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Marines And The O.S.S.-WW II
Col. Peter J. Ortiz, USMC  
(The following information is from information provided by Historical
Section HQMC, Washinton, D.C.).


"One of the most decorated Marine officers of World War II, Colonel Peter Ortiz served in both Africa and Europe througout the war, as a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
Although born in the U.S., he was educated in France and began his military service in 1932 at the age of 19 with the French Foreign Legion. He was wounded in action and imprisoned by the Germans in 1940. After his escape, he made his way to the U.S. and joined the Marines. As a result of his training and experience, he was awarded a commission, and a special duty assignment as an assistant naval attache in Tangier, Morocco. Once again, Ortiz was wounded while perfoming combat intelligence work in preparation for Allied landings in North Africa.
In 1943, as a member of the OSS, he was dropped by parachute into France to aid the Resistance, and assisted in the rescue of four downed RAF pilots. He was recaptured by the Germans in 1944 and spent the remainder of the war as a POW.
Ortiz's decorations included two Navy Crosses, the Legion of Merit, the Order of the British Empire, and five Croix de Guerre. He also was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French. Upon return to civilian life, Ortiz became involved in the film industry. At the same time, at least two Hollywood films were made based upon his personal exploits. He died on 16 May 1988 at the age of 75."
--A Different War: Marines In Europe And North Africa, Marines In WWII Commemorative Series, By LtCol Harry W. Edwards (Ret) 
There are numerous detailed accounts of the background and exploits of Ortiz in various publications; I will list those of which I am aware at the end of this article. He had been born in New York City and educated in France where he left school before graduation to join the Legion.  He was said to be the youngest sergeant in the history of the French Foreign Legion.  He was wounded in action between the Legion and Germans in 1940, then imprisoned in a concentration camp in Austria.
After escaping, making his way to the U.S. and joining the Marine Corps in June 1942, he was commissioned in August 1942, commissioned a captain in the Marine Corps Reseve in December 1942,  and assigned to North Africa as an assistant naval attache where he organized a patrol of Arab tribesmen to scout German forces on the Tunisian front. He was asigned to the OSS after recovering from wounds suffered in Tunisia.
Captain Ortiz had reported back to HQMC in April of 1943, and the following month joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a secretive organization and predecessor to the CIA. He was a graduate of both the Legion's and Marine Corps' parachute schools.  Having lived in France he was fluent in that language; he also spoke nine other languages and was fluent in five. He parachuted into France on January 6, 1944, assigned to help organize and lead elements of the French underground forces known as the "Marquis."
The Leatherneck magazine of January 1991, indicates that:
In the course of his duties he began frequenting a nightclub in Lyons that catered to German officers. This enabled Ortiz to gain much information regarding German activities in the area, which he turned to good use against the Germans.  This Marine had worn his Marine uniform when leading Marquis groups in raids. To have an Allied officer leading them bolstered their morale immensely, especially when the uniform bore such impressive decorations.
"One night, while Ortiz sat with the German officers at the club in Lyons, an enemy soldier damned President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He then damned the United States of America. And then, for whatever reason, he damned the United States Marine Corps (Ortiz later wrote that he "could not, for the life of me, figure why a German officer would so dislike American Marines when, chances were, he'd never met one.")
Perhaps Ortiz was bored. Perhaps he......he excused himself from the table and returned to his apartment where....changed into the uniform of a U.S. Marine....he then shrugged into a raincoat and returned to the club....he ordered a round of drinks...refreshments were served.... removed his raincoat and stood brandishing his pistol.
"A toast, he said, beaming, respendent in full greens and decorations, "to the President of the United States!" As the pistol moved from German officer to German officer, they emptied their glasses.
He ordered another round of drinks and then offered a toast to the United States Marine Corps!
After the Germans had drained their glasses, the Marine backed out, pistol levelled at his astonished hosts. He disappeared into the rainy, black night.
....The train approached. The explosive device was detonated....the Marqis opened up....Grenades were tossed. Ortiz waited for the firing to subside, then stood in full view in his Marine Corps uniform and ordered the Marquis to withdraw....leaving 47 Germans dead and many others wounded. Not a Marquis was lost.
His adventures were numerous..."
--Leatherneck, January 1991 
After the war, Colonel Ortiz worked with director John Ford, a former member of the OSS himself.. Two movies were produced depicting the exploits of Ortiz. They were, "13 Rue Madeleine," with James Cagney, etc., and "Operation Secret," with Cornel Wilde, etc.
Ortiz also had small parts in such films as, "The Outcast," "Wings of Eagles," and "Rio Grande." He also played the part of Major Knott in the film, "Retreat Hell," a movie about the Marines at the Chosin Resevoir in 1950.
Marine Colonel  Peter Ortiz was laid to rest at Arlington National cemetery on May 23, 1988. Prior to burial, the procession was led by the Marine Band in full dress, playing hymns - then a Marine rifle company in full dress,  with fixed bayonets - six white horses pulling a caisson with the flag draped coffin and the beautiful black riderless horse with the reversed boot.
A Navy commander chaplain conducted a short service.
Representing the U.S. Marine Corps was General Frank Breth, Director of Intelligence; representing France was Colonel Guy Hussenot; representing England was Captain Jeremy Robbins, of the British Royal Marines... 
Related site: WW II Marines In The Atlantic, Africa and Europe

Sterling Hayden

References and Reading List
1. "A Different War: Marines In Europe And North Africa," By LtCol Harry W. Edwards USMC (Ret)
2. Leathernck magazine, January 1991
3. Marine Corps League, Autumn 1992
4. Friends of the Foreign Legion Newsletter, V3, No.2 1988
5. Military History magazine, April 1990
6. World War II magazine, July 1998
7. This Is Your Life (TV show) Nov9, 1949
8. Miscellaneous documents, newsclippings, etc. from Historical Section HQMC
9. Marines In WW II, The Atlantic, Africa & Europe
The above references were provided by Historical Section HQMC.
It is recommended that interested viewers of this webpage obtain the above documents where much more information is to be found.
This is an extension/satellite site of
Gunny G's Marines WebSites
By Dick Gaines GnySgt USMC (Ret.)

E-Mail: GunnyG@HotMail.Com 

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