marines, troops that serve on board ships of war or in conjunction with naval operation. A British marine corps was established in 1664, and the need for skilled riflemen aboard military vessels brought about intermittent renewal of this organization. In 1775 the Continental Congress established the Continental Marines in the American Revolution, and after this organization had disappeared with the end of the war, the U.S. Congress created (1798) its successor, the present U.S. Marine Corps. The Corps played a distinguished role on the Barbary coast and has been prominent in all major wars in which the United States has participated. In the early 20th cent. U.S. marines were sent to quell disturbances in several Central American and Caribbean countries—Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. In a controversial move, the United States also sent some 22,000 marines and paratroopers into the Dominican Republic during the revolution of Apr., 1965. In World War II the marines played a key role in the invasion of several Pacific islands held by the Japanese, and they also served with distinction in Korea and Vietnam. Under the organization (1947) of the National Military Establishment, the U.S. Marine Corps functions as a branch of the U.S. Navy but is a complete operating unit within itself and has all military arms except cavalry.
See C. L. Lewis, Famous American Marines (1950); R. D. Heinl, Soldiers of the Sea (1962); J. B. Moran, Creating a Legend (1973).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.