I have been chided by some of my Navy buddies for "overlooking" the most important October 13 event -- the Navy's 231st Birthday. Blaming it on the strange effects that Friday the thirteenth can have, I was, nonetheless, remiss. So in the way of penance, here is a little about the birthdays of the five major branches of our armed services. And before I hear about it from someone else, no I have not forgotten about the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserves, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Coast Guard Reserve, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Health Service, and our State Defense Forces -- more on them on another day.
Army Birthday - June 14, 1775 - 231 Years Old
Our current day Army can be traced back to the Continental Army which was formed on June 14, 1775, before the formation of the United States itself and a year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The Continental Army was formed by the Continental Congress to meet the demands of the American Revolutionary War.
Navy Birthday - October 13, 1775 - 231 Years Old
The Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on October 13, 1775, to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America. All together, the Continental Navy numbered some fifty ships over the course of the war, with approximately twenty warships active at its maximum strength.
Marine Birthday - November 10, 1775 - Soon To Also Be 231 Years Old
The Marine Corps was born in Tun Tavern on November 10, 1775, as any Marine can tell you. Considering all the history surrounding Tun Tavern, and the various roles it played in the formation of our Country, here are a few related facts.
Tun Tavern was built in 1685, in Philadelphia. It was located at the corner of Water Street and Tun Alley. As the old English word tun means a cask, barrel, or keg of beer, this new beer tavern on Tun Alley was christen with a very logical name, Tun Tavern.
In 1732, the first meetings of the St. John's No. 1 Lodge of the Grand Lodge of the Masonic Temple were held in the tavern. An American we all know, Benjamin Franklin, was its third Grand Master. Even today the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia recognizes Tun Tavern as the birthplace of Masonic teachings in America.
In 1747 the St. Andrews Society, a charitable group dedicated to assisting poor immigrants from Scotland, was founded in the tavern.
In 1756, then Col. Benjamin Franklin organized the Pennsylvania Militia, using Tun Tavern as a gathering place to recruit a regiment of soldiers to go into battle against the Indian uprisings that were plaguing the American colonies.
Over the next two decades, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Continental Congress met in Tun Tavern as the American colonies prepared for independence from the English Crown.
On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned Samuel Nicholas to raise two Battalions of Marines. That very day, Nicholas set up shop in Tun Tavern. It is said prospective recruits flocked to the tavern, lured by cold beer and the opportunity to serve in the new Corps of Marines.
Tun Tavern still lives today. And, Tun Tavern beer is still readily available throughout the Philadelphia area and through various magazines that advertise to Marines throughout the world.
Coast Guard Birthday - August 4, 1790 - 216 Years Old
On August 4, 1790, the first Congress authorized the construction of ten vessels to enforce tariff and trade laws, prevent smuggling, and protect the collection of the federal revenue. Known first as the Revenue Marines and then the Revenue Cutter Service, the Coast Guard received its present name in 1915 under an act of Congress when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the Life-Saving Service.
Air Force Birthday - September 18, 1947 - 59 Going On 100
On September 18, 1947, the first secretary of the Air Force was sworn in as, after many years of planning, an independent air arm was formed, an equal to the Army and Navy. The Air Force then became the "first line of defense" in post-war world two.
However, on Aug. 1, 1907, over 40 years earlier, the U.S. Army Signal Corps established a small Aeronautical Division to take "charge of all matters pertaining to military ballooning, air machines and all kindred subjects." Certainly sounds like an Air Force beginning to me.
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt