MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT (Nov. 30, 2012) -- With more than 237 years of history behind it, the Marine Corps boasts its share of larger-than-life heroes who, through feats of bravery and sacrifice, earned places in its legendary lore.
As time passes, some stories fade from memory. To preserve the heroes of the past from the ravages of time, Headquarters Marine Corps created the History Division in 1919, whose job it is to record, preserve and distribute the Corps’ history as it happens.
From the start of their careers, every Marine is indoctrinated with the rich history of the Marine Corps. Tales of heroes from Capt. Samuel Nicholas to Sgt. Dakota Meyer are taught to every recruit in every platoon in boot camp and retold at every Marine Corps birthday ball.
“A certain amount of pride helps keep one on the straight and narrow. Pride in the Corps and prior Marines means that you take ownership for your actions and do not want to tarnish the name Marine or the Corps by inaction or misdeeds,” said Annette Amerman, a senior reference historian. “Pride also instills community – the Corps is a family and having pride in one’s family keeps morale up and that leads to better combat efficiency.”
The field history branch is responsible for collecting historic material from major exercises and operations. Made up of mostly reserve officers, they deploy to collect photos of Marines in action, interviews with the Marines who took part, and artifacts present at the battles.
“Part of the field historian’s mission is to deploy overseas with Marine Corps units,” said Capt. Joseph L. Rossiter, a field historian. “Field historians do not stick with one unit, but will try to attach to several units getting an overview of the actions all Marines are doing in theater.”
When the facts are gathered and placed in the proper context, the historians make it readily available to both Marines and the general public. Archiving historical documents and artifacts in one place makes it easier to obtain, and ensures consistent procedures and improved accuracy, said Amerman.
Their work puts the Marine Corps in the public eye and reminds the American people why the Corps exists.
“America needs what the Corps does, a force-in-readiness, always able to go to the tough places quickly and get the job done,” said Amerman. “America needs to be reminded of that, especially during tough times like these. We historians help Americans remember they want and need a Corps.”
On a local level, the history division takes care of the command chronology, honors and lineage programs, tracking the various operations units have taken part in and the awards units earned. The unit historical officer tracks the command chronology information and maintains local historical programs for the benefit of the unit’s Marines.
Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 has a long history that includes operations during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and the War on Terror.
“Knowing where VMAQ-2 came from in the past helps them to figure out where we need to go in the future,” said Capt. Judson P. Riordon, the squadron’s historical officer. “It gives them a good sense of pride and accomplishment, especially just coming home from deployment just over a month ago now.”
Riordon gave a brief history on his unit, originally a photoreconnaissance squadron activated during the 1950s. In 1975, it became solely an electronic warfare squadron, and in 1992 was broken down into three squadrons; VMAQ-1, 2, and 3.
“It’s pretty unique for sure,” said Riordon. “For a lot of us younger guys, the only way we’re going to find out about it is to read some of the history.”