Forwarded by JayPMarine


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.