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What Truman Said?

Discussion in 'WWII' started by Shearer, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. Shearer

    Shearer Practically Family

    I recently came into possession of some interesting letters between my grandfather, who died in 1954, and his congressman. From what I can gather from reading the letters this is what happened: President Truman and Congressman McDonough got into an exchange over something Truman said about the Marines during World War II. My grandfather, who fought in Guadalcanal and other places, took great offense over Truman's words and wrote to his Congressman. McDonough then sent my grandfather a copy of a letter Truman had written to McDonough during the fray.

    Confusing? I've scanned the letters here, and hopefully they are clear (and large) enough to read. I'm wondering if any of the Loungers here would know about this exchange Truman had with at least one Congressman? Any advice over where to start looking for the original speech?

    If not, the letters are at least very fascinating to read. At one point Truman compares the USMC propaganda machine to Stalin's :eek:

    In dated order the letters here are:
    1) My grandfather's letter to Congressman McDonough
    2) Congressman McDonough's reply to my grandfather
    3) Truman's letter to McDonough



  2. Hondo

    Hondo One Too Many

    "When I make a Mistake..."

    Very interesting, I believe this may answer or explain things..

  3. carebear

    carebear My Mail is Forwarded Here

    The Marine Corps had proven that it was more than simply Naval Infantry or Security forces years before WWII. Going back to the Mexican War and all the Banana Wars prior to and post-WWI, the Marines were always handy, being shipboard and at forward naval stations, so they got used where mobilizing the US-bound Army would take more time than it was worth. Also, the Army was typically just as small and would need the mobilization of state militias to bring up to size to handle additional duties.

    So the Marines, as a small standing professional force, got a lot of the calls, the "911" force back then as now.

    Even so, when the Corps acted in a more traditional infantry role, outside of strictly naval operations it was seen as treading on Army territory. Truman, as an Army man was one of those who resented that.

    As well he might, because as far as the "Stalin's propaganda machine" comment goes, he was right. :D

    From "The Halls of Montezuma", where the Marines were a fairly small adjunct to the larger Army forces, to "The Shores of Tripoli" where seven Marines, along with 10,000 unsung Arab tribal allies, actually didn't unseat the bashaw; the Marines, in collaboration with a press that knows a good story when they see one, have managed to come out as superhuman troops that can go it alone against impossible odds and triumph.

    While that is true, often the Army units that held our coats while we were defending freedom "single-handed" got a little, justifiably, irritated when they were left out of the headlines. :D
  4. Shearer

    Shearer Practically Family

    Thanks, guys, for the timely responses!

    Hondo, that's just the sort of thing I was looking for. These letters have been sitting in boxes in my grandmother's house for 50+ years and I would like to put them into some sort of scrapbook to preserve them. I wanted to add some sort of context along with the letters, so that Times article would be just the thing. Very interesting read.

    carebear, If you're going to be in the spotlight, you better have a damn good propaganda machine or publicist :D True what you said about the Army units being left out of the spotlight. I think that, along with hearing Truman pop off those comments are what got to my grandfather. Apparently, he was a very calm, quiet, level-headed individual so these letters are an insight to what he went through after the war. He was sick ever since he returned from the Pacific and eventually died four years after this letter was written... the tone of his letter makes me think he was going through some pretty heavy stuff.
  5. Interesting stuff. The Marines really weren't "marines" at all by Truman's time of course. The traditional role of the marines died when ships of the line no longer needed shipboard infantry to board other ships and protect them from being boarded.

    Today the Marines are more than "marines" they are essentially an elite infantry branch used for different purposes and situations than the regular army. They are more equivilant to the German Waffen-SS, French Foreign Legion or Russian Guards. It is strange how Truman didn't realize that.
  6. Shearer

    Shearer Practically Family

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong about this, but I was wondering why Truman didn't feel the same way about about the Army Air Corps/Army Air Force branching off into the US Air Force. They had a general on the Join Chiefs under Truman, yes?
  7. carebear

    carebear My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Lieutenant Colonel T.R. Fehrenbach, US Army in "This Kind of War"

  8. carebear

    carebear My Mail is Forwarded Here

    The Air Force doesn't make anybody else look bad. Who are they going to "out-soldier", the Boy Scouts? :p
  9. Shearer

    Shearer Practically Family

    No brownie points for you with that one, my father was in the Air Force! lol
  10. Hondo

    Hondo One Too Many

    Well Truman really was budget conscious “The Buck Stops Here” cut funds after WWII, found a lot of waste, he even wanted to disband the Marines (heaven forbid) like carebears says, he was Army. It wasn’t the first time Harry Truman put his foot in his mouth.
    My Dad served in WWII in the Navy, after the war transferred to Air Force Military Police.
    Shearer: grateful for be of any help ;)
    Hey Carebear, its funny but I was born in Anchorage, AK. Elmendorf Air force base, Have to return some day like the salmon. lol
  11. carebear

    carebear My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Well the reason they return is nice, but the afterglow is murder... lol
  12. The Wingnut

    The Wingnut One Too Many

    Watch it, Slick.


    Some of us boyscouts are expert marksmen.
  13. carebear

    carebear My Mail is Forwarded Here

    At this time I would like to repudiate my previous remarks about our nation's Airmen and offer a public apology. I now realize that I was terribly wrong to cast such aspersions on my fellow warriors and will be entering rehab for sensitivity training and to correct my ignorance of their long and noble history.

    To my brothers in blue, all I can say is...

    Please don't hit me with your purses. :D
  14. The Wingnut

    The Wingnut One Too Many

    Fine. I'll use my shiny steel toe crew chief boots. :p
  15. carebear

    carebear My Mail is Forwarded Here


    I give...
  16. Different strokes

    When I was in the service I was stationed at Camp Smith, in Honolulu. (Rough duty, let me tell you.) I got to see each branch close up. Tha Air Force guys definitely didn't have the lean waistlines that some of the other branches displayed, but the fact is that each branch has a different job and different duty. The Air Force has a more technical job. Marines would go crazy iver the "unmilitary" attitude and style of some of our Naval brethern. The Army and Marines have always had a somewhat different approach to fighting. On Guadalcanal a lot of Marines got killed becasue their idea was to just keep attacking, where the Army would have stopped, called in more big guns, and used the right tool for the job. Who's to say which is right? There was a similar philosophical difference between the US and British High Commands in WW2. The British were used to doing more with less, and didn't see the logic behind Eisenhower's "Broad Front" approach.
    So it's very much a question of different strokes for different folks, and what tradition you're coming out of.
  17. DeeDub

    DeeDub One of the Regulars

    They Sure Know How to Live

    I won't make any comments about which branch is more "soldierly." I will offer the following observation, however.

    I stayed at the Visiting Airmen's Quarters at Clark AFB in the Phillipines while waiting for a MAC flight. (Military Airlift Command, that is.) The VAQ was a whole lot nicer than any of the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters the Navy put me up in, especially the one I had just left in Subic Bay.

    Sort of like the difference between Embassy Suites and Motel 6.

    (Admittedly, :eek:fftopic: )
  18. WH1

    WH1 Practically Family

    After Truman made his statement about the police force he received a lot of very intense pressure across the country. The Marines who were deployed made up signs refering to themselves as "Harry's Police Force". He found out how powerful the american peoples belief was in their Marine Corps, after World War II.

    Marines still fulfill their "traditional" role as Naval Infantry. In the last two decades Marine Force Recon has been involved in numerous boarding operations as part of the naval operations in the Persian Gulf. Additionally there are Marine Dets on most navy ships. They provide security and still man guns on board. The primary focus of the Marine Corps is to provide an amphibious assault capability for the US. We are capable of landing anywhere in the world and currently maintain an amphibious presence which is able to respond within 24 hours or less to any threat to US interests or provide assistance to our allies, such as the tsunami relief a few years ago. During Granada we did a large scale amphibious assault and it was the threat of a Marine amphibious operation which tied up large parts of the Iraqi army in Kuwait during Desert Storm.

    By definition we are supposed to establish a beachhead and operate up to 40miles inland at which time the army is to pass through and continue the larger land campaign. This has not been the case though as evidenced by Vietnam, Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror.

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