Mark Mortensen's Blog

December 27, 2016

With sadness I was recently informed that my good friend, author, historian and Marine George B. Clark passed away on December 23rd. I considered George to be the #1 authority on WWI Marine Corps history.

I had the pleasure of visiting with George and his wonderful wife twice at their remote residence in northern New Hampshire not far from the Canadian border. Each day I would look forward to George's roughly half dozen emails, some historical, while others were quite comical. Two years ago, during back and forth correspondence, George shared this story that sums up his character.

“...However, do have a speaking relationship with the subject, McArthur, that may interest you.

In early 1946 I took the train from Yokahama to Tokyo. I went to a place where American civilians advised military personnel where to go and to eat and sleep. The one place they were anxious that people attend was the Dai Ichi building in which Doug [McArthur] had his headquarters but be there at 11:00 sharp, when he always arrived.

Anxious to see that glorious man I arrived a few minutes early and noted a large crowd with loads of photographers holding most of the positions. So, seeing the top landing with two huge USA men waiting there to open doors I went and stood behind one of them.

Up comes you know who. He got out of his Caddy and the photogs were all around him as he walked up the steps with his jaunty cap and pipe between his lips. I was really stretching to view this marvelous scene.

As he stood at the top of the steps and the soldiers were opening the glass doors, he turned and said to me “Don’t Marines salute general officers?” Of course I nearly fainted, seeing me with 30 years in the Portsmouth Navy Brig ahead.

I saluted and he waltzed into the building. It was a pleasant one-sided conversation that I’ve never forgotten.”


With George in his ever active home library 2008

George B. ClarkGeorge B. Clark

Devil Dogs Fighting Marines of World War I by George B. Clark Devil Dogs Chronicle Voices of the 4th Marine Brigade in World War I by George B. Clark The American Expeditionary Force in World War I A Statistical History, 1917-1919 by George B. Clark Battle History of the United States Marine Corps, 1775-1945 by George B. Clark The Second Infantry Division in World War I A History of the American Expeditionary Force Regulars, 1917-1919 by George B. Clark The Fourth Marine Brigade in World War I Battalion Histories Based on Official Documents by George B. Clark His Road to Glory The Life and Times of "Hiking Hiram" Bearss by George B. Clark Battle History of the United States Marine Corps, 1775-1945 by George B. Clark United States Marine Corps Generals of World War II A Biographical Dictionary by George B. Clark
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Published on December 27, 2016 17:37 • 61 views

January 6, 2014

As we enter 2014, the Centennial year to recall the beginning of World War I, my hope is that the following years leading to the Armistice Centennial in 2018 will be a period of sincere reflection upon those from each side who served, those whose lives were forever altered and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Proper honor and recognition requires that history should prevail over fiction.

My thoughts often drift back to my grandfather Ove Mortensen, the longstanding patriarch of my family, who on the eve of Armistice crossed the Meuse River single file on flimsy wooden boards strung together, along with his battalion commander USMC Major George W. Hamilton. Jeff Shaara author of the fictional novel “To The Last Man” is likely unaware that the historic painting by artist Fredrick C. Yohn titled "The Last Night of the War" posted on the front cover of his book, in actuality features Major Hamilton in the middle holding his helmet surrounded by other 1/5 Marine comrades in action on the far bank of the Meuse River.

Hamilton one of the “Giant’s of the Corps”, who died in 1922, has looked down upon his grave in Arlington National Cemetery for many years now. It was a true honor to write Hamilton’s biography and detail his entire exploits along with two recommendations for the Medal of Honor in the First World War.
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Published on January 06, 2014 18:57 • 179 views

June 6, 2013

Sadly on Memorial Day only about 15% of the American flags across our country get lowered to half-staff. On Memorial Day the flag is to be at half-staff until noon and then put to full-staff (CRS Report for Congress, The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions, Updated April 14, 2008). The half-staff period represents mourning and raising the flag to full-staff shows that our nation lives on.

In this era, to coordinate the display of the American flag at all federal, state and local public localities, I wish for the law to be updated to placing the flag at half-staff Friday evening at the start of the three day weekend and raising the flag back to full-staff Tuesday morning and I ask for your assistance to prompt elected federal officials in accomplishing this for 2014.

Memorial Day is different from Veteran’s Day and our nation’s heritage is fading away.

On Memorial Day 2012 I was honored to be the guest speaker at the retirement facility of my friend USMC Col. J. Shelton Scales (Ret), who commanded the 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines at Iwo Jima. Of the original 24 battalion commanders on the island, today the colonel at 96 years of age is 1 of 2 still living. Reflecting upon D-Day at Iwo Jima the colonel once stated: "Feb. 19, 1945, is forever branded on my brain, and I could not let this date pass without acknowledging the enormous debt to those young men whose lives were so violently terminated. Those dead had their futures cancelled."

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Published on June 06, 2013 17:41 • 104 views