By lex, on April 27th, 2010
Marine Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon receives a sword:
27 APR 1805: Following an extremely difficult march across a 500-to-700-mile stretch of North African desert; U.S. Army officer and Naval agent to the Barbary regents William Eaton, U.S. Marine Lt. Presley Neville O’Bannon and seven American leathernecks – leading an unlikely and often near-mutinying Christian-Muslim army of Arabs, Western European adventurers, and Greek mercenaries – attack and seize the fortress at Derna commanded by the ruling pasha Yusuf Karamanli, on “the shores of Tripoli” (Yes, that’s where the line comes from in the Marine Corps Hymn.)
Supported by the offshore guns of USS Argus (the first of two so-named U.S. Navy vessels), USS Hornet (the third of eight so-named U.S. Navy vessels), and USS Nautilus (the first of six so-named U.S. Navy vessels), O’Bannon’s men storm the enemy’s works in fierce hand-to-hand fighting, turn the enemy’s guns on the pasha’s palace, and ultimately raise the stars and stripes over the “Old World” for the first time.
So-impressed with O’Bannon’s leadership and heroics, newly installed pasha Hamet Karamanli (Yusuf’s pro-American brother), will present O’Bannon with a Mameluke sword. U.S. Marine officers today still carry the Mameluke sword, whereas Marine NCOs carry the traditional Naval infantry saber.
Semper Fi, Marines.