When approaching this project, we were told that rather than putting together and exhaustive scholarly record of our family genealogy, we should attempt to make one new discovery or answer a specific question related to genealogical study.
After putting a great deal of thought into the matter, I decided to ask the most basic, yet compelling question I could think of about my Uncle Jack’s past. How did the Marine Corps accomplish its three missions with my uncle?
The Marine Corps has traditionally had three main missions, which it also regards as promises to Marines and the American public. Those commitments are “We make Marines. We win battles. We make quality citizens.”
To give a better idea of what those commitments mean, here is a breakdown of each mission as stated by Marine Corps Recruiting Command and what it means to those who have experienced them:
1. “We Make Marines”-
“We make Marines with the training and principles to face down the threats of our time. From Enlisted Marines to Commissioned Officers, every Marine is a part of the same storied legacy and is vital to the Marine Corps mission.”
The Marine Corps’ first mission is to sustain itself as an elite fighting force by finding qualified applicants who possess the desire and capability to earn the title United States Marine. Once they have enlisted, new recruits are sent to a Marine Corps Recruit Depot, either at Parris Island, SC or Camp Pendleton, CA. When they arrive at one of these sites, enlistees are put through their first test as members of the Marine Corps, completing Recruit Training, colloquially called “boot camp.”
Throughout boot camp, a recruit is tested through rigorous adversity and stress inoculation at the hands of his Drill Instructors, experienced Marines who have had to meet strict standards and pass an arduous selection process to earn the privilege of training America’s “new breed” of Marines. A recruit’s ability to adapt to and overcome this hardship shows both the Marine Corps and the recruit himself that he can not only survive in war, but also be victorious in a fight where most others would fail.
Marine Corps Recruit Training also emphasizes teaching and the passing on of knowledge. Although Drill Instructors are the source of tremendous stress for every recruit at boot camp, they also teach the recruits everything they need to know about being a United States Marine. New Marines leave their recruit depots with a strong sense of accomplishment for having completed the difficult training and being recognized as one of “the few, the proud, the Marines.”
Finally, boot camp also emphasizes teamwork. Drill Instructors break down recruits’ individuality (while at training, recruits are not even allowed to speak in the first person-they are to refer to themselves as “this recruit”) and teach them how to think, react, and work together as a unit. This teamwork and high espirit esprit de corps that recruits learn in training is what allows Marines to successfully accomplish missions.
2. “We win our nation’s battles”-
“Since the day it was formed, the Marine Corps has been committed to winning our nation’s battles, fighting determinedly in every one of our country’s conflicts. By air, land and sea, the Marine Corps is America’s premier expeditionary force, ready to protect our nation’s citizens and interests anywhere in the world.”
Since the Barbary Coast Wars, the United States Marine Corps has traditionally been the executor of American national policy at home and abroad. Marines are often the first troops the U.S. government sends to a crisis area and usually arrive when a situation is at its worst. The warfighting culture embedded in every Marine during training has enabled the Marine Corps to thrive in the most austere conditions and win some of America’s toughest battles.
3. “We make quality citizens”-
“The core values that guide us, and the leadership skills that enable us, not only make for outstanding Marines—they make for upstanding citizens as well.”
Beyond producing elite warriors, the Marine Corps also strives to create outstanding citizens that play vital roles in their communities. Most Marines leave the service once their initial commitment is up and return to civilian life. The Marine Corps endeavors that all of its prior-service members will carry the pride and discipline they had as a Marine for the rest of their lives.
The Marine Corps also prides itself on producing quality leaders, as it indoctrinates every Marine, regardless of rank, leadership traits that characterize a good leader of both Marines and civilians.
How They Were Met
In the case of my Uncle Jack, the Marine Corps accomplished all three of its missions. Jack joined the military the day after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and choose the Marines because he knew that they would be sent to fight the toughest battles. He went to MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina, endured the hardest initial entry training in the United States Armed Forces, and became a Marine Infantryman.
He was then sent to the South Pacific, where some of the most intense battles in the history of warfare were being waged. He served with the 3rd Marine Division at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, New Guinea, and Guam. While on Guam in July of 1944, he was wounded by a Japanese grenade and returned to the States. As he was preparing to redeploy to the Pacific after his recovery, Japan surrendered and his service was no longer required. He was granted an honorable discharge and returned to New York City.
Upon returning home, Jack took a position with the New York City Department of Corrections as a sworn officer and used his combat training and experience to excel at what is often considered the most stressful job in the civilian sector. He retired in the early 1970’s 1970s as a Deputy Warden stationed at the Kew Gardens Detention Center in Queens, NY and then used his experience in corrections to work as a building security planner and director.
While I do not yet have many exact locations, dates, or documents concerning his time in WWII or the City Correction’s Department, I know that my uncle and the Marine Corps accomplished each of the Corps’ three main missions for one another. I look forward to continuing my research and learning more about the amazing life of John Patrick Francis.