First Advisor

Jim F. Heath

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History




United States. Marine Corps -- History, Marines -- Oregon -- History



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 295 p.)


The history of the United States Marine Corps in Oregon, and of the many Oregonians who have served as Marines, is a unique story which has never been told. This thesis examines United States Marines from the state of Oregon and activities by Marines in the state. It covers the Oregon Marine experience from its start in 1841 through the Gulf War conflict of 1991 to the present. From 1838 to 1842, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, United States Navy, led a remarkable exploration and scientific expedition around the world. In 1841, Wilkes visited the Pacific Northwest, and accompanying him aboard his flagship, the ll.S.S. Vincennes, was Quartermaster Sergeant Marion A. Stearns and thirty-two other United States Marines. Steams set a sound leadership example for both his Marines and those of the future as he landed from the sea and explored inland territory ranging from Puget Sound, to the Cascades, the Columbia River, and the Willamette Valley. Stearns' Marine detachment from the 11.SS Peacock even managed to survive their shipwreck upon the Columbia River bar. Oregon had thus begun her unique military heritage with respect to the United States Marine Corps. From this event in 1841, the one hundred and fifty year history of United States Marines in Oregon continued. In 1846, on the eve of the Mexican War, a Marine officer, First Lieutenant Archibald H. Gillespie, delivered a secret presidential message from James K. Polk to explorer John C. Fremont at Klamath Lake. Later, Marines from Union warship detachments visited Astoria and Portland during the Civil War. In 1898, at the Battle of Manila Bay, Private Charles C. Schroeder of Oak Grove, fought aboard the ll.S.S. Olympia with Commodore George Dewey. World War I and World War II found Oregon contributing a diverse and dedicated group of Marines who served valiantly in combat against German and Japanese forces. During the long Cold War with the Soviet Union, the wars in Korea and Vietnam exhibited a continuation of faithful Marine service by Oregonians. And in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm of 1991, Marines from Oregon continued as their forefathers had before them to honorably serve, sacrifice, and quietly return home. Their record of courage and professionalism are an important but little known part of Oregon's rich history.


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