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Dear Sgt. Grit:
When I read your newsletter it always makes me think how grateful we all should be for these Marines past and present.
Our son is 20 years old, an infantry Marine and has been in for over 2 years. He has debated if he should stay in after four or get out and go into law enforcement. His recent response while home recently for his pre-deployment leave was... Mom, I just can't imagine NOT putting on a Marine uniform or being in the shape I'm in and being challenged the way I am each day.
Thanks Marines from the past as well as the now and future for having such a pride in what you do, as well as for doing the amazing job you have done and will always do. Unless you are closely related to by family, friendship or a Marine yourself you just don't get the difference do you?
God Bless our Marines and please God keep them safe. They truly are amazing.
PMM of a 2/5 Marine
When I was a young Marine Corporal on my 2nd tour to Beirut, I was sent a book of writings from Marines who never made it home. One stuck out distinctly and I committed it to memory. I memorized those words to this day and my tattoo reflects it in honor of them. Here goes:
War is an ugly thing
But not the ugliest of things
The decayed and degraded state of morale and patriotic feeling
That thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse
A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight
Nothing he cares for more than his personal safety
Is indeed a miserable creature
Who has no chance of being free
Unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Steven L. Skaggs
Robert Windle Det #1301 MCL
I wanted to take the opportunity to respond back to some of the messages that I read in the last newsletter specifically about Anthony Swofford's book "Jarhead", and the movie made from it. Before I get up on my soap box and possibly p!ss you or a bunch of other people off, let me say that I love reading your newsletter and what you've done with it. I read it faithfully and appreciate all the hard work that I know must go in to making it happen. You're fighting the good fight.
As a jarhead myself and only the latest of a multi-generational Marine family I can say that I love the Corps just as much as anyone. After serving in places like the Philippines (coup attempts, NPA guerillas, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.) and Somalia (I think that most people are familiar with that recent bit of history through other books and movies) and various other crappy places for 8 years, I have as much room to talk as anyone.
I read Swofford's book and personally loved it, not just because of his stream-of-consciousness style of writing, but because it brought back memories of my own Corps experiences. While it's probable that Swofford modified the experiences finally published from exactly what happened, I'd say that it probably wasn't far from the exact truth. I think that if anything, he probably cleaned it up a bit. The rough-housing wasn't as rough, the drinking was less excessive than actual and I didn't see any mention of the girls lined up at the base gate willing to do just about anything simply for an escort on base to the club.
Those who can't stand hearing anything negative about the Corps aren't living in reality and obviously to paraphrase one writer, were, not in the same Corps as me. There was excessive drinking, there was hazing, we disrespected each other and those above us all the way to the top, there were "barracks sluts" and unfaithful girlfriends and wives and yes, I have seen more than one "hog board". There were also people who did things so stupid that they put other Marines in danger and if we're really honest, we not only thought about shooting these people ourselves before they actually got us all killed, but we talked about it, however jokingly, with our fellow Marines. Sometimes it was definitely less of a joke than was in any way proper.
The thing that I think everyone, Marine or civilian, should know and/or remember is that the Corps is not some institution of saints. It is however an institution, and one with a noble purpose. One that was formed in 1775, re-formed in 1798 and perpetuated for the protection of our country and ideals, a group of individuals brought together with the common purpose of taking the fight to the enemy. In fact, the purpose of our Corps went so far as to put so much fear into potential enemies, that it would make them either afraid to attack us or force them to change their plans.
The fact that we all served in this great organization, of which there is no less faithful supporter than me, does not however mean that everything we did or were was noble. We're all human and nearly all of us started off in the green machine at a young age. We all did stupid things and at the same time, there's not one of us who didn't do great and wonderful things that positively changed our own lives but the lives of others just by serving.
George Orwell said it well when he said that "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Marines are those rough men and have been for about 230 years now.
What I believe everyone needs to remember though, and this is my point in writing...To run a person down, especially if that person is a fellow Marine, whether you like that fact or not, for writing about their own personal experiences and not stopping to ask for a "by your leave" from you, just because you don't happen to like it, approve of those experiences, or because you have chosen to turn a blind eye to or conveniently forget those same type of things that happened during your time in the Corps, is at best foolish and blind. At worst, you're dishonest and living a lie. It's like standing on the front step of your house and fastballing a rock at someone else without having the sense to turn around and see that the place you just walked out of is made of glass.
Published in a small booklet given to us by higher HQ on arrival in Somalia and titled "Media Guidance for Fleet Marines" was a small statement at the very back that said something like "remember that in this new era of low intensity conflict that the appearance of what has actually happened is often more important than what actually happened." I say that is absolutely dead wrong and all of those who want to ensure the public never hears anything less than absolutely positive about the Corps are not only dead wrong but stupid and dangerous as h&ll.
The reality of the situation is that the more transparent things are with the Corps, the less we have to try and backpedal to explain later. It's like the white phosphorous issue in Fallujah recently. It probably would never have been a big deal if someone hadn't tried to cover it up. But every one of us knows that if you try to hide something, it's not only going to come up again, but when it does, the bite you receive in the *ss from it is more painful than what you would have gotten in the beginning if you told the truth, and now on top of that, you look like an untrustworthy jackass. So, what does more harm to the Corps?
Were the antics of Swoffor and his STA buddies crazy? Absolutely, good stress relief and more or less expected of Marines...helps perpetuate the myth.
Can we really believe that these things don't happen every day in the Corps? Absolutely not, because they do.
Does anyone really think that all enlisted Marines completely trust and worship the ground that noncomms, staff NCOs and officers walk on? Come on...the Corps works because everyone knows they are smarter than the other guy they are all out of touch with reality, at least with respect to each other.
It's not a perfect system, but it works. It has for 230 years and if given the chance, will continue to work for a very long time. The point in all this is, many Marines posting here seem to feel that their honor has been impugned because someone wrote a book that they don't feel honored them properly in some way and cast a bad shadow on the Corps. If you're some elitist bastard that thinks because Swofford wasn't a "school trained" sniper he doesn't rate to write a book and claim to be a part of STA, or if the fact that he wrote a book that is somewhat less inclined to please the same neighbors that you've been feeding lines about your wonderful life in the Marines, where you did nothing but help little old ladies across the street and faithfully attend choir practice, who cares. You're probably the type careerist, by the book, [insert appropriate extremely profane term(s) here] that made or makes good Marines leave the Corps at the end of their first hitch. Thus, your views don't matter much to me and you've shown yourselves to be immune to reason or logic at any rate. Those of you who fit the description above have already done immeasurable damage to the Corps unfortunately because someone let you remain until you could retire and thus given you an even greater measure of "supposed" legitimacy as a voice for real Marines.
I work with people from all over the globe all the time, and all of these colleagues and clients know that I am a former Marine, h&ll it's in my professional bio and it's not hidden either. Everyone I run into in and outside of the US has not only heard about Marines but has told me that we have a reputation for being a little crazy and very wild but at the same time, someone you can trust absolutely when given a job to do and absolutely fearless.
I hate to break this to you but people already think that we're crazy and maybe in actually reading Swofford's book they will understand why we have that capacity. I personally believe that by putting his thoughts down on paper, he did us all a service as Marines. If nothing else, the book does a great job of showing just how meaningless life can feel at times when you are honed to a fine edge as a weapon and then not used. Anthony Swofford helps to show us ourselves as Marines and even though it may be set against a backdrop of lunacy that some may not appreciate, although I certainly did, you shouldn't let that distract you from the central theme of the writing.
Again, I couldn't not write after reading a lot of the posts. We're all a bunch of hardheaded knuckledraggers with Type A personalities trying to make everyone believe that we're fully civilized and don't actually eat raw meat on a regular basis, so anyone reading this might be thinking that I can kiss their *ss. That's okay, at least I got it off my chest and on paper. You're also all brothers so even if you're hardheaded knuckledraggers, I know where you've been and what you've been through. I also know (or strongly suspect) that you get up late at night to eat to eat that raw meat because that's when I get up to eat mine...and to silently curse all those things un-Marine.
Shalom Sgt. Grit:
Would like to reply to the 3 Ignorant statements in this newsletter about how great the movie "Jarhead" was from an entirely different prospective then has so far been stated on this topic. I would like to address the remarks by Sgt. Alex W.- p!ssing contest - Barron- U.S.M.C.R., Sgt. Brent E.- choir boy - Whan, U.S.M.C. 86-92, and S.Sgt 0369 / no name / "sooo quick to pass judgment" / Grunt.
Well gentlemen, whatever your Grunt experience was or is + whatever the combat experience you think you had, ... one does not "air out" their dirty laundry about OUR CORPS or whatever branch of the service you might have been in .. .ESPECIALLY.. during a time of war, when our Marines are in harms way + we are in a deeply politically divided country.... UNLESS of COURSE .... you have a " political- axe " to grind ... as does Anthony Swofford... will document as you read..!
This is where I part company with all or most of the past comments written to Sgt. Grit about the book or movie Jarhead... that is unless you 3 "Jarhead lovers" are holding back something you already know about Swofford. It seems, so far, I may be the only former Grunt Marine that reads Sgt Grits Newsletter that has actually met Swofford, and on 2 separate occasions for about a total of 4 hours. These meetings were at 2 separate book signings a few years ago in the .... Hate the Military - H&ll Hole - Arm Pit - city of.... PORTLAND - we love the Traitors - OREGON, were Swofford worked on his book for however long.
These signings were at Borders book store + Powells Books in down town Portland. As is in EVERY book store in the Pdx. area ...ANY... book written by a Pro-military author, and /or supporter of OUR war in Iraq .. you have to practically beg the mgr. of the store to see / find the book because if the book was actually put on the self it would get in the way of all the "Hate America" books already there.
At each book signing I showed up early wearing my bright red Marine Corps T-shirt with a great big E.G.A. logo on the front + a Nam service ribbon pinned to that shirt. At the start of each signing I noticed I was the only one there in obvious support of the Corps.. and in fact I may have been the only one there that was even in the military at one time. After reading the book about a 1/3 of the way through and then deciding to use the rest of it for a-- wipe, I should have not been surprised that any military person did not show up to listen to any more of this guys obvious hate agenda. I was there to ask this guy as many "In your face" questions about the trash he wrote, as I could
I had to raise my hand, wave it a lot before Swofford finally relented + let me ask a question. He knew why I was there and guessed correctly that I was not among his friends + stacked audience. About 20 -30 folks in each signing. At the first book signing the only 2 questions that I was barely able to get out was " How many Marine bases he was able to get on before he was banned by the Corps + why he picked such an anti-military town as Pdx. to write his book + do his first...? Book review.... as if I didn't already know. He said he had a reading at "29 Stumps" in Calif + the Marines loved him. I quickly asked him .." was it because of all the cursing he did at the beginning of his book readings". He brushed me off + told me he would answer my second question after the signing was over. This never happened because as soon as he finished, his stacked audience rushed up to him and made it impossible to get to him. Surprised...? I think not.
We got into a very animated shouting match at his next book signing.... same kind of audience.... at Powells Books... months later... when he refused to answer ANY of my questions like why he hated the Marines Corps so much + why he was so Pro-Islamic.. maybe not in his book .. But listen to him at his book signings..! I was gently escorted off the floor and out the door by store security... He couldn't take the heat.. which I expected when I went to his book signings..! I wanted to see for my self.
Sgt Barrons, Sgt Whan + S.Sgt. 0369, Swofford started both his book signings with the dirtiest language he could find in his book, in front of an audience with women + children present, and continued to deface OUR Corps, OUR Troops in harms way, the current administration + the war in Iraq in the most Hate - America way he could. I was very - very surprised some one in the audience did not stand up and give Swofford a "Seig Heil" salute.! I kid you not...! "You think I lie"..??? Good...! ask Swofford himself... be my quest...! I have NO DOUBT Swofford will definitely remember me + those 2 book signings... X- amount of years ago in Pdx. Or.
You 3 supporters of "Jarhead + Swofford" hear this from a former Marine- Nam - Grunt ... the person who wrote Jarhead + is responsible for the movie of the same name, Anthony Swofford, Hates the Corps - Hate what the U.S.A. stands for, Hates our war against Islamic Terrorists.
The h&ll with the book + movie if you don't believe me...that's your right... BUT spend some time listening to Swofford + he will tell you himself ..! He does not hide his feelings ... Especially .... when surrounding himself with friends + movie people that whole-heartedly Support his Hate America Politics..!
Sgt Barrons, Sgt Whan, + S.Sgt 0369, don't kid yourself... unless of course.. you 3 support Swoffords Hate. Why does this former Marine wash his dirty laundry in front of the whole world..? Where does all this hate come from...? I do not know. You have to ask Swofford. ...BUT... observing + listening to Swofford for almost 4 hours, answering questions, I would seriously tend to think that Swofford has an agenda.
Me, see the movie...??? HEY... the book was trash enough + besides I currently have enough s--- paper at home...!
Shalom + Semper Fi from Jerusalem, Israel...! "God Bless America + Israel + ALL Our Men + Women in Uniform" + may God give that EXTRA Blessing to the Families of OUR Troops "That Gave All"...!
L/Cpl John E. Voracek 0311
U.S.M.C. 62-66, THE BUSH 5/7/65 - 3/7/66
B 1/4 Chu Lai , A 1/3 Da Nang
The brave man inattentive to his duty is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts it in the hour of danger.
Don't Give Terrorists A Timetable
Letter to the Editor, Washington Post
Nov. 22, 2005, pg. 28
One of the most critical issues that members of Congress must address is the wisdom of setting a schedule for our continued presence in Iraq. In this regard, I would hope that they would look back to September 1983, when both houses of Congress held War Powers Act hearings on our presence in Beirut as part of a multinational force. I asked Congress then not to set a schedule for our withdrawal from war-torn Lebanon. I said, "If the time is too short, our enemies will wait us out; if it is too long, they will drive us out."
My warning was ignored, and Congress passed a law that said that Marines would stay for 18 more months. That in essence told the Iranians, the Syrians, the Druze and the newly organized Hezbollah: "Put your plans on hold for a year and a half."
On Oct. 23, 1983, they gave us their answer -- an 18-ton truck carrying the equivalent of 18,000 pounds of TNT smashed into the headquarters of Battalion Landing Team 2/8, and 241 of our most precious sons, who had done nothing more than try to restore peace to a troubled country, were murdered.
My message to Congress is simple: Never tell your enemies your plans. Ambiguity in war is essential.
My personal message to our enemies is equally simple: If you continue your barbaric acts of terrorism, you eventually will be punished -- count on it.
Let me close by reminding all Americans of the mission given to Muslim terrorists by Osama bin Laden in 2001: "By God's leave, we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can."
Lest we forget!
P.X. Kelley, Arlington
The writer, a retired Marine Corps general, was commandant of the Corps from 1983 to 1987.
On October 31, 2005 I attended the funeral of the first United States Marine from Catawba County killed in Iraq. Some say he was number 1999, others say the 2000th military person killed. Numbers don't matter to me. He was a young man who gave all he had to his country. The church was full and after the service, his body left for the ultimate honor...burial at Arlington National Cemetery. He left behind a very young wife, a mom, dad, brother, and a community that call him a HERO. This was his second tour in Iraq. He loved his country and he loved The Corps. A "Gunnery Sgt." spoke a few words about his dedication to the Marine Corps. His Dad (a Marine) wrote a beautiful tribute about his son. Cpl. Benny Cockerham was 21 years old. 2 years older than my son Lee and one rank higher. At the service, I watched young men and ladies who had been his friends and classmates at St Stephens High School. Some where comforted by their parents, others huddled in groups with their peers. As my husband and I left the church, we walked through a double line of Young Marines wearing their "Dress Blues". Some stood tall and proud, while others had a single tear drop from their wide eyes. A few had trembling lips. The mother in me wanted to grab and hug each one. To pretend for a second that one of those United States Marines was my son, standing safe on United States soil. Safe and well groomed in his "Dress Blues". Thinking how the young girls would be admiring him and his bravery. Knowing how proud his "hometown" girl would be of him. The happiness she would feel being able to touch him. Lots of emotions ran through my mind that beautiful fall afternoon. The strongest was the emotion of missing my son and praying to God that he be kept safe. As much as I would love to see him, I pray that he will never stand in a line of Marines wearing his "Dress Blues", saluting a fellow Marine for a final time. I pray also that he will never have that "final salute" given to him. As we reflect on local elections, Veterans Day, and the Thanksgiving Season, let's not forget the men and women who so bravely defended our freedoms. Those who returned home to loving families and the ones that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Please pray for our brave troops that are serving on local and foreign soil and the families that are waiting for them at home. I often wonder what our nation would be like without the BRAVE men and women who past and present have served in the United States Military.
Proud Marine Mom of a LCpl in Al Asad, Iraq
When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.
I clicked on the link Protest at the funeral of fallen soldier, and I hope that my husband doesn't. He doesn't need more reason to be angry at protesters, he has enough disgust to go around toward them. We attended a memorial service for the fallen men of 3/25 in Brookpark, OH and were welcomed with two groups of protesters on the way in. Now I see who they were. I was disgusted to see ANYONE protesting at a place that should have been reserved for the grieving families. It lifts my heart to see how the residents of Greely, CO dealt with those... those...scumbags.
Dear Sgt. Grit, When I first saw the visiting wall I did not understand the real meaning. I am almost to young to remember Vietnam. All I remember was my Uncle coming home and giving me a Kola Bear, which I still have (some 30+ years later). My FiancÃ©' and I went to the traveling Vietnam Wall about 5 years ago now, I saw things I had never seen before. I was in shock and I was scared. My FiancÃ©', Jimmy, whom is a Marine, showed me some of the traps and other things they had set up. Even a helicopter. My Brother-in-law is a Marine, He severed in the first Iraq war, his duffle bag is still packed down in their basement. Rolls of film undeveloped and I am sure lots of other memories unpacked. He wears a T-Shirt with the saying "Some Gave Some and Some Gave All". I never understood what that ment. I would ask my Jimmy what it meant and he would not answer me, he would just change the subject. Not until we joined this wonderful Motorcycle Club a year ago did I totally understand what all it means. It is a club that is all Vets of all branches of service and of all Wars. It is hard for me to understand all of it and I may never understand it all. But I am sure learning a lot. I was elected about a month ago to send Care Packages over to our troops. And with all of the names I have received not a one are going to the same Camp. We had a chance to go to the real Wall this past summer, but do to medical problems we could not go. I am sure there will be another time. But to anyone whom has not seen the Travling Wall, it surely is a wonderful thing to see.
"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined."
This is one of those "where were you when" kind of stories. Use it if you like it.
The year was 1963, and I was a PFC assigned to the MarDet, USS Galveston CLG-3. The Det. CO was Capt. R. C. Yezzi, and the XO was a 1stLt. by the name of Frank J. Breth, who later made the cover of LIFE magazine as the Bn. CO at a little place in Vietnam called Con Thien. I understand he also earned stars before retiring.
Anyway, the ship was tied up in Yokosuka Harbor, Japan. I was standing the mid watch (0000-0400) on the morning of November 23rd at Post 1 at the entrance to the missile house. (Galveston was one of those hybrid light cruisers with guns forward and a TALOS missile system aft.) Sometime between 0300 and 0400, the Cpl of the Guard called down and said that the President had been shot and killed in Dallas. My first question was, what the h&ll was the president doing in Dallas anyway. I was relieved at 0400, and went back to the Marine's compartment, and started getting ready for the ship's CO's inspection that was planned for 0800 that morning. Most everyone was up, since the news had spread like wildfire. The inspection however was canceled, and all hands were ordered to muster at quarters on deck in Service "A" Uniform at 0800 for the official announcement of the Presidents death. It is not official until the captain tells you it is.
At 0800, all hands were mustered on deck, and as you looked around the harbor, all of the other U. S. Navy ships were doing likewise. We were tied up across the pier from Midway, which was the Fleet Flagship. At 0800 the flagship signaled Execute, and the colors on all the U. S. ships were raised to full staff, and then slowly lowered to half staff. After colors, the individual ships captains read the official announcement, quarters were secured, and with the exception of the duty sections, liberty was granted to all hands. Now remember, in those days, there was no such thing as civilian clothes liberty, unless you were an officer.
Several of us went ashore and went into town where we cruised the bars. In normal times, there would have been a lot of noise, music, and bar girls trying to lure us into buying them a glass of tea for $2.00. (In those days, a PFC only made 78 bucks a month.) However, the only sound you heard from the bars was the AFRTS radio broadcasting what was happening stateside. Oh, and by the way there were a lot of sailors and Marines in blues and greens getting totally snookered. Guys were sitting at the bars putting them down one after another, and listening to the radio. The bar girls had given up trying, and most either had gone home, or were just sitting around. Needless to say, it got pretty drunk out that night.
So, to this day when someone asks me where I was and what I was doing on November 22, 1963, it doesn't click, because the date that sticks in my memory (and I would think anyone else who was in WESTPAC at the time) is November 23rd. The day John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas.
MSGT. Thomas A. Gafford USMC (Ret.)
1946140/0811/0812/0369 RVN 68-69
"Posterity -- you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it."
John Quincy Adams
I can hardly believe that John Murtha turned his back on his Marines in combat in Iraq and called for them to cut and run from in the face of the enemy, deserting our Iraqi allies to death by torture. He is also proposing that we forfeit the many billions of dollars we have spent, waste the Marine blood that has been shed, dishonor the lives of young Marines who died in this cause, and add to the tears of every Marine mother who cries herself to sleep at night for her son who died in defense of America by cursing her with the knowledge that her son died in vain; that he was betrayed by his government ... by John Murtha.
If Murtha has his way, he will be doing to today's young Marines exactly what Democrats did to my young Marines in Vietnam when they betrayed us. I live with the faces of the brave Marines whom I sent home from Vietnam in green rubber bags. I did not betray them then and I will not betray them now by allowing John Murtha to make such a cowardly suggestion without my condemnation.
Sgt. Mark Van Noy
United States Marine Corps
3rd MarDiv, I Corps, Vietnam 68-69
My note concerns Ohio Congresswoman Jean Schmidt's comments addressed to Pennsylvania's Congressman John Murtha who is a retired Marine Colonel of 37 years. I have looked very hard on the internet for the exact quote, but because she had her comments stricken from the congressional record the best I can do is quote one of the news agencies. She told of a phone call she received from a Marine Colonel. "He asked me to send Congress a message - stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message - that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said.
Perhaps the best way to respond, and leave the emotion surrounding this hot point off these pages would be to quote Mr. John Welch's comments to the late Senator Joseph McCarthy; "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
Christmas In Vietnam 1966
I got in country on December 20th of '66. Since I was still in transit I was sent up to 1st Marine Division's HQ Co. which happened to be where Service Company was located. That meant that I got to spend a few days with the guys I went through DISBO school with just months earlier. I spent the next five days getting the "lay" of the land and. since there was a Christmas "truce" on, I got faced with all my buddies on Christmas Eve.
Around zero dark thirty all of us that were in the In Transit hooch were roused up and piled into the back of a 6X. We had no idea where we were going and most of us, yours truly included, were all hung over from the night before.
About a half hour into our journey I could see we were driving on a road through a rice paddy when all of a sudden I could feel the truck I was riding in list to port. The next thing I know is the d*mn thing goes over on it's side and water is rushing in as we all scrambled to get out the back.
Undaunted, they placed us in the other trucks in the convoy and ten minutes later we found ourselves at, what appeared to be a crash site. It was pitch black out save for the fuselage of this cargo plane which was totally engulfed in flames.
Since I still hadn't been issued a weapon I, along with the other unarmed Marines I was billeted with, were handed body bags. We formed up a skirmish line at the far end of what was left of where a ville once stood just hours ago. It was now flat as a pan cake, the results of a transport plane having been shot down on approach to Da Nang.
We were then given the orders to move forward and to pick up the remains of the ville's inhabitants. Since it was such a dark, unmoon lit night, we just picked up the larger body parts that were still recognizable... arms, legs, torsos etc. Occasionally we would come across what was, more or less, whole bodies frozen grossly in a bent grip of death.
I had witnessed a similar incident back in Brooklyn when two planes collided in mid air over New Jersey in 1960. I had gotten to the crash site before they removed the bodies so I wasn't too surprised at what I saw but it was when we started to recover the remains of children and babies that it dawned on me what I was experiencing... something that I've managed to keep buried in my subconscious for years.
We made a few passes until dawn broke. Then the horrific part of this detail began. We went back for the smaller body parts that we missed in the dark... entrails, hands, fingers, brain matter and the rest. By this time I was numb. I had totally blocked out what I was doing and just went along with the program. I kept telling myself over and over... You're a Marine, this is what war is all about, move out and don't say a thing!
The hardest part of my Christmas still lay ahead. After the fire burned itself out, I along with a couple of the others were told to extract the remains of the pilot and co-pilot who, by now, where just blackened charred remains of what a human body is supposed to look like. I remember them looking like stick figures. Their hands and feet were burnt off and all that remained were shrunken bodies that were about a 3rd the size of what a normal [American] male's height.
What I remember the most about that night was that when it was all over we were herded back into the trucks and brought back to our hooch's and left here to spend the rest of Christmas day as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened earlier that night. I remember no one saying anything to each other in the 6X on the way back and since the other Jars in the truck were also FNGs my guess is that they were thinking the same thing that I was... You're a Marine, this is what war is all about, move out and don't say a thing!
I hope this hasn't' bummed any of you out. My intention wasn't to ruin your day but I just needed to let you all know why I'm such a miserable prick when it gets around this time of the year. It's not a conscious reaction, it's just that this pall comes over me when I begin to hear all that "good will to man" crap that we're supposed to feel. I know none of us that had the misfortune to spend Christmas in a war will never feel right about it and it's always compounded by the news on at the end of Christmas day.
Let's leave it with the hope that some day Christmas can be as it was meant to be...
Peace On Earth And Good Will To Man.
* USMC *
Vietnam 12/66 to 1/68
Ser. Co. (Disbo) 1st Mar. Div.
Chu Lai and Da Nang
TAD 7th Comm. Bn. (attached to)
5th Marines Hill-63 Tam Ky
HQ Co. 5th Mar. Reg. Hoi An
"It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping GOD in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship."
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, fear, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
Talk about being left in the dark by our unbiased press.
Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq?
Did you know that the Iraqi current government employs 12 million Iraqi people?
Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq?
Did you know that Iraq 's higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers, all currently operating?
Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2005 for the re-established Fulbright program?
Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational?! They have 5-100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a naval infantry regiment.
Did you know that Iraq's Air Force consists of three operational squadrons, which includes 9 reconnaissance and 3 US C-130 transport aircraft (under Iraqi operational control) which operate day and night, and will soon add 16 UH-1 helicopters and 4 bell jet rangers?
Did you know that Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a Commando Battalion?
Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers?
Did you know that there are 5 Police Academies ! in Iraq that produce over 3500 new officers each 8 weeks?
Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq ? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical facilities.
Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?
Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October?
Did you know that there are 1,192,000 cell phone subscribers in Iraq and phone use has gone up 158%?
Did you know that Iraq has an independent media that consist of 75 radio stations, 180 newspapers and 10 television stations?
Did you know that the Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of 2004?
Did you know that 2 candidates in the Iraqi presidential election had a recent televised debate?
Instead of reflecting our love for our country, we get photos of flag burning incidents at Abu Ghraib and people throwing snowballs at presidential motorcades and Sheheen protesting the war.
The lack of accentuating the positive in Iraq serves two purposes. It is intended to undermine the world's perception of the United States thus minimizing consequent support, and it is intended to discourage American citizens.
---- Above facts are verifiable on the Department of Defense website.
I just got off the phone with my son who is deployed to Iraq and I have to say that I am most Thankful for he and all the others who are protecting all of us here. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, but my biggest Thanks I send out to those who serve the United States of America! God Bless and keep you all! Sincerely, Proud Mom of Cpl. Cheevers USMC
"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. As enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself."
-Marcus Tullius Cicero
Dear Sgt. Grit
Sgt. I enlisted in the Corps 3 June, 2003 in platoon 3069 Kilo Company, 3rd RTBn Parris Island. I did not make it because of injury and was discharged on 6 August, 2003, But I am proud to announce that I have completely healed and I will be returning to MCRDPI this summer to finish what I set out to accomplish 2 years ago. I believe that this is the absolute right thing to do and I believe that even though the DVA has declared me a veteran that I still owe the country and the Corps 4 years at least and I am proud to return and fulfill my duty. Thanks for reading my story.
Larry A. Dale
USMC June 2003-August 2003
"Let us remember that revolutions do not always establish freedom. Our own free institutions were not the offspring of our revolution. They existed before."
While sitting at home Thanksgiving morning waiting for my kids and their spouses to show up for dinner I thought I would watch HBO on demand. I chose to watch the documentary Unknown Soldier. It was about Lt. Jack Hulme who died in Vietnam without ever getting to see his new born son. He was a Marine and a very outstanding person.
I wrote HBO a letter letting them know that it was a very good show however the title Unknown Soldier did not do justice to Lt. Hulme as he was a Marine not a soldier..
Jerry Morehouse Jr.
"Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world."
On November 18th the Marines of 3rd Battalion 6th Marines India Company 3rd Platoon began to raise the American Flag on the main building of the Forward Operating Base located on the edge of Al Karabilah, Iraq. As they prepared the Flag and began to raise the flag pole, they were given a direct order from their commanding officer not to raise the Flag, as it may be seen as a symbol of occupation to the Iraqi people. Marines then found that Marines throughout the region where told to lower their Flags as well. For some reason by some power greater than our 3rd Battalion 6th Marine commander, we've been o ordered not to fly the Banner of our great Nation. For over 200 years the patriots of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have fought to protect the citizens of America and its Freedoms. Where ever American servicemen have been called to fight, they've raised the Stare Spangled Banner. From the American Revolution, to present. But now because our government tries to please every one, there told (after coming here to Iraq, to fight for the freedoms and rights that others can not) that we may not raise our Flag into the wind, in honor and glory. That we must sit here sacrificing our blood, and those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their life, that we must fly the Iraqi flag from our base. I would ask you as a fellow Patriot and American to stand up with us, and fight this new war that we face against our government. I urge you to write your senators, congressmen and other government officials in utter disgust at this unacceptable insult to our eternal Flag. It is time for our government to stand up for our servicemen and stop trying to please the rest of the world. Too many countless Americans have fought and died for our freedoms and liberties to stand by and let this go. I ask not to fly our flag in a symbol of our occupation in Iraq, but as a symbol of our pride and our heritage and of the blood of our ancestors and of the pure honor of our great Flag. I would ask that you do all that you can to fight this and help the Marines raise the greatest Flag of them all, for all to see.
Thomas G. Courtney - Sgt. U.S. Marine Corps
Marine Colonel Leroy Hunt: "Our country expects nothing but victory from us and it shall have just that. The word failure should not even be considered as a word in our vocabulary."
Dear Sgt. Grit:
I was only 18 yrs old at the time and found myself in a far away place spending my second Christmas away from home while in the Marine Corps. Unlike the others there was a hint of a special occasion that sent most of us Grunts rambling trying to figure out how?
I was currently being stationed at the Marine Corps Base (Rose Garden) located in the highlands of Nam Phong, Thailand. They had me out at the Bomb Dump doing what we do best. Security! I went over there from Okinawa with the 3rd Bn 9th Marines (Lima Co.) and I thought it rained hard in Oki?
Well, we found out that Mr. Bob Hope was coming to town and like I said we all started to ramble trying to figure out if we were going to be the few chosen ones to appear from the Bomb Dump security element at the event.
After much barter, and I mean a lot of it, I found myself on the 6x heading to the rear. It had been some time since doing that, so we found ourselves having a hot meal instead of the C-rats that were a norm.
I to this day treasure the slides that I took of the show. Mr. Hope and his cast of personnel will live on to this day in my head, especially Redd Foxx. The skit that they did was just too funny.
Anyway, I enjoyed his last USO show that was performed in Theater and the 4 extra shifts of guard duty were definitely worth it.
My prayers go out to the young devil dogs currently serving our beloved Corps in the Middle East and around the world. They are doing it in such a special way that makes me proud of them, each and every one.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Sgt. K.A. Dove 0311
"Liberty is not to be enjoyed, indeed it cannot exist, without the habits of just subordination; it consists, not so much in removing all restraint from the orderly, as in imposing it on the violent."
This edition of the SGT GRIT had comments on the movie Jarhead. While I deeply respect others - particularly a Marine's feelings and comments - as a Marine Mother I was moved by the humanness, strength and commitment to orders.
I was not less proud of my Marine Son - I was more proud of every Marine who came before, serves now and will follow in protecting America and the world.
God Bless Us Everyone Single One
A soldier needs to trust that those people who wield official power will do what's right.
I thought that I would pass this one to everyone about what happened at the services for Cpl. Joshua Ware. I wasn't able to attend but several other Marine Mom's did, so I'm telling this second hand.
The MM were meet at the gate of the Comanche Meeting house in Apache, Ok. By a officer. I wasn't told if it was OBI or a State Trooper. Well they announced that they were Marine Mom's and allowed to enter the services. The service was moving and I know that the Marine Mom's were moved by it. Well at the end of the service the group was told that Josh's mom going to take him by his childhood home and not to leave the processional. They then said that the protestors were met by the police officers and told to not stop at the county line as they weren't welcomed there. So finally someone was able to not allow them to protest. YEAH !
I must say that for this Marine Momma's heart it was a jumping. I have attended two other services for our fallen hero's from Oklahoma this month, I knew that the protestors were there as I could see them but I must say a Big Thank you to all of the vets that have attended and protected these families. You will never know how it does my heart good. I am so proud of you and of all the men and women who are serving today.
Proud Marine Mom of Lcpl Josh 3/1-deployed
"We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peach and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self- sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
President Abraham Lincoln
I have to share something with all you fine people out there! During Memorial Day Weekend I had a few people over for a bon fire and some spirits. It was Sunday evening, 29th May 2005. Occasionally, it would start to rain, so we would all move into the garage for a few minutes until it passed. About 10:15 pm, we saw a car stop in front of our driveway...The house sits about 550 feet off the road. Anyhow, we saw a flash of light, heard a bang and one of the guys over started running towards the car which sped off. It turned out, some kids were just out bustin up mail boxes. Unfortunately for me, what they busted up was my AMERICAN FLAG!!!!! I don't think I have EVER BEEN THAT MAD!!!! Who cares about the frickin mail box, but HOW DARE ANYONE DISRESPECT THE AMERICAN FLAG!!! I was so p!ssed off, I wrote a letter to our local paper! Chastising the idiots who did this. Advising them that my son is a MARINE doing what ever he can to protect us while they are out safely driving our streets destroying personal property!!! Enough said about that. On Sunday afternoon, 20th November 2005, I saw a van pulling up my driveway. A lady got out, knocked on my door and asked me if I was Lori Mull? I was a bit standoffish wondering who the heck she was....She proceeded to tell me she is Sgt. Jamie Best who just returned home from Iraq. She served with the 4-159th Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Battalion National Guard. Stationed in Balad Iraq and presented me with a Flag flown In honor of my dedication and support of the United States Military! Along with the flag, was a certificate stating such signed for by her commanding officers. Apparently, her parents live in Stockbridge Michigan, saw my Thank You note and sent it to her! She was grateful to hear how passionate I was/am about the American Flag, what she stands for and all who defend her!!! So she wanted to do this for me! OH MY GOD!!! I was floored!!! I cried, hugged her several times thanking her for her services, so incredibly happy she made it home safe to her family and could not believe she was honoring me, when WE should all be honoring her and all the men and women who serve our country!!!!! I just wanted to let you all know, no matter where you are, who you are, our Men and Women, do hear about what is going on back and home! So you never know, STAND TALL AND PROUD FOR OUR COUNTRY. SUPPORT THEM NO MATTER WHAT! THEY NEED TO KNOW HOW MUCH THEY ARE TRULY LOVED AND RESPECTED!!!!
Very Proud Mother Of Marine LCpl Sean Cloyd
In your Nov 24th Newsletter a Marine by the name of Nolan made reference to our Women Marines in an abbreviated term that I always considered to be demeaning to our Sister Marines! In 1951 after my return from Korea I was assigned to Base Communications at Camp Lejeune. We built and serviced all of the telephone and teletype systems on the base. Also assigned to our unit were a group of Women Marines who worked in the Base Message Center and the Base Switchboard. They all preformed their jobs in the highest tradition of our Corps. It was here that I met my wife who because of her teletype skill learned at Pennsylvania Bell Telephone was a watch supervisor with several junior Marines working for her. I would suggest that any future letters that want to reference Women Marines that this term be edited out or do not publish the letter! These Women deserve the same respect we give to one another. They are Marines just like us!
MGYSGT Ralph Hoffmann ( 1950-1980)
"The essential characteristic of Western civilization that distinguishes it from the arrested and petrified civilizations of the East was and is its concern for freedom from the state. The history of the West, from the age of the Greek polis down to the present-day resistance to socialism, is essentially the history of the fight for liberty against the encroachments of the officeholders."
Ludwig Von Mises
Thought all us Veterans would love this prayer that was written be a Great Pal of mine, who is Rector of the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer in Las Vegas. He wrote this prayer, for this years' Masses on Veterans' Day Weekend. He read his prayer after the homily, and had the organist play, "God Bless America" while he read it. He got so emotional, it was hard to keep talking while the music was playing! Here is his prayer:
Lord God, as we gather in prayer we hold up to you our Veterans, on this special weekend of remembering. We ask you to send Your special blessings upon them. We thank them from the heart for the sacrifices that they have made for our Country. May they continue to serve us---by reminding us of the price of Freedom.
We pray also for our sisters and brothers who are now serving in our Armed Services. Watch over them and give them special Blessings. May they be strengthened by our prayers, support and gratitude.
We also remember those who have given their lives in defense of freedom for their loved ones and their Country. May their supreme sacrifice not be forgotten nor taken for granted. May our prayers be a true sign of our appreciation. Give them the reward for those who gave their lives for their sisters and brothers.
Teach all of us to appreciate the virtue of Patriotism--a true and abiding love of our country. May we pray and work for a land that exemplifies justice and equality for all people.
We ask this through Christ our Model and our Lord. Amen!
Following one of Veterans' Day Masses, a visitor said to him after Mass, "Father, I have been a member of a Parish in New York City, since I got out of the Military 40 years ago, and you are the 1st Priest who ever thanked us Veterans!" Obviously, he got more emotional.
I have gotten to know Rector Paul Bianchi, very well, as every time I go to Mass at the Shrine, he and I spend 20 minutes, having a smoke before Mass. As he well knows, I have donated a large percentage of my winnings in Vegas to the Shrine! And, since he is originally from Iowa, he loves it when I call him, "Fr. Hawkeye!"
He also loved it when I told him, he is the 1st one I have ever known who wrote a Prayer!
SEMPER FI !U.S.M.C. GO IRISH!
"The Middle East is a complicated place-well not really a place, it's more a state of mind. A disordered mind." -Ronald Reagan
Toughest Job in the Corps
Good night Chesty
wherever you are.
God Bless America!
Welcome Home, Job Well Done.
MARPAT digital Christmas Stockings
2006 Woman Marines Association Historical Calendar
Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran Magnet
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