First To Fight

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First To battle by victorH. Krulak

First To Fight by victor H. Krulak


First To Fight begins with Krulak engaged in a conversation with a Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) who was asked how did the Marine Corps get the reputation of having one of the world's greatest fighting formations. The GySgt replies “Well lieutenant they started telling everybody how great they were and pretty soon they started believing it”. The story goes on to talk about how there nearly wasn't a Marine Corps.

Discussion and analysis

The book is coordinated in seven distinct sections, each explaining a distinct facet of the Marine Corps. The first section explains in minutia the labour of the Marine Corps to survive as an entity over its long history. General Krulak explains how the Marine Corps had to fight for its present status as an identical association with the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Even a sequence of Presidents were amidst those who tried unsuccessfully to merge the Marine Corps with the other services. First To Fight starts out with Marine Lieutenant General HollandM. Smith on the connection of the command boat Mt. Olympus, off Iwo Jima on the morning of 23 February 1945 with Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal who said that the raising of our flag atop Mt. Suribachi means there will be an Marine Corps for the next five hundred years. Smith commented “When the conflict is over and cash is short they will be after the Marines again”, and a dozen Iwo Jimas would make no difference. The resolute general was speaking the frustrations of the many generations of Marines before him who had wise through hard know-how that battleing for the right to battle often presented larger trials than battling their country's enemies.

The Marines' survival struggles during their first century and a half were mere skirmishes compared with what was to ensue following the Second World War. Even as America was still trying to see through the smoke of Pearl Harbor, there were seeds which were sown that were far more serious.

The view was set according to Krulak by three events. In early October 1942 Krulak was a member of a team of four Marine officers assigned to the Army's 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii to conduct instruction for the division in an amphibious training exercise on the island of Oahu. The teaching of the training exercise task was complete in late November. Preparing to return to the mainland, the four Marine officers paid their parting respects to the division commander, Major General J.L. Collins and his chief of staff, Colonel William P. Bledsoe. To their surprise General Collins chose to speak to his staff on how the Army was resolved to eliminate forever its deficiencies in amphibious matters and its dependency on Marines for amphibious expertise.

The second occurrence closely related to the first. It took place in Noumea, New Caledonia, about a month later. General Collins was passing through on his way ...
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