Thursday is the 241st birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, the anniversary of the date when two Marine battalions joined the U.S. Revolution. Naturally, the Corps has by this time racked up any number of impressive warriors, so in honor of the branch’s birthday, let’s take a look at some of the ones we’ve covered.
Richard Delgado Jr.
A 10-year-veteran of the Corps, Delgado is the Director of Military Community Development at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. In that capacity, he organizes food drives, helps fellow veterans and their families organize healthcare and counseling, and created the Patriots’ Casa, a spot on Texas A&M campus where veterans can come together to share resources and build a community. “A veteran will help another veteran before he will help him or herself,” he told PEOPLE. “Most of those that join the military do it not because they want any accolades or any awards they do it just because they want to give back. This is my way of continuing to give back since I’ve taken off my uniform.”
Wyatt was an 8-year-old Californian who died from Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome Type 1, a disease that causes kidney failure. Thanks to his father, Marine drill instructor Jeremiah Gillette — and Anthony North, a Marine who helped Gillette — Wyatt was made an honorary Marine just a day before he died. “I truly feel that Wyatt has faced more hardship than any Marine has gone through, and for that should be given the title,” North wrote on Change.org.
Linville lost his right leg below the knee after surviving a bomb blast in Afghanistan. “I’m not upset about my injury, but I can’t take people feeling sorry for me,” he told PEOPLE in April, shortly before departing for his third attempt at climbing Mount Everest. He succeeded in May, becoming the first combat-wounded veteran to scale the world’s most notorious mountain. “To get on one of these mountains and to accomplish something most able-bodied people can’t, it would be like vanquishing that demon that was left behind by the war,” Linville said in April.
Marine Sergeant Cody Leifheit had been in Lewiston, Idaho, for only a week when he woke up at 2 a.m. to hear people screaming outside his apartment. He found a 19-year-old man named Tristan hanging from his neck by a rope after he’d apparently jumped from 25 feet up after telling his friends he wanted to die. Leifheit quickly organized bystanders into action, then grabbed a knife and scaled the tree to cut Tristan down. Finding no pulse, Leifheit performed chest compressions until Tristan revived and then incredibly resumed that task after a paramedic found that Tristan had bottomed out again. “This is just me being human,” Leifheit told PEOPLE. “You would have done the same thing. If you’re physically capable of doing something to save someone, you do it. What I did was not a heroic act.”
Marine Corps Corporal Carpenter became the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient in 2014 when he was recognized for his actions on Nov. 21, 2010. Carpenter suffered catastrophic injuries fighting the Taliban in a small village in Afghanistan when he threw himself in front of a grenade to protect another Marine, Lance. Corporal Nick Eufrazio. Carpenter’s Medal of Honor citation reads, “By his undaunted courage, bold fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death, Lance Corporal Carpenter reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps.”