National Geographic : 1950 Nov
649 Acme Seasoned in World War II's Jungle Battles, Marines Head for a New Campaign in Korea Men of the First Marine Division, from Camp Pendleton, California, boarded the Navy's assault transport Pickaway at San Diego. With them went air units. After a 21-day, 6.000 -mile voyage, the Leathernecks landed in South Korea. They went into battle with 45-ton Pershing tanks, 3.5 -inch rocket launchers to destroy enemy armor (page 669), and flame throwers for use against pillboxes and caves. sword he had used while with the Mamelukes in Egypt. A pattern of this Mameluke sword is still carried by officers of the Leathernecks. How Leathernecks Got Their Nickname That nickname, "Leathernecks," came from a black leather stock, part of early Marine uni forms, worn to keep a man from getting his throat slit by the whistling sweep of a "snick ersnee." Though Leatherneck is thus explained, no one seems to know the origin of another nick name, "gyrene." Webster defines it as Army slang-G.I. plus Marine-and adds that it is used "derogatorily." Marines themselves, however, do not mind being called gyrenes. Just prior to the outbreak of the Korean War, the Corps numbered about 7,000 officers and 65,000 men. Our National Security Act of 1947 says the Marines shall provide forces "of combined arms," with supporting aviation, "for service with the fleet in the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and for the conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the prosecution of a naval cam paign." The law further says Marines shall work with the Army and Air Force to develop tac tics, technique, and equipment used by land ing forces; that they shall provide detach ments for service on armed vessels of the Navy or for guarding naval bases and naval prop erty-"and such other duties as the President may direct." Those last words mean that Marines may still be ordered to land overseas to protect American lives and property, as in the past, or to guard our mails, aid in floods or other disasters, or protect the Treasury and the Mints, in case of riots or earthquakes. From days of "boot camp," where recruits are trained, it is pounded into a Marine's head that he must think and act quickly-use his head to save his hide.