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“Do you want to live forever?”

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Belleau Wood was a turning point in WWI and a earned a place in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps.  In  June 1918, with the German army just 50 miles outside Paris, the Allied Second and Third Divisions mounted a counter-attack to halt the German advance and retake Belleau Wood. But the only way into the woods was through an adjoining wheat field protected by massive German firepower.

As American forces arrived, Captain Lloyd Williams of 2nd Bn, 5th Marines Regiment was advised by the retreating French troops that turning back was the best course of action.  He replied,  “Retreat, hell!  We just got here!”  With little to no cover, but accurate sniper fire laid down,  the Marines maneuvered through the 800-yard open field, trying to reach the heavily entrenched German soldiers.   The Marines paid for every step.   When the officers fell, the sergeants led the way.  When the sergeants fell, the corporals took over. And when the corporals fell, the privates still fought.

The Marines of the 5th and 6th Regiments of the 4th Marine Brigade  took Belleau Wood.  More than 1,800 Marines lost their lives.  It was the greatest number of casualties the Corps had sustained in a single battle up to that point. It’s estimated they killed 8,000 German troops with them and captured another 1,600.  The battle that had begun June 1 ended on June 26 when Maj. Maurice Sheaerer reported: “Woods now U.S. Marine Corps- entirely.”


Written by PappyBro

June 6, 2008 at 17:49

Posted in Uncategorized

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