First to Fight

Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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The book First to Fight starts off with a letter from then commandant General Randolph McC. Pate to Lieutenant General Krulak asking why the U. S. needs a Marine Corps. He responded five days later by answering the question conversely by asking why the U. S. does not need a Marine Corps. And the truth is America does not really need a Marine Corps. But the people want us to be here, not on any technical level but on a whole different level. The American people want it that way not on what we know what we are or what we know we can do, but what our country believes we are and believe what we can do. If that ever disappears, then so will the Marine Corps. 11.

BODY: First to Fight starts out with Lieutenant General Krulak asking Gunnery Sergeant Walter Holzworth how the Marine Corps came by its reputation as of the world’s greatest fighting formations. He answered by stating that “they started right out telling everybody how great they were. Pretty soon they got to believing it themselves. And they have been busy ever since proving they were right. ” He then goes on to talk about the beginning of the Marine Corps back in 1775 and how the Marines were initially raiders against British Commerce. The Continental Marines actually disappeared after the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

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They were revived in 1794, and their position was solidified in law in 1798. The Marines were used as seagoing police to help the Navy maintain discipline in its ships. Lady Luck has played a big role in keeping the Marines around also, by Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon at Derna, Floyd Gibbons report of Belleau Wood, and by playing the photographer Joe Rosenthal on top of Mt. Suribachi at the precise moment five Marines and one Corpsman raised the flag. There have been several big thinkers in the Marine Corps history that had the foresight to see what it would take to keep the Marine Corps alive in the future.

The continuous struggle for a viable existence clearly fixed one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Corps, a sensitive paranoia that has led to the Marines always challenging themselves to higher standards just to stay in the fight. The Marines have almost been disbanded several times throughout history. The Army has tried to disband or absorb us on more than one occasion. The Navy has tried to kick us off of their ships and hinder us from having any say so in any major military actions.

Each time we have succeeded through congress and the American people to stay alive by showing we live, fight, and act to a higher standard than any of the other services. It is said the Marine Corps is the best in amphibious assault. In truth we were the first of the U. S. military to study it in depth. The Marines developed the Tentative Manual in 1934, which in 1935 was renamed the Manual for Naval Overseas Operations. It took seven months to write. This was a major part of the strategy for World War II, and was crucial for the Pacific island hopping campaign.

The Marines Corps has always struggled with the need for money, and one major example is outlined in Chapter Five and Chapter Six about how most of the doctrine was made before the Marines even had enough boats that could actually storm a beach. By the end of 1941, the Navy finally decided that the Marines were right and adopted the Higgins boat and the LVT and the Pacific Campaign was finally possible. The United States Congress sees the Marines as very frugal. This is another point that has kept the Marines here throughout the last two hundred years.

They have been able to get into the Seminole War and the Mexican War because the Commandant told the President Marines would be cheaper to use than the Army. Under Commandant Lejeune the Marines actually returned money to the Treasury at the end of the fiscal year. From uniform items to equipment, compared to the other branches, all have been cheaper or out modeled. Finally in 1954 the Department of Defense engaged in a massive standardization program. Contracting and Manufacturing were consolidated but the Supply Depot still sits where it always has as a testament to the frugality of Marines over generations.


The Marine Corps has been tested again and again about their very existence over the years. Each and every time the Marine Corps has stepped up to the test, and will continue to do so. The U. S. Congress has had to step in a few times to help the Marines, but they only do so because of our actions they have seen and the American people still want the Marine Corps alive. From the time a recruit steps on the yellow footprints all the way to a commissioned officer, all must strive to be better than they are, and continually raise the bar.

If not the Marine Corps will cease to exist. If it was not for a small group of extremely dedicated Marines, the Marine Corps would already be a thing of history.


In conclusion, I think this is a very motivated book. It goes through past events that made the Marine Corps what it is today. It is extremely detailed into what Lieutenant General Victor Krulak did and was a part of during his career. There is pride and purpose in it that show through his words what it means to be a United States Marine.

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First to Fight. (2016, Nov 29). Retrieved from

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