|Presley Neville O'Bannon|
|Nickname(s)||"Hero of Derna"|
Fauquier County, Virginia
|Died||September 12, 1850 (aged 73–74)
Henry County, Kentucky
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1801-1807|
Presley Neville O'Bannon (1776 – September 12, 1850) was an officer in the United States Marine Corps, famous for his exploits in the First Barbary War. In recognition of his bravery, he was presented a sword for his part in attempting to restore Prince Hamet Karamanli to his throne at Tripoli. This sword became the model for the Mameluke Sword adopted in 1825 for Marine Corps officers and which is part of the dress uniform even today.
Born in Fauquier County, Virginia, Presley O'Bannon entered the Marine Corps on January 18, 1801. As a first lieutenant assigned to the USS Argus (1803), he commanded a detachment of seven Marines and two Navy midshipmen in General William Eaton's small army during the Tripoli campaign of the First Barbary War. During the combined operations with the U.S. Navy, he led the successful attack in the Battle of Derna on April 27, 1805, giving the Marines' Hymn its line "to the shores of Tripoli". Presley O'Bannon at this battle became the first man to raise the American flag over foreign soil during time of war; his superior William Eaton (a former Army officer) actually had done that several months earlier while traveling on the Nile from Alexandria to Cairo, however, this was not done during time of war as Lt. O'Bannon's action was. Thus, Lt. O'Bannon is still the first American to raise the American Flag over foreign soil - during time of war. According to tradition, Hamet Karamanli was so impressed with O'Bannon's bravery that he gave his own Mameluke sword to O'Bannon as a gesture of respect; however, this is a myth. After O'Bannon returned home, the Virginia legislature presented him with a sword featuring a silver eagle head hilt and a curved blade modeled after the one Hamet had given him. The blade was inscribed with his name and the date of the battle.
O'Bannon resigned from the Marine Corps on March 6, 1807. He moved to Logan County, Kentucky, making his home in Russellville. He served in the Kentucky State Legislature in 1812, 1817 and 1820–21, and in the Kentucky State Senate from 1824 to 1826.
Presley O'Bannon died in Pleasureville, Kentucky in 1850 at the age of 74 (where his daughter and nephew lived). In 1919 his remains were moved to the Frankfort Cemetery.
Because of O'Bannon's Marines' distinguished record during this campaign, Marine Corps Commandant Archibald Henderson in 1825 adopted the Mameluke sword for wear by all Marine Corps commissioned officers. Since the initial distribution in 1826, the Mameluke sword has been worn except for the years 1859-75, when regulations required Marine officers to wear the model US Army M1850 foot officers' sword. Mameluke swords are worn today by Marine Corps officers in dress uniform.
Three Navy ships have been named USS O'Bannon in his honor:
- the USS O'Bannon (DD-177), a Wickes class destroyer which was launched in 1919 and struck in 1936;
- the USS O'Bannon (DD-450), a Fletcher-class destroyer which was launched in 1942 and struck in 1970; and
- the USS O'Bannon (DD-987), a Spruance-class destroyer, which was launched in 1978 and struck in 2005.
- "First Lieutenant Presley Neville O'Bannon", Who's Who in Marine Corps History.
- "Noteworthy Marines". Tun-Tavern.com. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
- "Presley Neville O'Bannon", Find-A-Grave.
- "O'Bannon House Historical Marker". Kentucky Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- "Swords of the Marine Corps". Symbols and Icons. Marines.com. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- "O'Bannon (I)". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- "O'Bannon (II)". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- "O'Bannon (DD 987)". Naval Vessel Register. NAVSEA Shipbuilding Support Office, United States Navy. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- Crouch, Howard R. (1999). Historic American Swords. Fairfax, VA: SCS Publications. pp. 99–103.
- Cureton, LTC Charles H., USMC (Ret.) (2006). "Early Marine Corps Swords". The Bulletin of the American Society of Arms Collectors (93): 121–132.
- "DD 987 O'Bannon". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- "First Lieutenant Presley Neville O'Bannon, USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
- Mowbray, E. Andrew (1988). The American Eagle Pommel Sword, the Early Years 1793-1830. Lincoln, RI: Man at Arms Publications. pp. 218–219.
- Peterson, Harold L. (1970). The American Sword 1775-1945. Philadelphia: Ray Riling Arms Books Co. pp. 192–193.
- "Presley O'Bannon". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- London, Joshua E. Victory in Tripoli: How America's How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
- Smethurst, David. Tripoli: The United States' First War on Terror. New York: Presidio Press, 2006.
- Zacks, Richard. The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805. Hyperion, 2005.
Was played by John Payne in the 1950 Paramount motion picture 'Tripoli'
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Presley O'Bannon.|
- "Presley Neville O'Bannon, 1st Lt., USMC (1776-1850)". Namesake. United States Navy. Archived from the original on 2005-06-30.
- From the Halls of Montezuma To the Shores of Tripoli: Presley Neville O'Bannon and the Marine Corps Sword, at Virginia Memory