American Legion Reynoldsburg Post 798 12th District Council Department of Ohio
                                                  American Legion                                                 Reynoldsburg Post 798                                                  12th District Council                                                  Department of Ohio

The Oath of Enlistment

The very first oath of enlistment for United States servicemembers goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War. The Second Continental Congress voted on 14 June, 1775 to create a continental army, to be commanded by General George Washington (who was so appointed the next day). As a part of that act, they set down an oath that was to be taken when one enlisted. Each man had to raise his right arm and say:

 

"I _____ have, this day, voluntarily enlisted myself as a soldier in the American Continental Army for one year, unless sooner discharged; And I do bind myself to conform, in all instances, to such rules and regulations, as are, or shall be, established for the government of the said Army."

 

The oath was amended by that congress the next year. On September 20, 1776, they passed the Articles of War. In Section 3, Article 1, the words were changed to read:

 

"I _____ swear (or affirm) to be trued to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies opposers whatsoever; and to observe and obey the orders of the Continental Congress, and the orders of the Generals and officers set over me by them."

 

When the war ended and the U.S. Constitution written, the oath was again changed by the First Congress on September 29, 1789.
The oath read in two parts:

A.
"I ______ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States."

B.

"I _______  do solemnly swear (or affirm) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me."

 

These oaths remained unchanged until 1960, when they were combined and modified under Title 10, Section 502, into what
it is today for all enlistees.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
and The American Legion

 

On October 22, 1921, The mortal remains of four unidentifiable U.S. soldiers that had been killed in France in World War I and later exhumed on Memorial Day, 1921, were convoyed to Chalons-sur-Marne. They were escorted by three soldiers and an American Legion veteran.


Laid out in state in ceremonial catafalques before him, a highly-decorated soldier of the war, Sgt. Edward Younger, was given the most prestigious honor of selecting from the four the one soldier that was to be taken back in the U.S. as being THE “unknown soldier.” Younger himself had fought bravely at Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel, the Somme Offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

The chosen fallen comrade was escorted across the Atlantic to the U.S. and taken to Washington, D.C. On Veterans Day, he was laid to rest in what would be the new memorial, a three-level marble tomb. This lad was to represent all of those American service members who fought and died for this country, and whose remains were never identified.


In February 1969, in recognition of its upcoming 50th anniversary, The American Legion paid for and had installed a special $100,000 lighting system for what had become the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The memorial had by then been added to by two unknown warriors: one from World War II and one from Korea, both of which had been interred back on Memorial Day, 1958.


A month later, on March 15 1969, exactly 50 years after the American Legion’s birth, President Nixon pressed a button that activated the new lighting system.

 

An additional unknown from the Vietnam conflict was interred into the tomb by President Reagan on Memorial Day, 1984, but that individual was later exhumed in May 1998 after his body was identified through DNA testing as being USAF 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972.

 

In 1999, the Pentagon announced that no new remains would be interred in the tomb, since new technological advances like DNA testing would make fallen comrades remaining unknown very unlikely.

 

Perpetual maintenance on that lighting has ever since then been of course, paid for by the American Legion.

 

The memorial since then has been renamed the "Tomb of the Unknowns."

The Creed of the Sentenial Guarding the Tomb

 

My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted.


In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter, and with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection.

 

Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.
 

It is he who commands the respect I protect.
 

His bravery that made us so proud.
 

Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.

The Two Sinkings of the USS Oklahoma

USS Oklahoma (BB37), a World War I veteran, was moored at Pearl Harbor that day on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. She was hit by five torpedoes before she capsized and flipped over as crewmen jumped from her decks into the flaming waters around her. Total loss was 429 dead, most of whose remains were never identified.

 

All attempts to salvage her like most of the other battleships there were stymied by her damage. But the Navy persisted, and she was finally refloated in November 1943. Unfortunately, the vessel was considered too ravaged to ever be put back into service. So the Oklahoma was finally decommissioned on September 1, 1944. Her armamant was taken off her and put to other uses for the war effort.


In May 1947, two ocean tugs, the Hercules and the Monarch, began to tow her back to a scrapyard in San Francisco. With all of her armament and nearly all of her superstructure removed, she looked like a big barge. With the large decommissioned battleship behind them, they made the slow speed of only 5 knots.  About 2,400 miles away in the city, plans were being made for a welcome home and farewell ceremony set, fittingly, for Memorial Day. Oklahoma Gov. Roy J. Turner and almost 500 people were going to pay their last respects to her before they took the torch to her.

 

Unfortunately one evening after they had departed, six days out and just over 500 miles out of Hawaii, they unexpectedly ran into a storm.


That night, each 14-man tug crew struggled to get the vessels out of the storm. Using several searchlights to see into the rain-swept darkness, they kept an eye on the Oklahoma behind them. They soon began to observe with alarm that the battleship, which had begun listing to port a couple days before, was now listing heavily at about 30 degrees and was in danger of sinking. The tugs radioed the Coast Guard and were ordered to abandon their tow and return to Pearl Harbor.

 

So around midnight of May 16-17, the crews began to play out the drums to their towing cables to release them. Not long after though, the battleship suddenly went down at 1:40 a.m., and the 1,400-foot tow lines began to pull the tugs backwards towards the battleship's watery grave. As the tugs frantically tried to make headway, saltwater cascaded over their sterns, threatening to swamp them. The Hercules crewmen could not even get to their winch to release the cable, because by then it was underwater.


As the Oklahoma rapidly sank into the depths, the tugs were pulled backwards at nearly 15 knots. The towing line from the Monarch quickly played out, and that tug was released as the tow line went flying into the air with a shower of sparks. The Hercules' cable though did not release, but at the last possible moment, its stern winch exploded and the severed cable was ripped away, leaving the tug tossing and pitching above the grave of the sunken battleship.

 

The tugs somehow remained in the area until daybreak to make sure that no wreakage had floated to the surface.

 

The exact position of Oklahoma's final resting place is still not known.

 

USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor in 1947, just before her
ill-fated departure for the States
.

The American Legion

Reynoldsburg Post 798

P.O. Box 58

Reynoldsburg, OH 43068

Post Commander

Pete Margaritis

pmargaritis@columbus.rr.com

NEXT MEETING

The next regularly scheduled monthly post meeting will be on Thursday, January 11th, 2018, at 1900 hrs. at the Eagles Club, 1623 Brice Rd, Reynoldsburg, Ohio,
(614) 861-9073.

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