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From the now-"pacified" north shore of the Gulf Coast, we're in the consolidation and restoration phase now. Just got my phone back this morning. Other services coming along slowly. This has been - and continues to be - an object lesson in what we have all be taught. Adapt, Improvise, Overcome. I'm presently exercising all three steps.
A Grunt In South Mississippi
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It's 05:46, I have been home about 25 minutes, and I didn't crack until I walked in the house. I'm composed now. We just celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary so this was the first time I ever saw Brian leave but it's his 2nd deployment to Iraq he also deployed to Desert Storm and Saudi. At times standing in the grassy lawn of the field house was unnerving, trying and then turned to sweetness only to turn back and the sorrow coming up my throat to my mouth and eyes almost choked me. I never missed a step and neither did Brian. One moment we are talking pleasantly by his sea bags and then we are swarmed with Commissioned Officers stating "One more little big thing MSgt. Riddle" and I would watch Brian walk off again.
I was proud of my husband, standing taller than most barking out orders watching the younger enlisted men jump to their feet and run towards his voice. I stood in the darkness alone, guarding my husband's sea bags and backpacks against what I have no idea ants maybe but it gave me something to do and I felt like I was helping. I remember the pride when I heard his voice above the crowd. "If I can have everyone's attention! I need you in formation in front of that oak tree NOW!"
I heard the commissioned officers speaking in their little huddle "Yes, MSgt. Riddle will lead these 80 and so n so will be in charge of those 8." That's my husband, in charge of 80 men, I thought and smiled. Then the realization set in, that's a lot of lives to be in charge of and my smile faded. I thought of the weight Brian must be carrying. I took a step closer to his sea bags and backpacks standing over them so nothing would disturb them as my husband called off names from his roster.
"I want everyone to get in groups of 15 - 20 and walk over to the armory to pick up your bayonets and K-Bars then meet back here." I heard the stomping of boots as everyone grouped up and walked across the dark front lawn of the field house. I saw my husband walking back towards me. "Honey I need to go across the street and get my weapon, it might take a while do you want to leave or wait?" He asked me. I couldn't tell from his voice or face if he wanted me to leave or wait so I chose to wait. "Would you mind getting me a Gatorade while I am gone?" Anything, anything I can do for him, "Not a problem babe, any special color you would like?" "Just something red, I don't care."
I watched him cross the front lawn of the field house where the other men had headed before him; he walked alone, in the dark, back tall and straight. His pace was with conviction and purpose. Again my heart swelled with pride.
Jumping in my car and turning the AC on full blast as the temperature had to be 85 - 90 degrees. I drove over to the C-Store and I could feel the tears building up behind my eyes. "I am not going to cry now, I am not going to cry now," I repeated all the way. I grabbed a Gatorade and a tea for me and walked to the cashier at the front of the store. I wondered if she could see I fighting back tears, I wondered if she could see my husband was leaving in my face, I lowered my head so we would not make eye contact.
I drove back to the field house parking lot, my head lights shining on a hundred men or more, some had family next to them, some were talking on their cell phones, some were taking pictures while a few laid on their packs getting one last wink of sleep. I rolled the car windows down and smoked a cigarette while waiting for Brian to return. I could hear voice and then this clicking as the men returned from the armory. All of them were clicking as they walked across the parking lot. All of them were now carrying big black guns across their backs; their guns or gun straps were clicking with each step. They all actually looked happy; after all isn't this what they were trained for? All these young men, 18 - 19 - 20 years old carrying these long black guns across their backs, they were ready for what ever came their way now, they were Marines with weapons now.
Brian returned, sweat pouring off his forehead, lip, down his neck, this was the first time I ever saw my husband armed, actually he chose a pistol this deployment and he look really cool with his hand gun and shoulder holster strapped across his chest. "I can't believe this!" His voice had changed to annoyance. "These guys are driving me nuts and have me running all over the place. Smith didn't pack his gas mask, so everyone looks at me. "MSgt what are we going to do about this?" Brian looks at his Captain and states, "I don't know sir, it's 03:00 we may have to call someone to bring a mask up to Cherry Point or try to locate one at Cherry Point." "That's unacceptable" Captain responded. "That's the only answer I have now sir; I will put someone on this now sir. He speaks to the non commissioned officers first then returns by my side going on about how if he doesn't do it the job wouldn't get done; Smith knew about this deployment for 2 months.
The trucks roll in, reminded me of something out of an ole black and white war movie. Brian moved into action once again. Everyone form a chain lets get these sea bags loaded in the back of truck! Move it! Move these sea bags to the truck now" Men and women scatter, I hear groans. Brian yell's again "Make sure your bayonets and k-bars are secured inside your sea bags, you are not allowed on the plane with these on your person or in your back packs" Brian heads back towards me, grabs his 2 sea bags and totes them to the back of the truck. "I need more people at the back of this truck loading these sea bags!" he yells, 5 men hustle to his voice. I hear grunts and groans from the human chain as sea bags are shifted forward up the line to the truck.
Brian returns to my side, I smile. "This is actually going pretty smooth," he tells me. "I'm glad honey" I do want it to go smooth for him, I don't want him stressed out before he deploys, that was my job the last couple weeks, taking all the pressure off him so he would worry or stress. Again I think of how proud I am of him. I turn he is gone. Captain approaches me, "We are really lucky MSgt step up for this, and this is a tremendous undertaking he has taken on. He is a good man Ryn" I respond with "Thank you, that means so much to me. "I know he is a great husband."
Brian returns to me as we watch both trucks being loaded. He makes on trip down the sidewalk then back again yelling to get the big packs loaded now. Everyone jumps.
The buses roll in and then leaves again to let everyone know it's 04:34 chow will be served, then muster up formation at 05:15 and the buses will leave at 05:45.
I know that now I don't have much time left with him before we separate for 7 long months. What do I say? I don't want to say goodbye. God Speed? Be safe? I love you? I will miss you? I feel that choking feeling again in my throat. "Want to go to the car and sit for a minute?" I ask. "I will turn the AC on." "Really?" He responds and smiles. We walk to the car; I start it and turn the AC on full blast as promised. I hand him a napkin to wipe his face and neck. We hold hands, kiss a couple times, and tell each other how much we love we other. I assure him I will take care of everything, house, vehicles, dog. I remind him Minna and I might run down to Red Cross at the hospital to volunteer in Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana after the 8th of Sept. He smiles as we had discussed it earlier and he thinks it will be a great idea, even donated some of his clothes for the cause.
It's 04:55; he said he better get back to the troops. We exit the car and see the marines have already formed formation names are being called out. We hug, kiss, and hug again. "MSgt. Riddle bus #1" "I got to go sweetheart." "I know" "I love you" "I love you too Brian" he touches my hand squeezed it then ran to the front of the line. He says something to the Marine calling out names then walks to the bus door. He waits while everyone loads in, he is last one on. He turns to my direction and throws me a kiss, I forgot to move to catch it, and instead I just stood there like a deer caught in headlights.
All the men and women are loaded; the baggage doors close, the drivers take their seat. I see him sitting behind the drivers seat; he has taken out his roster of names and is discussing something with the man across the aisle from him. The bus door closes. I feel the tears; I will not cry I will not cry I will not cry.
Seems like a hundred long steps to my car, get in start the engine, the tears are coming now, I see out the back window the buses turning on the street. I drive off the parking lot, turning the opposite direction. Tears are burning now; it's a long silent drive home. I can only imagine how long it would be for Brian leaving Camp LeJeune to Cherry Point, boarding a plane to :_ then Iraq and finally trucked into Camp __ :___. Brian said it might be a week before he gets a shower.
The house is lit up as I pull in the drive way, I had purposely left the lights on in two of the bedrooms, the kitchen and the living room, I also had turned the TV on in our bedroom so the house would not be silent when I came home.
I turn the key to the front door, Minna greets me, she steps out on the porch and looks for Brian, she knows he left with me, where is he? "He is not coming back for awhile Minna" I tell her, then that choking feeling comes over me, it really hurts now, and this animal like noise fills the living room, it was me, that noise came out of my mouth. I am wrecked with tears, can't control the shaking, I had not thought it would hurt this bad, I thought I was tough, Minna paces back in forth like she is looking for someone to help me, I hold her face in my hands. I tell her it's okay, we are going to be fine, she cries with me, she knows this is wrong, he shouldn't have to leave, we want him here with us, where we can touch him, hold his hand, see him smile hear his laughter.
I walk to the kitchen, clean up the coffee pot and cups from the coffee I had made at 01:30, only a few hours ago. I wipe my face clean from the sticky tears, day one has started only 211 more to go, guess I need to go grocery shopping, the fridge is empty, yeah and the car needs gassed up, make sure I pull those POA papers out so I can sign the lease on the 6th, call Mom before she leaves for Texas, remember to call Bill and Freda this weekend, now what do I fix to eat for one???? And life goes on...
Proud Wife of:
MSgt. Brian Riddle - HQ 2nd FSSG - TRT - G3
Camp LeJeune, NC
I feel sorry for the poor b*stards who are not supporting our troops. That includes the crowd that says "I support the troops, but not the war". Bravo Sierra! They do not experience the depth of honor, courage and commitment each one of you display in your letters.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
To some it is obviously not self-evident, some are not equal we are Marines, alien rights is what some think, and the some find pursuit of happiness beyond their capacity.
I am not really sure what to feel or think about everyone else's opinion about the work our Military is doing in the Middle East. I am a proud wife of a man who has dedicated his life to his family and the Marine Corps. As you can imagine, I wince every time I see Cindy what's-her-name dishonoring her Son's sacrifice. Knowing my husband, the father of my child is in the same vicinity of terrorism and mayhem, terrifies me daily. However, our troops are accomplishing so many amazing things that we never hear about. My husband is in Communications. While over in Iraq their "Shop" was a tent. A couple of Marines and some elementary skills later, and a new building is born. Yes, they built it, got the materials, brought it to code, ran the electrical up to US and Iraq standards. A couple of the Marines even built a front porch. They did this in their "spare time". The building will eventually be turned over to the people of Iraq. And the media says that nothing is being done...?!?! Maggie
I am a Marine wife, and my husband is leaving for Iraq again in September. I just wanted everyone at Sgt Grit to know how much this newsletter has helped me in hard times. Just to see the Marine Corps family share there experiences is a beautiful thing. I have never been prouder of my husband and I hope you all can a pray for my love when he is gone. My prayers and thoughts are with you. God bless all the brave men and women at home and overseas.
This is a letter I wrote to our Editor showing my feelings on the protests issues.
Letter to the Editor:
I am becoming more and more appalled at those saying they are "against the war, but support our troops". It amazes me that they don't see what an oxymoron that statement is. By protesting what these courageous troops are involved in, American citizens are demeaning what they have chosen as jobs in service to our country. The same people saying this isn't a "war on terror, but a war of terror" really angers me. They are calling my son, who is on the front lines in Afghanistan, and the thousands of others who with pride are sacrificing daily for our country, "terrorists". This is support of our troops?
If we all thought of something we truly believed in, something we valued and were completely committed to and then consistently heard others criticizing our job-we would take it personally, just as our troops are. Our son, has commented several times that "If we weren't over here (Afghan & Iraq) the enemy would be in the U.S." The protests against the war is distracting to them, when their minds should be totally focused on their missions.
No one wants war! Yes, lives have been lost and certainly even one life lost is too many, but there has never been a time in our country's history when war wasn't the main element in protecting liberties. I can honestly say that if my son made the ultimate sacrifice serving his country nothing anyone said, including the President of the U.S., could answer the question "why?". No answer would ever suffice for me. I would proudly hang onto the fact that he was doing a job he felt called to do, a service he was completely committed to follow through on, a mission he was fulfilling in order to insure the safety and freedom of his family and loved ones. Anything else would be demeaning to his memory.
As American let's refocus on the real issues: The risk of the freedoms we enjoy daily; the risk of terrorists killing thousands in one day in our country. Let's do whatever it takes to send POSITIVE messages to every military person who are fighting this war and their families and especially to those families who have endured the ultimate sacrifice for us.
Kathy L. Guzzo
Proud Mom of LCpl Brian M. Guzzo
2/3 Whiskey Co, Afghan
How ironic it is that this not so lean, not so mean, 62 year old has to make sure the box of Kleenex is handy before he begins to read this weekly news letter. God bless the past, present, and future Marines (and other services as well ) for all the sacrifices and contributions they have made for the betterment of humanity. I cannot technically give you a Semper Fi, but will do so on behalf of my son. Semper Fi. and thank you. Ron---ex army--proud father of Lcpl Allan USMC.
"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
-- Thomas Jefferson
I want to thank everyone for the wonderful letters that are sent to you. I read them religiously. I would like to thank all the service men and women for being there for us. I love them all. I was in the Corps from 1958-1962. I went into the Air Force for the next 16yrs. I done a tour of duty in Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippines My Marine experience was the greatest experience of my life. They took an Idaho farm boy, straight from the farm, and made a man out of him. At the time I had two brothers in the Corps. The oldest brother spent 20yrs and the other brother wished he had. I also had a two brothers who were in the paratroopers, the 82nd and the 101st. The brother in the 101st lost his eyes in Vietnam in 1966. We regret non of our military duty as it made men out of all of us. My mother is gone now but I know she was so proud of everyone of us and I am proud to say I was a Marine. My grandson is currently in the Marines at Camp Pendleton. He has served his tour of duty in Iraq and the entire family can not be more proud of him. Our heart felt sympathy goes out to all the families of the service men who have lost their loved ones, past, present and future. Also, our prayers and thoughts are with the GI's who are wounded in combat. May the get well and may they come home to a wonderful life with their loved ones and friends. I love your news letters and keep up the good work.
VMA 211 & VMA 121
This Sunday (28 Aug 05),
my nephew heads to MCRD Parris Island, yet he is only the latest in a long line who have "answered the call" to duty for Country. We've had an Uncle who served with the Army on Bataan..never to return...one with the Marines on Okinawa-wounded, but lived to tell the tale-cousins(brothers) in the Army, captured by the Germans...one returned, one did not...and those who served in the 1950's in the D.C. Guard, Marines, Army and Air force, which include My Dad, and three Uncles. In the 1960's and early 70's there was a Brother-in-law in the Army-Viet Nam, one in the Marines..5 Purple Hearts, Myself in the 2ND MAW MAG-31/32, and more recently my son in the Coast Guard...my daughter(and her husband) in the Air force. Now my nephew, Dan Poteet, continues this "tradition of service" by joining the 'Corps.
My Wife and I mourn the loss of every one of our Nation's service men and women who have given the ultimate for their country, and honor all who continue to "answer the call"!
(Sgt 2nd Maw/Mags-31&32/H&MS 31/32 Avionics 1970-1974)
I have always been very proud of my son, Richard, growing up he was always a very respectful, honest and caring. Always willing to help out around the house, even one day when I asked him to take his little sister to a movie with one of those boy bands that were popular in those days, he never complained and took her with a smile! He graduated early from high school, was in the gifted program and I was looking forward to him going to college and having a successful career. Then one day he came home and said he was going to join the US Marine Corp, I was crushed, with all the unrest in the world, I didn't want my son in harms way (actually didn't want anyone's son in harms way). I tried to bribe him not too go, offered him my Suburban and even my 50 inch Plasma screen if he would just go too college first, but he didn't sway, he stuck to his guns and joined, well on September 20, 2004 he started his first day as a US Marine Recruit, just so happens it was my birthday. Then in December, I with my family went to San Diego to see him graduate, I can't even put into words how I felt that first time I saw him after 13 weeks as he was standing in formation getting ready for his 4 mile Motivational Run! My little boy had changed in 13 weeks to not only becoming a man but also a US Marine. During the graduation ceremony, I cried so hard that I actually filmed the wrong young Marine graduating! I have never been prouder of my Son as he graduated and became a US Marine. He is a better man then I would ever hope to be.
All of you Marines deserve our utmost respect and gratitude for what you do and provide for us, a home that is safe and were freedom is enjoyed, THANK YOU! Frank DeGise
Father of US Marine Richard A. DeGise
I have been reading your newsletter lately, and I must say that it makes me feel so proud to be a Marine wife. My husband and I have 3 sons together, and they always say how they are going to grow up and be Marines just like Daddy! My husband is currently in Haditha, Iraq with 3/25 H&S Co. and everyday he and his brothers are in our prayers. We are so proud of him and all Marines. A big thank you and a hug to all the Marines and their families. We are all one big family always.
Noemi Garcia wife of Sgt. Garcia, Mario, A.
"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death."
Dear Sgt. Grit
Tonight I have just finished your latest newsletter with tears of both sorrow and joy. Tears of sorrow for those Marine Moms who won't get to hold their sons and daughters this Labor Day and tears of joy & pride for my son who is finishing his training at Camp Pendleton and will graduate a CH46 Crew chief next Friday, and for his best friend ( my adopted Marine son) who returned home this week from his first tour of duty. I have sent many care packages to both of these fine Marines over the last 7 months. I can almost fill the custom form out without even looking at it. Both of these boys left for boot camp at Parris Island just 3 weeks after graduation last year. I can honestly say that the last year has been the hardest and the best year of my son's life. For any of your readers that would like to help out our fine soldiers there is a website -http://anysoldier.us/it will give you names of deployed soldiers from all branches of the military - it will also tell you their specific needs for care packages. My office gathered items and sent a number of care packages for Memorial Day. Keep those newsletters coming. May God Bless each and every one of our Marines and their families.
Proud Marine Mom of two Lance Corporals
One by birth, One by adoption
"We all share the love of peace, but our sons and daughters must learn two lessons men everywhere and in every time have had to learn; that the price of freedom is dear but not nearly so costly as the loss of freedom-and that the advance and continuation of civilization depend on those values for which men have always been willing to die."
Little did I realize how earning the Eagle, Globe & Anchor almost forty years ago would make me a Father again at 59. I had already finished my officer training (PLC) when I first married, graduated from LSU, and was commissioned in June ' 70. I served on active duty till the end of ' 73 and my oldest daughter was born at Camp Lejeune. Although I returned to civilian life, my Marine Corps training and leadership experiences have proven to be a major factor in my personal and professional life for decades since. Vietnam effected all of us back then, some more than others. I know now that those early years are the very reason my second wife and I have been recently blessed with a daughter. Although the Marines are truly the "best", I must admit that this has nothing to do with fertility.
My wife and I have be married for nine years now, and from day one she has known about the Marine Corps and Vietnam. When we decided to have a child, our only option was to adopt. It wasn't surprising when she suggested we "Give A Life" to a child that was as much in need now, as the children I remembered so many years ago. After much research and time, we found an adoption agency that had a relationship with an orphanage in Lan Song Province, Vietnam. Our dream came true in the Summer of 2002 when we traveled to Vietnam to have a beautiful four month girl join our family. Needless to say, this old Marine could not be more happy. To see a beautiful country in such a different light and to give a better life to a child such as this, is the true legacy the Marines have give me. For that alone I will be forever grateful.
My daughter will grow up an American, knowing what the Marines are truly about; keeping our way of life such a blessing to have. To have served in this capacity has, is, and will always be my Honor and Privilege; especially being able to do it as a U. S. Marine.
Our full story can be experienced on a website my wife created;www.skyeluong.0catch.com
My son joined the Marines in the delayed entry program when he was 17. He left for boot camp in San Diego a week after he graduated from high school in May of 2004l. He graduated and went on to 29 Palms until April 1st, 2005. On April 1st he left for Okinawa and not is in Fugi, Japan. I haven't seen him since March but am anxiously waiting because he will be home for Christmas. He missed his 19th and will miss his 20th birthday at home. I am very VERY proud of him. Especially when I get a phone call from one of his buddies in Okinawa telling me he is a true Marine. He did train for 7 days with the 14 Marines that were killed in the amphibious assault vehicle. My son is a crew chief of one. He tells me that he is wanting to go to Iraq. That is what he is training for. I am very active in the Blue Star Mothers in my home town, Any parent, mother or dad, that has a chapter in their area, I urge you to get acquainted with the organization. I couldn't have made it through some of the terrible hard times that I have gone through. These people that protest the war, I have no use for. Don't they realize that are young men and women are out there fighting for them? If it wasn't for troops like this, where would this country be. My thoughts and prayers are for all of our troops and for the USA, IT IS STILL THE GREATEST COUNTRY.
MOM = Mother Of a Marine
Dear Sgt Grit,
Here we go again, being a wife of a retired Marine, my panties are in an uproar. My passion for "Our Military Heroes" has lead me to this point...antiwar, out of touch, activist...which by the way "our Marines" gave them the freedom of speech...giggle...Ok here is my freedom...For the record...These men and women who have died for our country made that choice when they entered into the military, for our freedom...I know the pain of loosing a child, but you will not find me placing blame on one man, or any one else, seems a little silly to do that. The ones that have died are being dishonored by our do-gooders like Cindy Sheehan, riding on her merry bus to stop the war and talk with the person she accuses of murdering her son. He MADE the choice to be at service for our country...Get over it.
I love my Marine and am VERY proud of him...You wont find me DISHONORING his memory.
Giggle..now that I'm almost out of steam...God Bless all of " Our Military Men and Women, and keep them SAFE from our antiwar activist"
Mrs. Herbert E. Brown ll
Dear Sgt Grit. -I am still loving my bumper sticker my daughter gave me> Do Draft Dodgers have reunions?... and have had some incredibly wonderful conversations here in Beaufort as a result of it.
I was wondering were Cindy Sheehan and Jane "the communist sl^t " Fonda were when Saddam Hussein was gassing the Kurds and have his rape chambers stocked with innocent women and having anyone who displeased him? Wonder where they would be now if they had asked?
"The troops returning home are worried. 'We've lost the peace,' men tell you. 'We can't make it stick.' ... Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American. ... Never has American prestige in Europe been lower.... Instead of coming in with a bold plan of relief and reconstruction we came in full of evasions and apologies.... A great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease. The taste of victory had gone sour in the mouth of every thoughtful American I met."
Can you guess where and when the above quote came from? Was it the New York Times in 2004? Was it on CNN in 2005? Was it in the previous month's edition of The Nation?
Actually the above quote was from an article in Life Magazine January 7, 1946 !!!!! The account was provided shortly after the war had ended and the Marshall plan began to take effect. Does it sound familiar?
I just wanted to let all the marines and marine families past and present to know how proud I am to be an American. I live in 29 Palms, CA home of the largest Marine Corps base so I definitely love the marine corps especially the dress blues and the hair cuts.
Dear Sgt. Grit
I am the MOM of Cpl.Josh Gramling, RCT-8, HQ Security Plt, Camp Fallujah, just returned home safe on 16AUG05. While I am very relieved that my son is home safe, my heart still breaks for those Patriotic men and women (NOT children-even though they are all their mothers' babies) still in harm's way. It is just the calling of military families that when you become a Marine Mom or Dad, or sister, or brother, or wife of one, you become the same for all. Until the job is done and all come home safe, I will continue to pray for and support them all. Those parents of fallen heroes from all branches who protest against this war on terror do the ultimate disgrace to their loved ones. Their most honorable service given is not diminished by the protests, but I am sure is painful to our Americans working, fighting, and living to support the freedoms of others. We must never forget the warriors nor fail to honor the commitment they willingly volunteered in service to our country. As an Air Force veteran, Army Air Corps daughter, Navy niece (x2),Navy sister(x3), Army sister (x2),Army aunt (x1), and PROUD MARINE MOM, I salute all the American warriors both at home and on foreign soil. I stand with all military families and pray for a safe return home, and peaceful night's rest for all. Cindy Shehan...go home and send a public apology to all the military fighting for the rights of others and their families. YOU are increasing the harm to OUR sons and daughters!
PROUD MARINE MOM of Cpl. Joshua Gramling
"The sacred rights of mankind...are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."
August 22, 2005 Our daughter Lynsey deployed to Iraq. On our trip home from Cherry Point we were listening to the radio. It was a talk show and the topic was Mrs. Sheehan. We had left our daughter that morning feeling sad and proud at the same time. After listening to that show and hearing what was going on in Crawford Texas needless to say we become angered ,but even more proud of our daughter. She just like Mrs. Sheehan son was not forced to join the military ,there was no draft when they joined. I hope her son Casey joined for the reasons my daughter did. To defend our country from terrorists who choose to destroy us, just like the ones who destroyed the victims of 9/11. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran seem to be the breeding ground for these people. Shouldn't we try to stop another 9/11 from happening again. Unfortunately to have peace in this world you have to begin by eliminating evil. Mrs. Sheehan seems to be grieving more for herself than for that of her son. Casey did what he chose to do for a living. He served honorably, let him rest in peace honorably. Pray for those serving our country. Pray they come home safe. Pray for the families who have lost some of our brave military. Mom of LCpl. Johnson who is proudly serving in Iraq for our great country.
Hi, Sgt. Grit.
Thanks, as always, for the newsletter. I would like to share with you and your readers part of a verse of scripture. Ezekiel 22:30 says, in part, "I (God) looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land". I LOVE that concept..."stand in the gap on behalf of the land". What a perfect picture of Marines, and of all men and women who serve in our Armed Forces (along with their families, who also sacrifice). Thank you, Marines, active duty or not, for standing in the gap. Some have fallen there, some have been brutally scarred there, and some have returned from there safe but changed. Only God knows what we owe you. Our own son will once again be actively standing in a few days in Iraq. Thanks to all who stand with him. "Semper Fi" from a Marine mom.
"If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows not fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened. The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on." -General George Patton
Thanks for the newsletter I have really enjoyed it. I was beginning to think that I was the only one who could not believe how much Cindy Sheehan was disgracing the memory of not only her son but all the others who have died while serving this country. If I am not mistaken I believe her son went voluntarily into the Army and knew what the consequences were by doing so. I'm sure it is a terrible feeling to lose a child during a war but I cannot fathom how a parent could disgrace her child's memory by doing what she is.
It was 15 years ago last week that I was sitting in a barracks laundry room washing my newly issued desert cammies preparing to deploy the following day to Saudi Arabia in support of "Desert Shield". I can vividly remember calling my Mom and telling her that just in case anything was to happen to me where she could find all of my belongings. I can remember listening to her try to keep her composure as I was telling her the name and address of the self-storage center. I can remember telling her not to worry as this was something that I had trained for and that I believed in my training and my superiors.
My unit was the first Marine helicopter squadron to arrive on station in Saudi and I can remember the nerves and anxiety of what was to come. I can remember the stifling heat when the C-5 arrived and opened the rear door to unload the Cobra and Huey helicopters that we had brought. I can remember the MRE's that we had to eat while waiting for the rest of the support units to arrive before we could have hot chow made. I can remember sleeping on the ground while waiting for the cots and hard back tents to arrive. I can remember the constant training operations that were conducted in order to prepare for what was to come. I can remember the frustration I felt when I was able to read a two week old newspaper about the protesters back home who were trying to turn the public opinion. But most of all I remember the unending flow of letters and care packages from family, friends and total strangers. Anyone who doesn't believe that the men and women who are overseas fighting are not affected by the lack of support being shown by the media and antiwar protesters don't know what they are talking about. Stop the political BS and let the men and women know that they are in your thoughts and prayers, it truly does mean a lot when a total stranger will take the time to write or even thank you in person.
Sgt of Marines
John Augustine 25 68 TET
Read your letter on 8/11. I to am A vet from 25 H&S company 06s . TET was h&ll on us. By the way my handle back then was the Greek. We sure didn't have the support back then that our brothers and sisters have today. I thank God for all the people who our reaching out with care package for them today.
I just wish we didn't have the Cindy Sheenan's to dishonor our men & woman who our fighting an dieing for our freedom and the freedom of the Iraqi people.
Greetings Sgt. Grit.
Wanted you to know how very much impressed I was reading about "Grandpa Gunny". A sincere "Semper Fi" and Well Done to both of you. These days, as in the past, we still hear about the Old Corps, and today's Corps. Chesty Puller said it best. "New Breed, Old Breed, doesn't make a bit of difference as long as it's the Marine Breed". Gunny's letters prove that adage well. I'm d*mned proud of these young Marines and the great job they're doing. The support shown by their parents, loved ones, families and friends is nothing less than awesome.
L/Cpl.1959899 USMC 1961-1966
Sgt. Alabama, Dept of Public Safety(Retd)
Send Cindy Sheehan enough mail to keep her busy for a long time. Yes, give her something to do and get her out of the Press. He son applied for, interviewed for and took a job. He knew the risks and rewards. He died doing
the job he wanted to do. Since the DRAFT is not a function of our lives anymore her son chose to do what he was doing. Let his memory be just that; the memory of a hero!
Just read the latest issue of the newsletter and, as usual, it was filled with uplifting, proud and generous comments in support of out brave and glorious serving Marines (and the brave men and women of our sister Services). I too have read the blurbs about Cindy Sheehan, and while my heart goes out to her for her loss, I can feel nothing but contempt for her efforts to denigrate he son's sacrifice. SPC Casey Sheehan volunteered to join the Army and served his first enlistment without going to Iraq. By all accounts he was an outstanding soldier and when asked to reenlist, he did so without hesitation even though knowing that by doing so he would be sent to Iraq. While there, SPC Sheehan was assigned as a mechanic to an artillery unit. He volunteered for a rescue detail when some soldiers were ambushed and received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his actions during the ensuing skirmish. I don't know the details, but obviously his actions were worthy and honorable. SPC Sheehan was killed by a rocket attack on his position. When Ms Sheehan met with the President after her son's death, she said the President was "caring and supportive". Later, for whatever reason, she has done an about-face and become one of the most vocal, not to say vituperative, critics of our involvement in the Middle East. What really sticks in my craw, however, is the statement she made: "America is not worth dying for." Thank God that the majority of us do not agree with that opinion; I wonder how Cindy Sheehan will be able to explain that stand to her son when next she meets him. I for one am most thankful that so many believe that our freedoms, our form of government and our Constitution are worth dying for and honor all who have made that supreme sacrifice, from the Revolutionary War to the present. When the Cindy Sheehans outnumber those who love our country, we will certainly lose our country. Until then, Cindy Sheehan and her ilk will have their right to vilify this country protected by patriotic young men and women willing to risk their lives, who believe that America IS worth dying for.
When my boyfriend (PFC Josh Bales) and I first started dating (nearly 8 months ago now) he was very adament about being upfront with his decision to join the military. I told him that it didn't matter what he wanted to with his life, I still wanted to be with him. At the time he was enrolled in Army ROTC at the college he attends, but by mishandled paperwork and the grace of God, that turned into enlisting in the Marine Corps. As the daughter of a Marine I couldn't be any prouder. All throughout boot camp I wrote him everyday and did all the research I could on the Marine Corps. You would think my dad and I were talking in a foreign language by the number of Marine acronyms we used in everyday conversation. Those three months were hard, but I knew he was worth it and that gave me strength to stay the course. On 12 August, he graduated from Parris Island MCRD. I cried the first time he put on his dress blues for me. Sometimes it's hard to tell who's prouder of him being a Marine, him or me!
Well, the next Friday after he came back was my birthday and he took me out to a nice restaurant to celebrate that Saturday. He donned his dress blues and I wore a simple black dress. As we were eating our meal, a gentleman who looked to be in about his 50s-60s came up to our table and asked Josh where he was stationed. They talked for a few minutes and it became evident that this man is a Marine too. After he went back to his table, we finished our meal and asked for the check. The waitress told us that it had already been taken care of and that our benefactor had already left. Josh looked around and noticed that the older gentleman had left. This simple act of brotherhood meant a lot to Josh and I and I only wish we could have said thank you to the man. It made us prouder to be a part of the Marine Corps family than we have ever been. We didn't even catch his name. But this message is for him, the old Leatherneck eating at DuPont Lodge, Cumberland Falls, KY on the evening of 20 August 2005: "If you're reading this right now thank you for your service in the past and may God bless you for your generosity now. Through your actions, you have set high standards for Josh and I to strive to and I hope that we can make you and the Marine Corps proud. Neither of us will ever forget this simple act that says so much about the Marine Corps brotherhood and that has touched our hearts forever. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
Proud Girlfriend of PFC Josh Bales, USMCR - Ft. Knox, KY
Individual preparedness is the foundation of national preparedness. The Federalist
First I am a daughter and daughter-in-law of Marines, wife of a 82nd Airborne Special Forces Sgt., and very proudly a mother of two Marines. I am a military minded person. I understand commitment, sacrifice, love of country, call of duty - patriotism. I wasn't around when my Father and Father-in-law served but have always been proud to say they are Marines. Being married while my husband was with the 82nd was an experience I am proud to have been through with him. I didn't enlist myself but with him serving I understood the military ways. Even with my brief military experience I feel I know and do have a better understanding of the soldiers'/marines' desire to serve and complete the mission at hand. It wasn't easy watching my sons deploy to Iraq, but my heart was anxious for those who have done their duty to be able to come home. Someone has to step up and take on the tasks that these marines/soldiers had been taking care of for their tour of duty. When my son is scheduled to come home with his tour of duty coming to an end, they will meet their replacements and be very happy someone has stepped up which allows them to have a very well deserved welcome home. No one wants to send their loved ones into harms way - BUT - we did as human beings agree many years ago to stop the type of insanity and injustice that has and is going on not only in Iraq but around the world. Instead of being so critical of those who have and are serving, we should be thanking them everyday for their sacrifice which has given us what we do have - FREEDOM TO - . . .
I have been proud to be part of the sacrifice that my sons are giving to make this world a better place. God has given us heroes and angels and these men & women whether husbands, wives, sons, daughters, nephews, nieces or neighbors/friends fit the description of both in my mind. Their families trials and sacrifices as well have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated in my heart. Thank you to all - you truly understand and have let your Patriotic light shine on the world. Semper Fi
Courage and Strength
Marine Mom in Ohio
Dear Sgt Grit -
I am very proud and happy that LCpl. Tim Murphy, 3/8 I Co. 4th Platoon, has finally returned home to his Family after a 7 month tour in Iraq. We are so very proud of all you and all our Military. But I have a special love of Marines. Thank them for the difficult jobs that they are doing. Hope they are all Back Home with there Friends and Loved ones real soon. Plus Happy 21st Birthday Tim.
Marilyn J Miller
My husband is over in Iraq right now and I have a story that I would like to share with other wives who are going through the same situation. My husband deployed in February this year and has been gone for almost 7 months. He has missed quite a bit in the past seven months,(including the birth of his first child) but thankfully he will be home soon. I will admit my happiness is mostly contributed to the fact that we are finally counting down to the last 3 weeks, but I have an overwhelming happiness that I would like to share. First of all I just recently gave birth to a perfect healthy beautiful boy. (I am not biased or anything) It has been rough, and I have had many frustrating, heart aching nights missing my husband. But tonight, after I laid my son to sleep and had a few moments to reflect back on this deployment, I can't help but feel so thankful for everything I have. I want to send a message to all the wives whose husbands are deployed. I hope that they can experience what I have. If I had to give any advise to these women I would tell them to embrace this time alone. If my husband was home I would not realize just how much I love him. Having him home all the time would make it hard to appreciate everything that he is, and everything that he does for our family. Yes, I have had nights where I have cried myself to sleep. My heart has never hurt so much out of loneliness, but at the same time...I would have never realized how much our relationship is based on spirit and heart. It is very easy to get caught up on the physical person, and forget their soul. I know this sounds cheesy, but I have never felt closer to husband and he is thousands of miles away from me right now. I sit here tonight, getting ready to fall asleep in our bed, which seems enormous and empty when he is gone, anticipating his arrival. I have never been so excited for a day to come in my life. My husband hasn't met his son, and I can not imagine what he is going through being millions of miles away, especially when he calls and hears him crying. But, I try to stay positive. I am so lucky to have bonded with my baby. My baby is my life right now, and I am so happy to be able to have a part of my husband right next to me everyday. It is very easy to get caught up in the negative thoughts, and the feeling sorry for yourself routine. And with that kind of attitude, your deployment will be a true challenge, but just remember that your husband needs you to be strong. Take advantage of your time alone. I used to hate the quiet nights and nobody to talk to. I sometimes close my eyes and listen to his favorite tv sitcom and pretend he his sitting right next to me on the couch. I can not say that not a night goes by that I don't miss him more than anything. But, if he never left, I probably wouldn't realize how much I miss him. Deployments are very rough, and very hard on a marriage, but embrace this time to reflect on all the happy moments you have shared, and the happiest moments that are in the future. Smile, take a deep breath and know that you are doing the "toughest job in the corp." I am so very proud of my husband, and he is so very proud of me. I hope that this letter is HEARD by at least one of the women in the same boat, because I know how important an uplifting pat on the back means. Keep your head high and Semper Fi!!
The only tie that I have to your site and the Marine families featured in your newsletter is that I am a fellow American. I have never served this country as a soldier. While members of my family have, they were not Marines. I just wanted to let all of the former veterans, active duty personnel and those that love them know that I appreciate all that they do. Thank you for loving your country and its freedoms more than yourself. My prayers and thoughts are with you daily.
Proud American supporting OUR troops and families,
The past several weeks here in Ohio have been a challenge. Loosing so many Marines is such a short period of time from the same geographical area was devastating. As a Marine and a member of the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club, I attended as many funerals for our fallen brothers as I could. In 3 weeks, I attended 9 funerals, and spoke to the parents at most of them.
Even though every funeral was unique in one way or another, every single one was based on the same ideal: These men were heroes. The parents and families expressed their pride in their sons for joining the Marines, even if they didn't understand why at first. At several of the funerals, the parents or minister asked that every person that had served in the military stand to be recognized. Every time, we received a thunderous ovation.
I saw the families of KIA Marines attending the funerals of other Marines to express their sympathies and condolences. I spoke to the Mom of one Marine KIA in April that had attended all but 1 funeral since her son had been killed. She told me that she cried for the family at every one. The one funeral she missed was because two were scheduled so close together that she couldn't make the commute.
One of the Leathernecks, Bob, spoke to his son, Justin, serving in Iraq on August 1st. Justin asked Bob to attend the funeral of Justin's best friend August 6th. Bob attended the funeral of Justin's best friend - 3 days after being informed that Justin had also been killed. I stood beside Bob at a couple of funerals and listened as he consoled other parent's that had lost their sons.
One father asked the two Marines that had informed him of his son's death to stand during the funeral. As the two Marines stood at attention, the father told the congregation that he had wanted to hate those two Marines for informing him that his son was killed but couldn't. He went on to thank them for their understanding and compassion and asked forgiveness for his behavior.
During this time, I also saw the Honor Guard perform in a truly outstanding manner. Often there were multiple funerals in a single day and these men and women performed their duties flawlessly. One would think that the repetitiveness of so many funerals would dull the sense of responsibility and the performance of the duties, but that was definitely not the case. Their spirit de corps shown thru each and every time. I am proud to call these men and women my brothers and sisters.
During the funeral processions, I saw hundreds and thousands of people lining the streets, holding flags, their hand on their hearts, honoring the fallen men of 3/25. Hundreds of cars came to a stop, people left their cars to show their respect. A solitary figure, holding a flag in her left hand, right hand on her heart, tears streaming down her face. Hundreds of students, standing in front of the school where one Marine graduated, and this during summer break.
As I said before, the past few weeks have been hard on the communities of Ohio. I shed tears for the fallen and for the families left behind. I cried for the wives, the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers. I wept for the fiancÃ©'s and for the children of the Marines we lost. I wept for the child that was born the day his father died, within minutes of the explosion.
In your prayers, please remember the families of these Marines and all the men and women serving.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Except for ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism, WAR has never solved anything.
I just sent an email to you about a veteran marine I met and I forgot to mention that most of us here in California are not proud of Ms. Shaheen and I personally believe she is being led around by some operatives. I also noticed that the counter demonstrators got little or no attention from the media but should we be surprised by that. I find it hard to believe that her son would want her to defame his sacrifice with her stupidity. Now I have let off the steam. Semper Fi.
Jim McCuen K-3-8 58-62
My wife and I just returned from Hawaii and The American Legion National Convention. My main goal for the trip was to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. I did, and it was even more than I imagined it would be. From the introduction video until we were aboard the Memorial was as I thought. But once aboard it was chilling. The first place I went was to the side where you can see the oil rise to the surface. You cannot take your eyes off this phenomena. It makes you think the spirits of those trapped Heroes are sending you a message. As you look down and see the ship itself underneath you, close your eyes and think of the horror and confusion of that fateful day. It is crowded with others wanting to share the experience, but if you hang back near the time for the shuttle to pick you up you will be able to see the wall of names in solitude. Take your time and scan the names and try to imagine the magnitude of what happened. Half of those killed that day were on the U.S.S. Arizona. There is a small wall in front of the large one with the names of those who survived but wanted to be buried in the "Punchbowl" close to their shipmates. DO NOT MISS THIS EXPERIENCE! We toured the submarine U.S.S. Bowfin which was very interesting. Then there was the U.S.S. Missouri; It is magnificent. We spent two hours there and could have stayed longer. Do not miss The National Cemetery at the "Punchbowl". It is serene and very well kept. Sergeant Henry O. Hansen, one of the flag raisers on Iwo Jima is buried there. So is Ernie Pyle, a great correspondent from WWII who was always with the troops. He was killed by Japanese machinegun fire on the pacific island of le Shima. Hawaii has surfing, swimming, great places to eat, and many tourist events. But, you owe it to yourself and to all those who sacrificed there to visit these three Memorials. It will impact your life. Ben Terry, former MSgt of Marines.
"The eyes of the world being thus on our Country, it is put the more on its good behavior, and under the greater obligation also, to do justice to the Tree of Liberty by an exhibition of the fine fruits we gather from it."
I am the proud wife of an outstanding man and marine. My husband, Cpl Jeremy Jacobsen, is currently deployed in 29 Palms CA due to leave for Iraq beginning of September. Not only is he going to be missing out on an important chapter in our 1 year old daughters life, but I am also 11 weeks pregnant with our second child. It will be strange to be pregnant and have had the baby all without him here, but I know that what he is doing is so important. He may be missing out on some things here at home, but he is doing so to protect not only the future of the children in Iraq, but to protect the future of our own children. I am so very proud of my husband and will be praying everyday for his safe return and the return of the other men and women currently serving when there mission is completed.
Husband Cpl. Jeremy Jacobsen USMC
5 Battalion 14th Marines
4Th Marine Division
My husband and I traveled from central Arkansas to Crawford, Tx (about 500 miles) this week-end to show our support for our troops, and this war on terror. We were excited when we left Arkansas, but even more excited when we returned home. The media, of course, was one-sided as usual, but those of us who were there know there were THOUSANDS of supporters on hand showing our love for the brave troops and backing the war and our President! We are, by far, the majority in this country! ALL the anti-war ostriches have is more media coverage, and some backing from a few of the "rich and famous" who have nothing better to do with their time or money.
We met so many great people this week-end.. people who have sons and daughters in the military and people who don't. We met many brave Heroes of the Vietnam War, some being in wheel chairs, but feeling strong enough about showing support that they braved the 100 degree temp to be there! One veteran we met had ridden 900 miles on his motorcycle to be there! We met Korean War and World War II patriotic Heroes who also stood in the heat and waved their United States flags!
We met parents of fallen HEROES and we shed tears with them for their losses. You didn't see these fine people turning against our President or this war. Why? Because they know that this war is necessary to avoid fighting terrorists over here! Thank God for families like this. You are heroes also! God Bless You!
Yes, there were representatives at the Rally from all walks of life, and we were all united in our support. There were no strangers there...only friends we hadn't met until that day but will never forget!
One of the highlights of the Rally was that our son, Cpl. Kevin Clairday, USMC, who is in Iraq, called by chance while we were there. We were able to take the cell phone to the stage, and it was announced that he was on the phone from Iraq, and several thousand people cheered him and the other troops!! How exiting and encouraging for Kevin and the others guys there!!!!! Even though media coverage is one-sided, the troops know they are loved and supported by this Country, and won't let a few pessimistic complainers dampen their morale.
Our thanks goes out to all