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Happy birthday — oorah!

It is a birthday today that needs to be recognized and acknowledged.

The birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

marinesBorn in the crucible of the Revolutionary War, the Marine Corps came to be on November 10, 1775, when the Continental Congress approved the resolution to establish two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore:1

It was then, the Marine Corps says, that a legacy was born: “Leading up to the American Revolution, a committee of the Continental Congress met to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore. The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines.”2

That resolution, in its entirety (and with a little notation in the margin that indicated it was to be secret), read:

Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or insisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required: that they be insisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.3

The Marine Corps history continues:

As the first order of business, Samuel Nicholas became captain and commanding officer of the newly formed Marines and visited numerous public inns and taverns throughout the city of Philadelphia to begin recruiting. One of his first recruits was popular patriot and tavern owner Robert Mullan. Capt Mullan owned Tun Tavern, which subsequently became part of military lore as the birthplace of the Marine Corps.


Each year, the Marine Corps marks November 10 with a celebration of the brave spirit which compelled these men and thousands since to defend our country as United States Marines.4

So two members of The Legal Genealogist‘s family get special kudos today:

• My brother Bill (Major, U.S.M.C., Ret.), who served this country with grace and style through some of the scariest days of the 20th and 21st centuries,

• My cousin Philip Cottrell (2nd Lt., U.S.M.C.), who gave his life during World War II. Philip died as a Marine aviator when his plane went down in a training accident in 1943.5

Hats off to them both,… and semper fi.

And if your family members served, the general records of the U.S. Marine Corps are held by the National Archives in Record Group 127, Records of the United States Marine Corps, 1775-1981. There’s an overview of the records and their locations in the online Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States at the NARA website,

Individual service records of the Marines in our families may be available from the National Archives, depending on the time frame:

Pre-World War I: For an enlisted service member discharged, deceased or retired before 1 January 1905 and some officers who served 1798-1895, the records should be in the National Archives’ Older Military Service Records in Washington, D.C., and can be ordered using form NATF-86 for military service records and NATF-85 for military pension and bounty land warrant applications.

Through 1953: The Official Military Personnel Files of those discharged from World War I through 1953 should be in the National Archives’ National Military Personnel Records Center in St. Louis as archival records, while later records are considered non-archival, and are restricted to the veteran and next of kin.

Recent-current: And for those discharged recently (after 1999) or still in service, the records are still held by Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Personnel Management Support Branch.

Happy birthday, U.S. Marines.



  1. Timeline: Seventeen Seventies,” History & Heritage, U.S. Marine Corps ( : accessed 9 Nov 2016).
  2. Ibid., “A Legacy is Born.”
  3. Resolution, 10 November 1775, Journal of the Continental Congress 3: 348; digital images, “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875,” Library of Congress, American Memory
  4. Timeline: A Legacy is Born,” History & Heritage, U.S. Marine Corps ( : accessed 9 Nov 2016).
  5. See Judy G. Russell, “Memorial Day thanks,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 28 May 2012 ( : accessed 9 Nov 2016).
  6. See generally Gidget Fuentes, “The Marine sergeant major behind the ‘oorah’ battle cry,” Marine Times, posted 10 Nov 2015 ( : accessed 9 Nov 2016).
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