In Chinese mythology, the dragon is one of the four divine animals believed to have supernatural powers and deep wisdom. It has been an imperial symbol for centuries and the subject of many rituals and pageants. The legend says that dragons could ride the wind and waves, lend their strength to heroes and bring destruction to the irreverent. Depending on their temperament, the Chinese dragon could be either a loyal ally or a feared foe.
For the Fourth Marines who were deployed to Shanghai, China from January 1927 to November 1941, the dragon became the adopted iconic symbol. The type of dragon used in historical images is that of the Imperial Dragon, the symbol used by the Chinese Emperor to signify royalty and power. The symbol itself began to appear on official and unofficial logos and mastheads. For the China Marines, the dragon signified the pride and prestige the Fourth Marines had during the Shanghai era. The China Marines often had images of dragons embroidered onto their dress blues uniforms, stenciled onto their sea bags, or etched into other keepsakes. Once moved to another duty station, the Dragon symbol designated those lucky few who served in China. Today, the dragon symbolizes the spirit of First Battalion, Fourth Marines. It hearkens back to hallowed antiquity, reminding us of our history as the China Marines.