On the 217th anniversary when Lt. Presley Neville O’Bannon raised the American flag over Tripoli harbor after the Battle of Derna, U.S. Marine Corps Major General Jerry Humble (Retired) and Mrs. Margaret Humble, along with the community and the nation, dedicated O’Bannon’s home as a center for leadership, patriotism, and freedom.
On April 27, 1805, Lt. Presley O’Bannon and seven other U.S Marines and about 400 mercenaries led an assault against a more significant force at the Tripoli fortress in Derna. Defeating the enemy, O’Bannon celebrated the first U.S. wartime victory on foreign soil by raising the American flag. The line from the Marine Hymn — “ the shores of Tripoli,” memorialized those actions. The victory at Derna gave U.S. diplomats the leverage to secure the release of Americans held hostage and ended the First Barbary War.
In recognition of his bravery, O’Bannon was presented a curved Mameluke sword by the restored leader of Tripoli, Prince Hamet Karamanli. In 1825 the U.S. Marine Corps adopted the O’Bannon Mameluke sword for Marine officers… the sword they still wear today.
Upon leaving the Marine Corps in 1807, O’Bannon moved to Logan County, Ky., and in 1812 built a home in Russellville. The historic O’Bannon House, located at 515 South Main Street in Russellville, has been restored and preserved to honor the legacy, leadership, and patriotism of Presley O’Bannon. (www.obannonhouse.org) On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, the O’Bannon House was dedicated during a public ceremony.
“Lt. Presley O’Bannon is one of the iconic heroes of the U.S. Marine Corps. His courageous leadership, devotion to country, and role in so many time-honored traditions of the Corps deserves our recognition,” said Major General Jerry Humble, USMC Ret. and Founder of the Presley O’Bannon House Preservation Foundation, Inc. “More importantly, he serves as a beacon of the sort of patriotism, faith, and selflessness that we should all seek to emulate today.”
Marines attending the dedication ceremony included Cpl. Michal Juett, a veteran of the first Gulf War who served from 1987 to 1991. He said, “As a Marine and veteran, I’m always proud to see Marine Corps history brought to life, preserved, and the story continued to be told. It brings Marines and other vets together to give us something to celebrate, to look back on friends we may have lost and places we’ve been, and allows us to share stories.” He continued, “There’s a lot of history in this house. I think it’s good for Russellville and I think it’s good for Logan County to have something like this.” Cpl. Ivan Sewell served from 1994 to 1998 and was also in attendance. He said, “I think it’s outstanding that a group of Marines can come to a place like this and become a brotherhood again, to catch up on life and relate their stories to one another while enjoying themselves.” He added, “I think it’s excellent for Russellville that this place is becoming more well known because many people are not aware of what is going on here. It’s nice that it’s come to reality for the Humbles and that they’re opening the home as a patriotic-themed house.”
The dedication ceremony featured an appearance by an Honor Guard from the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. The company executive officer for Co B at Marine Barracks Washington, Captain Kelsey Hastings, said, “All of us are excited and honored to be here today. It’s the traditions, talking about those who had valor. Those who created the name the Marine Corps has and the legacy that we have, it’s amazing to celebrate that and be here and represent that.”
The ceremony concluded with Marine Derrick Huff presenting an a capella performance of the Marine Corps Hymn.
Russellville Mayor Mark Stratton said, “Today is another great day for the city of Russellville as far as the historical value of not only this home, but it also reiterates the sacrifice of men and women that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Gathering on days like today is the start of many great things at the O’Bannon House, the City of Russellville, and the County of Logan.”
The ceremony included comments from Academy Award nominee Tom Berenger (“Sniper,” “Major League,” “Platoon,” “Gettysburg,” and others) and hometown girl Mrs. Kelly (Ashby) Paul, wife of U.S. Senator Rand Paul. Kentucky Senator Mike Wilson presented Maj. Gen. Humble with a Citation as well as a Senate proclamation.
Steve Cropper, legendary 2022 Grammy nominee, and Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer, Artimus Pyle, made special appearances. Nationally known musical artist Tim Montana also made a special appearance with Joey Jones for live broadcasting segments of Fox & Friends to begin the day’s celebration.
“Every U.S. Marine is well aware of the service and sacrifice of Presley O’Bannon. We are excited to share his story and legacy with generations of Americans who may not be familiar with his role in the traditions of the Corps and securing the freedoms we still enjoy today,” Humble pointed out. “It’s a story worth knowing, and a legacy worthy of our embrace as a nation.”
“I had to learn about Presley O’Bannon from the Marine Corps, not from history or my hometown. I’m doing this to use the home as a venue to promote patriotism and American history and highlight this beautiful little Southern Kentucky town with such national history. It’s a goldmine of national history!” said the General when asked why he began this project. “It’s not just the O’Bannon house. We also have Flint Ridge — The McCuddy place, John J. Crittenden’s home, the bank the Jesse James Gang robbed, and other important sites. The first black female journalist to travel with the president comes from here. I think it’s a time when we need to all learn more about how this nation was built, by the sacrifice of men and women in the past.” he added.
To learn more about the non-profit O’Bannon Foundation or make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.obannonhouse.org.