Commentary by Ed Offerman
While Americans remember the 1st anniversary of the Boston Bombing most are unaware of the 100th anniversary of an important battle in US Navy & Marine Corps history. On April 21st 1914, 6249 “Blue Jackets” & “Leathernecks” of the 2nd Seamen Regiment & the 1st Marine Brigade attacked the coast of Veracruz, Mexico. The attack was ordered by President Wilson, better known as a pacifist, who had sent the armed force to the Mexican coast after the US flag was purportedly not accorded proper respect by Mexican authorities. A resolution was passed by Congress authorizing the use of force to rectify this perceived offense to national pride.
The attack began under the pretext of intercepting the delivery of German munitions in Veracruz. The Mexican & German governments were assisting each other in the early stages of WW I in Europe & there were concerns along the Mexican/American border. The sailors & Marines fought house to house & roof to roof, taking out snipers & setting up rooftop communications. When the advance stalled US Navy warships bombarded a nearby Mexican Naval Academy killing 15 defending cadets. In the end at least 126 Mexicans were killed. The American loses were 15 sailors & 4 Marines. On April 27th the American flag was raised over Navy HQ in Veracruz. Marine Col. John Lejeune, (Camp Lejeune, NC was later named for him) later recalled; “There was scarcely a dry eye among Americans who participated in it or witnessed it (Mexican) President Huerta had declined to hoist and salute the American flag, but we had forcibly seized his principal maritime city and had ourselves wiped out the indignity which had been put upon our country.”
President Wilson was visibly disturbed by the loss of American life, “I cannot forget that it was I who had to order those young men to their deaths” in what he called “a war of service” Entire American cities paused to hold funeral parades & services. Perhaps 1 million were on hand along the parade route in New York City. An interesting bit of Naval Aviation history also occurred on that far off Mexican coast. The first flight in a combat environment occurred on April 25th while searching for mines in Veracruz harbor. Two weeks later a plane was hit by rifle fire during an inland recon mission, the first naval aircraft damaged by hostile fire.
While we take time to remember the victims of the Boston bombing let us also remember these Navy & Marine heroes of the early 20th Century who died in service to their country. Well done sailors & Marines, we will never forget.
Ed Offerman is President of the Fall Creek Twp. Board and is a Veteran’s advocate & member of American Legion Post 470 in Fishers. He is also a combat veteran, having served in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division