Your Navy Operating Forward – Sydney, Matsu Bay, Coral Sea

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Right now your Navy is 100 percent on watch around the globe helping to preserve the American way of life. Whether it be operating and training off the coast of Spain or forward deployed to the Arabian Gulf, the flexibility and presence provided by our U.S. naval forces provides national leaders with great options for protecting and maintaining our national security and interests around the world. The imagery below highlights the Navy’s ability to provide those options by operating forward.


SYDNEY, Australia: The forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) departs Sydney, Australia. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy Graham/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: Master Sgt. Jay Alvarez, left, and Lance Cpl. Bryce Gibbs move ordnance aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Kinkead/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) transits the Mediterranean Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Gaither/Released)

CORAL SEA: Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 21, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, approaches the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during Talisman Saber 17. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Sykes/Released)

MUTSU BAY, Japan: Mineman 1st Class Zachary Abel deploys a AN/SLQ-48 Mine Neutralization Vehicle during the 2JA 2017 Mine Countermeasures Exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: An F/A-18F Super Hornet from the “Black Knights” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) while another Super Hornet from the “Black Knights” and an EA-18G Growler from the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142 prepare to launch, July 29, 2017, in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston A. Mohr/Released)

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By Rear Adm. Roy Kelley Director, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Fleet Integration Office As the …

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Your Navy Operating Forward – Sydney, Matsu Bay, Coral Sea

Your Navy Operating Forward – Sulu Sea, Bohol Sea, South Pacific

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Right now your Navy is 100 percent on watch around the globe helping to preserve the American way of life. Whether it be operating and training off the coast of Spain or forward deployed to the Arabian Gulf, the flexibility and presence provided by our U.S. naval forces provides national leaders with great options for protecting and maintaining our national security and interests around the world. The imagery below highlights the Navy’s ability to provide those options by operating forward.


BOHOL SEA: The littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) transits the Bohol Sea during an exercise with the Philippine navy during the Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Deven Leigh Ellis/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Sailors transport ordnance on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mario Coto/Released)

JEBEL ALI, United Arab Emirates: The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) prepares to depart Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: Sailors assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 3, Task Group (TG) 56.7, pilot 34-foot patrol boats in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey/Released)

GULF OF MEXICO: Huntington Ingalls Industries’ shipbuilding division announced the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) has completed its first set of sea trials. (U.S. Navy photo by Lance Davis)

SOUTH PACIFIC: Lt. Miranda Krasselt and Lt. Chris Williams signal for the launch of an aircraft on the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) operates in the Mediterranean Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Xavier Jimenez/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: The guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the French navy Durance-class replenishment tanker FS Var (A608) during Exercise Spartan Kopis 17. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Bryce Bruns/Released)

SYDNEY, Australia: The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) transits the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Sydney, Australia. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. T. T. Parish/Released)

SULU SEA: Sailors assigned to the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 prepare to hoist a dummy on a litter into an MH-60S Seahawk during a medical drill aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Deven Leigh Ellis/Released)

PACIFIC OCEAN: The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) fires its Mark 45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey J. Hockenberger/Released)

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Your Navy Operating Forward – Sulu Sea, Bohol Sea, South Pacific

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Colonel Walt Ford, USMC (Ret)

DiamondVsBasilone

Who is the Ultimate Marine’s Marine? Each day, we’ll compare two Marine Corps legends across three categories: Service (actions while in uniform), Legacy (how their service continued to impact the Corps and the world) and Motivation (esprit de corps and overall badassery). The Marines Blog will judge initial rounds internally and guest writers will take over for the final rounds. Be sure to make your voice heard by voting in our simultaneous fan bracket here on the Marines Blog. Share your opinion on our Facebook page, or tweet your thoughts with us @usmc using the hashtag: #UltimateMarine

This round is being judged by Colonel Walt Ford, USMC (Ret), the publisher for Marine Corps Association periodicals and editor of Leatherneck Magazine. Leatherneck, started by then-Brigadier General John A. Lejeune in 1917 as the Marine Barracks Quantico newspaper, and becoming a magazine published by the Marine Corps Institute in 1921, was an official publication of the Marine Corps, staffed by active duty Marines until 1972. It’s mission continues to be to tell the Marine Corps story, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Searchable archived articles back to 1921 may be accessed via the magazine’s website.

ViewBracketThe Marine Corps has more than its share of myths and legends, but few Marines are surrounded by less fact and more fiction than Master Gunnery Sgt. Leland “Lou” Diamond and Gunnery Sgt. John “Manila John” Basilone. While these two definitely rate high in the pantheon of Leatherneck Lore as “Giants of the Corps,” and previous bloggers have superbly presented much about each and his legacy, I’ll add a few tidbits for your consideration and, for what it’s worth, give you my take on each, relative to theViewFanBracket established criteria: Service — Their actions while serving in uniform. Motivation — motivating stories/anecdotes/details about them. Legacy — How their actions continued to impact the Corps/world after they left. From that we’ll consider which of these two legends has the more lasting impact on our Corps of Marines.

MGySgt Leland “Lou” Diamond (and not Diamond Lou, who would also make for a very interesting discussion), famously known as “The Honker” because of his loud, often obnoxious voice clearly heard above the din of barroom or battle, was heralded as the master-mortarman of World War II, and certainly was one of the most eccentric Devil Dogs to ever pull on dungarees.

He was a fairly old railroad switchman when he decided to take part in the action in France. Promoted to corporal before deploying from Quantico, the self-confident, cocky Marine cussed and killed the “Boche” from Belleau Wood to the Armistice. Returning Stateside, the salty Lou Diamond was discharged in August 1919. But he quickly found “civvies” didn’t fit him well and came back to his family — the Corps. For the next two decades, America forgot about professional warfighters like Lou Diamond. But Diamond was happy. First he served as an armorer. Then he was in a machine gun company while doing duty with those machine gun artists, the Fourth Marines, in China.

The mortars became Lou’s sweethearts and hundreds of stories began to circulate through the Corps about the amazing accuracy of Lou Diamond’s 81mm mortars. His proficiency with the 37mm cannon and heavy machine guns gained the respect of the Japanese too.

Manila John Basilone — well, he’s documented as coming to the Corps in July 1940 as a “doggie” and didn’t even go to Marine boot camp. Is that important? Over the history of the Corps, there have been a great many soldiers see the light and come to the Corps. Boot camp? While few WWII leathernecks did not complete recruit training, a great many Marines who went to war as part of “The Fire Brigade” in August 1950 had not gone to boot camp — don’t make the mistake of telling one of them he’s not a real Marine!

Both these leathernecks were brave, dedicated to their profession and much loved by their Marines who would follow them to Hell and bring back the Devil if asked. In the case of Lou Diamond, he was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions in WWII, but this came years after the fact. Manila John was recommended for the Medal of Honor by the battalion commander of 1st Bn, 7th Marines, LtCol Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, for his actions on the night of Oct. 24-25, 1942. He was awarded the medal during a formation in Balcombe, Australia, in May 1943. Basilone also earned a Navy Cross leading his men on Iwo Jima, and the Purple Heart when he was killed in action on Iwo.

Service: GySgt John “Manila John” Basilone

Both these giants were loved by their Marines as professionals, but also because of their often eccentric personalities.

When Diamond was on liberty, he was known to have a beer bottle in each hand but was no roisterer. Still, he liked his beer. Once at a China station, where the nearest bar was far from the post, Diamond is said to have set up a Chinese man in the bar business right across the street from the Marine barracks. He was known to hold forth with salty tales even after the lights were out.

But Diamond has no edge on Basilone. Basilone’s prodigious appreciation of alcoholic libations was heralded from the Philippines to the States, certainly in New Zealand and Australia, and his homemade “hooch” on Guadalcanal was legendary. Opposite of Lou, Manila John was known as a bit of a brawler on liberty who really could turn out your lights.

Family, well Lou was married to the Corps — right to the end. Manila John — he enjoyed the ladies until a very pretty young hash-slinger in a Camp Pendleton mess hall, Sgt. Lena Mae Riggi, won his heart. They married on July 7, 1944, and shortly thereafter Gunnery Sgt. Basilone was sent back to the Pacific where he was killed on Iwo Jima leading his Marines, Feb. 19, 1945.

She christened the Navy destroyer escort USS Basilone (DDE-824) in 1949 and later helped erect a statue in her husband’s honor at Raritan, N.J. She never remarried, stating, “Once you have the best, you can’t settle for less.”

Lou’s family members were all Marines and the families of his Marines. Many of the Marine children on base at San Diego imagined that the Lord had a scraggly white goatee, a lot of hash marks on his sleeve and a stern visage, just like Master Gunnery Sgt. Lou Diamond.

How did Lou Diamond look? Well, we know from the photo above about his goatee and white hair, but let’s read what Gunny Sgt. Mickey Finn said on that subject:

“One day, coming back from Nicaragua, I got off the train at Quantico, and there was Lou Diamond with his bulldog, Bozo. This Bozo was the ugliest bulldog I ever saw. But, I would say that Bozo was considerably prettier than Diamond.”

Beside Bozo, the homely bulldog at Quantico, Diamond had many pets. At the time the First Marine Division was preparing to leave New River for the South Seas, Diamond was the owner of a particularly ornery goat named “Rufus” and a couple of “trained” chickens whose names were said to be too impolite to print. These were left in New River under the care of a farmer. While he was in the Solomons, rumor had it that Diamond sweated about meat shortages back in the States because he was fearful that Rufus and the educated chickens might be barbecued in his absence.

Basilone? Well, he had no known pets.

Motivation: Master Gunnery Sgt. Lou Diamond

Both Lou Diamond and Manila John were media darlings. Both were on the cover of various magazines such as Time, Life and Leatherneck. In 1949, several million Americans once again re-heard Diamond’s story via the “Cavalcade of America.” Then in a June 1, 1955, television version on the “Cavalcade of America” originally entitled, “The Old Breed,” and later dubbed “The Marine Who Lived 200 Years,” Ward Bond played Lou embellishing the already ostentatious reputation of the by-then deceased “Diamond in the Rough.”

Of course, Basilone is much more well-known today because of the 2010 HBO miniseries, “The Pacific.” Basilone was also featured in the 1995 Iwo Jima documentary, “Red Blood, Black Sand.”

Books, well I don’t recall any on Lou Diamond, but two 2010 books quickly jump to mind on Manila John. One, billed as family-authorized and on the Commandant’s Professional Reading List is, “I’m Staying With My Boys: The Heroic Life Of Sgt. John Basilone, USMC.” Opinion only — a much more balanced, well-presented book on Manila John is “The Hero of the Pacific: The Life of Marine Legend John Basilone,” by noted Marine veteran and author, now-deceased James Brady. Both books positively portray Manila John.

Legacy: GySgt Manila John Basilone

Every Marine today is taught of the heroism, leadership and commitment of Manila John Basilone. Lou Diamond is lost in history to most Marines. Bringing him to life again via this blog is fantastic and I’m proud to be part of the effort. But, in overall service, motivation and legacy, the tip of the hat and hand salute has to go to Gunnery Sgt. John “Manila John” Basilone.

— — — — — —

Round One

Daly vs Lejeune

Foss vs Hulbert

Diamond vs Gray

Basilone vs Johnson

Puller vs Barnum

Hathcock vs Mawhinney

Vittori vs Glenn

Butler vs Davis

Round Two

Daly vs Foss

Diamond vs Basilone

Puller vs Hathcock

Glenn vs Butler

— — — — — —

The fan bracket has taken a different turn than the Marines Blog. Today’s fan match is between Gen. Alfred Gray and Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone. Read the first round blog to catch up on Gray and cast your vote below.

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