Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War Page: 10
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on who the Secretary of the Navy was and who was CNO, until the Douglas-Mansfield
Act of 1952 amended the National Security Act to clarify the question in law. Between
the passage of the National Security Act of 1947 and the 1952 amendment, the
Commandant was often taken to be a subordinate of the CNO, not a coequal, and the
Corps itself an appendage of the Navy and not a separate service within the Navy
Department (on the assumption that the act had "intended to tri-elemantize the Armed
Forces on a three-Service basis, with the Marine Corps merely a specialist branch of
the Navy"), though gentlemen's agreements between a Secretary of the Navy and a
Commandant of the Marine Corps had ascertained otherwise.3
Further clarification of the status of the Marine Corps within the Department of
the Navy is needed because of the pervasiveness of the misconception that the Corps
is part of the Navy. "Side by side with the Navy, the Marine Corps is one of two military
services in the Naval Establishment [Department of the Navy], under direct control of
the Secretary of the Navy .... "And, as Chairman of the House Armed Services
Committee during the late 1940s, early 1950s, Carl Vinson said, "The fact is that the
Marine Corps is and always has been, since its inception 175 years ago, a separate
military service apart from the United States Army, the United States Navy, and the
United States Air Force." The "misconception" that the Marine Corps is an "appendage"
3 Thomas, Heinl, and Ageton, Marine Officer's Guide, 73-74; Allan R. Millett, SemperFidelis: The History
of the United States Marine Corps (New York: Macmillan, 1980): 506-07. That Secretary of the Navy was
John L. Sullivan and the Commandant of the Marine Corps was General A. A. Vandegrift. Sullivan wrote
to Vandegrift on 17 December 1947 to say that, "The Commandant of the Marine Corps is informed that it
is not the intent of the Navy Department, in seeking enactment of H. R. 3432 [Public Law 432, what would
become the National Security Act], to alter the Commandant's direct responsibility to the Secretary of the
Navy for the administration and efficiency of the Marine Corps. The Navy Department interprets neither
Executive Order 9635 [an earlier directive defining the wartime position of the Chief of Naval Operations]
nor H. R. 3432 as interposing the Chief of Naval Operations in the administrative chain of responsibility
between the Secretary and the Commandant, or as otherwise modifying the historical relationship
between the Secretary and the Commandant." (Quotation from the Officer's Guide.)
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Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War, thesis, August 2007; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/m1/25/?rotate=270: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .