Displayed here is a replica of the original colors of the United States Marine Corps 4th Regiment. The only known original flag is on display at the Command Museum, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. Following is a history of that original flag.

In 1923, the 13th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General John A. Lejeune, directed the traditional blue colors of the Corps be replaced, as needed, with new colors, consisting of a scarlet background with scarlet and gold inscription.

In 1933, with creation of the Fleet Marine Force, all regiments of the Corps were renamed and The Fourth Regiment of Marines, originally formed in 1911 under the command of Colonel C. A. Doyen in San Diego, California became the 4th Marine Regiment.

It took time for the Commandant's directive to reach "every clime and place." But, on July 4th, 1937 in Shanghai, China this original flag know throughout the regiment as Old Blue, was marched front and center of the spit-shined regiment one final time, before being retired.

The directive to change the regiment's colors from blue to scarlet included an order that all retired colors would be destroyed by burning. Fortunately an unnamed Marine, who apparently could not bear to carry out the order to burn the colors, hid Old Blue in the bottom of his seabag. That nameless Marine later died in the line of duty in China and his personal effects were carried to the Philippines when the 4th Marine Regiment evacuated Shanghai and moved to the Island of Corregidor.

Miraculously, at the end of World War II, the personal effects of the men of the 4th Marines were returned to Marine Barracks, Mare Island, California, to await final shipment home. Among them was the Marine's seabag which still contained the original Regimental Colors. An officer detailed to inventory personal effects found Old Blue neatly folded at the bottom of the deceased Marine's seabag. Realizing the value of his discovery, he transferred the flag to his personal belongings.

Twenty years later the long-forgotten colors were rediscovered by the officer in a deteriorating state. Wanting to return Old Blue to the Marine Corps, the officer contacted LtCol. Bob Calland, USMS (Ret.), at the Smithsonian Institute, in Washington, D.C. The Regimental Colors were brought the Marine Corps Museum at the Washington Navy Yard and were placed in storage at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia.

Aware that the 4th Marine Regiment was formed in San Diego, LtCol. Calland began the process to bring Old Blue back home. Following an expensive restoration project, Old Blue was fully restored and arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot's Command Museum, in February 1991.

Recalled from generations of benevolent neglect, the 4th Marine Regiment's Old Blue is magnificent in its resurrection and fully pardoned from the 1923 sentence "...to be destroyed by burning."



return to top  ^