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Ten years ago, many Carroll County veterans stopped for a picture after an annual Westminster Senior Center Veteran’s Day program on Tuesday, Nov.10, 2009. Seated left to right: Gordon Spittell, Jessie Chaves, Phillip Short, George Miller, Cliff Keffer, George Martin, and Frank Martin. 2nd row left to right: John Kraus, Arthur Hauck, Todd Caple, Jerry Barnes, John Boone, William Haifley, John Corkran, Ed Stuller, Wilbur Haines, and Russ Proescher. 3rd row left to right: Howard Evans, Bill Rau III, Pat Hauke, Harvey Dillon, Vernon Miller, Ray Brown, Curtis Hatcher, Bill Slade, Jack Lippy, and Joe Fisher.
Ten years ago, many Carroll County veterans stopped for a picture after an annual Westminster Senior Center Veteran’s Day program on Tuesday, Nov.10, 2009. Seated left to right: Gordon Spittell, Jessie Chaves, Phillip Short, George Miller, Cliff Keffer, George Martin, and Frank Martin. 2nd row left to right: John Kraus, Arthur Hauck, Todd Caple, Jerry Barnes, John Boone, William Haifley, John Corkran, Ed Stuller, Wilbur Haines, and Russ Proescher. 3rd row left to right: Howard Evans, Bill Rau III, Pat Hauke, Harvey Dillon, Vernon Miller, Ray Brown, Curtis Hatcher, Bill Slade, Jack Lippy, and Joe Fisher.

Today we recognize the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. The Marines were created on Nov. 10, 1775 when the Continental Congress commissioned Samuel Nicholas to raise several battalions of Marines. Nicholas established a recruiting station at “Tun Tavern” in Philadelphia.

The word “Marines” was perhaps used for the first time in recorded American history on Oct. 5, 1775 in a meeting in Philadelphia of the 2nd Continental Congress. At that time, Congress used the word Marines when it directed Gen. George Washington to secure two vessels … and to give orders for the “proper encouragement to the Marines and seamen” to serve on the two armed ships.

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“The decades following the War of 1812 saw the Marines protecting American interests around the world, in the Caribbean, at the Falkland Islands, Sumatra and off the coast of West Africa. … Marines have participated in all of the following wars of the United States, and in most cases were the first service members to fight…” Throughout history, “to date, the Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores.”

Carroll County has an interesting role in the Marine Corps history.

At the beginning of the Spanish-American War, the very first ground military action occurred on June 10, 1898, when Marines were sent in to establish a base at Guantánamo Bay. It was on the second day of military operations that a Carroll countian, Sgt. Charles H. Smith, was one of five Marines killed in that battle.

In a 1996 published account, local historian Jay Graybeal wrote that U.S. Marine Sgt. Smith was born near Smallwood, Carroll County on Jan. 15, 1867. He left the county and joined the Marine Corps in 1893 after a brief stint with a Baltimore insurance firm.

According to Graybeal, “Sgt. Smith … was buried with full military honors in Deer Park Methodist Cemetery … More than 2,000 people attended the funeral…” There is a monument on the base at Guantánamo Bay, dedicated to the Marines that died in 1898, including Carroll County’s Sgt. Smith

The Spanish-American War is significant as it marked the arrival of the United States as world power. Spain, which had been in economic chaos before the war, never recovered and after four centuries of world influence, the war ended Spain’s role as a super-power.

For the Americans, most of the combatants were sons of northern and Confederate soldiers of the American Civil War. The 1898 war helped with a difficult reconciliation process that had only begun to take place in the early 1890s.

Not often reported is the fact that 33 African-American seaman died in the destruction of the USS Maine on Feb. 15, 1898. In the subsequent military actions, African-Americans gained a great deal of respect among military elite, for their conduct and valor during the war.

On Monday, on Nov. 11, we will commemorate the 101st anniversary of the end of World War I.

Approximately 62,000 Marylanders served in World War I. 2,000 of them died. According to fellow historian, Judge Joe Getty, at the time of the war, Carroll County had a “population of only 34,000; 1,200 men and women served with the armed forces. Of those, 14 were killed in action or died of their wounds, twenty died of disease or accidents and two committed suicide.”

My grandfather, William Earl Wright served stateside in World War I. He was inducted on July 24, 1918 and served in the military police and the cavalry. He trained at Fort Meade. He was discharged Feb. 1, 1919. He was instrumental in forming the Westminster American Legion post.

Many folks forget that the U.S. military maintained a cavalry during WWI. According to multiple historic accounts, the last charge by a U.S. cavalry unit took place on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines on Jan. 16, 1942. At that time, the 26th Cavalry Regiment of the allied Philippine Scouts executed a cavalry charge against Imperial Japanese Army forces near the village of Morong.

In full disclosure, I served stateside in the USMC Reserves from 1971 to 1973. My experience with the Marine Corps had an outsized influence on my life in spite of the fact that my service was entirely and completely unremarkable.

Much of my research into the history of the Marines dates back to the classes I took in the summer of 1972 in Quantico, Virginia. I still prize my tattered, torn, and worn 1970 “Concise History of the Unites States Marine Corps 1775-1969,” by Captain William D. Parker, USMCR. I have been writing about the Marines ever since. Portions of this piece have been published before.

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Happy Birthday Marines. For Corps and Country, Semper Fidelis.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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