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The US Marines in Panama

The Iwo Jima Memorial
for all Marines past, present and those to come...

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Tocumen Forecast

Welcome to my tribute to the Marines everywhere. A salute to all Marines past, present and those to come... The United States Marines were in Panama since day one. So, as one who grew up with Matines guarding our gates and being part of my daily life in the Old Canal Zone, I hold a deep respect for Marines that withold the honor of the Corps and live up to the Marine core values. So without further ado... I will take you back to the easy 40's and 50's in the old Canal Zone. We will visit Cocoli and Rodman both Navy towns… Cocoli the best little town site in the old Canal Zone. Let me say one more thing about our Marines... Our Scoutmaster of Cocoli Boy Scout Troop 13 was a Marine. This was in the early 50's and then almost overnight he shipped out to Korea. We never heard anything more from him... May he be all right for he really treated us great! Now enjoy your visit. We also have souvenirs at JB’s Golden Touch Curio. If there are any questions or comments feel free to E-Mail Me… I will try to answer them manana. God bless you and yours… And you all come back… you hear? Hasta la vista and Buena Suerte! May the Force be with you…

On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia passed a resolution stating that "two Battalions of Marines be raised" for service as landing forces with the fleet. This resolution, established the Continental Marines and marked the birth date of the United States Marine Corps. Serving on land and at sea, these first Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations, including their first amphibious raid into the Bahamas in March 1776, under the command of Captain (later Major) Samuel Nicholas. Nicholas, the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines, remained the senior Marine officer throughout the American Revolution and is considered to be the first Marine Commandant.

Today's Marine Corps stands ready to continue in the proud tradition of those who so valiantly fought and died at Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, and Khe Sanh. Combining a long and proud heritage of faithful service to the nation, with the resolve to face tomorrow's challenges will continue to keep the Marine Corps the "best of the best." The Marines the first to fight continue to look for the Few and the Proud to join their ranks. I f you think you can measure up then contact your local Marine Recruiter...

"First to Fight"

Marines have been in the forefront of every American war since the founding of the Corps. They have carried out over 300 landings on foreign shores. They have served everywhere, from the poles to the tropics. Their record of readiness reflects pride, responsibility and challenge.

"Esprit de Corps"

The "spirit" of a unit. This spirit is commonly reflected by all members. It implies devotion and loyalty to the Marine Corps, with deep regard for history, traditions and honor.

"Once a Marine, Always a Marine"

The motto of the Marine Corps League. Having earned the title of Marine it becomes a integral part of who and what we will become later in life.

Following the Spanish-American War (1898), in which Marines performed with valor in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, the Corps entered an era of expansion and professional development. It saw active service in the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902), the Boxer Rebellion in China (1900). and in numerous other nations, including Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Mexico, and Haiti. In the mid 30's Naval Station Panama Canal was established and the Marines became part of this base in Panama. They were in charge of security of all naval forces and activities in Panama from their headquarter's...the Marine Barracks.

Here is a map of the Marine Barracks Complex. It was located off La Bruja Road across from NAVSTA Panama Canal.

Marine Corps Barracks - Rep of Panama

The original Marine Barracks was located at the foot of San Juan Hill on the Rodman Naval Base. It was on a road that let from the Navy Housing to pier 1 at the turn in the road. It was an old wooden building which later became a Day Care Center.

The Marines then moved over to a concrete green building across from the main gate of Rodman Naval Base off "La Bruja" Road. One could walk over to the Marine Base over a small bridge that spanned a large concrete drainage ditch. The first thing on the left was the "Bamboo Inn." This was a great place for poor boys, subs, chicken and icy cold Panama Beer.

The Base Commander of Rodman Naval Base lived with the Marines. He had quarters One. The Naval Housing here was situated on the edge of one of the best golf courses in the world. It was HOROKO (Howard-Rodman-Kobbe)

The Marine Headquarters (The Large Green Building) with a flagpole out front had quite a few stories. There were lots of inspirational warrior sayings on the steps leading to the top floor. In message traffic it was called the "Big House."

On the main floor was part of the Marine exchange. They usually offered watches, jewelry, electronic equipment and curio stuff. Across the street was the sporting good and outdoor shop. It was located in front of the Marine motor pool. The Marines had a couple of bays opened, which they used to pump iron.

The Main entrance was located on the road going to the Arizona Bar just before Arrijan Check Point by the PDF (Panama Defense Forces). This was closed and a new main entrance was build that was easier to defend and further away from the main Marine Headquarters’ Building. It was located off La Bruja Road. It was not directly across from Rodman Naval Base. The New Marine gate had a turn in it to slow the oncoming traffic. It was also well defended.

As we got closer to "Operation Just Cause" more concertina wire and sand bags were visible.

I remember one Marine Commander of the Panama Canal Expeditionary Forces who would run at high noon every day. The Marines usually ran early in the morning about 0530 down La Bruja Road pass Cocoli to Contractor's Hill and back then making a pass by the pier one and finishing their run at the top of San Juan Hill. That was the long run. They ran in Platoon Formation. Some days they left out the San Juan Hill portion of the run. The local Navy Seals with a Special Boat Unit would also run every day.

When I lived in Cocoli we had a few senior NCOs with families who lived there.

Yes, before it came apparent we would have a war in Panama the Marines would man the gates in their Dress Blues. Talk about sharp! At night they would be in their BDU's. Marines in Panama wore the khaki Pith Helmets.

Then with their build up soles and horseshoe taps they were sharp...Sharp rendering a salute or a wave onto the base.

Yes, I am really glad they were there. Oh, one more thing... They were often up on the shooting range above the Naval Piers keeping sharp by shooting countless rounds with their sidearm and M-16's.

So if you found this site then you must be a Marine… If not you may consider enlisting in the Few and the Proud the Marines! HOORAH!
Semper FI!

The Legend of Chesty Puller

Lewis Puller, “Chesty,” was one of the rarest of Marines... a onetime Private who rose to become a Lieutenant General. He had lived through more than a hundred combats in his Banana Wars of Haiti and Nicaragua to win a grim nickname: El Tigre.(The Tiger)

He had commanded Horse Marines in Peking in the early 'thirties and in Shanghai, on the eve of World War II, he had driven superior force of Japanese troops from the American quarter at gun point. He had been trained for battle as an infantryman, cavalryman, artilleryman, aviator, and shipboard officer. He had led the first championship Marine drill team and had been as famous as student and instructor in military schools.

In the Allied offensive of W.W.II, at Guadalcanal, he had with one half-strength battalion saved Henderson Field by standing off a Japanese division. On that island his men won two Medals of Honor, twenty-eight Navy Crosses and Silver Stars-and two hundred sixty-four Purple Hearts.

Six years later he had been called from peacetime obscurity to lead ashore the assault at Inchon, where the tide began to turn in Korea. When the Chinese crossed the Yalu River he brought out his regiment and equipment, including Army equipment left with keys still in the ignition. All the while destroying ten Chinese divisions at the same time. He was a legend to his men and when asked if he could have one wish what would it be, he responded by saying, "I would like to see the face of every Marine I ever served with one last time."

He was truly one of a kind.

"A ship without Marines is like a jacket without buttons."
Admiral David Porter, USN - 1863

MPSRON Three Flagship
MV 1st Lt. Jack Lummus

MV 1st Lt. Jack Lummus carries a full range of Marine Corps cargo, enough cargo to support a Marine Air Ground Task Force for 30 days. Each ship has lift-on/lift-off capabilities as well as roll-on/roll-off capabilities. Navy lighterage carried onboard consists of causeways, both powered and unpowered, and small boats to move them around. Lummus is certified to land up to CH-53E helicopters. The ship is prepositioned in Guam and Saipan.

While stationed in Panama, I had the great pleasure to make a transit of the Panama Canal onboard this great ship southbound as it headed to its designated preposition site in the far Pacific.

1st Lt. Jack Lummus, USMCR, born Oct. 22, 1913, in Ennis, Texas, earned a Medal of Honor, posthumously, for his actions on Iwo Jima on March 8, 1945, while assigned to Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division.

1st Lt. Jack Lummus
Medal of Honor Recipient

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


For service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Leader of a Rifle Platoon, attached to Company E, Second Battalion, Twenty-seventh Marines, Fifth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 8 March 1945. Resuming his assault tactics with bold decision after fighting without respite for two days and nights. First Lieutenant Lummus slowly advanced his platoon against an enemy deeply entrenched in a network of mutually supporting positions. Suddenly halted by a terrific concentration of hostile fire, he unhesitatingly moved forward of his front line in an effort to neutralize the Japanese position. Although knocked to the ground when an enemy grenade exploded close by, he immediately recovered himself and, again moving forward despite the intensified barrage, quickly located attacked and destroyed the occupied emplacement. Instantly taken under fire by the garrison of a supporting pillbox and further assailed by the slashing fury of hostile rifle fire, he fell under the impact of a second enemy grenade, but courageously disregarding painful shoulder wounds, staunchly continued his heroic one-man assault and charged the second pillbox annihilating all the occupants. Subsequently returning to his platoon, position, he fearlessly traversed his lines under fire, encouraging his men to advance and directing the fire of supporting tanks against other stubbornly holding Japanese emplacements. Held up again by a devastating barrage, he again moved into the open, rushed a third heavily fortified installation and killed the defending enemy. Determined to crush all resistance, he led his men indomitably, personally, attacking foxholes and spider-traps with his carbine and systematically reducing the fanatic opposition until, stepping on a land mine, he sustained fatal wounds. By his outstanding valor, skilled tactics and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, First Lieutenant Lummus had inspired his stouthearted Marines to continue the relentless drive northward, thereby contributing materially to the success of his company's mission. His dauntless leadership and unwavering devotion to duty throughout enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.


Daniel Daly

Birth: Nov. 11, 1873
Death: Apr. 27, 1937

Sgt. Major, USMC. Twice was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Daly received his first Medal of Honor during the Boxer Uprising for his actions in the battle of Peking, China on Aug. 14,1900. His second award came on Oct. 24,1915, for an attack on an enemy stronghold in Haiti. Daly also received the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in World War I.

"Come on, you sons of bitches - do you want to live forever"
(Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly, USMC, Belleau Wood, June 1918)

U.S. Marine Corps' Core Values

Generation after generation of American men and women has given special meaning to the title United States Marine. These same men and women live by a set of enduring Core Values, which forms the bedrock of their character. The Core Values give Marines strength and regulate their behavior; they bond the Marine Corps into a total force that can meet any challenge. These are Honor, Courage and Commitment.

"Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue"

Refers to the victories in World War II, especially at Iwo Jima, the largest all-Marine battle in history. Admiral Nimitz's ringing epitome of Marine fighting on Iwo Jima was applied to the entire Marine Corps in World War II.

The USS New Jersey weathering a storm while going in harms way. (Circa 1944)

The plaque on the USS New Jersey...a tribute to all Marines.

"Devil Dogs"

In the Belleau Wood fighting in 1918, the Germans received a thorough indoctrination in the fighting ability of the Marines. Fighting through supposedly impenetrable woods and capturing supposedly untakeable terrain, the persistent attacks, delivered with unbelievable courage soon had the Germans calling Marines "teufelhunden," referring to the fierce fighting dogs of legendary origin.

"Semper Fidelis"

The Motto of the United States Marine Corps. Latin for always faithful. Faithful to God, Country, Family and the Corps.

USMC Museum

"Once a Marine, Always a Marine"

The 2nd Battalion 9th Marines (2/9) was an infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. Formed during World War I, the unit played an instrumental role in the defeat of the Japanese forces in the Battles of Guam and Iwo Jima during the World War II. The battalion distinguished itself in the defense of Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War.

During Operation Desert Storm, the battalion served as the lead battalion for the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF). 2/9 also participated in various humanitarian missions. The battalion helped evacuate Americans from Northern China during the Chinese Civil War and in various occasions participated in providing relief to the victims of typhoons. In 1992, the battalion participated in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.

2nd Battalion 9th Marines served until September 2, 1994, when it was deactivated to make room for one of three light armor reconnaissance battalions. It was part of the 9th Marine Regiment and the 3rd Marine Division.

"First to Fight"

E-Mail Me

Escape to Panama with the tide...

Picture credits: Bill Fall, US Navy Archives, Navy Historical Society, Marine Historical Archives and Old Rodman Naval Station photo files.

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