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USMC Virtual Campaign Library: Vera Cruz 1914


teufelhunde.ret

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I found this photo among my grandfather's papers. It was taken in April 1914 aboard the USS Utah (BB-31) at Vera Cruz. Dwight

 

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Major Smedley Butler, a recipient of one of the nine Medals of Honor awarded to Marines, later tried to return it, being incensed at this "unutterable foul perversion of Our Country's greatest gift" and claiming he had done nothing heroic. The Department of the Navy told him to not only keep it, but wear it.

 

Butler retired as a Major General, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. His views on the Vera Cruz invasion were summed up in his post-retirement book War is a Racket:

 

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. " (In the book he continues on in that vein, citing other so-called banana wars)

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teufelhunde.ret

Some years ago I read a book about Butler "The Letters of a Leatherneck". I drew the conclusion his retirement years and thinking had opened him to a whole new environment of world politics and big business. He became enlightened to an American foreign policy that he unwittingly helped develop and were detrimental to these countries. In the 30's he then starting speaking out against war (his Quaker roots?), big business and foreign policy. He foresaw what future leaders called the military industrial complex. And by the late 30's became an isolationist and a pacifist. There is little doubt he took his counties values seriously and felt that he had been defending democratic right as a young man. By the end of his time in the Corps I think he felt betrayed by corporate power; defending democracy had little to do with the "small wars" campaigns.

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A very excellent post, Darrell! :bravo: Great pictures & history of this campaign. There was a clear over-awarding of Medals of Honor at Vera Cruz particularly to USN & USMC Officers as Smedley clearly pointed out. This was likely due to the fact thar prior to this Campaign, the Navy MOH was reserved for "petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines" and was not, unlike the Army MOH, also awarded to officers. Apparently this was an opportunity to catch up! Thanks for this great thread! Semper Fi! Bob

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Some years ago I read a book about Butler "The Letters of a Leatherneck". I drew the conclusion his retirement years and thinking had opened him to a whole new environment of world politics and big business. He became enlightened to an American foreign policy that he unwittingly helped develop and were detrimental to these countries. In the 30's he then starting speaking out against war (his Quaker roots?), big business and foreign policy. He foresaw what future leaders called the military industrial complex. And by the late 30's became an isolationist and a pacifist. There is little doubt he took his counties values seriously and felt that he had been defending democratic right as a young man. By the end of his time in the Corps I think he felt betrayed by corporate power; defending democracy had little to do with the "small wars" campaigns.

 

Those campaigns are pretty much unknown by most Americans, politicians and media included, and that's too bad because knowing the history of those events would give a better perspective on how much debate and deliberation goes into the deployment of US forces in the 21st Century. Butler is a prime example of what I've tried over the years to point out to those who insist on portraying warriors as warmongers: no one despises wars more than those who actually had to fight them.

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Darrell: I've pinned this one along with its Haiti brother in hopes others over time will fill these pages with unique images of these campaigns.

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Darrell: I've pinned this one along with its Haiti brother in hopes others over time will fill these pages with unique images of these campaigns.

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  • 2 weeks later...
teufelhunde.ret

Interior view of the Mexican Naval Academy damage by U.S.S. Chester bombardment.

Vera_Cruz__Mexico._U.S._battle_and_occupation_1914._Interior_view_of_the_Mexican_Naval_Academy_damage_by_U.S.S._Chester_bombardment..jpg

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teufelhunde.ret

The morning of the 21st, 502 U.S. Marines from the 2nd Advanced Base Regiment, 285 armed Navy sailors, known as

"Bluejackets," from the battleship USS Florida (BB-30) and a provisional battalion composed of the Marine detachments of the Florida and her sister ship USS Utah (BB-31) shown here after landing.

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teufelhunde.ret

Morning Colors for 2nd Regiment Col. Lejune in Command, members of his command included Smedly Butler, Wendell Neville, Randolph Berkley, Harry Lee and John Quick as Regimental Sgt. Major

MEX_WAR_1914_2nd_MARINE_REGIMENT_DURING_COLORS.jpg

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teufelhunde.ret

Seated in the center is Ensign Paul F. Foster, USN while serving as "Acting Provost Marshall" at Vera Cruz, Mexico, circa April 1914. He received the Medal of Honor for "distinguished conduct in battle" on 21-22 April 1914, during the intervention at Vera Cruz.

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teufelhunde.ret

Pier 4, Veracruz's main wharf, unloading 5" guns

USMC_OR_ARMY_UNLOADING_A_5_GUN_VERA_CRUZ_MEXICO_1914.jpg

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teufelhunde.ret

FIRING LINE AT CUSTOMS HOUSE, VERA CRUZ, MEXICO

FIRING_LINE_CUSTOMS_HOUSE_VERA_CRUZ_MEXICO_1914.jpg

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  • 2 months later...
Butler retired as a Major General, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. His views on the Vera Cruz invasion were summed up in his post-retirement book War is a Racket:

 

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. " (In the book he continues on in that vein, citing other so-called banana wars)

 

like most military personal here on this board i allways felt as i got older i no longer felt the need to go and be the biggest person on the block and i can see how he felt about his involvement in the socalled banana wars at the time ..he felt at the end of his career that he had made choices that where not allways right and how he felt that he could have wish that he could gone back and changed some of the things in his military career ..but as military personal we have to live with the things that we have done in our careers..

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Here is a postcard scene of the US occupation of Vera Cruz that was mailed on the USS Virginia on 14 June 1914. It is hand titled "bluejackets with machine gun ashore / Vera Cruz Mexico". It is signed "H. Threadgill" and was mailed to his apparent girlfriend in Starkville, Miss. Internet research turned up a William H. Threadgill who appears on the USMC muster rolls from 1916 into the 1920s. One of four men of this name was born in Mississippi in 1897. Further research at the St. Louis Archives would indicate whether this Wm. H. Threadgill was the same man at Vera Cruz in 1914.

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  • 1 month later...

Great Post! I became interested in Vera Cruz after finding the sword listed in this post. I found this to be a fasinating campaign especially with the CMH issue. Again thanks for the great post.

Vera Cruz Sword

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