Sunday, December 2, 2012

Family Lore Turns Into Official History

My Grandfather on my Dad's side was a United States Marine.

Family lore was always that he had done his basic at Paris Island and was then sent off to the Dominican Republic. This was the lore. Now I have the proof. is a wonderful resource. I have been using it for years in my genealogy research. Recently they added more military records to their resources, including the muster rolls for the Marine Corps.

Based on these monthly records I was able to reconstruct Grandpa's entire military career. Well; almost. There are a few months missing; I just need to figure out how to find the missing months.

These records are interesting, even without the family connection. They list every Marine in the Corps, by unit and by rank alphabetically. The sole identifier, after their name, was their muster date in this period. Typewritten, they contain small details, like when they were transferred in and out, and if the Marine has gotten into trouble, requiring a reprimand and/or loss of pay. 

As it stands now:

Enlisted in on June 16, 1918 to Company X, Marine Corps Barracks, Paris Island, South Carolina; one of 396 Privates in the company, noted without comment.

On July 8, 1918 he was assigned to 3rd Regiment, US Marines, Santo Domingo City, Dominican Republic, along with quite a few of his Training Company.

He arrived in Santo Domingo on July 22, 1918, sailing on board the USS Hancock, and became part of the 44th Division, 3rd Provisional Regiment, 2nd Brigade, USMC.

August is interesting. The muster list for the 44th only list those Marines that were being punished for some transgression, were sick or had died. Several of the Marines died from 'incised wounds in the skull'. But no reference to Grandpa; thankfully.

In September he spent the 26th to 30th "in field, in Providence of Santo Domingo".

I checked October pretty thoroughly, and could not even find a reference to the 44th Division; maybe the records are incomplete? I did not look at every one of the 480 some pages, so I may have missed something. Still; are the records complete? Hard to say.

The next record is January, 1919, where the record indicates he spent the entire month "in field in Providences of Macoris and Seibo, DR".

Next record is April of 1919, again with no comment.

Then comes July of 1919, that contains a rather (for these records anyway) lengthy comment:
"22 participated in an engagement with native bandits at Plata de la Palma, DR. 25 transferred to Barracks Detachment per Regimental transfer order 92, dated July 25, 1919".

There are two records in August of 1919. The first is from the Barracks Detachment, Third Provisional Regiment, Santo Domingo City, DR: "7-transferred to US on USS Kittery".

The second is from the Barracks Detachment, Marine Barracks, Charleston, South Carolina: "14- disch. (discharge) by S.O. (special order) of the MSG (unknown; Marine Strike Group?). Char. (character) 'Excellent'." Basically, he was involved in a battle with the bandits they were in the Dominican Republic to fight, and 3 days later was sent back to Headquarters and rotated back to the States for discharge.

Total time in service: June 16, 1918 to August 14, 1919; just shy of 14 months.

Also according to family lore there were only a few things that could be saved from the family home in Newport before it was flooded in the Flood of January, 1937, and two of the things Grandpa saved were his Marine Corps uniform and discharge papers.

Interestingly enough, as near as I can tell there were only two Marines in the 1918-1919 period with my Grandpa's name; the other mustered in in April of 1917, and spent his time in France.

Lots of questions answered, but like with any good mystery, more questions remain. What was Special Order 92? What does MSG mean? Strike Group is a fairly modern term, so I doubt it is correct. And why are there months missing?

I just wish I would have been able to have this done a couple of weeks ago, for Veterans Day.

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