Ask a military history buff to match 6 June with a historic event and the answer you’ll probably get is D-Day, the 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy. But ask a Marine the same question and you’re likely to receive a different response. That’s because 6 June was the first day of the Corps’ trial by fire at a patch of French forest known as Belleau Wood.
The battle there a century ago was pivotal. In early June 1918, the German war machine was rolling toward Paris, with the French line crumbling before it, when U.S. Marines were rushed into the breach. After halting the enemy juggernaut only 30-odd miles from the City of Lights, the Leathernecks grabbed the offensive on 6 June and in a brutal three-week battle wrested control of Belleau Wood from the “Boche.”