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."