The Marine Corps League, formed in 1923 by members of what had been the Marine Corps Veterans Association, assimilated more than 40 existing marine oriented organizations that sprang up following the end of World War I. Comprised largely of veterans of the fierce fighting between the Fifth and Sixth Marine Regiments and the Germans, these returning veterans of the Great War (“the war to end all wars”) were called “Teufelhunde” by their German adversaries, literally meaning “Dogs of the Devil,” or as we now know, DEVIL DOGS. Legend has it that, because our Marines were so undersupplied during the battle of Belleau Wood; that1 when they engaged the Germans in hand—to-hand combat, they bit them!
These battle—hardened Marines who, for all time, earned for ensuing generations, the title “Devil Dog” more than 74 years ago on 6 June 1918, were a part of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) commanded by General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing. They had set sail on 14 June 1917 under orders from Major General Commandant George Barnett as a “Force in Readiness.” At the time, the total strength of the Marine Corps, worldwide, stood at 511 officers and 13,214 enlisted men. Landing in Europe, they included two-time Medal of Honor recipient First Sergeant Dan Daly. Colonel A. W. Catlin, a Medal of Honor recipient at Vera Cruz, was evacuated from Belleau Wood after having been shot by a German sniper. Gunnery Sergeant E. A. Janson (who served in the Corps as Charles Hoffman) earned the first Marine Medal of Honor for saving his command, the 49th Company. At the end of the battle for Belleau Wood, 1,062 Marines lay dead. The French General commanding the Sixth Army ordered that Belleau Wood (Bois de Belleau) be henceforth known as “Bois de la Brigade de Marine.” Seven Marines would ultimately be awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during World War I. Alphabetically, they were: Sergeant Louis Cukela, Gunny Sergeant Earnest A. Janson, Private John J. Kelley, Sergeant Matej Kocak, Corporal John H. Pruitt, Gunnery Sergeant Robert G. Robinson, Gunnery Sergeant Fred W. Stockham and 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Tabot. The Medal for Stockham was not authorized until 15 July 1939; and, only after Commandant—designate Major General Clifton B. Cates prevailed on the Congress and President Roosevelt to enact special legislation awarding the medal posthumously on the recommendation of then Lieutenant Cates the day after the action.
Following the establishment of the Marine
Corps League, the leadership of the League decided that the delegates assembling
in convention needed some time during their serious deliberations to “blow
off steam.” As a result, the Military Order of Devil Dogs was organized
and created in 1939, in Boston, MA; and, granted a charter as a subsidiary
organization of the Marine Corps League on 19 March 1940. From those early
years, the Military Order of Devil Dogs (the Order) has grown to a strength
of over 3,000 members.
The Order is organized in nearly every state where there is a Marine Corps League presence. Now in its 53rd year, the Order boasts a semi—permanent headquarters in Michigan, and a full—time Kennel Dog Robber/National Executive Secretary.
The Order, the FUN and HONOR SOCIETY of the Marine Corps League, is comprised of only regular members of the League who have been recommended for membership by 2 members of the Order. Each member undergoes a series of initiations. First, as a Pup, in their Pound (the local organization, the basis of the Order); then, as a Devil Dog in their Pack (the State organization which meets during a Department Convention); and, finally, as a Pedigreed Devil Dog at the SUPREME GROWL held in conjunction with the National Convention of the League. Each degree must be held for one full year before candidacy for the next degree may be considered.
It promotes good fellowship amongst the members of the different Marine Corps League Detachments. The Order provides amusement and entertainment at all gatherings of the League, when and where advisable, preserves and strengthens the principles and ideals of the League, and maintains true allegiance to the United States of America and its Constitution and laws. It fosters and extends American institutions of freedom and defends America against all enemies whatsoever. The Order is also very active in raising funds for different charities.