when we opened up on the enemy almost point blank. The enemy opened up on us, only inches over our heads, Unknown to us they were above up on a small cliff about four-five feet above us. Unknown to them we were just below them. But it was so dark we hadnít seen them. Just smelled and heard them breathing, and moving. Someone panicked and the firefight ensued. We were too close and the enemy was entrenched. They were as confused as we were and in the clamor I could sense that they were running away.

It was pitch black at night so the squad leader yelled for everyone to fall back. They did, and everyone got separated. Most made it back to the small hill we were on in no time, but I remained out in the open rice paddy covering for them, until I realized I was the only one still firing.

You get a lot to think about in those few (long) hours alone, as I began to make my way back to our position. I knew I would be killed before I would let them take the M-60. And all night as I crawled back, inches at a time I was waiting to fight it out, no matter what. Meanwhile some fool kept calling in illumination rounds overhead, and that made it hard for me to crawl back toward our positions. That night the rice paddy dikes and I were one. Iím so glad I was skinny then. I could hear the enemy moving, encircling our positions, on my right.

In the darkness, I made it first to the enemy's position, backed off, then crawled to my left toward ours. The Corporal at that foxhole that heard me call out, ran over to where I was grabbed me and brought me back. He was happier to see me than, I think was to see them. I was still ****ed off at the yoyo that kept popping off those illumination rounds.

Our lieutenant wanted me to come up to our CP, since I had been the only one still missing for hours. I guess the word had been passed down that a machine gunner remained out in the field. But that Corporal squad leader, told my lieutenant over the net that I wasn't moving till daybreak and he watched over me for the rest of the night as I slept.

Surrender, didn't even think about it.

Two other Marines months before in our platoon, had, had to play dead at the foot of the entrenched enemies position while I fired over their heads at them. Surrender, I guess that's about the closes Marines that I knew of came to that in Viet Nam. Their weapons had been stripped from them, and their clothes had been removed. One Marine had the wisdom to tell the other when they ran out of ammo as the enemy was approaching them to keep his eyes open and to stick out his tongues and play dead. They remained that way for four hours until Foxtrot 2/3 was sparrowhawked in to help us. Before they arrived, I had already been wounded we were low on ammo and those that could fight had fixed bayonets, and broken out the gas canisters. I no longer had a weapon, my 45 pistol I had given to someone else to fire at the enemy. We laid there and waited for the gooks who had already told us, Maureen tonight you die. At that time only 12 of us remained of the 47 Marines that went in.

I could have kissed the mud dirty Marines from Foxtrot that evening when they came in to get us out.

Surrender? Our lieutenant never thought of it and neither did any of the other Marines that remained. When Foxtrot Marines got to us, they had rescued the two Marines that had played dead at the foot of the enemy we had been fighting. One Marine recalled thinking, as the enemy pulled at his rifle. I'm dead, I'm suppose to be dead. I better let go of my weapon. He did and remained in that position for hours.


09-22-02, 09:07 AM
I'm not a combat Marine--hell, I'm not even a field Marine, so I don't know what combat Marines think.

I do think, though, that such thought is a responsibility of command, and I would suggest that although Carlson was severely criticized for his consideration of surrender at Makin, that he did see it as his responsibility under most extreme circumstances.

09-22-02, 10:36 AM
Originally posted by gunnyg
I'm not a combat Marine--hell, I'm not even a field Marine, so I don't know what combat Marines think.

I do think, though, that such thought is a responsibility of command, and I would suggest that although Carlson was severely criticized for his consideration of surrender at Makin, that he did see it as his responsibility under most extreme circumstances.

In the Marine Corps, there is no absence of leadership and command at every level.

Had our liutenant ordered us to cease firing and surrender we would have followed his order. Had he ordered us to fight, well heck we were doing that already.

Had a different Liutenant like the one that came after him ordered us to surrender, we probably <b>would not have,</b> we didnt trust his judgement and someone else would have had to make that decision.

One of the greatest honor a Marine can have is to lead other Marines in battle. Knowing the enemy of our time and what they did to Marine prisoners, I know during the time I served as a squad leader in Viet Nam, I would never have told my squad of Marines to surrender. I would have been there at their side till the end.

I don't support the idea that such a decision should be made by command if they are not at the battlefield.

09-22-02, 10:45 AM
as it is not responsive to anything I said.

However, my purpose in posting is not for the usual wild "responses" usually received on messageboards, in general--but for those with ears to hear.

09-22-02, 10:54 AM
I guess Gunny is what I am saying is that its very hard for me to believe that surrender is a Marine option considered in battle.

That it occurred, as you have mentioned must have been under extreme and difficult situations, where fighting the enemy was no longer an option because of other circumstances over which the Marines at the battlefield had no control.

09-22-02, 11:10 AM
controversial, extreme--those are the right words, and I never meant anything other than the most extreme conditions. The examples I noted in my post were such, Corregidor, Wake, Makin, etc.

I guess the keywords are "the means to resist"--...

"Article II: I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist."

Carlson on Makin had the problem of likely not making it back to his transportation away from the enemy; Jap reenforcements arriving, loss of weapons and equipment; dead and wounded; and he was saddled with the president's son as XO!

The other examples were equally as extreme--don't intend to mean that all hands have the choice of surrender--only the responsible commander--the General or senior private there.

Dick G

09-22-02, 07:38 PM

Changjin Reservoir=Chosin Reservoir

09-22-02, 08:27 PM
3/4 of the way down, just before the last Wake Island Map.

Is it dishonorable for a Marine to surrender under such conditions?

Not under the conditions as what occurred below.

It remains, <b>"A Difficult Thing To Do"</b>


09-23-02, 03:32 PM
I think this comes under the heading of "Do Marines ever leave their dead behind?" We do our best not to. But it happens.

One of the vagarities of war is the unknown sequencing of events that can occur. It's a wonderful belief that all of us would die fighting - and I think for most that is true. But not for all.

I believe that the traditions of The Corps inculcate a belief that we will do everything we can to keep those beliefs alive and to fulfill them to the best of our abilities. We do our best and provide a support for our Brothers and Sisters to do their best. If we fail we get up and try again.

I'm probably babbling - but I know only too well the frailties of the human as well as the unyeilding strengths. Opposite ends of the spectrum at the same time.

09-23-02, 04:15 PM
I think you've caught my meaning on all of this controversial history.

I think we should try to become aware of certain facts like these ourselves, and not hear it for the first time someday in a slopchute or read it in a newspaper somewhere--we sure as hell wouldn't want to learn it from Jeraldo!



09-23-02, 04:38 PM
I had never read the full accounting of the Wake Island fight before - Thanks for the link - we are a wild outfit you know?