National Geographic : 1950 Nov
651 National Geographic Photographer John E. Fletcher Grinning "Skinheads" Get the Word on How to Make Up a Bunk "You fold it like this and tuck it under here," the sergeant tells a platoon of Marine recruits at Parris Island. Sheets and blankets, neatly mitered at the corners, must be as taut as a drumhead. To test tightness, the instructor drops a penny on the bed. If it doesn't bounce-rip everything apart and try again! After long observation of life in all branches of our armed services, from the China coast to the Rhine, I think the Marine officer is usually closest to his men. They are a tight Three Musketeer-like outfit, "all for one and one for all." And so many enlisted men have become good officers. Take Herman H. Hanneken, a St. Louis boy who served five years in the ranks and wound up a brigadier general. As a sergeant in Haiti in 1919 (serving as a captain in the Marine organized native gendarmerie), his was an exploit rarely topped in the annals of Marine adventure. Haiti was in revolution. Marines were there to help the lawful government put it down. The caco, or rebel, leader was slick and wily Charlemagne Peralte. Once he was dis posed of, all good Haitians felt, peace would be in sight.* So, aided by Cpl. William R. Button, a brother Marine, Hanneken planned a clever trick. Blacking their faces and donning ragged old civilian garb to look like cacos, and care fully memorizing the secret countersign, these two Marines actually passed all the rebel sentries, got right into headquarters, and shot Peralte himself. Not only that, they dragged his body down the mountainside and had him duly identified at Marine headquarters. Hanneken and Button got the Congressional Medal of Honor for "extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in actual conflict with the enemy." This was only the start of Hanneken's amazing career. He went on later, advancing through officer grades, to capture other out laws when helping Nicaragua on the road to peace, and finally fought in the Pacific war. Awarded the Navy Cross, the Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross, the Legion of Merit, and a string of other medals which, if he wore them, would hang across his chest like a hammock, Hanneken was retired as a brigadier general after a thrilling 34-year career. Officers May Go on Delicate Missions I know one Marine officer, with the gift of tongues and the sixth sense of a Sherlock Holmes, who every now and then fades from sight. Nobody at headquarters asks, "Where's So-and-So?" They suspect that, somewhere * See "Haitian Vignettes," by Capt. John Houston Craige, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, October, 1934.