AGE-OLD FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
From The New England Journal of Medicine
By Pamela Grimm, M.D.
Naval Hospital, Beaufort, Parris Island, South Carolina.
A while ago, before more recent geopolitical disasters, I saw on the news that a “rapid response team” of Marines had landed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and I wondered whether any of “mine” were there — the recruits I see at the Parris Island Marine training facility in South Carolina.
I realized my first morning here that the culture of the “Island” and the “grunts” is worlds away from my own. My first recruit-patient — an 18-year-old with pilonoidal abscess — shouted “Yes, Ma'am!” or “No, Ma'am!” whenever I asked him a question. When I was his age, I was out in the streets protesting against a war. Somehow, almost unnoticed, that war has become a long time ago. What did I know about war? About as much as these kids do, I guess.
Read complete story at: http://content.nejm.com/cgi/content/full/351/1/3 [http://content.nejm.com/cgi/content/full/351/1/3]
AMERICAN MEDIA - THE NAYSAYERS
Forwarded by AirByrd
When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of entrenched Iraqis from his platoon's flank. He had killed more than 20 and wounded at least as many more. But that's probably not how he would tell it. He would probably merely say that his Marines were in trouble, and he got them out of trouble, ooh-rah, and drive on.
What this war hero's citation says in its entirety, few Americans will hear or read. It isn't making the evening news.
The odd fact about the American media in this war is that it's not covering the American military. The most plugged-in nation in the world is receiving virtually no true information about what its warriors are doing.
Accounts of American valor are dismissed by the press as propaganda, yet accounts of American difficulties are heralded as objectivity.
It makes you wonder if the role of the media is to inform… or to depress - to report… or to deride - to tell the truth… or to feed us lies!
But, if you'd like to hear the truth, for a change, it can be found primarily on the Internet in such heroic stories as this one [http://www.wtv-zone.com/Mary/THISWILLMAKEYOUPROUD.HTML ].
CHARACTER SHINES THROUGH WORDS AND DEEDS
From Keefer Welch, forwarded by JayPMarine
You may get some idea of why President Bush recently nominated Gen. Peter Pace, USMC, to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after you have read these extemporaneous remarks the general delivered at Mayport, FL. On 2 Feb 2005 - on the occasion of the USS Hue City’s 11th annual memorial service marking the 35th anniversary of the Battle for Hué.
Captain Young, to you and to your magnificent crew, thank you. Not only for the extraordinary hospitality that you have given to all of us here, but also for all that you do with your ship of the line to protect U.S. interests around the globe. And it's great to see you're back in the water. And in April when you get back to the sea, it's going to be with the same professionalism and spirit this ship has exhibited since it was christened on 21 July 1990.
Admiral, Captains, Colonel Al Colter, and to all of you who are here today, I've given a lot of speeches along the way and I don't get intimidated very easily anymore. But today is one of those days where my heart is pounding a little harder than it normally does because I need to find the right words. And also because I know there's Italian blood in my body that will rush to my heart, and it's going to be a contest whether my brain gets to rule or my heart gets to rule while I'm speaking to you. So if I slow down a couple of times while I'm up here just bear with me.
First of all, you should know the ground rules of who Pete Pace is.
I am here in pride as an observer of those who fought in Hué City, not with pride as a participant because by the time I got there all the hard work was already done. And we should not forget that, if you study military history you know that attacking forces normally like to have a ratio of about three good guys to about one bad guy if you're going to attack.
In the case of Hué City, about 2,500 U.S. servicemen, mostly Marines, attacked 11,000 N.V.A. in a well-defended city… and kicked their butts. But I can say that because I wasn't a part of it. It would be inappropriate if I had been and said it that way.
But to get there, and to join that magnificent group, I graduated from the Naval Academy and went on to The Basic School like all Marine officers do, and I got trained up to go to Vietnam. If you recall, those of you who were alive back then, in the winter of '67-'68 there was a huge blizzard on the East Coast. And that blizzard closed down training at Quantico. And it happened to be at a time when we were supposed to learn how to fight in cities.
“Not doin' it,” one instructor said. “Have to learn how to fight in a tight space. And, so it's unfortunate that you're going to miss this training. But if you have to fight in a city, we'll train you up for that before you go.”
So off I went to Vietnam. And I still didn't know I was going to go to “Two/Five.” So I got into Da Nang and got on a cattle car, which is basically a big old tractor-trailer truck that had seats in it. And it had seats in the middle, and it had seats on the outside. So I sat on the outside, and I was across the way from a major, who looked at me and said,
“This is your first tour in Vietnam, isn't it?”
And I said - and I'm wearing my gold bars - “Yes, sir. It is.”
He said, “You know how I know?”
And I said, “Other than my rank, sir?”
He said, “Yeah, see, the veterans sit on the inside so the guys that sit on the outside can take the bullets.”
So this is good. This is day one, and I'm saying to myself, “I'm already dead.”
Found out I was going to “Two/Five.” Still didn't know what the words “Two/Five” meant. Just knew that I was going to be proud to be part of that great, great unit.
Got up to Phu Bai, and then I started realizing that Phu Bai was close to Hué and that all that stuff I'd been reading about in the papers was about to become part of my life. Then-Major O. K. Steele, now a retired Major General in the Marine Corps, who was the battalion XO said, “Come on. We're gonna' go.” And we got in a jeep. He's in the front seat. We had a driver. We had a guy in the back with a rifle and me, and we take off for Hué City. So we drive from Phu Bai to Hué City with one jeep. And I'm saying to myself, “OK, I didn't die in Da Nang; I am going to die en route to Hué City.”
I didn't obviously. When I got there, my platoon was Steve Hancock's platoon. Steve's here. And instead of 43 Marines, it had 14. Fourteen. I was the third platoon commander in as many weeks. And I learned from those Marines so very much. But before I get to that, I would ask that all of you who fought in Hué City to stand or raise your hand if you cannot stand.
They're my heroes. These are men from various backgrounds: white men, and black men, and Hispanic. Some volunteers, mostly volunteers, but some draftees back then. Some were there because they thought the war was right; some didn't think the war was right, but they were there to serve their country. All were there fighting for their country. But in the final analysis, when it came down to the battlefield itself, it was a very, very different construct.
It's not that Marines do not know fear. In fact, if you show me a Marine who does not know fear then I'll show you a Marine I don't want to be anywhere near on the battlefield. There were many nights where I wished I could get my body tucked up inside my helmet and just wait for a while. But like every other Marine, when I looked around at the eyes of my fellow Marines, I knew that they were depending on me. We did what Marines do: we got up and got the job done. Because Marines do have fear in combat - but more than that we feared that somehow we would let our fellow Marines down in battle, and somehow we would not live up to the wonderful heritage that we have received from those who preceded us, and what an honor it was for us to write one or two more pages in the passages of the history of the Corps.
There are several Marines who are not with us today whose names I repeat to myself every day: Guido Farinaro, Chubby Hale, Whitey Travers, Mike Witt, Fred Williams, Little Joe Arnold, and John Miller. Those men trusted me. They trusted me as their lieutenant. And in doing what I asked them to do, they did not come home. Because of them and because of the men in this room, I am still on active duty. Because I owe a debt that I can never repay. And for them to die and for so many others to be wounded, and for me not even to receive a scratch in 13 months, I thought it was a message from God that I was supposed to do something for Him…and for them. So I've never, ever, had a doubt in my mind that I was supposed to stay on active duty.
But I tried when I left Vietnam to repay. So I got to my next duty station and was fortunate enough to get another platoon, and I tried to give to those Marines what I could no longer give to the Marines I'd lost in Vietnam. And a funny thing happened: the more I tried to give to the folks I worked with, the more they gave me. So there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that by trying to repay, I received much more than I could have ever given. And that when that lieutenant, or captain or major whose last name was “Pace” made a mistake - which I made a lot of - those guys who were with me made me look a whole lot better than I deserved to look. In trying to repay in one unit, more Marines would do great things and I would owe more to more people. And now, after almost 36 years, I am hopelessly behind and terribly in debt. But it is why I continue to serve, and why I never question what job it is I am asked to do, because somebody else didn't have that chance. I'm just honored and delighted to have the opportunity to continue to serve.
Being a General is fun. I just thought I'd tell you that. And when they play “Honors,” and “Ruffles and Flourishes” … it makes me feel good. But, when one of these men in this audience comes up to me with a beer in his hand and says, “Hey, Lieutenant”…that's an honor.
This is an amazing country. My dad was born in Italy. His son is the Vice-Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff. You can't do that anyplace else in the world. The reason we can do it is because of battles like Hué City. And many have gone on before that, and many are still to come. Today a lot of our sons and daughters are steaming toward harm's way. We all hope they will not have to fight. We all know that if they do have to fight, they will do what American service men and women have always done, which is deliver for our country.
What I need to tell you is that I have not forgotten what I learned 35 years ago from the men in this room. And as I discharge the duties of my present job, every day I ask myself, “If this war were to start tomorrow, what is it that you, General, should have done to ensure that PFC Pace or PFC Jones, or whoever is out there, has the support that he or she deserves?” I promise you men who have given me the life that I have been living, that I will not betray all you have done. And that as best I can, I will serve you and your sons and your daughters.
This is a great day. Just to renew friendships, and to make some new friends. And again to the crew of Hué City, thank you, for the magnificent way in which you take care of your ship and our ship. And we know that if you do go into harm's way that you will do it magnificently as Navy men have always done.
Captain Young, you all were kind enough to say that you were honored to have me here today. The truth is that I'm honored to be here and to have this additional opportunity to say thank you to the great men in this room who've earned more than I could ever give, thanks to everyone.
ESPRIT DE CORPS
Forwarded by JayPMarine
CHARLIE COMPANY, TBS MESS NIGHT
GUEST OF HONOR REMARKS
By Col James S. Love, Commander, Marine Corps Barracks, Quantico, VA
From that elegant introduction, you may or may not have picked up on the fact that I have had five tours in Marine Divisions, serving in all four divisions and in 3rd MARDIV twice. I have made eight Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments, served with the Special Operations Command, and have been to every level of PMF possible in order to hone my war-fighting skills.
Utilizing your great deductive abilities, intellect and experience as Lieutenants, you should have questioned the Corps’ collective judgment when they decided to make me a Base Commander. I sure as hell did, and I still do. Look up “base” in the dictionary. According to Mr. Webster: “Lowest part, or bottom; showing little or no honor, courage or decency; mean; ignoble; contemptible; menial or degrading; inferior in quality; of comparatively low worth…”
So after 28 years of focus on locating, closing with and destroying I’ve got that going for me. That’s okay… go ahead and laugh. There is at least one future base commander sitting among you right now.
Seriously, I am honored to return to the basic school as your guest at this, one of our time-honored traditions. I have been asked to speak on my insights and experience as a leader of Marines - basically about what I have learned over the past 28 years of leading Marines. Well, I have only learned eight things and it will take only about 60 seconds to share them with you.
Now that I think about it, had I been invited to speak to you the day Charlie Company formed up, probably I could have saved you six months of TBS training. I thought I would get this structured portion out of the way up front so I could talk about anything I wanted to…so, here goes!
1. Seek brilliance in the basics, always do the right thing, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
2. If you are riding at the head of the herd, look back every now and then and make sure it is still there.
3. Never enter an hour-long firefight with five minutes of ammo.
4. (This one is really important for all of you born north of Washington, DC) Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
5. If you’re not shooting (I can see by your marksmanship badges that some of you are challenged in this area) you’d better be communicating or reloading for another Marine.
6. There are three types of leaders; those who learn from reading, those who learn from observation, and those who still have to touch the electric fence to get the message.
7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap.
8. And finally (you might want to write this one down) Never slap a grown man who has a mouth full of chewing tobacco.
Now that I have put that check in “Proper Military Instruction” block, are there any questions? Of course not! What a stupid question to ask a bunch of Lieutenants so close to graduation. Now that I think of it, my TBS class stopped asking questions after the first two weeks.
I have a few minutes left, so let’s talk about something I like: Marines.
Up front let me tell you how much I admire you. Why is that? Unlike the majority of your fellow citizens, you stepped forward and committed yourself to a greater cause without concern for your personal safety or comfort. And, you did it knowing that you would gain nothing in return… except the honor and cherished privilege of earning the title MARINE OFFICER.
Individually you are as different as apples and oranges, but you are linked for eternity by the title, “Marine”… and the fact that you are a part of the finest fighting force that ever existed in history.
If you haven’t picked up on it, I like being a Marine and I like being around Marines. Like most of you are probably thinking, I came into the Marine Corps to do four years only. But a strange thing happened. I was having so much fun that I simply forgot to get out. Hell, at this point I am seriously thinking about making the Corps a career.
So what is it I like about the Marines? This is the easy part.
I like the fact that you always know where you stand with a Marine. There is no middle ground or gray area. There are only missions, objectives and facts.
I like the fact that you are a self-declared enemy of America’s foes, that running into a Marine outfit in combat is the enemy’s worst nightmare and that his health record is about to get a lot thicker or be closed out entirely.
I like the fact that Marines are steadfast and consistent in everything they do, regardless if you agree with them or not.
…that Marines hold the term “politically correct” with nothing but pure disdain
… that Marines stand tall and rigid in their actions, thoughts and deeds when others bend with the direction of the wind and are as confused as a dog looking at a ceiling fan.
I like the fact that each and every Marine considers the honor and legacy of the Corps as his personal and sacred trust to protect and defend.
… that most civilians don’t have a clue what makes us tick… and that’s not a bad thing, because if they did, it would scare the hell out of them.
… that others say they want to be like us, but don’t have what it takes in the “pain - gain - pride” department to make it happen.
I like the fact that the Marines came into being in a bar - Tun Tavern - and that Marines still gather in pubs, bars, and slop chutes to share sea stories and hot scoop.
… that Marines do not consider it a coincidence that there are 24 hours in a day and 24 beers in a case, because Marines know there is a reason for everything that happens.
I like our motto, Semper Fidelis, and the fact that we don’t shed it when the going gets tough, the battlefield gets deadly, or when we hang up our uniforms for the last time.
I like the fact that Marines take care of each other… in combat and in time of peace.
… that Marines consider the term “Marines take care of their own” as meaning we will give up our very own life for our fellow Marines, if necessary.
I like the fact that Marines know the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit and aren’t afraid to call either for what it is.
… that Marines have never failed the people of America and that we don’t use the words “can’t”… “retreat”… or “lose”.
I like the fact that the people of America hold Marines in the highest esteem, and that they know they can count on us to locate, close with and destroy those who would harm them.
I like the fact that a couple of years ago an elected member of Congress felt compelled to publicly accuse the Marine Corps of being “radical and extreme.”
… and that our Commandant informed that member of Congress that this statement was absolutely correct… and passed only his “thanks for the compliment.”
I like the fact that Marine leaders of every rank know that issuing every man or woman a black beret (or polka-dotted boxer shorts, for that matter) does absolutely nothing to promote morale, fighting spirit or combat effectiveness.
I like the fact that Marines are Marines first, regardless of age, race. creed, color, sex, national origin, how long they served or what goals they achieve in life.
Let me give you an example:
A young man enlisted in the Navy in WWI. When the war was over he shipped over and joined the Army. He next enlisted in the Marine Corps and served from 1920-1922. There was no Air Force back then, so I guess he figured he had put all the checks in the block.
When he had served his time in the Corps, he went after an education, receiving various degrees in Engineering, History and Political Science from UCLA and Montana State University. He entered politics and served 11 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. Next he tackled the U.S. Senate where he served 24 years, as both the Democrat Whip and later Senate Majority Leader. He then served 11 years as Ambassador to Japan.
This gentleman went from “Snuffy” to national and international prominence. When he passed away in 2001, he was rightly buried in Arlington National Cemetery. If you want to visit his grave, don’t look for him near the Kennedy Eternal Flame where so many of our political leaders are laid to rest. Look for a small, common marker shared by the majority of our heroes. Look for the marker that says, “Michael J. Mansfield, PFC, U.S. Marine Corps.”
You see, Senator Mike Mansfield, like many of us gathered here tonight, was more proud of being a Marine than anything else in his incredible life of national service.
Something I have learned for sure over the last 28 years is: The years fly by… names change… weapons and gear change… political leaders and agenda change… national priorities and budgets change… threats to our nation change… but through it all, there is one abiding constant - the basic issue, do-or-die Marine.
He or she will do damned near anything asked of them, under terrible conditions, with better results and fewer complaints than any civilized human being should have reason to expect.
And we who have the privilege to serve them and lead them make our plans and execute crucial missions based primarily on one fact of life… that the basic Marine will not fail his Country, his Corps, and his fellow Marines… that they will overcome any threat, if allowed to do so.
Think about this and remember that for 228 years it has worked and has kept the wolf away from America’s door.
I like Marines because being a Marine is serious business. We’re not a social club or a fraternal organization and we don’t pretend to be one. We’re a brotherhood of warriors… nothing more and nothing less. Pure and simple.
We are in the ass-kicking business and, unfortunately these days, business is good. But don‘t worry about that. What you need to remember is that the mere association of the word “Marine” with “crisis” is an automatic source of confidence to America, and encouragement to all nations who stand with us.
As Marines, our message to our foes always has been essentially the same - “We own this side of the street! Threaten my country or our allies and we will come over to your side of the street, burn down your hut, whisper in your ear ‘Can you hear me now?’… and secure your heart beat.”
Now I must tell you, I had the opportunity to review your MOS assignments. I well remember that time of my life as a real group-tightener. Regardless of what MOS you have now, if you don’t already know it, being a leader of Marines is about as much fun as you can legally have with your clothes on! And, that’s true regardless if you are a Grunt, Data Dink, Spark Chaser, Stew Burner, Wire Dog, Butt Plate, Remington Raider, Rotor Head, Legal Beagle, Fast Stick, Cannon Cocker, Track Head, Skivvies Stacker, Dual Fool, or a Box Kicker. And if you don’t believe it, you will…trust me!
Why is that? Because each of us fought to gain the coveted title “Marine”. It wasn’t given to us, we earned it. And on the day we finally became Marines an eternal flame of devotion and fierce pride was ignited in our souls.
Charlie Company, let’s not fool ourselves. You know it and I know it. You have some challenging times and emotional events ahead of you. I’m not talking about tomorrow morning’s headache. I am talking about the fact that the world is a dangerous place and as leaders of Marines, you will be walking point on world events.
Make sure you keep that flame burning brightly. It will keep you warm when times are hard. It will provide light in the darkest of nights. Use it and draw strength from it… as generations of Leathernecks have done since our beginning.
Before Pcs’ing to Quantico, I completed a 24-month tour with the 31st MEU aboard the USS Essex. Some of the Marines here tonight were with me… like Beak Vest, Rudy Whalen and Flounder Foley. The Essex is a great ship and one of six to bear that name in defense of our nation.
In 1813, the first Essex was commanded by a tough skipper named Captain David Porter. By all accounts, Captain Porter was the type of man you did not want to see at Captain’s Mast. He was tough, but he was a true warrior. On one particular mission, the Essex was ordered to sail alone to the Pacific and attack Great Britain’s Pacific whaling fleet. Obviously, Captain Porter knew the fleet was well-guarded by British men of war and he knew his job would be a tough one and that he would be severely out-gunned in his task.
Prior to sailing, Porter addressed the assembled crew of sailors and Marines on the deck and explained the task at hand. He asked for volunteers only and told his men to take seven steps forward if they would willingly go in harms way with him.
When he turned his back and waited a few moments, he turned to face his crew and noticed no holes in the ranks. The ranks looked the same as before and not a single sailor or Marine stood to the front of the formation. It is reported that he went into a tirade and screamed, “What is this? Not a single volunteer among you?” With this, an aide leaned over and whispered in Porter’s ear, “Sir, the whole line has stepped forward.”
I think of this story often and when I do, I think of Marines like you.
Charlie Company, on behalf of the generations of Marine Lieutenants who have gone before you, thank you for taking the seven steps forward…thank you for your love of Country… thank you for your life-long commitment as a United States Marine.
For those of you who are wondering, “Am I up to it?”… forget it. You will be magnificent, just as Marine officers always have been. I realize that many of your young Marines are going to be “been there - done that” warriors and that they will wear the decorations to prove it,
But you need to know that they respect you and admire you. You need to know that they want and need your leadership. All you have to do is never fail them in this regard and everything will turn out great. Hold up your end of the bargain and they will jot fail.
I am pretty sure I can speak for the entire group of distinguished guests here tonight when I say, “We admire you and would trade places with you in a minute to do it all over again.”
So - if you are interested in giving up a platoon in order to be a base commander, see me at the bar.
One last thing - when you check into your first unit and start the fantastic voyage that only Marines will ever know, kick some serious ass… because it is a full-time job and there is a lot of that activity that must occur for America and her allies to survive.
LONG LIVE THE UNITED STATES… AND SUCCESS TO THE MARINES!
Sent by Admiral Hal Koenig, retired US Navy Surgeon General via BGen Bob Clements, USAF (Ret)
Something you will not see on National News.
Click on each photo to activate a very touching ceremony of a Lakota Indian wake for a fallen warrior [http://multimedia.rockymountainnews.com/slideshow/slideshow.cfm?type=DEFAULT&ID=012006lundstrom&NUM=1 ].
Written by Sandra Lee (James) Gilcher 2004
Produced by Julie Sharp 2006
Forwarded by Floyd Sears
The combat boots are empty and finally they're still,
They're set carefully at attention,
they've marched up their last hill.
The rifle, too, is silent now and unwaveringly erected,
Holding up the well-worn helmet of the Marine it once protected,
… and more.
A great slide presentation tribute to a fallen comrade from a brotherhood of heroes - the few, the proud, United States Marines.
After clicking the link below, center the message on the image and let it automatically cycle through to the end. Some recentering may be necessary as it progresses.
Click here [http://www.pcsuccess.us/yrg/farewell.html ].
FINAL JOURNEY HOME
By LtCol M.R. Strobl, USMC, MCCDC Quantico, VA
Forwarded by Jerry DJ, 3 MY 2004
Chance Phelps was wearing his Saint Christopher medal when he was killed on Good Friday. Eight days later, I handed the medallion to his mother. I didn't know Chance before he died. Today, I miss him.
Over a year ago, I volunteered to escort the remains of Marines killed in Iraq should the need arise. The military provides a uniformed escort for all casualties to ensure they are delivered safely to the next of kin and are treated with dignity and respect along the way.
Thankfully, I hadn't been called on to be an escort since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. The first few weeks of April, however, had been a tough month for the Marines. On the Monday after Easter I was reviewing Department of Defense press releases when I saw that a Private First Class Chance Phelps was killed in action outside of Baghdad. The press release listed his hometown-the same town I'm from. I notified our Battalion adjutant and told him that, should the duty to escort PFC Phelps fall to our Battalion, I would take him.
I didn't hear back the rest of Monday and all day Tuesday until 1800. The major said the funeral was going to be in Dubois, Wyoming. (It turned out that PFC Phelps only lived in my hometown for his senior year of high school.) I had never been to Wyoming and had never heard of Dubois.
With two other escorts from Quantico, I got to Dover AFB at 2330 on Tuesday night. First thing on Wednesday we reported to the mortuary at the base. In the escort lounge there were about half a dozen Army soldiers and about an equal number of Marines waiting to meet up with “their” remains for departure. PFC Phelps was not ready, however, and I was told to come back on Thursday. Now, at Dover with nothing to do and a solemn mission ahead, I began to get depressed.
I was wondering about Chance Phelps. I didn't know anything about him; not even what he looked like. I wondered about his family and what it would be like to meet them. I did pushups in my room until I couldn't do any more.
On Thursday morning I reported back to the mortuary. This time there was a new group of Army escorts and a couple of the Marines who had been there Wednesday. There was also an Air Force captain there to escort his brother home to San Diego.
We received a brief covering our duties, the proper handling of the remains, the procedures for draping a flag over a casket, and of course, the paperwork attendant to our task. We were shown pictures of the shipping container and told that each one contained, in addition to the casket, a flag. I was given an extra flag since Phelps's parents were divorced. This way they would each get one. I didn't like the idea of stuffing the flag into my luggage but I couldn't see carrying a large flag, folded for presentation to the next of kin, through an airport while in my Alpha uniform. It barely fit into my suitcase.
It turned out that I was the last escort to leave on Thursday. This meant that I repeatedly got to participate in the small ceremonies that mark all departures from the Dover AFB mortuary.
Most of the remains are taken from Dover AFB by hearse to the airport in Philadelphia for air transport to their final destination. When the remains of a service member are loaded onto a hearse and ready to leave the Dover mortuary, there is an announcement made over the building's intercom system. With the announcement, all service members working at the mortuary, regardless of service branch, stop work and form up along the driveway to render a slow ceremonial salute as the hearse departs. Escorts also participated in each formation until it was their time to leave.
On this day there were some civilian workers doing construction on the mortuary grounds. As each hearse passed, they would stoop working and place their hard hats over their hearts. This was my first sign that my mission with PFC Phelps was larger than the Marine Corps and that his family and friends were not grieving alone.
Eventually I was the last escort remaining in the lounge. The Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant in charge of the Marine liaison there came to see me. He had Chance Phelps's personal effects. He removed each item; a large watch, a wooden cross with a lanyard, two loose dog tags, two dog tags on a chain, and a Saint Christopher medal on a silver chain. Although we had been briefed that we might be carrying some personal effects of the deceased, this set me aback. Holding his personal effects, I was starting to get to know Chance Phelps.
Finally we were ready. I grabbed my bags and went outside. I was somewhat startled when I saw the shipping container, loaded three-quarters of the way in to the back of a black Chevy Suburban that had been modified to carry such cargo. This was the first time I saw my “cargo” and I was surprised at how large the shipping container was. The Master Gunnery Sergeant and I verified that the name on the container was Phelps's then they pushed him the rest of the way in and we left. Now it was PFC Chance Phelps's turn to receive the military-and construction workers'-honors. He was finally moving towards home.
As I chatted with the driver on the hour-long trip to Philadelphia, it became clear that he considered it an honor to be able to contribute in getting Chance home. He offered his sympathy to the family. I was glad to finally be moving yet apprehensive about what things would be like at the airport. I didn't want this package to be treated like ordinary cargo yet I knew that the simple logistics of moving around a box this large would have to overrule my preferences.
When we got to the Northwest Airlines cargo terminal at the Philadelphia airport, the cargo handler and hearse driver pulled the shipping container onto a loading bay while I stood to the side and executed a slow salute. Once Chance was safely in the cargo area, and I was satisfied that he would be treated with due care and respect, the hearse driver drove me over to the passenger terminal and dropped me off.
As I walked up to the ticketing counter in my uniform, a Northwest employee started to ask me if I knew how to use the automated boarding pass dispenser. Before she could finish another ticketing agent interrupted her. He told me to go straight to the counter then explained to the woman that I was a military escort. She seemed embarrassed. The woman behind the counter already had tears in her eyes as I was pulling out my government travel voucher. She struggled to find words but managed to express her sympathy for the family and thank me for my service. She upgraded my ticket to first class.
After clearing security, I was met by another Northwest Airline employee at the gate. She told me a representative from cargo would be up to take me down to the tarmac to observe the movement and loading of PFC Phelps. I hadn't really told any of them what my mission was but they all knew.
When the man from the cargo crew met me, he, too, struggled for words. On the tarmac, he told me stories of his childhood as a military brat and repeatedly told me that he was sorry for my loss. I was starting to understand that, even here in Philadelphia, far away from Chance's hometown, people were mourning with his family.
On the tarmac, the cargo crew was silent expect for occasional instructions to each other. I stood to the side and saluted as the conveyor moved Chance to the aircraft. I was relieved when he was finally settled into place. The rest of the bags were loaded and I watched them shut the cargo bay door before heading back up to board the aircraft.
One of the pilots had taken my carry-on bag himself and had it stored next to the cockpit door so he could watch it while I was on the tarmac. As I boarded the plane, I could tell immediately that the flight attendants had already been informed of my mission. They seemed a little choked up as they led me to my seat.
About 45 minutes into our flight I still hadn't spoken to anyone expect to tell the first class flight attendant that I would prefer water. I was surprised when the flight attendant from the back of the plane suddenly appeared and leaned down to grab my hands. She said, “I want you to have this” as she pushed a small gold crucifix, with a relief of Jesus, into my hand. It was her lapel pin and it looked somewhat worn. I suspected it had been hers for quite some time. That was the only thing she said to me the entire flight.
When we landed in Minneapolis, I was the first one off the plane. The pilot himself escorted me straight down the side stairs of the exit tunnel to the tarmac. The cargo crew there already knew what was on this plane. They were unloading some of the luggage when an Army sergeant, a fellow escort who had left Dover earlier that day, appeared next to me. His “cargo” was going to be loaded onto my plane for its continuing leg. We stood side-by-side in the dark and executed a slow salute as Chance was removed from the plane. The cargo crew at Minneapolis kept Phelps's shipping case separate from all the other luggage as they waited to take us to the cargo area. I waited with the soldier and we saluted together as his fallen comrade was loaded onto the plane.
My trip with Chance was going to be somewhat unusual in that we were going to have an overnight stopover. We had a late start out of Dover and there was just too much traveling ahead of us to continue on that day. (We still had a flight from Minneapolis to Billings, Montana, then a five-hour drive to the funeral home. That was to be followed by a 90-minute drive to Chance's hometown.)
I was concerned about leaving him overnight in the Minneapolis cargo area. My ten-minute ride from the tarmac to the cargo holding area eased my apprehension. Just as in Philadelphia, the cargo guys in Minneapolis were extremely respectful and seemed honored to do their part. While talking with them, I learned that the cargo supervisor for Northwest Airlines at the Minneapolis airport is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves. They called him for me and let me talk to him.
Once I was satisfied that all would be okay for the night, I asked one of the cargo crew if he would take me back to the terminal so that I could catch my hotel's shuttle. Instead, he drove me straight to the hotel himself. At the hotel, the Lieutenant Colonel called me and said he would personally pick me up in the morning and bring me back to the cargo area.
Before leaving the airport, I had told the cargo crew that I wanted to come back to the cargo area in the morning rather than go straight to the passenger terminal. I felt bad for leaving Chance overnight and wanted to see the shipping container where I had left it for the night. It was fine.
The Lieutenant Colonel made a few phone calls then drove me around to the passenger terminal. I was met again by a man from the cargo crew and escorted down to the tarmac. The pilot of the plane joined me as I waited for them to bring Chance from the cargo area. The pilot and I talked of his service in the Air Force and how he missed it.
I saluted as Chance was moved up the conveyor and onto the plane. It was to be a while before the luggage was to be loaded so the pilot took me up to the board the plane where I could watch the tarmac from a window. With no other passengers yet on board, I talked with the flight attendants and one of the cargo guys. He had been in the Navy and one of the attendants had been in the Air Force. Everywhere I went people were continuing to tell me their relationship to the military. After all the baggage was aboard, I went back down to the tarmac, inspected the cargo bay, and watched them secure the door.
When we arrived at Billings, I was again the first off the plane. This time Chance's shipping container was the first item out of the cargo hold. The funeral director had driven five hours up from Riverton, Wyoming to meet us. He shook my hand as if I had personally lost a brother.
We moved Chance to a secluded cargo area. Now it was time for me to remove the shipping container and drape the flag over the casket. I had predicted that this would choke me up but I found I was more concerned with proper flag etiquette than the solemnity of the moment. Once the flag was in place, I stood by and saluted as Chance was loaded onto the van from the funeral home. I was thankful that we were in a small airport and the event seemed to go mostly unnoticed. I picked up my rental car and followed Chance for five hours until we reached Riverton. During the long trip I imagined how my meeting with Chance's parents would go. I was very nervous about that.
When we finally arrived at the funeral home, I had my first face-to-face meeting with the Casualty Assistance Call Officer. It had been his duty to inform the family of Chance's death. He was on the Inspector/Instructor staff of an infantry company in Salt Lake City, Utah and I knew he had had a difficult week.
Inside I gave the funeral director some of the paperwork from Dover and discussed the plan for the next day. The service was to be at 1400 in the high school gymnasium up in Dubois, population about 900, some 90 miles away. Eventually, we had covered everything. The CACO had some items that the family wanted to be inserted into the casket and I felt I needed to inspect Chance's uniform to ensure everything was proper. Although it was going to be a closed casket funeral, I still wanted to ensure his uniform was squared away.
Earlier in the day I wasn't sure how I'd handle this moment. Suddenly, the casket was open and I got my first look at Chance Phelps. His uniform was immaculate-a tribute to the professionalism of the Marines at Dover. I noticed that he wore six ribbons over his marksmanship badge; the senior one was his Purple Heart. I had been in the Corps for over 17 years, including a combat tour, and was wearing eight ribbons. This Private First Class, with less than a year in the Corps, had already earned six.
The next morning, I wore my dress blues and followed the hearse for the trip up to Dubois. This was the most difficult leg of our trip for me. I was bracing for the moment when I would meet his parents and hoping I would find the right words as I presented them with Chance's personal effects.
We got to the high school gym about four hours before the service was to begin. The gym floor was covered with folding chairs neatly lined in rows. There were a few townspeople making final preparations when I stood next to the hearse and saluted as Chance was moved out of the hearse. The sight of a flag-draped coffin was overwhelming to some of the ladies.
We moved Chance into the gym to the place of honor. A Marine sergeant, the command representative from Chance's battalion, met me at the gym. His eyes were watery as he relieved me of watching Chance so that I could go eat lunch and find my hotel.
At the restaurant, the table had a flier announcing Chance's service. Dubois High School gym; two o' clock. It also said that the family would be accepting donations so that they could buy flak vests to send to troops in Iraq.
I drove back to the gym at a quarter after one. I could've walked-you could walk to just about anywhere in Dubois in ten minutes. I had planned to find a quiet room where I could take his things out of their pouch and untangle the chain of the Saint Christopher medal from the dog tag chains and arrange everything before his parents came in. I had twice before removed the items from the pouch to ensure they were all there-even though there was no chance anything could've fallen out. Each time, the two chains had been quite tangled. I didn't want to be fumbling around trying to untangle them in front of his parents. Our meeting, however, didn't go as expected.
I practically bumped into Chance's step-mom accidentally and our introductions began in the noisy hallway outside the gym. In short order I had met Chance's step-mom and father followed by his step-dad and, at last, his mom. I didn't know how to express to these people my sympathy for their loss and my gratitude for their sacrifice. Now, however, they were repeatedly thanking me for bringing their son home and for my service. I was humbled beyond words.
I told them that I had some of Chance's things and asked if we could try to find a quiet place. The five of us ended up in what appeared to be a computer lab-not what I had envisioned for this occasion.
After we had arranged five chairs around a small table, I told them about our trip. I told them how, at every step, Chance was treated with respect, dignity, and honor. I told them about the staff at Dover and all the folks at Northwest Airlines. I tried to convey how the entire Nation, from Dover to Philadelphia, to Minneapolis, to Billings, and Riverton expressed grief and sympathy over their loss.
Finally, it was time to open the pouch. The first item I happened to pull out was Chance's large watch. It was still set to Baghdad time. Next were the lanyard and the wooden cross. Then the dog tags and the Saint Christopher medal. This time the chains were not tangled. Once all of his items were laid out on the table, I told his mom that I had one other item to give them. I retrieved the flight attendant's crucifix from my pocket and told its story. I set that on the table and excused myself. When I next saw Chance's mom, she was wearing the crucifix on her lapel.
By 1400 most of the seats on the gym floor were filled and people were finding seats in the fixed bleachers high above the gym floor. There were a surprising number of people in military uniform. Many Marines had come up from Salt Lake City. Men from various VFW posts and the Marine Corps League occupied multiple rows of folding chairs. We all stood as Chance's family took their seats in the front.
It turned out the Chance's sister, a Petty Officer in the Navy, worked for a Rear Admiral-the Chief of Naval Intelligence-at the Pentagon. The Admiral had brought many of the sailors on his staff with him to Dubois pay respects to Chance and GIVE support to his sister. After a few songs and some words from a Navy Chaplain, the Admiral took the microphone and told us how Chance had died.
Chance was an artillery cannoneer and his unit was acting as provisional military police outside of Baghdad. Chance had volunteered to man a .50 caliber machine gun in the turret of the leading vehicle in a convoy. The convoy came under intense fire but Chance stayed true to his post and returned fire with the big gun, covering the rest of the convoy, until he was fatally wounded.
Then the commander of the local VFW post read some of the letters Chance had written home. In letters to his mom he talked of the mosquitoes and the heat. In letters to his stepfather he told of the dangers of convoy operations and of receiving fire.
The service was a fitting tribute to this hero. When it was over, we stood as the casket was wheeled out with the family following. The casket was placed onto a horse-drawn carriage for the mile-long trip from the gym, down the main street, then up the steep hill to the cemetery. I stood alone and saluted as the carriage departed the high school. I found my car and joined Chance's convoy.
The town seemingly went from the gym to the street. All along the route, the people had lined the street and were waving small American flags. The flags that were otherwise posted were all at half-staff. For the last quarter mile up the hill, local boy scouts, spaced about 20 feet apart, all in uniform, held large flags. At the foot of the hill, I could look up and back and see the enormity of our procession. I wondered how many people would be at this funeral if it were in, say, Detroit or Los Angeles-probably not as many as were here in little Dubois, Wyoming.
The carriage stopped about 15 yards from the grave and the military pall bearers and the family waited until the men of the VFW and Marine Corps league were formed up and schools busses had arrived carrying many of the people from the procession route. Once the entire crowd was in place, the pallbearers came to attention and began to remove the casket from the caisson. As I had done all week, I came to attention and executed a slow ceremonial salute as Chance was being transferred from one mode of transport to another,
From Dover to Philadelphia; Philadelphia to Minneapolis; Minneapolis to Billings; Billings to Riverton; and Riverton to Dubois we had been together. Now, as I watched them carry him the final 15 yards, I was choking up. I felt that, as long as he was still moving, he was somehow still alive.
Then they put him down above his grave. He had stopped moving.
Although my mission had been officially complete once I turned him over to the funeral director at the Billings airport, it was his placement at his grave that really concluded it in my mind. Now, he was home to stay and I suddenly felt at once sad, relieved, and useless.
The chaplain said some words that I couldn't hear and two Marines removed the flag from the casket and slowly folded it for presentation to his mother. When the ceremony was over, Chance's father placed a ribbon from his service in Vietnam on Chance's casket. His mother approached the casket and took something from her blouse and put it on the casket. I later saw that it was the flight attendant's crucifix. Eventually friends of Chance's moved closer to the grave. A young man put a can of Coppenhagen on the casket and many others left flowers.
Finally, we all went back to the gym for a reception. There was enough food to feed the entire population for a few days. In one corner of the gym there was a table set up with lots of pictures of Chance and some of his sports awards. People were continually approaching me and the other Marines to thank us for our service. Almost all of them had some story to tell about their connection to the military. About an hour into the reception, I had the impression that every man in Wyoming had, at one time or another, been in the service.
It seemed like every time I saw Chance's mom she was hugging a different well wisher. As time passed, I began to hear people laughing. We were starting to heal.
After a few hours at the gym, I went back to the hotel to change out of my dress blues. The local VFW post had invited everyone over to “celebrate Chance's life.” The Post was on the other end of town from my hotel and the drive took less than two minutes. The crowd was somewhat smaller than what had been at the gym but the Post was packed.
Marines were playing pool at the two tables near the entrance and most of the VFW members were at the bar or around the tables in the bar area. The largest room in the Post was a banquet/dinning/dancing area and it was now called “The Chance Phelps Room.” Above the entry were two items: a large portrait of Chance in his dress blues and the Eagle, Globe, & Anchor. In one corner of the room there was another memorial to Chance. There were candles burning around another picture of him in his blues. On the table surrounding his photo were his Purple Heart citation and his Purple Heart medal. There was also a framed copy of an excerpt from the Congressional Record. This was an elegant tribute to Chance Phelps delivered on the floor of the United States House of Representatives by Congressman Scott McInnis of Colorado. Above it all was a television that was playing a photo montage of Chance's life from small boy to proud Marine.
I did not buy a drink that night. As had been happening all day, indeed all week, people were thanking me for my service and for bringing Chance home. Now, in addition to words and handshakes, they were thanking me with beer. I fell in with the men who had handled the horses and horse-drawn carriage. I learned that they had worked through the night to groom and prepare the horses for Chance's last ride. They were all very grateful that they were able to contribute.
After a while we all gathered in the Chance Phelps room for the formal dedication. The Post commander told us of how Chance had been so looking forward to becoming a Life Member of the VFW. Now, in the Chance Phelps Room of the Dubois, Wyoming post, he would be an eternal member. We all raised our beers and the Chance Phelps room was christened.
Later, as I was walking toward the pool tables, a Staff Sergeant form the Reserve unit in Salt Lake grabbed me and said, “Sir, you gotta hear this.” There were two other Marines with him and he told the younger one, a Lance Corporal, to tell me his story. The Staff Sergeant said the Lance Corporal was normally too shy and modest to tell it but now he'd had enough beer to overcome his usual tendencies.
As the Lance Corporal started to talk, an older man joined our circle. He wore a baseball cap that indicated he had been with the 1st Marine Division in Korea. Earlier in the evening he had told me about one of his former commanding officers; a Colonel Puller.
So, there I was, standing in a circle with three Marines recently returned from fighting with the 1st Marine Division in Iraq and one not so recently returned from fighting with the 1st Marine Division in Korea. I, who had fought with the 1st Marine Division in Kuwait, was about to gain a new insight into our Corps.
The young Lance Corporal began to tell us his story. At that moment, in this circle of current and former Marines, the differences in our ages and ranks dissipated-we were all simply Marines.
His squad had been on a patrol through a city street. They had taken small arms fire and had literally dodged an RPG round that sailed between two Marines. At one point they received fire from behind a wall and had neutralized the sniper with a SMAW round. The back blast of the SMAW, however, kicked up a substantial rock that hammered the Lance Corporal in the thigh; only missing his groin because he had reflexively turned his body sideways at the shot.
Their squad had suffered some wounded and was receiving more sniper fire when suddenly he was hit in the head by an AK-47 round. I was stunned as he told us how he felt like a baseball bat had been slammed into his head. He had spun around and fell unconscious. When he came to, he had a severe scalp wound but his Kevlar helmet had saved his life. He continued with his unit for a few days before realizing he was suffering the effects of a severe concussion.
As I stood there in the circle with the old man and the other Marines, the Staff Sergeant finished the story. He told of how this Lance Corporal had begged and pleaded with the Battalion surgeon to let him stay with his unit. In the end, the doctor said there was just no way-he had suffered a severe and traumatic head wound and would have to be med'evaced.
The Marine Corps is a special fraternity. There are moments when we are reminded of this. Interestingly, those moments don't always happen at awards ceremonies or in dress blues at Birthday Balls. I have found, rather, that they occur at unexpected times and places: next to a loaded moving van at Camp Lejeune's base housing, in a dirty CP tent in northern Saudi Arabia, and in a smoky VFW post in western Wyoming.
After the story was done, the Lance Corporal stepped over to the old man, put his arm over the man's shoulder and told him that he, the Korean War vet, was his hero. The two of them stood there with their arms over each other's shoulders and we were all silent for a moment. When they let go, I told the Lance Corporal that there were recruits down on the yellow footprints tonight that would soon be learning his story.
I was finished drinking beer and telling stories. I found Chance's father and shook his hand one more time. Chance's mom had already left and I deeply regretted not being able to tell her goodbye.
I left Dubois in the morning before sunrise for my long drive back to Billings. It had been my honor to take Chance Phelps to his final post. Now he was on the high ground overlooking his town.
I miss him.
GENERAL'S ROLE MAY BE A FIRST
By Rick Rogers, San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer 4/2/04
Forwarded by JackMack
Aboard the Belleau Wood - BGen. Joseph Medina, probably the first Marine to command a flotilla of Navy ships, figures that after 28 years the government is finally getting its money's worth out of him.
This summer, Medina will lead about 5,000 Marines and sailors of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 when the seven-ship contingent, led by the amphibious assault ship Belleau Wood, sails from San Diego and Hawaii.
It will be the “911 force” for areas that include the Horn of Africa, a known terrorist bastion, and the always-volatile Persian Gulf.
Of the group, 2,200 are Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton. Most of the ships and sailors are from San Diego.
Medina, 50, embraces his groundbreaking role, relying on humor, nearly three decades of experience and advice from Shakespeare. Also, the move from infantry officer to master and commander isn't as big a step as it might seem, he said yesterday.
After all, he's a Marine who would have been a sailor if a professor at the Naval Academy had had his way.
“I was one of four from the Naval Academy class of 1976 who graduated in physics and the only one to pick the Marines,” Medina said on the bridge of the Belleau Wood, where he watched most of the strike group train just off the coast from Camp Pendleton.
“One of my professors said, 'Why did you waste the government's money?'” he recalled. “Now I can tell him that I didn't waste the government's money after all.”
Medina added that leadership is the key to command, whether it's leading Marines, helping plan the Kosovo air campaign - which he did - or leading a strike group
The sailors under Medina's command agree. “Leadership is leadership,” said Capt. Earl Gay, the Belleau Wood's commanding officer. “I think we are lucky to have him, to tell you the truth. Plus, I think our sailors find it interesting.”
The top enlisted man on the Belleau Wood sees no leadership distinction between a general and an admiral.
“I don't see any difference whatsoever. I see no favoritism on either side,” said Command Master Chief David Knipple, a sailor for nearly 26 years. “Leadership is leadership. His being a Marine isn't even mentioned. He's a group commander who just happens to be a general.”
The strike group is a relatively new concept that recasts the traditional amphibious ready group into a more powerful, more agile force capable of a wide range of missions that U.S. forces might be called on to perform.
Recently, Strike Group 1 - also based mainly in San Diego - returned from deployment, during which it stopped oil smugglers and kept an eye out for terrorists.
On Saturday, Expeditionary Strike Group 3 will end its first exercise as a group. Besides the Belleau Wood, the group is composed of the amphibious transport dock Denver, amphibious dock landing ship Comstock, cruiser Mobile Bay, destroyers Hopper and Pebble, and the attack submarine Charlotte. The Hopper and Charlotte, based in Hawaii, did not participate in this exercise.
Medina was asked about his philosophy for the upcoming training cycles and the pending six-month deployment.
“Shakespeare once said that greatness lies from being able to play your part well,” replied the man with the starring role.
HAPPY 229TH BIRTHDAY
By Jug Varner
Those who have clicked on this Web site for any length of time know how much I admire the brotherhood of the United State Marine Corps. In addition to other Marine Corps articles I use from time to time, I look for something special to run on November 10th to help celebrate the Corps birthday. I thought the following article my Navy buddy 1stAdmPao sent recently was perfect for the occasion. It partly explains why the word “proud” is synonymous with “Marine.” It is a list of things about the Corps that Marines consider better than any other military service, and why. (I’m sure they have more.)
Best action: Marines invade, and then go home. The Army has to do the occupying.
Best campaign covers: The Smokey Bear hat.
Best emblem: Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
Best Esprit de Corps: Even if you can't spell it or pronounce it, the Marine Corps has it in spades. One example; when sailors get tattoos, they do it to express their individuality, and their choices range from Betty Boop and Mickey Mouse to raging sea serpents. When Marines get tattoos, they do it to express their solidarity, and choose bull dogs, “Death Before Dishonor,'' and “USMC.”
Best Latin Motto: Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful) - not only to the Corps and to the nation, but to each other as well. A Marine is a member of a worldwide brotherhood unlike no others. As they will say: “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
Best name: You're a Marine. Not a soldier or a troop. That's Marine, spelled with a capital “M.”
Best nickname 1: Jarhead
Best nickname 2: Leatherneck
Best nickname 3: Devil Dog; The ultimate compliment was given by our enemy, The German Army in World War I, whose soldiers' greatest fear was running up against the toughest American fighting men - the Marines. who they called “teufelhunden,'' or Devil Dog.
Best recruiting gimmick 1: The Knights-in-Shining-Armor commercials.
Best recruiting gimmick 2: “We're looking for a few good men.'' OK, they left out women. The Corps is looking for a few good women, too.
Best recruiting gimmick 3: “If you have the mettle to be a Marine.”
Best slogan 1: “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.”
Best slogan 2: “Tell That to the Marines.”
Best slogan 3: “Send in the Marines.”
Best duty assignments: Okinawa, Kaneohe Bay, Camp Pendleton, Diego Garcia, Moscow, North Carolina. Plus any ship at sea.
Worst duty assignments: Okinawa, Kaneohe Bay, Camp Pendleton, Diego Garcia, Moscow, North Carolina. Plus any ship at sea.
Most exotic duty assignments: Kuala Lumpur, The White House.
Best fast attack vehicles: LAVs.
Best fighting knife: Ka-Bar.
Best haircut, hands down. You can't have a bad hair day with a Marine Corps Regulation haircut, and you spend less on shampoo.
Best motivational cry: Ooh-rah! It's pronounced “Ooh-raw” and NOT Hurrah.
Best phone number: Call 1-800-MARINES and you've got the Corps, and if you're a civilian with the mettle to be a Marine, a recruiter will be happy to sign you up.
Best tradition: The Corps is older than the Republic itself.
Dress Blues: They're the coolest uniforms in any military, worldwide.
Bloused trousers: Another distinctive Marine look that sets the proudest service members apart.
The rest of the Marine sea bag: From the Alphas to the camouflage utilities, uniforms just look better on a Marine than any other service member.
Marines don't wear dungarees.
Best Unity: Every Marine is a rifleman.
Best unofficial hymn: The Marines' Hymn
From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine.
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze from dawn to setting sun.
We have fought in every clime and place where we could take a gun.
In the snow of far off northern lands and in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job, United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps, which we are proud to serve.
In many a strife we've fought for life and never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven's scenes,
They will find their women sleeping with the United States Marines.
Best War Monument: The Iwo Jima Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Commandant's House: The oldest occupied residence in Washington, D. C.
Chesty Puller: You've got to love a service that has heroes with names like that.
Former Commandant and Mud Marine Al Gray: His official portrait is in cammies. He drank from a four-star canteen cup. Business leaders are so impressed with his Fleet Marine Force Warfighting Manual 1 that they are using it hone their skills for boardroom battles.
Most dangerous airplane: The Marine Harrier. Not a simple science, but luckily more of a danger to the enemy than to Marine Corps flyers.
Most remarkable airplane: The Marine Harrier. No other service's jets can take off and land on a dime.
Most respect 1: When the Marines pulled out of Haiti and Somalia, the media reported the U.S. military was pulling out as if tens of thousands of Army troops weren't still in the country.
Most respect 2: When the Corps returned to Haiti after 60 years, an old man on the beach at Cap Haitian said, “Welcome back!”
Mud: You want to see pure joy? Look at a group of Marines after a mud fight.
Poetry in motion: They are weapons, not “g-u-n-s” and if you don't know the pithy verse that explains that, don't ask.
Point of the Spear: Out in front, kicking down the door, what the Marines do best.
Separate heads for enlisted and officers: Everywhere else, the officers and enlisteds use the same pot.
Silent Drill Platoon: Just watching them apply their trade makes you want to wear dress blues.
Starch: Clean 'em up, put 'em in starched cammies, and they look sharp.
Status: Sailors live and work on ships. Marines go for cruises, then hit the beach
The Docs, Marines' corpsmen-in-arms: They're sailors, but they're as tough as Marines.
Toughest boot camp: San Diego, California. When Navy recruits were still training in San Diego, occasionally they would jump the fence and accidentally land at MCRD. The Marines would keep them a couple of days and when they were sent back, they were glad to be sailors! Corpsmen excluded, of course.
Toughest Drill Instructors: They're so tough that when the Navy wants to train its officers, who do they call? 1-800-MARINES.
Toughest mascot: The Marine Corps' is a bulldog, the Navy's is a goat, the Army's is a jackass, and the Air Force's is a bird.
What Marines symbolize: Discipline, courage, honor, commitment, valor, patriotism, and military virtue.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY U.S. MARINE CORPS
229 YEARS OLD ON NOVEMBER 10, 2004
HOW THE MARINE CORPS TRAINS LEADERS
Interview by Jerry Useem, Fortune Magazine, 6-27-05 p. 106
Forwarded by JayPMarine
FORTUNE asked eight bold, creative people—from the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs to the man who found Harry Potter to the woman who picks next year's hip colors - to describe what guides their decision-making:
General Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (nomination pending for chairman):
When I was a second lieutenant in Vietnam, my platoon was patrolling around Hue City, and we came to a fork in the road. I called back to my company commander, “Should I go left or right?” He said, “Go left.” We went a little farther and there was another fork. I called back again: Left or right? He said, “Go right.” Then I called back a third time, and he chewed me out on the radio: “You're the lieutenant. You're up there to make decisions. Figure it out.” That has stayed with me all my life. When you have the responsibility to make decisions, make them.
When you have to make a decision about someone's future, or what kind of weapons system to invest in, or any other kind of businesslike decision, you should not let anybody rush you. On a battlefield, you don't have time to gather a lot of opinions. You have to assess the environment and make a decision based on your experience and training. You react instinctively.
What I have learned is that if you're collaborative when you can be, it builds trust, so that when you have to decide right now, folks are more likely to trust your decision. In the Marines everybody understands that there are times when you just have to decide.
One thing the Marine Corps teaches is that it's better to be doing something than doing nothing. If you stay where you are, you're in the position where your enemy wants you to be. If you start doing something, you are changing the rules of the game.
The most effective decision may be the least predictable one. We teach this at officer training in Quantico. There's a series of decision exercises where a team leader has to accomplish some task - crossing a river, moving a large object -using only the materials provided. You think, “How are we gonna do this?” As it turns out, there are multiple ways to solve the problem. If you work together quickly - and start talking about what the possibilities are - you can come up with a solution. Those kinds of scenarios raise your heartbeat and put pressure on you among your peers and subordinates in a way that builds confidence in your ability to make decisions under pressure.
The ideas of flexibility, authority, and responsibility - those leadership terms that apply from lance corporal all the way up to general - have remained very constant in the Marines. What has changed is how much time we spend talking about it, practicing it, and significantly, the way the more senior leaders in the Corps allow themselves to be open with subordinates about where they made mistakes themselves. That makes it easier for subordinates to learn from them and to admit their own mistakes so that the organization can be better.
Some things today - cell phones and e-mail - are not healthy for growing leaders. Before cell phones, if the boss was away, the next person in line had to make a decision. It was either right or it was wrong, but you had to accept responsibility. You learned and grew from that. Now it's too easy to call for advice. Senior leaders have to start saying, “Look, if it's not dying or burning, don't call me.”
The biggest lesson from Somalia for me (Pace served there from December 1992 to February 1993 and again from October 1993 to March 1994) was that we should never send our armed forces to do something unless we expect them to do it - and are willing to accept the risks and give them the resources. So as I sit here today as an advisor, anytime a military solution is being considered, it is important to lay out all the things that could go right and wrong. Then, if some things do go wrong, and they will, you are well positioned mentally and physically to complete that mission.
In Iraq, we are learning things every day. Before we even started operations, our Joint Forces Command put together a “lessons learned” team. Since then, every facet of the operation has provided lessons - targeting and what type of weapon to use on a particular target; the best ways to track friendly forces on the battlefield; how to communicate. Some of these lessons reinforced what we believed going in; some disabused us of what we thought was a good idea, but wasn't. The learning has to be shared person to person, not left in a book on a shelf. It has to stay alive.
IN MEMORY OF A GREAT LADY
From BGen Bob Clements, USAF (Ret)
There are some heroic women who live more quiet lives as they support a husband who did great things for our nation. Virginia Puller is one of those women. In all likelihood you don't even know who she is, specifically because she didn't march around, or hold press conferences, engage in politics or court the media.
Virginia Montague Evans Puller, the widow of U.S. Marine Corps hero LtGen Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, died at her home in Saluda. She was 97. A funeral service is scheduled for Saturday at Christ Church in Middlesex County, where her husband was buried 35 years ago.
Virginia Montague Evans was 29 when she married then-Marine Capt. Lewis Burwell Puller in Saluda. The new Mrs. Puller followed her husband while he served in China, Hawaii and across the United States. During World War II and the Korean War, she returned to Saluda and raised their children - Virginia, and twins Martha and Lewis Jr. - while “Chesty” Puller burnished his reputation as a courageous Marine. During his military career, he earned the Navy Cross a record five times.
The Navy Cross is the Corps' second-highest decoration behind the Medal of Honor.
Semper Fi, Mrs. Puller and God Bless you for being one of those courageous military wives who help keep this country free.
Forwarded by 1stAdmPAO
TO THE TERRORISTS CURRENTLY OPERATING IN IRAQ:
I see that you have captured a U. S. Marine, and that you plan to cut off his head if your demands are not met. Big mistake.
Before you carry out your threat I suggest you read up on Marine Corps history. The Japanese tried the same thing on Makin Island and in a few other places during World War Two, and came to regret it. Go ahead and read about what then happened to the mighty Imperial Army on Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. They paid full price for what they did, and you will, too.
You look at America and you see a soft target, and to a large extent you are right. Our country is filled with a lot of spoiled people who drive BMWs, sip decaf lattes and watch ridiculous reality TV shows. They are for the most part decent, hard working citizens, but they are soft. When you cut off Nick Berg's head those people gasped, and you got the media coverage you sought, and then those people went back to their lives.
This time it is different.
We also have a warrior culture in this country, and they are called Marines. It is a brotherhood forged in the fire of many wars, and the bond between us is stronger than blood. While it is true that this country has produced nitwits like Michael Moore, Howard Dean and Jane Fonda, who can be easily manipulated by your gruesome tactics, we have also produced men like Jason Dunham, Brian Chontosh and Joseph Perez. If you don't recognize those names you should. They are all Marines who distinguished themselves fighting to liberate Iraq, and there will be many more just like them coming for you.
Before the current politically correct climate enveloped our culture, one of the recruiting slogans of our band of brothers was “The Marine Corps Builds Men.” You will soon find out just how true that is. You, on the other hand, are nothing but a bunch of women. If you were men you would show your faces, and take us on in a fair fight. Instead, you are cowards who hide behind masks and decapitate helpless victims. If you truly represented the interest of the Iraqi people you would not be ambushing those who come to your country to repair your power plants and the sabotaged oil pipelines which fuel the Iraqi economy. Your agenda is hate, plain and simple.
When you raise that sword over your head I want you to remember one thing. Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun is not alone as he kneels before you. Every Marine who has ever worn the uniform is there with him, and when you strike him you are striking all of us.
If you think the Marines were tough on you when they were cleaning out Fallujah a few weeks ago, you haven't seen anything yet. If you want to know what it feels like to have the Wrath of God called down upon you then go ahead and do it. We are not Turkish truck drivers, or Pakistani laborers, or independent contractors hoping to find work in your country. We are the United States Marines, and we will be coming for you.
Andy Bufalo, MSgt USMC (Ret)
IWO JIMA AND THE FUTURE OF THE MARINE CORPS
By Mackubin Thomas Owens, February 23, 2005
From the Foreign Policy Research Institute, http://www.fpri.org [http://www.fpri.org]
Forwarded by RAdm William Thompson, U.S. Navy (Ret)
Mackubin Thomas Owens, an FPRI senior fellow, is Associate Dean of Academics for Electives and Directed Research and a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College. He is also a Contributing Editor to National Review Online. He led a Marine infantry platoon in Vietnam in 1968- 69 and retired as a colonel after 26 years of service in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve.
Sixty years ago-February 23, 1945-a Marine patrol from Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment reached the summit of Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the volcanic island of Iwo Jima. It was the fifth day of the savage battle for the island, which would last another month and kill nearly all of the 22,000 Japanese defenders and 6,825 Marines and sailors. Another 19,000 Americans were wounded during the 36-day operation. One out of every three Marines was either killed or wounded, including 19 of 24 battalion commanders.
Twenty-seven Marines and naval medical corpsmen were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions on Iwo, 13 posthumously. In the words of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, “Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
After reaching the summit of Mt. Suribachi, members of the patrol raised a small American flag that one of the Marines had brought with him. It was too small to be seen from the beach, so the Marines raised a second, larger flag. The second flag raising was captured on film by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal. The result was the most famous image of World War II.
Rosenthal's photo also has come to symbolize the Marine Corps as a fighting force. The sculptor Felix de Weldon rendered the photo into three dimensions, creating the Marine Corps Memorial that stands near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
As subsequent events in such places as Inchon, the Chosin Reservoir, Hue City, Khe Sanh, and Fallujah prove, uncommon valor continues to characterize the Marine Corps. But while soldierly virtue is important,
There are two other virtues that have contributed to the success of the Marines, making the Marine Corps one of the world's premier fighting forces: adaptability and innovativeness in response to changing circumstances.
The Marines who landed on Iwo Jima sixty years ago were part of a force that was built in accordance with what the eminent political scientist Samuel Huntington called a “strategic concept,” which he defined as “the fundamental element of [a] service - its role or purpose in implementing national policy.” A service's strategic concept answers the “ultimate question: What function do you perform which obligates society to assume responsibility for your maintenance?”
The centerpiece of the World War II Marine Corps' strategic concept was the conduct of amphibious assaults against a defended beach in order to seize advanced naval bases in support of a naval campaign. This strategic concept was part of an attempt to solve a particular strategic problem: how to project US naval and air power over the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean to bring the home islands of Japan under attack.
During the interwar period, if not before, Navy planners were convinced that the United States eventually would go to war with Japan.
In support of War Plan ORANGE, the Navy's plan for such an eventuality, Marines such as the brilliant Major Pete Ellis developed the doctrine for the sort of amphibious operations-bombardment, ship-to-shore movement, assault of a defended beach, consolidation of he beach head, and further operations ashore to secure the island-that would be required to seize the necessary bases. This doctrine evolved in practice from the amphibious operation for Guadalcanal to the Gilberts and the Marianas and finally to Iwo and Okinawa, as circumstances changed.
The development of amphibious doctrine during the inter-war period and its successful application in the war with Japan represents just one example of the ability of the Marine Corps to adapt its strategic concept to security environment.
During the Cold War, the Marine Corps reinvented itself as an expeditionary “force in readiness,” capable of responding with tailored, task-organized forces to any crisis across the spectrum of conflict - including short-fuse contingencies hat could arise any time or any place. The new strategic concept of the Marine Corps complemented that of the United States Army, which centered on the requirement to fight and win the nation's land wars. In accordance with this strategic concept, the Army helped to deter major war by stationing units in or near the most likely theater of war.
During this time, the Marines also shifted from a narrow focus on amphibious assault to a broader conception of amphibious operations that included such capabilities as maritime pre-positioning and “operational maneuver from the sea” (MFTS). Marines never claimed to be the only land force necessary, but they did organize and plan to deploy rapidly with a force capable of holding the line until heavier forces could arrive.
As part of this role, the Marines developed an “operational concept” that exploited a flexible Marine organization, the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). A MAGTF combines a command element, a ground combat element, an air combat element, and a logistics support element that can provide a task organized force ranging in size from a few hundred Marines to a multi-division, multi-air wing force of
While the Marines maintained their amphibious and expeditionary character, their use alongside the Army in Vietnam and in the Gulf in 1991 led commentators to ask whether the Marines were redundant. In a watershed speech in July 1991, then-Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) asked why the United States needed two land armies. That is a fair question. Does the United States need a Marine Corps that is larger than the armies of most other countries? The answer depends a great deal on whether the strategic concept of the Marine Corps can be justified.
How do we differentiate between the Marine Corps and the Army? The Army's strategic concept has been reasonably stable for about 60 years, focusing as mentioned previously, on the requirement to fight and win the nation's land wars. But now the whole US military is seeking to acquire an expeditionary capability. In particular, the Army is moving toward a lighter, more deployable force structure that, some have observed, looks a great deal like a MAGTF. Where does that leave the Marine Corps?
The key to understanding the difference between the strategic concepts of the Marine Corps and the Army is to return to the original meaning of the word “amphibious.” In 1960, the British military writer B.H. Liddell Hart argued that “Amphibious flexibility is the greatest strategic asset that a sea power possesses.” But over the past 30 years, the term often has been used in roles and missions debates to “box” the Marine Corps into “amphibious assault.”
But the meaning of amphibious is much broader. It is derived from a classical Greek word meaning to live “all around” or “on both sides,” i.e. in two worlds-land and water. In this sense, the strategic concept of the Marines means literally to come from the sea in order to conduct operations on land, and then return to the sea. But given the evolution of the word and its current narrow connotation, it might be best to employ the splendid British term, “amphibiosity.” This captures the broader meaning of “amphibious:” the strategic leverage achieved when a sea power dominates the “commons” of the sea and can use it as maneuver space in order to project land power at a place and time of its choosing.
The traditional focus of the Marines, along with its sister service, the United States Navy, has been on the world's littorals. But the employment of Marines in Afghanistan in late 2001 and in Iraq from 2003 to the present demonstrates that amphibiosity extends well beyond the littorals. In the first case, Marines seized an airfield in a theater of operations far from any shoreline. In the second, they provided the forces for one of the two main axes of advance on Baghdad.
Since the fall of that city, Marines as well as soldiers have been in the thick of fight against Iraqi “insurgents and foreign jihads.” The use of the Marines in both cases illustrates the degree to which the security environment has evolved over the past decade, and the fact that responsiveness, flexibility, and adaptability are the characteristics most necessary in military forces of the future.
The Marine Corps helps to address the geopolitical problem that the United States faces. To protect its worldwide interests, the United States must be able to project power globally. But given its geographical position, the United States can project power only by overcoming what a former Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles Krulak, has called the “tyranny of distance.”
The tyranny of distance creates a dilemma for ground forces - the tradeoff between rapid strategic deployability on the one hand, and lethality, sustainability, and self-protection on the other. Thus an airborne unit can deploy more quickly than any other ground force, but it lacks the killing power and sustainability necessary to win once it gets on the ground. On the other hand, an armored unit possesses the latter characteristics, but takes a long time to get into the theater of war.
During the Cold War, the United States handled the tyranny of distance problem by identifying the most likely theaters of war and stationing Army and tactical Air Forces there during peacetime as deterrent. Of course, the defense of Europe required more forces than the ones already there, so equipment or reinforcing forces was pre-positioned in theater. In the event of an emergency, troops would be flown into theater from the continental United States (CONUS) where they would “marry up” with their equipment. This approach worked as long as we were planning against an identifiable adversary, the Soviet Union, but became less relevant as the security environment became less certain.
The tyranny of distance problem manifest itself during the Gulf War of 1990-91, when it took the United States nearly six months to deploy the ground combat power thought necessary to defeat Iraq. It has only become more acute as time has passed.
One response to the tyranny of distance problem is to increase the nation's reliance on airpower. Indeed, airpower advocates seized upon the Gulf War to argue that force planning models were biased in favor of land power. They claimed that the actual conduct of the war demonstrated that land power was now less important than it once had been, and that thus, the balance of US forces should be shifted to emphasize airpower.
The campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq seem to have refocused attention on land forces. As both cases illustrate, “boots on the ground” are necessary for successful “war termination” - the translation of military success into a favorable peace.
Military planners have concluded that the missions that will required land forces in the future will be expeditionary in nature. As former Marine Commandant Gen. Carl Mundy was fond of saying, “expeditionary is not a mission. It's a mindset.” The Marines have developed this expeditionary mindset over decades, while the Army is only now coming to grips with it. As Tom Ricks wrote in his excellent book, Making the Corps, “The Marines tend to display a kind of funky joie de vivre, especially in the field. In their own parlance, they know how to 'pack their trash,' something the Army is learning slowly and painfully as it, too, becomes 'expeditionary' in hellholes like Somalia and Haiti.”
The strategic concept of today's Marine Corps is called “Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare” (EMW). EMW subsumes OMFTS and such operational concepts as “ship-to-objective maneuver” (STOM) and increases the ability of naval forces - Navy and Marines - to use the sea as both a base and a maneuver space. A key element of today's amphibious doctrine is “sea basing” the naval concept that envisions projecting maneuver forces ashore to conduct combat operations while keeping logistics, command and control, and fire support at sea. This is the essence of amphibiosity.
Amphibiosity is broad enough to accommodate the strategic and operational concepts of both the Marine Corps and the Army. But the strategic concept of the service that comes from the sea offers a particularly attractive alternative. As long as the Marine Corps maintains its commitment not only to the inculcation of soldierly virtue in individual Marines and cohesion in its units, but also to innovativeness and adaptability, this naval service will always have a role in securing the national interests of the United States.
FPRI, 1528 Walnut Street, Suite 610, Philadelphia, PA 19102-3684. For information, contact Alan Luxenberg at 215-732-3774, ext. 105 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at http://www.fpri.org [http://www.fpri.org].
IWO JIMA MONUMENT INCIDENT
By Michael T. Powers
From his book Straight From The Heart - A Celebration of Life
Contact Michael at http://storiesfrommyheart.com/michael_powers [http://storiesfrommyheart.com/michael_powers]
Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the eighth grade class from Clinton, WI, where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.
On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima Memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history - that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II.
Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, “Where are you guys from?” I told him that we were from Wisconsin.
“Hey, I'm a cheese head, too! Come gather around, Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story.”
James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good night to his dad, who has since passed away. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C., but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night.
When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak these words that night:
“My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on that statue, and I just wrote a book called “Flags of Our Fathers” which is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me. Six boys raised the flag.
“The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game - a game called War. But it didn't turn out to be a game.
Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are generals who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old
(He pointed to the statue)
“You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph… a photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared. He was 18 years old. Boys won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.
“The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the 'old man' because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, 'Let's go kill some Japanese' or 'Let's die for our country.' He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, 'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers.'
“The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad. President Truman told him, 'You're a hero.' He told reporters, 'How can feel I like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walking off alive?'
So you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes died dead drunk, face down at the age of 32… ten years after this picture was taken.
“The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky. A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy, his best friend, who is now 70, told me. 'Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epsom salts. Those cows crapped all night.
'Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.
“The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite's producers, or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say, 'No, I'm sorry, sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back.' My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell's soup. But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press.
“You see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a caregiver. In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed in pain.
“When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, 'I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. Did NOT come back.'
“So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time.”
Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless. We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice.
DON’T GIVE TERRORISTS A TIMETABLE
By Gen. P.X. Kelly, former Marine Commandant
One of the most critical issues that members of Congress must address is the wisdom of setting a schedule for our continued presence in Iraq. In this regard, I would hope that they would look back to September 1983, when both houses of Congress held War Powers Act hearings on our presence in Beirut as part of a multinational force.
I asked Congress then not to set a schedule for our withdrawal from war-torn Lebanon. I said, “If the time is too short, our enemies will wait us out; if it is too long, they will drive us out.”
My warning was ignored, and Congress passed a law that said that Marines would stay for 18 more months. That in essence told the Iranians, the Syrians, the Druze and the newly organized Hezbollah: “Put your plans on hold for a year and a half.”
On Oct. 23, 1983, they gave us their answer — an 18-ton truck carrying the equivalent of 18,000 pounds of TNT smashed into the headquarters of Battalion Landing Team 2/8, and 241 of our most precious sons, who had done nothing more than try to restore peace to a troubled country, were murdered.
My message to Congress is simple: Never tell your enemies your plans. Ambiguity in war is essential.
My personal message to our enemies is equally simple: If you continue your barbaric acts of terrorism, you eventually will be punished — count on it.
Let me close by reminding all Americans of the mission given to Muslim terrorists by Osama bin Laden in 2001: “By God's leave, we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can.”
Lest we forget!
LEST WE FORGET REAL HEROES
An Extraordinary Marine
By Col. Bruce Ogden, USMC (Ret). Forwarded by JayPMarine
Major Douglas W. Bogue, USMC (Ret) passed away on Sunday, 7 March 2004, at his home in Lompoc, CA after a protracted illness. Betty, his wife of some 59 years, and daughters Pat, Judy and Kathy survive him.
To understand why I characterize Doug Bogue as the Most Extraordinary Marine I have ever known, let's begin with the following citation:
“The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the LEGION OF MERIT to SERGEANT DOUGLAS W. BOGUE, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, for service as set forth in the following CITATION: “For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States during and subsequent to his escape on 14 December 1944, from Prisoner of War Camp number 10-A, Puerto Princessa, Palawan Island, Philippine Islands. When Japanese guards began a systematic annihilation of all prisoners of war at the compound, Sergeant Bogue risked his life to escape by dashing through a barbed wire fence and tumbling down a nearby bluff to the edge of the bay. Although shot in the leg during this phase of the escape, he later managed to overpower and kill, with their own machine gun, three enemy guards who attempted to halt his headlong flight. Concealing himself among the rocks along the bay until nightfall, he then swam for a distance of four or five miles through shark-infested waters of the bay before reaching land. In extreme pain from his leg wound and further enervated by a five-day diet of snails and coconuts, he was finally rescued by Philippinos from the tuberculosis section of the Palawan Penal Colony. From there he made his way to a guerilla headquarters and eventually to the SEVENTH Fleet Headquarters at Leyte where he divulged vital intelligence information on Japanese installations, troop strength and morale, and facts relating to his escape which were to prove of extreme value in the pending amphibious operation against Palawan. His courage, daring and resourcefulness throughout reflect the highest credit upon Sergeant Bogue and the United States Naval Service.” Sergeant Bogue is authorized to wear the Combat “V”. For the President, /s/ Francis P. Mathews, Secretary of the Navy.
This award is remarkable in at least two instances: it was most certainly NOT the prevailing practice during WWII to award a Legion of Merit to an enlisted man, let alone a buck sergeant; and the citation contains an act of extreme heroism that, in my judgment, should have been rewarded with no less than a Silver Star for gallantry in action, or a Navy Cross. Apparently the problem was that Bogue was one of the first former POWs of the Japanese to return to American jurisdiction and the Navy simply didn't know the best way to handle the situation.
Let's rewind the tape for a moment. Doug Bogue had joined the Marines in the mid-1930s and served a seagoing tour before being posted to the 4th Marines in China. The 4th Marines were subsequently evacuated to the Philippines on the eve of the outbreak of open hostilities between Japan and America marked by the events of 7 December 1941. Bogue was captured on Corregidor when that garrison was ultimately overrun, bringing to a conclusion official resistance to the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. He made two escapes from his captors; but was recaptured each time. In August 1942, Bogue was transferred from Bilibid Prison in Manila to POW Camp 10-A on Palawan Island to work on nearby airfields. The camp held 300 prisoners until September 1944 when the Japanese shipped half of them back to Manila.
McArthur's forces landed on Leyte the following month, after which carrier-based planes raided Puerto Princesa, dropping 72 tons of bombs and sinking two Japanese ships. General Hideki Tojo had by this time ordered the Japanese commander in the Philippines, General Yamashita, to kill all American prisoners in order that they not be liberated by the invading American Army and preventing them from making known the extent of their barbarous treatment during almost three years of captivity.
The Japanese painted a Japanese flag on the roof of the Palawan POW barrack, inviting the Navy to bomb it. The Navy demurred after being informed by the guerillas that 150 American POWs were being held there. The Japanese ordered the prisoners to build three air raid shelters between the barrack and a 50-ft cliff, at the bottom of which was a narrow bay.
At noon on 15 December 1944, the Japanese guarding the 150 POWs working on the airfield, ordered them to return to their barracks, announcing that; “Americans, your working days are over”. When they arrived back at camp, the guards shouted; “air raid, air raid” and the POWs entered the three shelters. They noted that additional machine-gunners and riflemen had been posted around the camp perimeter. Suddenly Japanese soldiers carrying buckets of gasoline rushed forth and doused the prisoners before setting them on fire. As the Americans tried desperately to escape this death inferno, they were mowed down by machine-gun fire or bayoneted. Doug Bogue, and two prisoners named Kozuck and Sceiva made a dash for the barbed wire fence. Kozuk and Sceiva were shot to death in the fence. Bogue was shot in the right leg, made it through the fence and down to the beach, where the citation picks up the narrative.
Some 139 American prisoners burned to death or were fatally shot or bayoneted. There were 11 survivors. Ten years later, in 1954, 123 of the 139 former prisoners were reinterred at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery near St. Louis, MO. The other 16 bodies were buried at private cemeteries according to the wishes of their next of kin. The Marine Corps unveiled a plaque in their memory in the barracks chapel in May 1978. The plaque lists the 11 survivors by name.
Sergeant Bogue was promoted to Master Sergeant and assigned to duty with the forces occupying conquered Japan where he served as Provost Marshal at Yokosuka Naval Base pending duty as a material witness during the war crimes trials of the personnel indicted for the Palawan Massacre, the worst massacre of American POWs in United States history. He then served with the 6th Marine Division in Tientsin, China until they were evacuated in 1949 when the Communists under Mao Zedong defeated the Chinese forces under Chiang Kaishek.
Less than two years later, MSgt Bogue was assigned to Korea with the 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, where he received a battlefield commission in 1951. When I reached the regimental camp of the 12th Marines, 3rd MarDiv, on the lower slopes of Mt. Fujiyama, Japan in the summer of 1954, I was assigned to B-1-12, commanded by Captain D. W. Bogue. During the next six months before he rotated to Korea once again for duty with the 11th Marines, Captain Bogue taught me everything I ever needed to know in preparation for combat with the enemy.
During the six-months pre-deployment training prior to engaging in combat operations in Vietnam in 1965, as Operations Officer of 2d Battalion, 11th Marines, I did my level best to impart the invaluable lessons that Doug Bogue had taught me a decade earlier to all of the battalion officers. And when I commanded the 1st Bn, 11th Marines in Vietnam in 1970-71, I commanded that battalion as I envisioned Doug Bogue would have commanded it had the roles been reversed.
Doug Bogue was the quintessential Mustang. He had served with one of the most distinguished regiments in Marine Corps annals — the 4th Marine Regiment — the China Marines. He had been blooded in WWII under the worst human conditions known to American fighting men. He had earned a battlefield commission and continued uninterrupted duty in the field with his beloved Marines.
He was my living ideal of what constitutes a professional warrior. He taught his officers to lead from the front. We were the only firing battery in the regiment in which a commissioned officer held reveille with the troops at 0500 six days a week. The battery fell in online in front of their squad tents, with their rifles, for muster, rifle inspection by the duty officer, and morning calisthenics.
We lieutenants inwardly resisted at first; but we quickly learned that it was an essential evolution in the Marine way of taking care of their men. We soon knew every man in the battery, his strengths and weaknesses. We marched more often, spent more time on field training exercises, and shot better than the rest. And when we swung out for a hike with full gear down the slopes of Fujiyama to Lake Yamanaka or Lake Yoshida, the only regimental battery to wear those hated suspenders every time we held field training, our chests filled with pride in the knowledge that we “were the best” for we were in fact and in deed, the “Battling Bastards of Baker Battery” — we were “Bogue's Pogues.
I never saw him again. But we kept in touch by telephone each 10th of November and by exchanging Christmas greetings. I would have loved to see him in the comfort of his family circle. Perhaps God ordained that he not have a son to carry his name — but he had all those Marines he had raised from boy to man. Instead, he could practice his special brand of tough love on Betty and the three girls.
Doug was born on 12 April 1918. He has outlived most of his contemporaries with whom we served together in 1954. According to his wishes, a memorial service will be conducted at Moffett Field by his Marines, after which his ashes will be scattered at sea.
I know that should I happen to look on Heaven's scenes, Doug Bogue will be there fulfilling his part in ensuring that the Marines live up to the reputation for military professionalism that he helped forge. Semper Fidelis, good and loyal friend.
MARINES TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN
READING BETWEEN THE LINES
From Col Thomas R. Kelly via 1stAdmPAO
In my job I see all the casualty reports as they come in. We had quite a few in Fallujah today, 10 November, but I thought one in particular was worth passing along.
A Marine Company 1st Sgt injured his back. OK, not so unusual. After all he is 47 years old and maybe not as limber as he used to be. I then took a quick look at how he was injured. It was from lifting a HUMVEE (M998 HMVVV weights approx 5,200 lbs). I continued to read.
His vehicle was caught in a firefight and received a flat tire. The driver immediately jumped out, jacked up the vehicle and attempted to fix the flat and get the Humvee back in motion, when it slipped, pinning the Marine driver. The 1stSgt performed immediate action to rescue his Marine, but injured his back in the process.
I wasn't on the scene, but I can only imagine that the immediate action went something like this:
Step #1- 1st Sgt lifts HUMVEE up (and injures his back in process).
Step #2 - 1st Sgt yells, “#&*()_* get the (*&)))) out from under this vehicle Marine”.
Step #3 - Driver does as 1stSgt commands.
The Marine driver was injured, but survived.
I wanted to pass along this story to those of you who are Marines, because you'll understand.
Marines take care of their own.
Happy 229th Marine Corps Birthday and Semper Fi,
MARINES WELCOME THE BLACK WATCH
Capt. David Nevers http://www.usmc.mil/24meu [http://www.usmc.mil/24meu ]
Forward Operating Base, Kalsu Iraq, Oct 30, 2004 - A British armored battle group of approximately 850 soldiers, led by the 1st Battalion of the Black Watch Regiment, has redeployed from Basra to an area south of Baghdad to bolster U.S. and Iraqi forces hunting down insurgents.
The move comes amid mounting efforts by coalition forces, operating in support of the interim Iraqi government, to root out anti-Iraqi forces bent on fomenting chaos and disrupting national elections in January.
The Black Watch has taken up positions in northern Babil province, where the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit has been operating since July.
Led by Lt. Col. James Cowan, the British troops are highly trained and well equipped. Reinforcing the Black Watch will be a reconnaissance unit from the Queen's Dragoon Guards, a light infantry unit from the Royal Marines, and a host of support personnel, including engineers, logisticians and medics.
The Black Watch boasts a rich heritage. Formed in the late 17th century during England's Jacobite Rebellion - a battle of succession for the British throne - the Black Watch has helped defeat some of the country's most formidable foes, including Napoleon, the German Kaiser in World War I, and Adolph Hitler.
The unit spearheaded the British thrust into Iraq during last year's invasion, fighting its way into the southeastern city of Basra in April 2003. The bulk of the British force has been conducting security and stability operations there since. After a year-long respite, the Black Watch returned to Basra this past July.
The commander of the 24th MEU welcomed the arrival of the allies to the Marines' zone.
“It's great to have the Black Watch aboard,” said Col. Ron Johnson. “They're a fine outfit with a proud history, and I look forward to fighting alongside them on behalf of freedom in Iraq.
The 2,200-strong 24th MEU, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., is composed of its command element; its ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; its aviation combat element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263; and its combat service support element, MEU Service Support Group 24.
Also assigned to the MEU are the Chicago-based 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, and a variety of U.S. Army and Navy detachments.
The beefed-up MEU has worked closely with the ISF — including the 2nd Ministry of the Interior Commando Battalion, the 507th Iraqi National Guard Battalion, elements of the Iraqi Specialized Special Forces, and the Iraqi SWAT team — to stamp out the insurgency in northern Babil and southern Baghdad.
They stepped up their joint efforts earlier this month. On Oct. 5, ISF and Marines launched their most sweeping operation to date, moving against numerous targets throughout their zone in a continuing campaign to restore security and stability to the province's nearly 1 million citizens.
In the past three months, more than 500 insurgents have been rounded up in scores of raids, cordon-and-knock searches, and citywide sweeps throughout the area's key population centers, including Lutafiyah, Mahmudiyah, Yusufiyah, Iskandariyah, Haswah and Musayyib.
With the addition of the Black Watch and the steady addition of newly trained ISF, an increasingly potent force is set to further intensify its operations .
“We're just getting warmed up,” said Johnson. “The more we and our Iraqi partners work together, the more havoc we're wreaking with the insurgents' plans. The ranks of the ISF are swelling, their confidence and capabilities are growing, and a free Iraq capable of standing on its own is slowly but surely emerging.”
MOTHER’S HOMAGE TO HER SON
Forward by email@example.com
CAMP PENDLETON, CA, March 2, 2006 - Karla Comfort received a lot of looks and even some salutes from people when she drove from Benton, Arkansa, to Camp Pendleton, California, in her newly-painted, custom Hummer.
The vehicle is adorned with the likeness of her son, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. John M. Holmason and nine other Marines with F Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, who were killed by the same improvised explosive device blast in Fallujah, Iraq, in December.
For Karla, having the vehicle air-brushed with the image of the 10 Marines was a way to pay homage to her hero and his fellow comrades who fell on Iraq's urban battlefield.
“I wanted to let people know (Marines) are doing their jobs honorably, and some of them die,” said the 39-year-old from Portland, OR “I don't want people to forget the sacrifices that my son and the other Marines made.”
Click HERE [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/03/16/eveningnews/main1414176.shtml ] for the rest of the story.
MOTHER’S THOUGHTS ABOUT SONS IN MILITARY
By Cindy McCain, published in the Arizona Republic on Aug 6, 2006
Forwarded by YNCS Don Harribine, USN (Ret)
The writer, a long-time Phoenix resident, is the wife of Arizona Sen. John McCain. The couple's youngest son, Jimmy, has joined the Marines and begins basic training in September 2006.
My son is like so many other children from across the country.
He has wanted to be a Marine since he was a small child. He and his brother played in their camouflage gear and helmets. They looked up and idolized men in uniform from a tender age and most importantly, like so many boys, love and respect their father, a true American war hero.
I have hopefully taught my children to respect their country and the government. Never be afraid to ask questions and never be afraid to stand up for what they believe. I cannot tell you the countless hours we have talked about the many ways of giving back to their country. It is and always will be a common thread running deeply within our family.
We are no different than millions of other U.S. families. Our oldest son, Jack, has made his choice and is attending the U.S. Naval Academy. Jack is following his father, grandfather and great grandfather.
Now, our youngest son, Jimmy, has made his choice and will join the Marine Corps very soon. Both of these choices are good choices. I would love my sons regardless of their career paths.
On Sept. 11, when I wave good-bye to my son as he departs for boot camp and all that may follow, in my heart I will know I have done the best I could as a mother, then begin my daily prayers for his safety. No parent wishes his or her children to be put in harm's way.
As for me, I would have chosen differently, if it had been my choice to make. I would have chosen to extend his youth and watch him enjoy those carefree years. But that choice belongs neither to me nor to his father.
The choice was for Jimmy to make. He made that choice, standing tall and with his eyes wide open. He wants to serve his country with honor and dignity and reminds me almost daily how happy he is with his path, all the while reminding me not to worry about him.
I am so very proud of both my boys, as well as their sisters.
God bless Jimmy and all of the young men and women who have chosen the path of military service. God bless all of the families who wait and worry. I will be a member of your ranks very soon. I will do so with the vision in my head of young Jimmy playing “army” with his brother in the yard.
Where did all the time go?
NAVY, MARINES AID EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS
By Lance Cpl. Warren Peace, MCB Camp Butler
SEWON, Indonesia (June 8, 2006) — Walking toward her home, Siti Nuriyami felt the earth rumble beneath her feet. Seconds later, her home was crumbling at Mother Nature’s hand.
Realizing her infant son was in the house sleeping, she darted in to save her only child. As she entered the front door, the entire structure caved in, crushing mother and child. It was May 27, a day of pain and sorrow for Nuriyami and the other villagers of Bantul, Indonesia.
A 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed more than 6,000 people and injured about 33,000 near the ancient city of Yogyakarta. The world responded by swarming the island of Java with disaster relief teams and temporary hospitals.
One of the first groups to arrive May 29 was the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) medical assistance team was one of the first groups to arrive. Anchored by Navy medical professionals from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, Amphibious Squadron -1, and the USNS Mercy, Marines immediately began coordinating with the Indonesian military and relief organizations in the area.
Five days after the MEB established its mobile medical facility, medical personnel treated more than 800 patients, and its surgical teams performed 23 surgeries. Civilian doctors from the United States, Indonesia, Australia and other countries joined the 3rd MEB team effort to care for the injured.
Nuriyami was one of the first patients treated. Navy Surgeon Cmdr. Carlos D. Godinez Jr. said he found her May 31 at the district hospital in Bantul. She had been lying on a mattress four days outside the overflowing hospital among hundreds of earthquake victims, with a tube coming out of her chest.
The crowded hospital was no special case, according to Godinez. Every hospital in the region was overstressed and in need of help. Nuriyami has been the most ill patient I’ve seen here,” he said. “She had at least two life-threatening ailments: Air in her chest from a punctured lung and a bad infection; in addition to a fractured arm and pelvis.
Godinez created a makeshift splint out of pieces of wood and coordinated with hospital officials to transport her to 3rd MEB’s mobile medical facility in Sewon, Indonesia. Nuriyami underwent additional treatment, but her condition continued to deteriorate. Because the MEB facility did not include space for inpatient care, the Navy surgical team arranged her transfer to Sardjito Medical Center, a larger hospital in Yogyakarta. Godinez escorted her.
While at the hospital, Nuriyami’s husband Rukino told Godinez that he could not bear to tell his wife that their child had died despite her efforts. “She has been through so much pain, I don’t think she can handle it,” he said. “She was lucky enough to get out alive, but our son wasn’t.”
Godinez said Nuriyami is currently doing well in the hospital. “Her future has the potential to be bright,” he said. “She will have to deal with the memory of her son, but her injuries should not slow her down one inch.” Her story is the type that has become familiar to 3rd MEB corpsmen and doctors in the wake of the devastating earthquake.
“The facility was capable of general surgery and acute, urgent, and primary care, but it morphed into a deliverer of a broad spectrum of post disaster health services,” said Navy Capt. David A. Lane, the 3rd MEB command surgeon. “These services even include tetanus vaccinations for all patients with open wounds.”
The 3rd MEB also coordinates outreach teams in affected Bantul villages, providing medical assistance and hope to those who can not make it to 3rd MEB facilities or local hospitals.
Forward by Don and Beth Waterworth
The nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man.
She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent.
He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed.
All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength.
Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.
Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died.
The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. He waited while she did what she had to do.
When she returned, she started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her by asking, “Who was that man?”
Startled by his question the nurse said,
“He was your father.”
“No, he wasn't,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”
“Then why didn't you say something when I took you to him?”
“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son wasn't here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.”
As always, this Marine fulfilled a duty.
God bless our troops
The next time someone needs you… be there. Stay. You'll be glad you did.
“For I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, “Fear not, I will help thee.” - Isaiah 41:13
NO ATHIESTS IN THE BUNKERS
Forwarded by JayPMarine.
From A Chaplain Serving In Iraq
Hot and sunny on Good Friday…quiet in Fallujah and Ar Ramadi. The Coalition has announced a pause in offensive operations. Humanitarian aid is being searched and then allowed into the city of Fallujah. Defensive operations continue 24/7. It is all war, all the time.
The bad guys are regrouping. So are the Marines. The brawl will begin again… probably tonight. All intelligence points to the bad guys redistributing ammo, enlisting kids in the fight and moving for new cover. Convoys are limited. Danger of ambush is high. Life in Blue Diamond continues, with an edge.
Imagine a place the size of Lakeland Shores with five times the population, one asphalt street, and two dirt roads. Due to the siege, no sanitation service for three days… that includes pumping satellites. We are on the edge of the town. We see the minarets of the city and we hear the Imams’ sermons as they rail against us. It is a good thing few here understand Arabic because I can tell you the preachers weren't teaching the golden rule today.
Morale, sky high… extra intensity… friends are on the line. The senior NCO's and officers here feel the pull the most. They have served with or trained everyone on the line. The Corps is a small community. This is very personal. If a person can do something to help the outcome of the fight, they' will find a way. It's that kind of day… all for one, one for all.
I divide the day - Holy Week service planning, convoy prayers, and COC intercessory prayers. First, I go to the DIV Chaplain office to meet with the command Chaplain, - Chaplain Divine, the fighting Irishman. What a man! RC Christians, be proud you've got a great priest here. He spares nothing to get to his Marines. He loves Marines and he loves God.
He waded into Ar Ramadi, during the fire fight three days ago, to provide ministry at the aid station. He came back weary but satisfied he was where he was needed. He's on the road, to all the FOB's ministering to Marines. I had the privilege of praying for him, this morning. If he goes down the morale in this Division would take a huge hit. They love him.
I work to coordinate Good Friday, Easter Sunrise and Protestant Easter Service. Having services in a war zone is a little different. We have to worry about getting large numbers of people in one place. One mortar round into the right place could kill a lot of marines. Organists are in sort supply and we don't have any organ music. We are going to worship and it will be well attended. We need Easter because we live in the valley of the shadow of death… we need the resurrection.
Twice a day I go to the 'Cave' - the combat operations center, housed in a former palace. It is poorly lighted and the hub of fighting the battle. I stand in the corner and pray for each person/position and those they represent. I don't know many of them, but God does. I pray for wisdom, strength, mercy, endurance and God's presence for each warrior, and all those they serve or represent. I cover the Cave and the battle field as I look at live imagery projected on the wall.
The COC is loaded with Marines. The senior NCO's all look like NFL lineman. The junior officers look like marathon runners and the mid-grade officers look like NFL halfbacks. The senior officers are lean, tanned and serious… deadly serious. The place exudes the warrior spirit. If you are a civilian I can't explain it and won't apologize for it. If you are a veteran you don't need to have the warrior spirit explained.
These Marines are in a street fight. They don't have the word 'lose' in their vocabulary. They've been bloodied and their anger is up. The intensity in the COC is contagious. This is a tribe of warriors. They exist to close with and destroy the enemy. They have their tribal mores, rituals and rites. Their enemy has desecrated members of the tribe and taunted the Marines. They've asked for a fight. The marines are in full pursuit and absolutely determined to annihilate their foe.
I'm sure that sounds harsh to politically correct ears and those for whom this type of violence is anachronistic. It does not sound foreign here - it is status quo. We are in a violent land, with an evil element and they are having violence visited upon them. There is no room here for half-measures. This is a test of wills…one side will prevail. That is clearly understood and never discussed. It is obvious. We aren't playing paintball, we are at war.
Convoys go out of here regularly. I hunt them down, pass out a small card with a convoy prayer on it, gather whoever wants to pray and we pray. The number of prayers is going up hourly, as the ambushes continue.
Here's how intense it has become. Today's standard pre-convoy brief now includes the following: “If you drive into the kill zone there are two options. Drive through and on, or reverse and drive out. Do not stop. If you are blocked into the kill zone, displace from the vehicle, find cover, fix the target, engage, maneuver, and destroy the hostile forces. “Target selection rules have changed. Avoid civilians, if possible. Hostile forces are now using civilians as shields. We are not interested in losing more Marines. If you can avoid putting civilians in your line of fire, avoid it. If not, fire to take out the hostile forces.”
Implication? Chilling. We've entered a new dimension. We are fighting an enemy who respects no laws of humanity, knows no rules of land warfare and gives no quarter. How do we fight, without become barbarians ourselves?
In a place this small, I walk from shop to shop and just say, “Hi.” I can't tell you the number of times someone says, “Hey, chappy, it's great to have you here.” Something about seeing a chaplain is calming to folks this close to the fight.
Good Friday in Ar Ramadi while you're having lunch I'll lead the evening Good Friday service. We will remember our Savior who willingly laid down His life that we might live - and we'll be thinking about young Marines and soldiers who are willingly putting their lives on the line so Iraqis can be free. No greater love hath a man than to lay down his life for his brother.
OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESSMAN MURTHA
By Kurt G. Gunnery Sergeant, USMC (Ret), June 24, 2006
Forwarded by G. T. Dyer
Let's Talk, Sir
Dear Mr. Murtha,
I've had it. I've had enough sanctimonious hyperbole from you. This has been boiling inside of me for weeks and weeks now. As a retired Marine, I have to speak-up… or my conscience will not let me rest. I've been hoping against hope that you would wake-up and stop the dangerous nonsense… but I know now how foolish that was.
You are badly damaging our military's effectiveness with your irresponsible and completely false rantings. You have become one of the key “useful idiots” that our enemy relies upon for assistance. You are now standing on the same moral and intellectual ground as Cindy Sheehan and that mountainous pile of anti-Americanism, Michael Moore.
People see you now as “Osama's Congressman,” and as someone putting forth “insane strategy”.
Does this bother you? Does it worry you that most sane people think you are completely unhinged? That you have sold out your country's security for cheap political points? That you, as someone who used to wear a Marine Corps uniform, have made a complete mockery of “Semper Fidelis?”
I guess the Marine Corps part is the primary reason for me writing this. There are plenty of far-left people out there undermining our national security- and I could have chosen any of them for a letter like this… but the fact that you were once a Marine is the one thing I just cannot get over. I can't believe that you have said the things you have said about Marines. I am stunned that you could not give Marines the benefit of waiting until charges were investigated before you accused them of abhorrent atrocities.
Immediately and without hesitation, you took the side of our enemy and condemned those Marines… and by doing so, you have emboldened and strengthened the terrorists' cause. To me, that is worse than treason… it is betrayal of a very personal kind. How many Marines and soldiers will now be killed because of the new power you gave the terrorists? How many of America's enemies are celebrating with orgiastic glee the Congressman calling American Marines murderers?
Don't get me wrong, Sir- your behavior is not unprecedented. In my career, I saw several examples of what we call “Semper I.” Do you remember “Semper I?” It is the exact opposite of “Semper Fi.” It is the rare case where a Marine puts himself first- and the hell with his fellow warriors. “Semper I” is the sad reality of human nature… where even the deeper-than-blood-level connection that Marines share cannot overcome a basic flaw in some people. I've seen it before, and I'm seeing it now in you. Your political ambitions- and years of extreme liberal brainwashing- have brought you to moral ruin.
The worst part of it all in your case, though, is that the rest of the deranged far left have grasped onto your betrayal and found new strength in it- as have our enemies. They cite your “war hero” background as proof that your opinions are infallible. Around the world, America's detractors and enemies are seeing our very own media celebrate your “maverick” behavior. Honestly, Sir… how does that make you feel?
I'm sure you remember one of our Corps' most famous moments- when Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly inspired his men into a no-win firefight with the words, “Come on, you SOB's! You want to live forever?” They answered with a resounding “No” through their actions… they went with him and, in spite of suffering horrendous casualties, they defeated the enemy. No one second-guessed his decision… no one criticized the Marines' actions.
That was World War I - the battle of Belleau Wood. We won that war.
Forget for a moment the fact that your far-left friends of today would crucify this legendary leader for such comments and behavior. Forget that many mistakes were made at all levels of the chain-of-command in that war- and every other war.
Let's just remember that Marines stick together… even when charging into the depths of hell. We do not sell out our fellow Marines. Ever.
You, Sir, have done just that. You have sold out not only the Marines involved in this particular incident- but all the rest of us, as well. You have told the world that Marines are deserving of no due-process because they are just blood-thirsty killers. You have made people believe all the false crap that the anti-American crowd has been trying to pin on us since Vietnam.
Your mistake cannot be excused as just the ramblings of an aging liberal politician. There is too much riding on the title you used to hold… that of Marine. The anti-everything crowd uses your past like a shield of invulnerability- as if you speak the total and complete truth since you used to be one us. You make it appear that this is how any Marine would feel. Your betrayal is far, far more dangerous than that of other anti-American liberals.
All you had to do, Sir, was say “Let's wait until a full investigation is conducted.” That's it. All you had to do was hold your tongue until we all know exactly what happened and who, if anyone, is to blame. The political gain, though, was too tempting… and so you stuck a giant knife in the back of our Corps… and then continued twisting it.
You then compound the betrayal of those Marines by saying things like “There is no way we can win (this war) militarily…” What kind of thing is that to say? Seriously… how completely far-gone do you have to be to say that? Have you asked yourself what Dan Daly would think of that statement? How about Presley O'Bannon… and Sergeant Jarred L. Adams… and Chesty Puller? Do you think they would approve of the things you are saying?
Most of us Marines try to hold ourselves up to the icons of our history… we use them as a measuring stick for our own performance. More than anything, Marines fear not living up to our predecessors. One thing that has always separated us from everyone else is that we do not forget our history… the honor and bravery of those Marines who came before us is the fuel that feeds our Corps.
With all due respect, Sir, you have become a dangerous fool. You have shamed the United States Marine Corps, and endangered countless lives- not to mention the damage done to our mission.
Play politics all you want… attack your political opponents as you see fit… but, for God's sake, leave the Marine Corps out of your politics. On behalf of the Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen serving our country now… please stop attacking our military and shut the hell up.
Most sincerely and respectfully,
Gunnery Sergeant, USMC, Retired
Techniguy Newsletter [http://www.techniguy.com ].
OPENING THE EYES OF ELITISTS
Reprint of USA TODAY Jan 13 OpEd article http://usatoday.com/printedition/news/20050118/opcom18.art.htm [http://usatoday.com/printedition/news/20050118/opcom18.art.htm]
Forwarded by MSGT Jim Whittington USAF (Ret)
MILITARY SERVICE CAN OPEN THE EYES OF COUNTRY’S ELITE
By Kathryn Roth-Douquet - attorney and former aide in the Clinton White House
I recently went to a dinner party attended by Sen. Hillary Clinton. After the meal, an elegant Manhattanite seated beside me asked the senator about a military draft. “Without one,” the woman asserted, “they'll never get my educated and talented boys.” I'm sure she's right. These days, people of means routinely reject military service.
Until a generation ago, the children of presidents, oilmen and bankers regularly saw service. Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Kennedy, Prescott Bush - all titans - had sons who served.
Today, 1% of those serving in Congress have a child in the armed forces - an institution that, according to military sociologist Charles Moskos, is bereft of “children of the privileged.” That's too bad. The real losers here are the young and privileged adults themselves.
I was, by many measures, a child of privilege, too. I came from a manicured suburb, attended expensive schools - Bryn Mawr, Princeton - and served as an aide in the Clinton White House. I've worked for charitable foundations, a white-glove law firm, and I still raise money for the Democratic Party. From these perches, the military seemed another world.
Then I married a Marine Corps officer and came to see the narrowness of the “us-and-them” view of military service. During my husband's six-month deployments - airlifting aid to East Timor, sorting through the fog of war in Baghdad - and from living with military people, I've learned what military service is about. As one who was weaned on the ideologies of the American left, I've been forced to reconsider some assumptions. I've come to believe that, even for the “haves” of society, the military offers much to admire and emulate.
If I could address the country's fortunate young who imagine themselves one day making a difference, this is what I would say: You expect to do well in life. No one you know is in the military. There's a war going on that you think was a mistake or, perhaps, a good idea gone wrong. You think military service is for people without money or skills - not someone like you.
Now, consider this proposition: Joining the military may make you a better person and profoundly inform your entire life. Military service nurtures belief, without irony, in the tenets that founded this country, and a love of country distinct from jingoism. Its every action expresses awe for the noble experiment of liberal democracy.
Service members provide the defense that is a precondition of our pursuit of individual happiness and common good. Service fosters a love of strangers and comrades you hope to keep safe. When this nation, through the voice of its elected leader, asks you to help protect our freedoms, your role has meaning. Answering the call is not a career move, but an act of the heart.
As long as there is an impulse to evil in this intertwined world, an impulse to take advantage, enslave, seize power from the weak; as long as our enemies embrace their cult of death; as long as those passions hold sway in whole regions, we need to be vigilant of our security.
Moreover, our military has become an arm of democratic hopes around the world. In the wake of the catastrophic tsunami in South Asia, it is the U.S. military that is providing the most effective relief. America's armed forces build roads and dams in Africa. They conduct diplomacy around the world the way that the State Department, with its tiny budget, simply cannot.
I ask political leaders - few of whom served in the military, many of whom will stand in this week's inaugural salute to the troops - to join me in this plea.
Enlisting in the military won't make you richer, fatten your résumé or bring the material gains that dazzle society. It may make you better, though. And it will bring you closer to the heart of this country. True, there are some who do wrong in that role. You can be one who does right.
For your service, you will not only develop values and perspective, you will make this country fairer and stronger. Then in your middle age, you can be part of a new elite: a civilian leader who understands the armed forces. No country can prosper when its leaders lack wisdom on national defense. The service you provide later, as a wise leader, may do our country the greatest good.
Sent by Jay firstname.lastname@example.org
Marines and Friends: I wanted to share an experience I had while I was on leave recently. I was hanging out with a former Marine buddy of mine and mentioned that I wanted to visit the Iwo Jima and Vietnam Memorials while I was home. I do my best to visit them every time I'm home or at least once a year. He said he wanted to go, too and that I should wear my Blues.
We visited the Iwo Jima Memorial, the new Korean Memorial (it's beautiful), and ended at the Wall. We had both done very well to keep our composure. We did have one incident where we yelled at some kids playing tag around the base of our beloved Marine Corps Memorial, but that's all.
Standing near the center of the Wall, next to a mother and her 12-13 yr. old son. I noticed tears in her eyes, but she was doing her best to hold them back. The boy pointed at me and asked his mother , “He's a Marine like Uncle so-and-so, isn't he?” She nodded. The boy walked up to the Wall, touched a name and returned. He said, “Why is Uncle so-and-so's name up there, again?” Mom replied, “This is the Vietnam Memorial. All the people who died over there are listed here.”
“It sure is a lot.”
“Yes Honey, it was a very horrible war.” I looked at my buddy. His eyes were getting misty, as were mine. Then the kid tapped me on the sleeve. When I looked at him, he said something that I will never forget, “I'm still not sure what all this about, but thank you for being a Marine like my Uncle.” THAT'S when the three of us lost it.
About six people around us quickly joined in. During the next 15 minutes, I received more handshakes and thank-you's than I can count, was hugged by three people I had never met, and I smartly returned a few salutes to little ones. I have never felt more proud of being a Marine! Tears were streaming down my face, yet my chest was bigger than it was on Graduation Day.
It is very easy to get upset at the Corps when we see civilians making more money than us for the same job. It is easy to become disheartened when we haven't seen our loved ones in who knows how long. It is easy to become disgruntled when we ask for east coast and end up at Camp Pendleton instead. It is very easy to get caught up in our daily lives and forget why we swore that oath in the first place.
I know there is not an overwhelming love for the military these days. It is hard to remember the last time I went off base when I didn't encounter at least one turned-up nose, a “Harumph”, or an “Oh God, not another Marine,” but that's why I'm here. To help defend the freedoms that allow them to scoff at me. That group of people and a simple thank-you from a half-pint kid reminded me why I joined.
To those of you still serving, I want to thank you. Not everyone in the country may respect you, but I do. I am very proud to be a part of your team…a part of the finest fighting force in the world. To those of you who came before me, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. If it were not for the sacrifices you made, I would not be here today making the sacrifices I make to help defend our beautiful country so that a young boy could grow up as I did…FREE.
Etienne “TN” Sullivan
By Oliver North, Military.com, April 16, 2004
LtCol Oliver L. North is a nationally syndicated columnist and the honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance. An educational and charitable foundation, the Alliance was founded in 1990 by LtCol North, who now serves as the organization’s honorary chairman. The committee works to promote freedom and liberty, support the American military and educate American youth about the military.
Ar-Ramadi, Iraq - The Marines here in ar-Ramadi are continuing a 200 year old tradition in the United States Marine Corps - fighting terrorists. The Corps’ history of fighting terrorists dates back to 1804, when Marine 1st Lt Presley O’Bannon led his men to defeat the Barbary Pirates. In more recent history, Marines have battled terrorists in Tehran, Kuwait, Madrid, Beirut, Bogota, San Salvador, Frankfurt, West Berlin, Riyadh, Dhahan, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Aden, to name just a few places. Marines also have the honor and responsibility of providing security at U.S. embassies around the world, a favorite target of terrorists.
The creed under which they work is Semper Fidelis - “Always Faithful.” Faithful to their commanders, their mission, their nation, their fellow Marines with whom they are currently serving, and the example of Marines who served before them.
During a morning ceremony earlier this week, 20 Marines received the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat. Those injuries resulted from some of the toughest battles and fire fights we’ve seen in over a year when Marines were marching to Baghdad. More than 116 Marines in this unit have received the Purple Heart so far and over 70 of them have decided to stay in Iraq, fight with their units and accomplish the mission rather than return home, even though, by consequence of their wounds, they can do so.
I asked Lt David Dobb, who sustained injuries to his hand, why so many of these young men decided to stick it out even though they’d been hurt? “This is what these Marines signed up to do,” he told me, “and we’re going to see this mission through until the job’s done the way it is supposed to be done.”
Sgt Kenneth Conde, a squad leader with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, was leading his platoon in a nighttime raid this week when insurgents tried to ambush the platoon, fighting broke out and he was hit in the shoulder. The enemy didn’t last long, however, because Marines own the night. Their remarkably sophisticated night vision equipment and training give them a significant strategic advantage. During nighttime missions this week, Marines have made significant progress de-arming the enemy. They’ve collected ordnance, mortar rounds, artillery rounds and improvised explosive devices.
After Sgt Conde was hit, he continued fighting and ultimately, in addition to the weapons, six terrorists were captured and taken off the streets of ar-Ramadi. Sgt Conde, because of his grievous wounds, could have had a ticket home, yet he decided to stay with this battalion as a squad leader. I asked him why. “There was no other choice for a Sergeant in the Marine Corps,” Conde explained, “you have to lead your Marines.”
THE EVENING PARADE
From Raymond Strum via Bill Thompson
A DEMONSTRATION OF PRIDE
Last Friday my family and I had the pleasure of attending the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks, 8th & I, Washington, D.C., as guests of the Commanding Officer, Colonel Terry Lockard.
As you would imagine, the evening was perfect from the minute we arrived at the Barracks. There were numerous Marines assisting with every aspect of the Parade, from parking, giving directions, checking names, and helping people cross the street. These Marines, whether LCpl or MGySgt, displayed obvious pride in being there, and represented the best of our Corps. They were striking in their ceremonial uniforms complete with medals. I saw numerous Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, and Purple Hearts on some young men barely old enough to buy a beer.
As guests of the Commanding Officer, we were afforded the opportunity to mingle with other VIPs in the Center House on the grounds of the Barracks.
The bar was tended by a Major, a Captain, and a Warrant Officer, who happily served drinks to the guests. At the appropriate time we were escorted to our seats. We sat field level second row back at the 40-yard line. (The Commandant's guests get the 50.)
You have all seen the Silent Drill Team perform, but this was the first time my family had visited our oldest post. I knew what to expect. It was going to be an amazing evening.
Just as everyone was settling in, I saw a small commotion out of the corner of my eye to the left. Several wounded Marines were being escorted in by their fellow Marines. Each was in a wheelchair, some attended by their wives. Blankets covered most of their wounds, but I could see some seriously damaged bodies. They received a standing ovation from the spectators as they passed by. The wheelchairs made their way toward us and stopped about two arms interval from me.
The Marine next to me sat upright in his wheelchair with his scarred legs immobile straight out in front. He was carrying his daughter on his lap. She was maybe a year old. His wife sat behind him in the bleachers. I was amazed at his mood as he played with his daughter and moved her arms in rhythm to the music played by the President's Own.
I could see he was uncomfortable at times as he tried to reposition his blanket or cushion. To move his legs, he had to grasp his shoelaces, which were tied with extra long loops. He then had to lift and attempt to maneuver his legs. I watched him do this several times and had to fight the urge to assist him. After all, his wife was just a few feet away and certainly she knew when to help and when not to.
The Parade progressed as all parades do. At the command, “Pass in Review,” the Marines faced to the right and began the march off the Parade Grounds. After some quick drum beats to get everyone going, the combined President's Own and Commandant's Own began playing the Marine Hymn.
To my amazement, the Marine next to me started lifting his legs off the rests on his wheelchair and planted his feet on the grass. He held on to the arms of the chair, and strained to push himself up. His body was far from straight and actually resembled a question mark, but in his eyes and those around him, he was standing tall.
He was shaking, struggling not to fall over, but he was at attention when our Colors passed. I can't remember ever seeing such determination and pride. I didn't have to look far to find a hero that night. He was sitting (and standing) just two arm lengths away.
U.S. Secret Service
THE FEW… THE PROUD…
A letter from an Air Force doctor to his father. Passed along by my friend JayPMarine
If I ever hear airmen griping and complaining, I jump into them pretty quickly now. Most people over here have nothing to gripe about compared to Marines. Marines are different. They have a different outlook on life.
One Marine Private was here for several days because he was a lower priority evacuation patient. He insisted on coming to attention and displaying proper military courtesy every morning when I came through on rounds. He was in a great deal of pain, and it was a stressful to watch him work his way off the bed and onto his crutches. I told him he was excused and did not have to come to attention while he was a patient. But, he informed me that he was a good Marine and would address “Air Force Colonels standing on my feet, Sir.” I had to turn away so he would not see the tear in my eye. He did not have “feet” because we amputated his right leg below the knee on the first night he came in.
I asked a Marine Lance Corporal if there was anything I could get him as I was making rounds one morning. He was an above the knee amputation after an IED blast, and he surprised me when he asked for a trigonometry book.
“You enjoy math do you?” I responded.
“Not particularly, Sir. I was never good at it, but I need to get good at it, now.”
“Are you planning on going back to school?”
“No sir, I am planning on shooting artillery. I will slow an infantry platoon down with just one good leg, but I am going to get good at math and learn how to shoot artillery”. I hope he does.
I had the sad duty of standing over a young Marine Sgt. when he recovered from anesthesia - despite our best efforts there was just no way to save his left arm, and it had to come off just below the elbow.
“Can I have my arm back, sir?” he asked.
“No, we had to cut it off, we cannot re-attach it.” I told him.
“But can I have my arm?” he asked again.
“You see, we had to cut it off… and…”
He interrupted, “I know you had to cut it off, but I want it back. It must be in a bag or something, Sir.”
“Why do you want it?”
“I am going to have it stuffed and use it as a club when I get back to my unit.”
I must have looked shocked because he tried to comfort me with, “Don’t you worry now, Colonel. You did a fine job, and I hardly hurt at all; besides I scratch and shoot with my other hand anyway.”
God Bless the Marines!
THE MARINE AS SEEN BY…
Forwarded by JayPMarine. Original origin unknown.
The Marine As Seen By Himself: A stout, handsome, highly-trained professional killer and female’s idol, who wears a star sapphire ring, carries a finely honed K-Bar, is covered with crisp cammies, and is always on time due to the reliability of his Seiko diver’s watch.
As Seen By His Wife: A stinking, gross, foul mouthed bum, who arrives home every 6 months or so with a seabag full of filthy utilities, a huge ugly watch, an oversized knife, a filthy hat, and a hard-on.
As Seen By Headquarters Marine Corps: A drunken brawling, HMMWV-stealing, women-corrupting liar with a star sapphire ring, Seiko watch, unauthorized K-Bar, and a screwed up cover.
As Seen By His Commanding Officer: A fine specimen of a drunken brawling, HMMWV-stealing, women-corrupting BS artist, with a star sapphire ring, fantastically accurate Seiko watch, finely honed-razor sharp K-Bar, and a salty cammie cover.
As Seen By Congress: An over-paid, over-rated, tax burden who is, however, indispensable - since he will volunteer to go anywhere, at any time, and kill whoever he is told to kill as long as he can drink, brawl, steal HMMWV’s, corrupt women, kick cats, lie, sing dirty songs, and wear filthy cammies, big sapphire rings, over-sized knives, Seiko watches and really screwed up covers.
As Seen By Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States: “Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the Marines don’t have that problem.”
As Seen By General Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Army: “These Marines have the swagger, confidence, and hardness that must have been in Stonewall Jackson’s Army of the Shenandoah. They remind me of the Coldstreams at Dunkerque. I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!”
As Seen By Admiral Chester Nimitz, U.S. Navy: (of the Marines at Iwo Jima) “Uncommon valor was a common virtue”
As seen By Lieutenant Colonel T. R. Fehrenbach, U.S. Army: (in “This Kind of War”) “The man who will go where his colors will go, without asking, who will fight a phantom foe in a jungle and mountain range, without counting, and who will suffer and die in the midst of incredible hardship, without complaint, is still what he has always been - from Imperial Rome to sceptered Britain to Democratic America. He is the stuff of which legions are made. His pride is his colors and his regiment, his training hard and thorough and coldly realistic, to fit him for what he must face, and his obedience is to his orders. As a legionnaire, he held the gates of civilization for the classical world… today he has been called United States Marine.”
As Seen By An Anonymous Canadian Citizen: “Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it was some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshipping their Commandant almost as if he was a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They’ll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action, and are the cockiest SOB’s I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond man’s normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart. And, generally speaking, the United States Marines I’ve come in contact with are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have had the pleasure to meet.”
As seen by General Pershing, U.S. Army: “The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!”
As Seen By General Mark Clark, U. S. Army: “The more Marines I have around the better I like it.”
THE MARINE BAND
STILL GOING STRONG AFTER 200 YEARS
From an article by Sarah Booth Conroy in the Washington Post, on July 6, 1999
On July 11, 1798, President John Adams signed the congressional act that created the U.S. Marine Band, which has marched through history while making history of its own ever since that time. It played its first Washington public concert from “a hill overlooking the Potomac River” in August 1800, three months before the government moved to that city. It then consisted of a drum major, a fife major and 32 drums and fifes.
Today, its 143 musicians include 44 women and membership in the band is highly prized, as demonstrated by 70 tuba players recently auditioning for a single place. Most members serve for 20 years or more. Its current and 26th director is LCOL Timothy W. Foley, a clarinetist with 30 years service who took over the baton at the Marine Barracks in 1996. That locale has been the band’s headquarters since 1801.
Its most famous director was John Philip Sousa, now known as the march king, who was the son of a Marine Band trombonist. Sousa joined the band as a 13-year-old apprentice and was its director from 1880-1892. He then served as its prime composer for the next 40 years until his death in 1932.
Thomas Jefferson, himself an accomplished violinist, called the band “The President’s Own” when the musicians played for his inauguration.
The Marine Band played “Hail to the Chief” the first time in honor of President John Quincy Adams at a Fourth of July groundbreaking for the C&O Canal. However, the music didn’t become the official herald until several years later. It was supposedly first used for that purpose when James Polk was president because of his height. He was so short that most people in attendance didn’t notice when he entered a crowded room. It then became the custom.
The band celebrated its 200th birthday on July 11th, 1999, with the opening of a visual exhibit of the foregoing and other interesting history, at the White House Visitor Center, 1450 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. This rare collection of photographs, tapes, posters and captions remained on display there through September 1999.
TRUTHS NEEDED TO BE TOLD
Forwarded by AirBurd
“A terrific, practical speech delivered in June 2006 by MajGen Michael H. Lehnert, USMC. Most of his audience obviously knew little about the military service, the current war, and many other things he touched on… but they do now! Despite its length, it is one of those rare articles that will hold your attention from beginning to end, and that you will want to pass along.” - Jug
Eight days ago, I was present in the audience when Tom Brokaw addressed the 2006 Stanford graduating class. After the initial pleasantries and one-liners, Mr. Brokaw said something unexpected. He told the class that they were the children of privilege, fortunate to be attending one of the finest educational institutions in the country - the anointed because they had both the test scores for admittance and parents who were able to afford their tuition. He noted that they could likely expect rapid advancement in almost any endeavor they choose and that they were destined to lead the most powerful country in the world.
The class was beaming.
And then Brokaw reminded them that the liberties and freedoms they enjoyed were being defended by young people their age that did not have their advantages. That at this time thousands of men and women were fighting, dying and suffering debilitating injury to ensure that the rest of us could live the American dream.
There was an uncomfortable shifting in the seats, followed by slow but growing applause from the audience.
When we sent my son to Stanford four years ago, we filled out a form asking for demographic information. One of the questions for the parents said, what is your profession. After it was a list of about thirty professions including doctor, lawyer, congressman, educator, architect. Military was not listed, so I filled in “other”
My son was the only graduate who had a parent serving in the armed forces. As I was introduced to his friends' parents, it was interesting to watch their reaction. Few had ever spoken to a member of the military. One asked me how my son was able to gain admittance with the disadvantage of having to attend “those DOD schools”. Many voiced support for our military and told me that they'd have served but clearly military service was not for their kind of people.
This year of the so-called elite schools, Princeton led them with nine graduates electing military service. Compare that with 1956 when over 400 of the Princeton graduating class entered the military. Most of the other Ivy League schools had no one entering the military this year.
I wonder how many of you know the young people who are serving today. I won't embarrass anyone by asking for a show of hands to ask how many really know a young enlisted Marine who has been to war.
I'm going to try to give you a better feel about those who serve our nation.
Our Marines tend to come from working class families. For the most part, they came from homes where high school graduation was important but college was out of their reach. The homes they come from emphasize service. Patriotism isn't a word that makes them uncomfortable.
The global war on terrorism has been ongoing for nearly five years with Marines deployed in harms way for most of that time. It is a strange war because the sacrifices being levied upon our citizens are not evenly distributed throughout society. In fact, most Americans are only vaguely aware of what is going on.
That isn't the case aboard the Marine bases in Southern California where we see the sacrifice everyday as we train aboard those open spaces that you covet for other purposes. Many of our Marines are married and 70% of our married Marines live in your communities, not aboard Marine bases. These Marines coach your soccer teams. They attend your places of worship. They send their kids to your schools. However, in many ways they are as different from the rest of the citizens of Southern California as my son was different from the rest of the students at Stanford.
One of the huge differences between the rest of society and our Marine families, is when Marine daddies and mommies go to work, some of them never come home. The kids know that. The spouses know that. Week after week we get reports of another son, father, husband who won't be coming back. During the past four years, over 460 Marines from Southern California bases have been killed by the enemy. 107 more have died in Iraq and Afghanistan due to accidents. 6500 have been wounded some of them multiple times.
You will never know or meet Brandan Webb age 20 or Christopher White age 23 or Ben Williams age 30. They were all assigned to First Battalion First Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, California. They were some of the Marines who died this week out of Marine bases in Southern California.
Last Friday, we hosted a golf tournament at Camp Pendleton to raise money for wounded Marines. There are a lot of expenses that the government cannot legally pay for from appropriated funds. The people who attended the tournament genuinely wanted to help and we invited a couple of dozen wounded Marines to golf with them.
As I watched the teams leave for a shotgun start, I saw three Marines sitting by themselves and went over to talk to them. Clearly they'd been told by their chain of command that this was their appointed place of duty. They were sitting in the sun chatting, probably not unhappy with the duty but mildly uncertain as to why they were there. I asked them why they weren't golfing and they said that they'd never learned. No one in their families ever played golf and that this was the first times they'd ever been on a golf course.
I asked them how many times they'd deployed. One of the young men had just returned from his third deployment and had been wounded every time. The others teased him for being a bullet magnet. I asked him if he was going to stay in and he thought for a moment what to say to a general, then said, “I think I'd like to try college. No one in my family has ever gone.”
I asked these Marines if I could buy them a beer. They looked at me and smiled. One of them said, “We can't ask you to break the rules sir. None of us are 21 yet.”
They seemed much older. As I left them I wondered about a policy that gives a young man the power of deciding who will live and who will die but won't let him drink a beer. I thought about these young Americans who had never shot golf but had shot and killed other men in order to carry out foreign policy.
On the 10th of August we will open a wounded warrior barracks at Camp Pendleton. Few taxpayers' dollars were used. We were able to raise the money through the Semper Fidelis fund to house those Marines who no longer need to be hospitalized but who suffer debilitating injuries and need follow-on care.
Heretofore, when regiments left for the war, they left their non-deployables behind. These Marines often had to live in WWII era barracks with open squad bays and gang heads down the hallway. Those having limited mobility found it difficult and uncomfortable. It was no way to treat our wounded warriors. We're fixing it.
Now let me introduce you to another enlisted Marine. His name is Brendan Duffy. Brendan was an infantry Marine. Like so many others, Brendan had dreams of going to college but no means to do so. While he was in the Corps, he immediately began using his Montgomery GI bill benefits by enrolling in Mira Costa College. Though deployed soon after signing up for college, he took his textbooks to war. Last month he received Mira Costa's highest award - the Medal of Honor for Academic Excellence. Brendan described studying pre-calculus while fragments from explosions struck the sandbag shelter he was in.
Brendan left the Corps this week and has been accepted to the University of California Los Angeles to study math and economics.
Later this morning I'll be meeting with educators across the California University system. We are trying to make California more veteran friendly. California hosts 40% of the combat power of the Marine Corps and 40% of the Marine veterans who leave the Corps do so out of Southern California bases. 96% have participated in the Montgomery GI Bill and are eligible for benefits, but only a small number enter the California University system. That's because California, unlike other states, did not provide any veterans preference or even reach out to veterans.
These combat veterans score in the top 50% of their age group, are drug free and morally straight but are lost to California and return to other states that aggressively work to attract them.
Several months ago, along with senior leadership of all the Services, I met with Governor Schwarzenegger and told him that California was not an education friendly state for military veterans. To his credit, he is trying to change that and this meeting today is a natural outgrowth of his support.
In Iraq, the media talks about the casualties. They seldom report the successes. I don't think that this is intentional. It is just more difficult to quantify progress and reduce it to a sound bite.
Some of you may recall almost exactly two years ago when a four man sniper team from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines was killed on a rooftop in Ramadi. It made news because sniper teams aren't supposed to get ambushed and because an M40A1 sniper rifle was now in the hands of the enemy.
Over the next two years, that rifle was used against Americans and we wanted it back. Last week, a 21 year old Marine sniper from 3rd Battalion, Fifth Marines out of Camp Pendleton observed a military aged male videotaping a passing patrol of amphibious assault vehicles near Camp Habbaniya. After radioing the patrol and telling them to stay low, the Marine watched the man aiming a sniper rifle that looked remarkably like his own.
He killed the enemy sniper with one round to the head. Seconds later, another insurgent entered on the passenger side and was surprised to see his partner dead. That hesitation was enough time to allow Sgt Kevin Homestead age 26 to kill the insurgent before he could drive off.
When the Marines went down to inspect the scene, they saw that the sniper rifle was one of their own. It was the same M-40A1 sniper rifle looted from the 2/4 sniper team exactly two years earlier.
We are making progress in Iraq. The Iraqi Army is more capable each month. In the Anbar province we have brought the 1st Iraqi Division - the most capable of the Iraqi formations - to the former British RAF base of Habbaniyah - between Fallujah and Ramadi.. We are standing up the 7th Division. In Baghdad, Iraqi brigades own parts of the city and are reporting directly to the US Army Division commander as component units.
The Iraqi Police are the essential element - and the most difficult challenge. In any insurrection, the insurgent specifically targets the local security elements of the government - because they are essential to maintaining control via interaction with the community, intelligence gathering, and law enforcement against petty and organized crime traffic control. These police units are having good success in places like Fallujah. Ramadi is a different kettle of fish. Some of the police departments haven't been paid in months and the intimidation campaign is in full force.
My Chief of Staff, Colonel Stu Navarre, formerly the Commander of the 5th Marine Regiment, told me this story: One day in December, the Ramadi Police Dept Operations Officer (#3 in the pecking order) did not come to work. When we inquired, he told us that the day before his 10 year-old son had been kidnapped after school and transported to the north side of Ramadi. He was called by the kidnappers and advised of his son's location. When the Operations Officer arrived at the location, he found his son alive, with a note pinned to his shirt, “If you go to work tomorrow, you will never see your son again. We know where you live.” I wonder how many of us would show up for work with that kind of intimidation.
Your fellow Americans in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing a superb job in the most dangerous places on earth. They believe in what they are doing. The majority of the sergeants, corporals, and privates enlisted after 9-11. They knew what they were signing up for. They want to deploy in defense of the nation. We are sending best leadership to the combat zone. Service in Iraq/Afghanistan has become the norm for our Marine and Army leaders, and an essential part of their experience/qualifications for advancement.
Finally, the American people have continued to demonstrate an unprecedented level of support for their fellow Americans in uniform - as well as the understanding that these young men and women are executing the policies of their elected representatives.
Reconstructing an entire nation takes time. Think about our own experience during the American Revolution. Despite having a homogeneous nation with no incipient insurgency, it was thirteen years from the Revolution to the ratification of the Constitution. We seem to have forgotten that it takes time to build institutions..
Introduction of a stable, representative form of government in Iraq is revolutionary in its impacts on the region and the world. Iraq is at the center of the Mid-East, the Arab world, and Shia Islam. Iraq has been, and will continue to be a major producer of natural resources - especially oil. It is at the center of the chess board. Iraq separates two sponsors of terrorism - Iran and Syria - and with Afghanistan - isolates Iran. It is no coincidence that Muammar Qadaffi has sensed the change in the wind and sought to distance himself from terrorism and WMD and become a legitimate player in world politics.
The Iraqis are capable of running Iraq. Today, thousands of young Iraqis are lining up to become soldiers and policemen - despite constant, highly lethal attacks on recruiting stations, police stations, and army checkpoints. Concurrently, there is no more dangerous job than being a candidate for office or an elected official in Iraq. We should not underestimate the absolute danger to any Iraqi that steps up to plate for law, order, and progress. The enemy is absolutely committed to winning. For him, there is really no other option. He also understands that the center of gravity is the commitment of the American people.
One of my major concerns is quality of life issues for our Marines, Sailors and their families. We are making significant progress, but we have a long way to go.
We are building 1600 more homes at Miramar to give our Marines and Sailors decent places to live. California is a beautiful State. It is also extraordinarily expensive and we are the gypsies in your castle, often driving 50 or 60 miles one way because those are the only places that our junior Marines can afford to live.
We are replacing worn out World War II vintage barracks that we make our single Marines live in. When I took over, I visited some of the open squad bay barracks at Camp Horno in Pendleton. A young Marine corporal and veteran of the fighting in Iraq looked at me and said, “Sir, I lived better in Fallujah.” That hurt, but he was right.
A couple of weeks later I had a chance to talk to the Commandant and tell him the same story. I told him that, at the rate we were replacing barracks, we wouldn't have decent enlisted quarters until 2036. To his credit, he listened and we now plan to have them replaced by 2013. This won't come without a cost, because the Marine Corps doesn't get more money to build barracks. We have to realign our priorities and not buy other things that we need. It was a significant decision by our senior leadership but the right thing to do.
With our Navy partners we are going after Pay Day Lenders. Pay Day Lenders are the parasites found outside of our military bases in Southern California who prey on young Marines and Sailors because the lenders know they are uninformed consumers. Pay day lenders take advantage that California has some of the weakest laws in the country.
In North Carolina, pay day lenders are limited to 36% annual percentage rates of interest. Here in San Diego, we regularly see rates of 460% and I have seen rates as high as 920% being charged legally against our service members. Service members go into a cycle of debt. Ultimately because we expect our Marines to be financially responsible, their ability to reenlist, compete for good jobs and keep a security clearance is effected.
Let me be clear. Pay day lenders are not providing our Marines with a service. They are parasites, bottom feeders and scumbags. One of them sent me a note recently telling me that he was a member of an honorable profession and that I should back off. He told me that a pay day lending institution had been found in the ruins of Pompey after Mount Vesuvius erupted. I responded to him that archeologists also found a whore house and that antiquity did not bequeath virtue. It is a shameful practice.
We also recognize that military leaders have a responsibility to educate our service members and their families about sound money management. We are doing that. We are using our base papers, information campaigns and personal intervention to tell them that there are alternatives to the pay day lending institutions.
Both the State and Federal legislatures have heard our message as well, and there are bills making their way through the process to significantly curtail the excesses of payday lenders.
I know that many of you came here today to find out what I would say about the airport situation at Miramar. So as not to disappoint you, let me be clear.
The Marines came to Miramar ten years ago as a result of a BRAC decision and four subsequent BRAC rounds determined that the interrelationship of the Marine and Navy bases in Southern California provided a capability that was unmatched anywhere in the country.
The Marine Corps uses its bases as a projection platform for combat power. 25,000 Marines from California bases are presently deployed in harms way and over 3,000 of them are from Miramar.
Through the years, we have accommodated our neighbors development needs. Often we allowed infrastructure that was unpopular elsewhere but vital to the community. San Diego's primary landfill is located at Miramar. A nuclear generation facility sits aboard Marine Corps property at Camp Pendleton and powers 2.2 million Southern California homes. We want to be good neighbors and work hard at it.
We examined the proposal for joint use of Miramar carefully, provided all data requested and saw that data ignored. Joint use does not work at Miramar. Thus the real issue is whether you want a civilian airport at Miramar or Marines.
If you want us to leave, you should say so. However you must understand that no matter what names are used to describe us in the Union Tribune, the decision whether or not to leave does not rest with the military leadership in Southern California. It rests with your elected leaders and most of them have clearly put defense needs above local requirements and said no to Miramar. The decision rests with the appointed civilian leadership in the department of defense. They've said no as well.
Sadly this controversy has effected local civil military relations. There is no way you can sugar coat it or pretend otherwise. But we are here. If our leadership tells us to leave we will. We will take our Marines, our families, our wounded and if necessary we will dig up our dead. However right now our leadership says we stay. And whether or not we remain in San Diego, the Marine Corps is committed to protecting your liberties and your freedoms.
We know that this is a difficult issue. We know that we have many friends in San Diego but we also know that we have others who see the economic potential of development of the military installations. They say that they love the military but would rather love them somewhere else than in their backyard.
If you take nothing away from this talk, I'd hope you understand and appreciate what a remarkable group of young people currently serve in your Armed Forces today. Want to know what Marine Generals talk about when we are together. We talk about what a remarkable privilege it is to lead these extraordinary Americans.
I started by mentioning Tom Brokaw. His book coined the phrase, “The Greatest Generation” and our nation responded in kind. Twenty years from now we may recognize that this young generation currently serving has the same qualities of greatness.
On the battlefield today are future CEO's of corporations, university presidents, congressmen, state governors, Supreme Court justices and perhaps a future president of the United States.
Take the time to meet one of these young people. You won't be disappointed.
NOTE TO JUG FROM READER: Please pass on for me to MajGen Michael H. Lehnert, USMC, that words do not do justice to communicate how much many of us appreciate his words and the service he and all his fellow service-folks (families included!) do and sacrifice on our behalf. Lead on!
1925 Sterretts Gap Ave.
Carlisle, PA 17013
Excerpted from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F. Sturkey.
Sent by Corky
Ask any Marine. Just ask. He will tell you that the Marine Corps was born in Tun Tavern on 10 November 1775. But, beyond that the Marine’s recollection for detail will probably get fuzzy. So, here is the straight scoop:
Resolution of the Continental Congress, 10 November 1775: “That two Battalions of Marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors and Officers as usual in other regiments, that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no person be appointed to office or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea.”
In the year 1685, Samuel Carpenter built a huge “brew house” in Philadelphia. He located this tavern on the waterfront at the corner of Water Street and Tun Alley. The old English word tun means a cask, barrel, or keg. So, with his new beer tavern on Tun Alley, Carpenter elected to christen the new waterfront brewery with a logical name, Tun Tavern.
Tun Tavern quickly gained a reputation for serving fine beer. Beginning 47 years later in 1732, the first meetings of the St. John’s No. 1 Lodge of the Grand Lodge of the Masonic Temple were held in the tavern. An American of note, Benjamin Franklin was its third Grand Master. Even today the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia recognizes Tun Tavern as the birthplace of Masonic teachings in America.
Roughly ten years later in the early 1740s, the new proprietor expanded Tun Tavern and gave the addition a new name, “Peggy Mullan’s Red Hot Beef Steak Club at Tun Tavern.” The new restaurant became a smashing commercial success and was patronized by notable Americans. In 1747 the St. Andrews Society, a charitable group dedicated to assisting poor immigrants from Scotland, was founded in the tavern.
Nine years later, then Col. Benjamin Franklin organized the Pennsylvania Militia. He used Tun Tavern as a gathering place to recruit a regiment of soldiers to go into battle against the Indian uprisings that were plaguing the American colonies. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Continental Congress later met in Tun Tavern as the American colonies prepared for independence from the English Crown.
On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned Samuel Nicholas to raise two Battalions of Marines. That very day, Nicholas set up shop in Tun Tavern. He appointed Robert Mullan, then the proprietor of the tavern, to the job of chief Marine Recruiter — serving, of course, from his place of business at Tun Tavern. Prospective recruits flocked to the tavern, lured by cold beer, and the opportunity to serve in the new Corps of Marines. So, yes, the U.S. Marine Corps was indeed born in Tun Tavern. Needless to say, both the Marine Corps and the tavern thrived during this new relationship.
Tun Tavern still lives today. And, Tun Tavern beer is still readily available throughout the Philadelphia area. Further, it is advertised through magazines to Marines throughout the world.
USMC UNVEILS NATIONAL MUSEUM
Scheduled to open 13 November 2006, the National Museum of the Marine Corps is a lasting tribute to U.S. Marines — past, present and future.
Situated on a 135-acre site adjacent to the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, the museum's soaring design evokes the image of the flag raisers of Iwo Jima and beckons visitors to its 100,000 square foot structure.
World-class interactive exhibits, using the most innovative technology, surround visitors with irreplaceable artifacts and immerse them in the sights and sounds of Marines in action.
The building features a 210-foot tilted mast and glass atrium houses a massive Leatherneck Gallery containing suspended aircraft and various other large artifacts.
Era galleries surround the Leatherneck Gallery and take visitors through the 231-year history of the Marines, including pivotal battles and other vital contributions to the preservation of America's freedom.
The finest museum technology and multimedia effects in our exhibitions recreate pivotal moments in history, i.e., the landing on Iwo Jima on D-Day in 1945 and the 1968 Khe Sanh siege during the Vietnam War.
Visitors can experience the intensity of boot camp…or test their rifle skills with a M-16 at the Marine Corps practice range, engulfing themselves in the sights and sounds of Marines in action.
Thousands of artifacts, including the flag raised over Iwo Jima, pay witness to the Marine Corps' contribution to our Nation's security.
The Museum's facilities also include a restaurant, gift shop, a planned large-screen state-of-the-art theater, class-rooms, and office spaces. Eventually totaling some 230,000 square feet, the building will blend with the landscape, using environmentally friendly design and construction.
To visit the official site, click here [http://www.usmcmuseum.org/ ].
By Tim Maxwell,from the Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2006
Forwarded by William Thompson
Tim Maxwell is stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. E-Mail [mailto:woundedteam@sempermax. com ].
I am a Marine - a lieutenant colonel. I know about war. I have studied it for more than 20 years. I have been deployed overseas six times; three times since 9/11.
Recently, I learned all about another part of war. I was badly wounded during a mortar attack in Iraq in October 2004. It is a traumatic brain injury. My left elbow also was busted. My left cheek has metal in it. It was tough to eat for awhile. It's hard to see.
But that stuff is irrelevant compared to the brain injury. A section of the left side of my brain is dead. I am learning to read and write again. It's tough. My third-grade son reads a lot better than me. Typing this article was exhausting.
But I have learned something, too: what it is like to be a wounded warrior.
We tend not to complain about our injuries too much. Most of us know others who are worse off - a guy with a bad leg knows a guy who lost a leg, or both legs. I, with a brain that is “cracked,” know youngsters with brain injuries who are unable to walk or talk. We all know someone who died. So, it is not a good thing to complain. We are tough guys. We are all going to whip it.
And that is because in the Corps, we really learn to be part of a team. Not like sports, where players switch teams for more money. I am talking about a life-and-death team. Warriors will not switch teams - if they can help it.
But when they are wounded, they have lost control. They are off the “A” team. All their friends will tell them, as they board the helicopter to fly away, to take care of themselves. Not to worry about the team. They'll be OK. But they want to be back with their team.
It is hard to talk about the injury itself. The guilt that comes from leaving your team in the combat zone. The frustration. And when you do complain to or talk with a non-injured person, it rarely goes well.
When you try to discuss your frustration, people talk positively. Upbeat. That is what good folks want to do. You try to tell them a negative thing that you are fighting with, something that is driving you nutty. Your friend, your wife will try to give you the positive side. Talk about how happy they are just to see you. Even if you cannot run. Or drive.
Use my vision as an example. It's not a complaint, just an example. When I woke up in Bethesda Naval Hospital, I had no vision in the right sides of either eye because of the brain injury. It was very frustrating, and scary. And confusing. So I would talk to a buddy, or my wife, or my mom. Think what you would have said: that I am lucky to be alive; that I can still see. And you do not want me to be depressed. You want to help me stay motivated. You want me to be positive.
And the goofy part? Marines do not whine. Therefore, I shall not whine. I
agree with it all. I think it is good for us wounded Marines to whip it -
the injury, the sadness and confusion. When you're in the hospital, your morale is OK. You are with other wounded warriors. You can chat about it. Sometimes we just look at each other in the hallway, and nod. That's all.
But once you are out of the hospital, it's tough. It sounds great on the day you leave. But there's irritation, frustration.
“Why is it taking so long to learn how to walk (read/see/eat/)again?”
“Where is my team? How are they doing? Will I make it back to them in Iraq?”
“Will my dang leg be good to go at least for the next deployment?”
We can do it. Deal with it. But it is a heck of a lot easier when you are with a teammate.
That, my friends, is why the Marine Corps built the Wounded Warrior barracks at Camp Lejeune, N.C. You can see other wounded warriors, talk about your situation. With someone who gets it. Who knows why you are pissed. You aren't whining, complaining. You are pissed! I get that. So am I.
We appreciate the visits we get, believe me. The commandant of the Marine Corps stops by to see how you are doing. So does the sergeant major. Celebrities. The secretary of Defense. The vice president of the United
But, we still wonder how the team is. How are they doing? When can I rejoin? That is OK. Because now we are coming together. At the barracks, Marines are working, they are hanging out together, eating together, sharing frustration together. All of this until they can be back on their original team.
As I tell wounded Marines who are checking in: I am just on the “B” team. But so are they. Either way, we still get to be Marines.