"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."
--Gen. George S. Patton
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Operation Sharing Freedom
An unofficial program of the 3RD Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment
We are 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Infantry Regiment based out of New Orleans, LA. We are over 900 U.S. Marines from Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana. We are currently in control of the Wasit Province with Al Kut our HQ. The province runs from the Iranian border to the east to the British sector to the south to 20 miles south of Baghdad to 30 miles west. The Tigris River runs thru our sector. Our mission is to reestablish law and order within the province/country, maintain territorial integrity and help in assisting international agencies in getting city services up and running. Our Battalion Commanding Officer, Lt Col Couvillon is effectively the Governor of the province and as such is responsible for our successful accomplishment of the above mission. Our hopes are to reach out to the people of Al Kut and the surrounding towns especially the children and show them that the American people care and haven't abandoned them. 99% of the Iraqis love the USA, it's the 1% you read about. The majority of the people are very poor and nonviolent, they just want hope that things will some day get better and love everything American, they want to learn. They see that things are already getting better for them, crime is dropping the thugs are being arrested and police and teachers are being paid again to go back to work. The Marines have been given grants and cash donations to build new playgrounds, water purification plants and restore hope. What we are asking the city of Atlanta to do is to start collecting items that show a little bit of America, small American flags, pins, stickers, red white and blue hats, even the Iraqi flag together with the American flag, pencils, pens, T-shirts... We will pass them out to all the children and people in the city and province. And believe us when we say it WILL make a difference. We fight a good will and PR battle every day with the 1% who would like to see us gone, this will help win the next fight. This operation is called "Operation Sharing Freedom" and is being led by the Marines of 3/23. OK guys, lets go! Semper Fi!
Lt Col Craig Berry USMC
Note on above from Sgt Grit.
I have agreed to give a special reduced price to a selection of USMC and USA items. If you would like to support 3/23 efforts you can do it with Sgt Grit. I will ship a package every Friday per the orders I receive that week. You have two options, a $9.95 or a $19.95 package. You will not be charged shipping. Your invoice will show shipping, but you will not be charged shipping only $9.95 or $19.95. (Programming limitations)
"A few weeks ago, we were doing some work on my back porch back home, tearing out a section of old stacked rocks, when all of a sudden I uncovered a nest of copperhead snakes. A copperhead will kill you. It could kill one of my grandchildren. It could kill any one of my four great-grandchildren. They play all the time where I found those killers. And you know, when I discovered these copperheads, I didn't call my wife Shirley for advice, as I do on most things. I didn't go before the city council. I didn't yell for help from my neighbors. I just took a hoe and knocked them in the head and killed them. Dead as a doorknob. I guess you could call it a unilateral action. Or preemptive. Perhaps if you had been watching me you could have even called it bellicose and reactive. I took their poisonous heads off because they were a threat to me. And they were a threat to my home and my family. They were a threat to all I hold dear. And isn't that what this is all about?"
--Georgia Demo Sen. Zell Miller with a close-to-home analogy of the war with Jihadistan.
Book by Sen. Miller, USMC.
Sadism Hussein was a weapon of mass destruction. under his orders more people died than at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Nanking, Dresden plus many others combined. Due to that insane crackpot, more people died than all the US losses in every war we ever fought. Iraq was developing a missile that would go nearly 2000 miles.
"Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint."
I graduated from high school last Monday...I had enlisted in the Marine Corps on Sept 18, 2002. nothing had ever made me happier, it had been my dream since the 5th grade when my father gave me the book "Corps Values" by Zell Miller, the former governor of Georgia. The next step in the process was to actually graduate, in which I did, but that wasn't the problem. I'm writing this to show the Marines and Marines "no longer on active service" what the children of today are... not half of the senior class took off their caps when the National Anthem was played and most of that half put them back on during The Pledge of Allegience.I had never been more ashamed to say that these people were my friends at one point, because they are not friends those who do not give the country the respect it deserves! My attention turned to the Police officers as the Anthem was played, I had always thought ALL uniformed officials were supposed to salute during the Anthem, yet of the ten or so in the room only one stood at attention and saluted throughout the duration. I am ashamed to be graduating with these little children, in which they must be, they either do not have the respect or were not taught it...its still a shame. To those who wish to know I will be a Grunt, 03, Thank God! All those who knew me told me I was too smart for the Corps, in fact I am teetering on the genius scale, but I cannot live in this country I love so much without being out on that battlefield when the bullets begin to fly. I would not be able to live with myself, because when Marines begin to fall, I KNOW I will be there to protect them and help my brothers, I WILL be there defending the greatest thing on earth and ever was or will be on earth THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND FREEDOM. without freedom, nothing else matters...because you would not have the rest without it. I will be there. OOH-RAH and Semper Fi.
-Brian M. York Fuquay Varina, NC
"Courage easily finds its own eloquence."
I like a lot of other Marines watched the MSNBC show with great Pride and of course the desire to be right along side those "Devil Dogs". I was with "Mike" 3/4 some 34 years ago and tried to explain to my wife the pride I have in and for this generation of Marines. I had forgotten we were that young once also, but felt the camaraderie for all of the Active duty Marines and Us that STILL wear the title "Marine" in the civilian world, even though we are a little long in the "Tooth"! "Once a Marine, Forever a Marine" !!!! OooooH RaaaaH Semper Fi
Capt. M.J. Snellgrove "M" 3/4 ,1969-70, "H" 2/2 1970-1974
"In times of stress, be bold and valiant."
Yo Grunts, welcome to another glorious day in the Corps, where everyday is a holiday and every meal a feast. I just returned from our Nations Capital for the Rolling Thunder Ride To The Wall with three of the Guys that I was with in the Spring of 68 at Camp Wannabee (want to be somewhere else). We helped place six new names on the WALL, for a total of 58,235, and it was a gratifying experience. Paul Revere and his Raiders were there for a free concert along with Nancy Sinatra, yes she still looks good. I hope I look that good when I turn 21. Billy Ray Cyrus sang his song "All gave Some, Some gave all" and I do not think that there was a dry eye in the crowd, likewise when Jimmy Fortune sang "More than a name on the Wall", you could see a lot of the guys with their heads down. I do not think that Jane Fonda was in attendance although I did see her picture every time I used a Urinal. There were a lot of Vets there not just from the Nam, and it was really nice to chat with them. The guys with me went by to shine the Marine Emblem at the Soldiers Statue and the other Branches were there also to shine their Emblem. I guess we have started a tradition. The Army guy said he wished that he had brought a detail brush and like a good Marine I let him borrow mine. I told him that the Marines always took care of the Army and the rest of the group laughed. The Park Ranger told us that were ruining the finish on the Emblems by shining them so while some continued to shine, one of the other Branches stood up to run interference so we could finish. Right here is a prime example that we are all still helping each other out. The Wall was especially crowded and of course there were a lot of hugs and tears. I think there are a lot of Women that are starting to understand some of the Guys feelings about that faraway place of the late sixties. I always tell my friends to go to the Ceremonies and you will not be disappointed but it is better to go with a BROTHER.
Semper Fi Guys
Ron Shouse TET Survivor 68
"Grief has limits, whereas apprehension has none. For we grieve only for what we know has happened, but we fear all that possibly may happen."
--Pliny the Younger
I've written to you in the past...my nephew is a designated marksman in the Marines, now deployed to the Embassy in Kabul for guard duty for several months.
All of the members of his family take turns sending him care packages. After giving this some thought, I remembered that when we saw him graduate from boot camp, there were many Marines with no family and some never got mail or packages.....so, I felt that I should help more than just my nephew with gifts from home.
What I have been doing is collecting money from people at my gym, at the mall where I work....I just ask anyone if they are interested him supporting the Marines by contributing to care packages that I ship to Afghanistan....there have been many people who have offered to help in this project.
I asked my nephew to get lists of the things the men would like to receive, as there is no PX there, so they rely on those at home to send what they are lacking.
So far I have collected about $250. Each box contains appr. $20-40 worth of food, magazines, toothpaste, chap stick, can openers...whatever they want...then it costs appr. $10-20 to ship Priority Mail and they receive the boxes in about a week.
I have to tell you this has been such a pleasure for me, knowing that there are men over there who would not be getting things shipped from home...and it gives the people who donate a sense of helping those who are protecting our freedom.
Every now and then I approach someone who does not want to give to the war effort....so be it....that is their choice. But more often than not, people are more than happy to hand me a $20, or whatever they can afford to donate.....it sure makes me feel good to be able to do this.
Perhaps more people might want to make this small effort for Marines stationed wherever they are....I direct the packages to my nephew, as they must be addressed to someone in particular, and he distributes them for me. Luckily, they do have computer access there, so we email lists of requests back and forth.
Just wanted to put the idea out there...sorry to be so long-winded. God bless our Marines, and all the Armed Services wherever they are.
"I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith."
Hi Sgt. Grit...
Along with your newsletter and other Marine groups I survived my son's deployment on the USS Bataan. Although he has yet to reach the USA I'm in communication via email. The night President Bush addressed the nation I was sitting in the Phoenix Airport getting ready to board. I cannot tell you how devastating it was to be all alone knowing my son was deployed and we were going to War. I had a yellow ribbon tied to my purse, and I had on my Proud Marine Mom sweatshirt.... I noticed people looking at me and my reaction as I downed my scotch. I have not flown very much since 9/11 and have been terrified ever since... right after 9/11 I said I would NEVER fly again. But that evening, I just felt so Proud of our Military (My Son) and the sacrifices they were making that I decided then and there that I would do my part and enjoy the FREEDOMS they were fighting for, and flying being one of them. I boarded that plane with a new attitude. I even decided shortly after to test the waters of being a flight attendant, I went to one workshop about the opportunities, and I was surprised that I wasn't the oldest one there! I was reminded of this incident after reading Sgt. Bob Rader's letter about the Marines holding up his plane (GREAT story!!). I have corresponded with Bob several times, and he has answered some of my learning curve questions about the Marines. And it's people like him and all the others that have touched my life during my son's deployment that makes me not only Proud of our Military but all of those who love and support them. I have never been in such wonderful company or felt so touched by total strangers. I would just like to give my respects and THANK YOU to all of you that have served, or are serving. And this Proud Marine Mom holds a special place in her heart for all of you that were standing beside my son in Iraq.
Randie Kleman Proud Marine Mom Of: Cpl Bobby Kleman, 2nd Recon ~ Coming Home!
"Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives."
MARINES RETURN TO STATE CAPITOL AFTER 43 YEARS
On Flag Day June 14th, at 10:00 A.M., members of the 1960 Colorado Old Glory Platoon 350 will be holding a reunion in Denver. It was forty three years ago to the day: members of the platoon assembled on the Colorado State Capitol grounds for a swearing in ceremony hosted by then Governor Stephen Mc Nichols. This Flag Day the "band of brothers" will re-assemble for a welcome back ceremony on the west steps of the Capitol grounds. An American Legion Color Guard will commence the ceremony by symbolizing the past, followed by a Young Marine Color Guard symbolizing the future. John Wetter (Lt. Col., USMC Retired), boot camp honorman, will be speaking about the platoon history. Lt. Col. Wetter will also introduce the platoon's former drill instructor, Roger Maggart, who currently resides in Pueblo. On behalf of the state of Colorado, State Treasurer Mike Coffman (a former Marine) will welcome back the platoon. The following day, Sunday June 15th, at 10:00 A.M., the platoon will gather at the Marine Corps Memorial (located at the intersection of Highways 6 and 40 in Golden) for a special Flag Folding Ceremony to honor veterans. The ceremony will be performed by the Young Marines of the Marine Corps League. There will also be a special presentation to the families of deceased platoon members. The general public is invited to both the State Capitol ceremony on Saturday (14th) and the Marine Corps Memorial Ceremony (Golden) on Sunday the 15th. The Colorado Old Glory Platoon website is http://www.cogp.org/
George Davis Reunion Coordinator,
928-859-3804 evenings weekdays
"This invasion of Iraq, if it goes off, will join the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Desert One and Somalia in the history of military catastrophe."
San Francisco Chronicle Aug. 25, 2002.
I have to say that a couple years ago, I would never have ever imagined I'd be writing to you. Then again, a couple years ago, I barely knew what the Marine Corps was.
Today, however, I would like to think I know more than the average 22 year old woman. When I met my boyfriend 2 years ago, I learned he was a Marine. But I had no idea what exactly I was getting into. Now, I could tell you almost anything. I am down with the abbreviations like MOS and 96 that most college girls wouldn't have a clue about. More importantly though, I now know what it truly means to be an American, and THAT is all due to my wonderful boyfriend, Corporal Mathew Ingram.
You see, his story, from a Marine's point of view, isn't a great one. He's a reservist and got activated in January when tensions in the Mid East were rising. To a Marine, it was party time. To a USMC girlfriend, it was frantic worry time. I didn't understand WHY he would ever want to face harm, risk his life for millions of people he would never know. I just didn't get it. Then, he was told he couldn't go. As a split reservist and a victim of an administration error, he was never sent to MCT the summer after boot camp, and without it, he couldn't be deployed. To a Marine, this was terrible. To a USMC girlfriend, this was answered prayers. He went, and expected to get sent over, but plans get changed and he was kept in the States.
At first, I was happy. Then, as I watched him get more and more anxious and upset with every passing day, I began to realize that this man, and the many like him that bear the title US Marine, is truly one of few by far. All he wanted was to serve with his fellow Marines, to utilize his top-notch training, to secure freedom for millions. It had been within his reach and then taken away, and for the first time, I could understand why he does what he does. And I was so overcome with pride, I began to pray now for him to leave me and do what he needed to do.
Unfortunately for Mathew, plans got changed once again and he would not be able to reunite with the unit like he so desperately wanted to do. He faced trying jobs here in the States, burying his fallen brothers that had unfortunate early homecomings. I learned great lessons from him. I learned somewhat what it means to serve your country. I began to love my country more just because of him. And I shout off the rooftops that my boyfriend is a US Marine.
"What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?"
Greetings Sgt Grit:
Would you be kind enough to remind your reader's that India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines and 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines (RVN era and beyond) will have a special reunion in Seattle, WA from July 23rd through July 27th at the Doubletree Hotel (formerly the Red Lion) at SEATAC Airport. Hotel direct toll free is 800-898-4068 (mention Marine reunion for rate of $79.) Point of contact is Jim Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 878-3325
Many thanks for a great pub.
Major news sources have reported that US Special Forces troops in southern Baghdad have captured Saddam in the mountains of southern Baghdad. He was captured at about 2:19 pm, eastern time after US warplanes sprayed the entire area with liquid Viagra and the little prick just popped up.
"If we make ourselves worthy of America's ideals, if we do not forget that our nation was founded on the premise that all men are creatures of God's making, the world will come to know that it is free men who carry forward the true promise of human progress and dignity."
--Dwight D. Eisenhower
Sgt Grit, Yo,
Listening to 'Hannity' program today he was interviewing Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. The question came up of a GI who wanted to fly 'COLORS' on his property and got the home owners association involved. The assn. claimed that it was against the CC&Rs and couldn't be done. He came close to losing his home till he got the Gov. involved and the court tossed out the CC&Rs. Can you get us more info on that issue? I am going through the same sort of problem in Boise. The HO Assn. finally let me fly the US Flag but not my Marine Corps Colors. I believe the property rights would cover this if we got that far. There may be more of us Old Corps Grunts having this problem and would be helped by this info.
Thanks for all you do for us AND Semper Fi'
SSgt Joe J. Kirkpatrick, 1173725 USMC (too old to help 1951-1957
"The wicked are always surprised to find ability in the good."
--Marquis de Vauvenargues
More input for newsletter.
Semper Gumby (always flexible),
Frederick C. Montney III
MSgt, USMC Retired
"Lord, the money we do spend on government and it's not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago."
In response to the letter written by Gordon G.Harris in your last newsletter. He asks whether Sgt. Kirk Straseskie of Beaver Dam WI was awarded any medals for trying to save his fellow Marines in Iraq after their helicopter went down. The answer to Mr. Harris' question is yes. Sgt. Straseskie was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his bravery. I just thought Mr. Harris would like to know.
Thanks for a great Newsletter...I look forward to it every couple of weeks.
GySgt (No longer on active duty)
"Freedom in Iraq will not deliver its fruits overnight, but seeds have been planted. The breezes of change will help them to grow."
This is in response to the "Marine" who was unjustifiably terminated from his job with a local news paper in Ohio.
1. This county officials financial records are "Public Record" this means they are available to ANYONE who ask for them. 2. To misappropriate any county, state, federal company etc. or what ever--funds IS A Felony. 3. Anyone who covers up or attempts to cover up said crimes are also guilty of either a Felony or conspiracy to commit a Felony. 4. It is against the Federal "Whistle Blowers" act / law to terminate an individual for exposing said crimes to law enforcement agencies.
Take your information to the "States Attorney's General" office and explain the situation. You probably won't get your job back but justice will be served. You will rid one small part of our system of a few "Crooked" politicians and better your community. I feel sure there will be many of your fellow citizens there to thank you. Hang Tough Marine--Honor, Courage and Commitment
Henry H. Hight V U.S.M.C.--1961-1967---and forever
"Saddam Hussein was the only international figure other than Osama bin Laden who praised the attacks of September 11th."
--Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
A verse from Muslim teachings.
Quran ( 9:11) -- For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace.
Is it coincidence that the longstanding emblem of the U.S. is the Eagle?
Maybe Saddam should have read the Muslim bible !!
In reply to Mr. Michael Cantelon of Hanover Park, Illinois I would like to say that the meaning of the word hero, in the military/combat context, has been somehow diluted. It seems that some people want to call everyone in the military a hero if they do nothing more than serve their country. I am thankful for all men and women who serve our great country. They deserve and get my respect and admiration for their service and their sacrifice. They serve their country. Their service makes them patriots, but it does not make them heroes.
I believe that a military hero is one who is an illustrious warrior, one who shows great courage or daring, always at great personal risk due to dangerous circumstances or enemy fire. Our military gives medals to men and women who go above and beyond the call of duty. Warriors who risk their life or give their life to protect property or other people when they do not have to take a risk are heroes. In other words, they make a choice to act when others do not. They have a choice. They elevate themselves to hero status by their courageous deed. They rise above the warriors around them to become heroes because they take a risk that others do not, can not, or are unwilling to take.
Let us not use the word hero loosely when we speak about our service men and women. They are wonderful patriots who defend their nation and they hold a special place in our hearts and deserve our thanks and gratitude. However, true heroes are the men and women, who risk their lives to save those fighting with them when no one else comes forward. Fighting the enemy, getting wounded, getting captured, or getting rescued does not make one a hero. Heroic acts are described on the certificates that accompany the Bronze Stars and Silver Stars of the Marines I served with in Viet Nam. Only heroic actions earn the title hero.
The Marines I served with that did not earn medals, even those of us that were wounded, are not heroes. We did no heroic acts. We were brave Marines that did our job well in combat. We fought the fight. We are patriots who served our country honorably. We are nothing more and nothing less. We are Marines. God bless America and those who defend her.
USMC, Chu Lai, RVN '67-'68
Just to put my 2 cents in:
Jessica Lynch: Hero
That is a media term, for sure. But wait a second. She struck a chord with the hearts and minds of the people of America. She makes it plain that our services are composed of men and women.
More importantly, in a time of peace she went to boot camp to become an American Serviceman. She was on a combat mission, followed her leader into combat, fought and was captured - then apparently withstood some considerable bad treatment from her captors.
Is she more or less a hero than those who came to get her? She probably recognizes that the rescue mission was composed of other "Heros" doing their job, as she was doing her job. Audie Murphy was just a guy doing his job.
What I'd like to emphasize is that she is a hero to the media and to the American public. We need exposure like this.
The alternative hero to the American Public is Jane Fonda.... or maybe you like Susan Sarandon, or Hillary Clinton or.... well, pick one.
Think about it; you'll find that Jessica is a more worthy hero for our sons and daughters.
MSgt USMC Ret.
As usual, the newsletter was thoroughly enjoyed...
According to Webster's:
1 a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one that shows great courage
My concern is not so much that the term is used to include all that have served, but that it diminishes or detracts from those who truly went "above and beyond"...
To all hands, In regards to Memorial Day Weekend ..... StandBy!!!
TEN`shun on Deck ...
Following for all Fallen pals, buds, chums, mates, of recent and past, from Supreme C-in-C, ... Eternal Rest has been Granted.
Special note, today's troops are just as good as we were, as well, we them and should be very Proud. That said ...
REEE'Deee To!!!!! ....
Dismissed ... carry on.
I am one of those individuals that thought my life was over when I left the Corps. After finding this site I must say I haven't felt this much Pride to be an American or just to be part of the best country ever born. I enjoy sharing the pride with fellow veterans that understand how it feels to see our troops go to another country in need kick ass and return home. I also feel sorrow and become humbled when I think of all our fellow Americans that have paid the ultimate price for all of us to remain free to do as we please as I wax my surfboard and head for the waves. I was in Desert Storm and NOW my little brother not a Marine but Army soldier is in Iraq. To all of my fellow vets....please keep the remaining troops in your prayers.
lCpl H.D. Wong U.S.M.C.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
--Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)
in regards to mr cantelon believing pvt lynch is a hero, she is not a hero, the marines that rescued her are the heroes. her company took a wrong turn and were ambushed. that does not a hero make. ever hear of 1st lt john paul bobo? he was a marine that was from my hometown of niagara falls ny. he was a vietnam veteran and he was killed in action. his men were pinned down by the enemy and instead of leaving with his men, lt bobo made sure that his men had the cover to get out. lt bobo was wounded yet he kept on fighting. his leg was severed below the knee, he put the stump into the ground to stop the bleeding and kept on fighting, making sure that his men were safe and out of harm's way. lt john paul bobo was killed saving his men. pvt jessica lynch was not killed and she did not save anyone, please do not call her a hero. call lt john paul bobo a hero, call all of those that rescued her heroes, call all of those that have given their lives heroes, do not call someone that got lost a hero.
toni beltrano, corporal 1989-1995
This is for Jim "Wags" Wagner. Mr. Wagner, I appreciated what you wrote about our President, George W. Bush being a "cowboy" and I agree!! I immediately thought of another group of men (and women) who wear "white hats"...
The United States Marines in their dress blues!!!
Sgt. John S. Lambeth, Jr., '96-'00
The Cub Scout
by Robert A. Hall
Milt "Pappy" Gore recently dragooned me into a VFW rifle squad for the annual Memorial Day service in Westmont, NJ. Pappy is a retired Marine tanker who served on Peleliu and Okinawa in World War II, and in Korea. I had my doubts, but he's a hard guy to turn down. It was a typical Remembrance Day. While the majority of residents were enjoying a long weekend at the shore, perhaps a hundred gathered to listen to speeches by local politicians and watch aging veterans honor fallen comrades. The master-of-ceremonies was "Sarge" Ulsh, a "Chosin-few" Marine Korean vet, who also serves as the VFW's caustic-tongued bartender. The squad sweltered in the sun while the speeches dragged on and wreaths were laid. There were six of us: Pappy and two other World War II vets in khaki, two present day soldiers in Army green who happened to be husband and wife, and myself in dark trousers, white shirt and an old Marine utility cap. All we needed was Norman Rockwell to paint the scene. The squad commander was an Army vet, who crisply snapped out orders. Of course, World War II was awhile ago, so he was winging it on some commands (ordering "Turn-ABOUT" instead of "About-FACE"), which hurt our parade-ground precision a bit. As such small-town ceremonies often go, it managed to be both comic and touching. I'm a sharp critic of rifle squads, but our three volleys weren't bad, considering we had never practiced. While kids scrambled to pick up the empty shells, we turned in the old M-1 Garands and thought about getting a cold beer at the post before heading home for the obligatory barbecue. Drinking my beer, I found the funny-sad ceremony had put a lump in my throat. It brought back sharp memories of the last time I served on a rifle squad honoring our dead, over 30 years and 30 pounds ago. I was a young Marine PFC, full of "hot sand and ginger" in Kipling's phrase, working my way through a year-long electronics school at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. This was the Spring of 1965, and Vietnam was heating up. My best buddy, Ron "Count" Pittenger and I had already gone to our commander and volunteered for the infantry in Vietnam. We didn't know we were volunteering for a war the politicians would have neither the will to win nor the will to end. Television pictures the sixties generation as flower-power, long-haired hippies, smoking pot and protesting a terrible war. Rarely do you hear that tens of thousands of kids from that generation believed in America, believed communism was a great evil and volunteered to fight in that war. Lucky for us, in those days the Marine Corps sent you where it wanted to, and it thought we should be studying electronics rather than carrying a rifle through a rice paddy. The skipper thanked us and sent us back to our duties. Vietnam would wait. I think we were equal parts disappointed and relieved. A few weeks later, we had another chance to volunteer. We were between schools, and while waiting for classes to form, were assigned various unpleasant duties. One morning the company Gunnery Sergeant asked for volunteers for burial duty. I grabbed Count's arm and dragged him forward. We reported an hour later to the sergeant in charge. I'd like to tell you we were motivated by a deep desire to honor the dead. The truth is, I was desperate to avoid another round of long hours walloping pots in the chow hall, where my most memorable accomplishment was cracking 120 dozen eggs for the cooks one morning. And I'd heard that burial detail was "skating" duty. That's how the Count and I participated in over a hundred funerals in the next month. It was easy duty, especially for the rifle squad. The big guys were assigned to be body bearers, carrying heavy coffins. All we had to do was stand straight, look sharp, and fire three tight volleys from our seven rifles. We worked at the national cemetery at Point Loma, CA, sharing the chore with a Navy squad. The Navy preferred to sleep late, so we'd take the early funerals, and get early liberty. For some reason there were no Friday funerals, usually giving us a three-day weekend. Most of the funerals were for old veterans, guys who had served in the first or second world wars. Often there was no one to see them off but the funeral director, the minister and us, rendering last honors on behalf of the nation. When you're in ten or fifteen funerals a day, it quickly becomes routine. We took it seriously-we were Marines-giving every vet our sharpest effort. But we quickly stopped feeling sad. You can't grieve endlessly for strangers. Then we buried the cub scout's dad. We were told to look sharp, because the next funeral was for a Marine who'd been killed in Vietnam. With the family was a Marine staff sergeant, perhaps a buddy, assigned to help. The large crowd of mourners included the young widow and the son of the dead Marine, a cub scout in full uniform. He was perhaps eight years old. When we fired our volleys, the seven rifles making a single crack, people in the crowd began to weep. The rifle fire always seemed to signal how final death was. Then we stood at present arms while our bugler played taps. He was a lance corporal permanently assigned to Point Loma, and had blown taps at several hundred funerals. No one has ever made it sound sadder. While the bugle notes rolled down the hillside and the family wept, the staff sergeant and the cub scout stood at the foot of the casket at rigid attention, saluting the tautly-stretched flag. The contrast between the tall Marine in dress greens and the small boy in blue giving his dad the cub salute tore at our hearts. And then the boy turned his head slightly, looked up at the Marine, and changed from the cub scout salute to the open-handed Marine salute, honoring his dead father as best he could. And if there is a God, somewhere his dad saw him. We held our position, but I wasn't the only Marine weeping openly. Finally taps ended, the notes dying out over the sobbing of relatives. The body bearers folded the flag into the traditional triangle and passed it to the staff sergeant. He presented it to the cub scout and saluted. The cub accepted the American flag from his dad's grave, and sharply returned the salute-Marine style. Slowly the family and friends drifted away, and we marched off. Another funeral was waiting. But I've carried that moment burned in my heart for over thirty years. *****
Former Marine Staff Sergeant Robert A. Hall is a Vietnam veteran who later served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate. Currently he manages associations.
It was a cool and rain soaked Monday here in Pennsylvania. I grabbed a small American flag, and I jumped into my Jeep. My wife asked me where I was going, and I told her that I was heading down the street to the Ellis Woods Revolutionary War Cemetery to pay tribute to some old warriors. It was Memorial Day you know. The Cemetery lies just off the road in the woods about a mile from my house. I was the only one there in that lonely place, or at least that is what I thought as I entered. As I drew closer, there was a small bronze plaque. The plaque stated that there were 17 marked graves in the cemetery with an estimated 41 others in the surrounding woods that have yet to be found. The warriors that lay there were with George Washington at Valley Forge. I was not alone. Here lay my fallen brothers. It has been well over 200 years, yet today I wept for these men. They were tears of gratitude for it is because of their sacrifice that I live under the blanket of freedom in the most powerful and righteous nation the Earth has ever seen. I slowly marched down the line of graves, and I solemnly stopped and faced each grave, and I then executed a crisp Marine Corps salute. As I paid my tribute, I became aware of several cars on the road slowing to see what I was doing, and I can only imagine what they were thinking. As I finished, I said a small prayer, and I remembered a quotation that I once read:
"We know the Race is not to the swift nor the Battle to the Strong. Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this storm?"
John Page to Thomas Jefferson (July 20, 1776)
As I left that small lonely place, I knew that these men were smiling down from heaven. As long as one of us remembers, they live on.
"Echo" 2/25 USMCR, Folsom PA, 1978 - 1984
In Memory Of Our Dead
Asleep afield, where poppies grow they slumber, ever on,
Beneath the waning, somber glow from sunset till the dawn,
Spreads o'er the graves it's cheering light and wings them to our love,
For they who've made the sacrifice will meet with God above.
They sleep forever 'neath the sod of Martryed France's field,
Whose silent graves awake in us a love we gladly yield;
To comrades slain in one great cause for freedom and for right,
That all may live in peace and love in work and holy light.
Ah! Comrades, brave and true, we miss you in our hearts.
We've tramped the weary miles, that you, e'er death had done it's part,
Had driven foe before the steel well on to victory's plain;
Had not God called, you would have seen your work was not in vain.
But comrades, rest within the grave, your honor we've upheld,
And while the poppies graced the tombs in tears we've all beheld,
The wooden cross - the monument reared o'er each sunken grave,
And in our hearts a sadness lies for comrades, true and brave.
Sergeant B.M. Lowry
U. S. Marines
World War One
Hey Sgt Grit,
I just wanted to respond to the Marine wife who was worried about being exhausted when she talked to her Marine. The last time my Marine was deployed, it seemed like I had only bad news for him every time we talked to or emailed each other. She's entitled to be exhausted, depressed, angry or whatever. A week after my husband deployed that last time, I found out I was pregnant, we had 2 kids ages 10 and 8, was I in a good mood when I emailed him and told him, h*ll no! I won't give a laundry list of all the things that went wrong while he was gone, it would take too long : ), the worst thing that happened though took place the week his unit came home. My oldest daughter started having seizures, the Naval Hospital didn't have the wherewithal to care for her, so she was medevaced to the nearest large civilian hospital, 2 hours away. I was 8 months pregnant, scared to death and depending on the kindness of strangers and acquaintances to get me there and take care of my 8 y/o while I was gone. The Red Cross informed my husband that his child was in ICU and dying due to brain lesions (she wasn't dying), were either of us nice to each other or happy with each other when we finally got to talk on the phone that night, not bloody likely. You want to meet someone in a bad mood, try a 35 y/o woman who's 8 months pregnant with a huge baby, a child in ICU having seizures for an unknown reason, a child staying with a Key wife that's a stranger, and a husband out in the middle of the Atlantic and not able to get home. We're all entitled to have feelings and act on them. I was an active duty Marine and I know for a fact that it's easier to be the one deployed than to be the one left behind to take care of everything and be a single parent. You don't always have to "suck" it up, you don't have to be "little Mary Sunshine" unless that's what you want to be, and anyone who tells you different isn't necessarily giving you good advice. Hang in there gal, it'll be over soon enough and you can make it up to him in person. And yes I'm a grouchy ol' BAM and proud of it
: D. Semper, Anna 86-91 *stress is the only energy I run on*
Take awhile to load but worth it.
I am more than a little tired of people trying to make something out of the fact that Lt. Bush did not serve in Viet Nam. I served one tour with an extension, and was on my way back for another when President Nixon pulled the Marines out of Viet Nam, so Viet Nam was not my twilight cruise. Many Marines served two or three tours in Viet Nam, yet I know that there were some who never went. That does not make them draft dodgers or cowards. Definitely not. Although I was in country for 19 months, I never saw combat. Does that mean I did not serve there? So these people need to get over it. Flying an F102 was not a safe occupation, whether someone was shooting at you or not. I see that two of the congressmen who went to give comfort to Saddam claimed to be Viet Nam vets. Later, when it came out that neither of them went west of California, there was no hue and cry about them avoiding service in Viet Nam, and "everyone" (not me) accepted their corrected statements of being Viet Nam ERA vets.
Harry Watson GySgt USMC (Retired)
God Bless America!!