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Sgt Grit American Courage Newsletter #88

"The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions -- the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment."
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Update from 2/24

Weekly Update 06 Jan 05

Well, the new year is upon us...and it is my most sincere hope that this letter finds all of you in HIGH spirits for the blessings that surely will abound in 2005!

The new year was welcomed by the Mad Ghosts in BIG fashion. We were part of a Brigade size operation, with our "newest, best buddies" from the 2 Brigade Combat Team and Colonel "Fightin' Mike" Formica, as we forayed into previously uncharted territory along the Euphrates River. This was the largest operation to date for the Mad Ghosts and was a "full-up" round consisting of helicopter-borne assault, mechanized assault and motorized assault. It involved virtually every element of the Battalion. And, our brothers in the ING were tasked, for the first time, to operate in a field environment for an extended period of time (a task they performed extremely well, I might add!) The mission was precise: establish a cordon of the area and locate Anti Iraqi Forces (AIF) and capture them, and to disrupt their seemingly never-ending supply of ammunition and explosives, with which they fight their cowardly war of IEDs and VBIEDs.

Now, with all the moving parts, there are about a gazillion things that could go wrong. NONE did! The Mad Ghosts and our Brigade partners were flawless in execution. They swept into an area, coming from 360', in the middle of the night, via helos, trucks, HMMWVs, tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles and at H Hour plus 20 minutes, a stretch of land approximately 16 kilometers long by 10 kilometers wide was cordoned and owned by elements of the Mad Ghosts and the 2 BCT. Many Iraqis woke that day to a situation they had never seen! The systematic search was begun, and approximately 48 hours later, almost 100 insurgents had been identified and incarcerated and an unbelievable amount of cached weapons and explosives had been located and confiscated. Two VBIEDs were located that were in the process of being equipped with their explosives and were destroyed.

This was all accomplished through a massive "team" effort, and I would like to recognize some key players:

1. The Marines of the Engineer Platoon from Virginia: they hunt weapons caches like a dog hunts squirrel. Their tenacity in search techniques has ensured hundreds of explosives that saw their life cycle completed through a safe and controlled detonation at the hands of the engineers, rather than at the trigger of a fanatical Muslim seeking a one way trip to Virgin-land. I will never be able to say enough about the performance of these Marines and the unbelievable amount of work they have accomplished for this Bn. And, more importantly, I will never be able to say thank you in any manner of sufficiency for the number of lives they have saved! But, you know what, if you could see the light in their faces when they find a cache...I think they get all the thanks they ever wanted.

2. The Marines of the Truck Platoon from Pennsylvania: now understand, these Marines are from Truck Co, 4th MarDiv, and as such are designed to be a "tactical" asset used primarily to maneuver fighting Marines to the combat zone. However, reality of a counter-insurgency requires that they also be used in a combat service support role: picking up mail, repair parts, etc. These Marines have been tireless in their support and have logged some of the longest hours known to man. And for this operation, they seamlessly transitioned into Warrior mode, and delivered hundreds of Marines to the fight, at night, with night vision goggles (NVGs) and did so without incident. They also are on the LtCol Smith List of Never-Ending Thank You's.

3. HET 9 (Human Exploitation Team) These Warriors come from all over the Marine Corps, active and reserve, and are the ones who do the field interviews of our persons of interest. Simply said: they are the best in the Marine Corps and all of Iraq. This group of Warriors has produced more intelligence, saved more lives (both in the Mayhem AO and outside) than any intelligence asset in the War. They are remarkable, sleepless, and define "dedication to duty." CWO2 Murphy, their OIC, was a casualty in October after being shot in the foot, and they have pressed on under the leadership of MSgt Ertz in a manner that is nothing short of inspiring. Please allow me one second to digress: Murph, you should swell with pride and tears right now, for YOUR Marines have been spectacular...and a testimony to your leadership and preparation. (Oh yeah, and don't think for a second you are not in for a rash of ---- about your letter home following your injury describing your "ambush dance"...skip, shoot, duck, shoot, hop, shoot, swim with the fishes, shoot, etc. etc. etc.)

4. The COC Marines: COC stands for Combat Operations Center. These are the Marines that run the command and control systems. The radios and computers that on the modern digital battlefield are indispensable. Each of them does the work of 3 people, run long shifts and ensure the situational awareness and report/process execution that is critical in this counter-insurgency. For an operation like this one, I had both my forward COC and my Main COC in operation, and they were brilliant in their execution. They are and will always be the "unsung heroes" of the Mad Ghost deployment. (And for me personally, Cpl Kostyn and LCpl Blackford were a source of humor, the importance of which just cannot be understood unless you have attempted to command in a high stress environment; but for those who have, and for those who will, you will cherish the uncanny humor of such Marines...they helped to sooth the savage beast that is GySgt Engram!!!)

5. The fighting Marines of Fox, Echo, Golf and Weapons: who take precision violence to the enemy, and a spirit for victory that knows no equal. H&S Co, who provides the security and support to all these operations, and conducts much of their own patrolling and "hunting" of the Muj, and who have taken our FOB and turned it into a fortress. The Marines of this last paragraph are the Bn proper, and no Commander has ever had the privilege of leading a better one. My duty is their mission accomplishment and welfare...and my duty has been my honor.

Now, with all of that said, let me finish by telling you the best part of the story of this Operation, which was code named: Operation River Walk, for it goes without saying, we cannot do anything without a "code name." It is just what we do, code names and acronyms. As successful as this Operation was, it like all others, shapes us for future operations. The hunt will go on and ELECTIONS WILL OCCUR. I have stopped watching the news from the US totally. I no longer can take the maniacal rages it places me in as I swear ungentleman-like profanities at the TV in my dust covered cubby-hole of an office, directed at "pundits" and "experts" who do not, in my very humble opinion, have a single clue and who report every single incident that occurs here as if they are color commentating on a football game. Well, I can barely fog a mirror intellectually, but I think I know a thing or two about this War thing, and the vast amount that I don't know, I have certified geniuses like Maj Dan Whisnant and CWO5 Roussell to teach me. And what I know...war is a slog. And a counter-insurgency fourth generation war is definitely a slog. The only weapon the enemy has IS the MEDIA, and the target is YOU! They are attempting to win this War by breaking your will. I pray that will not happen. Because...and this is the moral of the story, the best part of the story of Operation River Walk is what we discovered about the people. You see, our belief going into this operation was that this part of our Western zone (which we had not been able to foray into much due to other commitments) was the heart of a massive AIF insurgency, replete with popular support and headed by Wahabiists (yes, the very people who brought you the slaughter of 9/11). We found many of the Wahabiists and their caches. They are now headed to Abu Ghraib and their caches destroyed. But the, what we found among the people was MUCH support for the US and what we are doing here. We found a genuine desire to live free and to ELECT who they want, not who the Imams and terrorists want. See, what we found is what we always find: a majority of people being intimidated, terrorized and oppressed by a radical, fanatical and clinically INSANE few. We found people who want us to finish this fight, no matter how long it takes, and who were genuinely appreciative of our efforts. HUH, a little different than what you hear out of NY and Washington News Rooms. Gotta tell you, would love for my Marines to actually meet these "fighters who are resisting a foreign invasion of Iraq," because they might actually fight the way Soldiers do. NO, what we meet time and time and time again, is radical Muslim extremists whose sole goal is the defeat of America and the spreading of their brand of medieval thinking that abhors technology, enslaves women, cheapens human life and seeks the establishment of their brand of religion, or death. So I say, let all the national media talking heads rave on. Rave on about every single act of insurgent violence and trumpet it as some massive blow to the MNF effort. Rave on about how we are losing. Rave on, as if you really care about any of what you are spewing. Just, Rave On. The ground truth is known by those actually on the ground. And for those on the ground, we will win, we will bring freedom and democracy to a land that has NEVER known it, and we will suffer and sustain the hardship required to do it. We will do it and we will take the time required for such a massive effort in a world that wants a "drive through window" war. We will do it in the spirit and with the best example we have; the spirit of 1776, when freedom and democracy was also brought to a land that had NEVER known it, a land that would become known as THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. We will win because, although the violence is a huge part of what we do, ultimately this global war on terror will be won by ideas. And YOUR Mad Ghost, YOUR Marine is the best example of what the best idea in the history of mankind has to offer. Their never ending decency and compassion has lit, and will continue to fuel for the people of Iraq what freedom is truly all about: respect, dignity, hope, love and a personal quest to find meaning in YOUR OWN WAY! For this, 10 of my most prized possessions and reason for my existence gave their last full measure of devotion on the battlefields of Iraq, and for this, WE rave on!

May God Bless and Keep the families of 2/24...and may we all offer a special blessing on the families of our fallen heroes...and those of our wounded who struggle daily, particularly Regina Simon as she prays beside the bed of SSgt Chad Simon, and is a beacon of strength and grace for us all. God especially be with you Regina, and your wonderful husband Chad.

LtCol Mark A. Smith, Mayhem 6 CO,
Task Force 2/24 "Mayhem from the Heartland"
or as the terrorists call us "The Mad Ghosts"
Mahmudiyah, IZ
2nd Bn, 24th Marines,
H&S Co, Bn Cmdr

"No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic."
Richard Nixon

"Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve."
--Benjamin Franklin

To PJ (Marysville, WA) who's son earned his title on December 10, 2004: News letter #86

My Son, PFC Daniel L. Gruber, graduated on September 10, 2004, from MCRD and on November 23, 2004, from SOI .... I am the Proud Mom of an 0311 or foot infantryman .... my was stationed with the 1/5 at Camp Pendleton and will be deployed in February '05 to Iraq. I know one thing that God will be coving my Son's 6 and that my son will come home to us. Have faith in three things: 1. God 2. In you Son and 3. In his training and the Corps.

I Love My Grunt!
Amy Hoffmeier

Hey Sgt Grit!
I've been receiving your newsletter for about 6 1/2 months and I love it! My Marine, Cpl Kenny Maddox, has been in Iraq for 4 months now and is scheduled to come home in March and we'll be married in April. This deployment has changed both of us and has strengthened our love for each other and for our country. I was reading in your last newsletter and came across someone mentioning Chely Wright's "Bumper of my SUV" song. They played it one morning on a local Country Station and I sat in my car crying until it was over. I also have 3 stickers on my car and I am very proud to have them. I wanted to let everyone know that you can get that song. Chely has put it on a single's album but it can only be ordered from her website. A portion of the sales from the singles album goes to Stars for Stripes.

I wanted to say to all the men and women who are in harms way that we back home love and appreciate you for all you are doing. YOU are the heroes of America. Stay safe....kick a$$....and come home soon!

Proud fiancé of Cpl Kenny Maddox of the 4/14!

Dear Sgt Grit,

I'll refer first to JK--
My never ending thanks to XXXX USMC,
for A Message to the Media from Fallujah- "FIGHTIN WORDS"
I read it to myself twice, I read it out loud! I've called everyone I know who would like to hear it, and some who wouldn't-----and I read it to them!! I think it ought to be on TV, in a SONG, on the NEWS, on a MAGAZINE cover( first, find a good one)... or all of the above!

Dear XXXX,
Thank you For "Fightin Words",
You deserve hugs & kisses!
Proud Mother of a Marine Sgt
Also, to Mike LaB.
Cpl '64-'67

I am writing this in response to G.D. Gilley/Ssgt.Ret from the newsletter #87

I just needed to thank you so much for your very kind words about our Marines...This is our sons first deployment, so it is our first experience, and you were right on the money about how fast these young men mature as fighting Marines. I sent over a very immature 25 year old Marine, and as of the last phone call that I got on 29 Dec, I was not talking to the same boy/Marine that I sent over there...this was a man/Marine that I didn't even know existed. I feel very honored also that you have complimented myself and my husband with telling us that we have raised our son correctly...It is heart warming to hear this from you..God Bless You...we have tried very hard to keep away from the way other parent our age have raised their children, because we are young parents, but we are old school raised and felt that was the way we wanted ours raised...We would have never expected less from him, that when he chose to serve our country, that it would be as a Marine. His step-grandfather, who he adored, and looked up it as if he were a god, was a USMC drill, I guess it was in the cards...Thank You again for your kind words and support for our Honorable, Brave, Marines..

Beth Smith-mother to USMC LCpl Daniel Cysewski 2/24th Marines, Weapons Co. Mahmudyah, Iraq

A friend of mine was an "Ancient History" major in college, (Brandeis University). She lived in Israel for several years, and is fluent in ancient Aramaic, the language of the Q'Ran. According to her, the phrase translated as "seventy-two virgins," when placed colloquially, actually translates as "seven white raisins." During Mohamet's era, white raisins were a delicacy highly sought after.

Wouldn't it be a hoot if her translation is correct and all these terrorists are dying for seven white raisins?

Just Plain Bill

Sgt. Grit,
I've been receiving your news letter since I purchased some t-shirts to wear at PT at my recruiter's office. I've been in the DEP since august, and leave for the island on august 20, 2005. I have found that given a year, i have had a lot of time to think about my decision to join, and as i watch friends go off to college, i cant help but feel a small tinge of anxiety.

However, your newsletter's reports from abroad and the comments from former Marines, and family members of Marines have strengthened my resolve to what it was the day i took my oath.

Thanks, and Semper Fi.
Mike Holloway
DEP, Tampa FL

To the Parents of LCPL Jason Lueck,
My heart & prayers go out to you. Please give your son a huge embrace from another Proud Marine Mom from MN. My SGT son is also out of Camp Pendleton with 2 year long tours under his belt and one year left to serve. We were fortunate enough to finally have him home for the Holidays after not having that pleasure for 3 years. We also have a Naval Airman son who was able to come home again also so it was very special to have all together after the 3 long years. I recently had the pleasure of meeting 4 of his "brothers" that have been together since day one at MCRD. A couple had been injured while in Fallujah.

I now rest easier about my son being gone when I have seen & felt the bond that these brave young men have. We here at home with family members over in Iraq have to maintain that same bond. If it wasn't for the support I received back here from some I would have not made it. I know my sons & yours are doing exactly what they want & need to do ~~ that will get us through !

You, I and all of the other Marine Parents are the luckiest people alive to have had the pleasure of raising children that have the dedication & courage to serve our country. I pray that the rest of the US could actually stop and realize it while they enjoy their everyday "take for granted" freedoms. Thank you Jason Luecks Mom for raising such a fine man ~ Proud Marine Mom.

PS. Could you get some of that nice San Diego weather back home to MN with you ????

My son is a LCPL stationed in N.C. soon to be deployed to Iraq in Feb. He was flying home for Christmas and got caught in that mess Delta/Comair had in Atlanta. After a 2 day delay he was finally put on high priority standby, because of being in the military. His name was called Christmas morning but when he got up there the stewardess said she counted wrong so no room. There was an elderly lady in line, who found out my son was a Marine, she wanted my son to have her seat. Delta said no and he ended up going back to base. They would not refund the ticket for the amount for the flight from N.C. to Atlanta because "They got him that far". I would like to say thanks to this " Lady" and many like her who support our boys. "God Bless The USA"

Dad of LCPL Grant Langmaid

Every day i do what i want and go where i want. On the holidays i fly to see my family and friends, what a blessing.I fish and hunt all year as i please during the seasons. This year i will relocate back to Maine to be with parents that are getting older now.....All This Because Of The Men And Women In The Military. We take our freedom so lightly and the cost is so dear.Every day brave men die so we can do and go anywhere we please.....God Help Us Always Remember The Cost Every Day!! Thank You Very Much.

Mark Craig Newnan Ga.

I am a 17 year old set to leave for MCRD on June 27, 2005; 24 days after my High School graduation. Time and time again I get these looks of disgust and pity when I tell people what I plan to do. All I really want to say to them is: You know... at least I am willing to go. Better a willing Marine than one unwilling. My cousin is a PFC in the Marine Corps, and is set to head to Iraq in March. My boyfriend is in the Army, and is set to go BACK to Iraq sometime in 2005. He has already spent 15 months there; and is ready and willing to go back. To all the mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends: Semper Fi and these are wonderful people that are willing to defend our country. I soon hope to be one of them.

Semper Fi
Amelia Cousin of PFC Wagner

"Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."
--James Madison

Sgt. Grit,
In my 35+ years in my profession I have met a lot of reporters and a few good journalists. We need more competent journalists. Unfortunately, hack reporters outnumber them by about 10,000 to 1 (that may be too optimistic). Perhaps the simple solution to the problem with reporters is for the Commandant to require all reporters who wish to imbed with a Marine unit to pass a single test -- we call it The Crucible. Don't watch it; don't photograph it; don't talk to people about it -- Do it. The problem would likely resolve itself very quickly and, in the words of Ebenezer Scrooge recalled during this festive season, we will have decreased some of the surplus population. Just a thought offered by a proud Marine father.

Dennis Benson

"Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the cheapest of pleasures, costs nothing, and conveys much."
--Erastus Wiman

I just read the letter from Connie. My husband feels the same way although he did not give both legs, he was in the first Gulf War with 1/7, as well as his father who was in Viet Nam too. They feel the same they would be their if they could. There is not a day that goes by that we do not talk about it. We support you and you are in our prayers.

Cynthia Best

"Money with [Congress] is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it."
--David Crockett

I would like to thank Kayren Boydston for submitting the Special Report with Brit Hume link interviewing her son in law Karl Blanke. This was a very interesting story that the whole world needs to read! I have passed it on to others in my address book. I am a member of Blue Star Mothers here in my town of Spartanburg SC (I have a Marine son serving currently in Sri Lanka). At many of our meetings the mothers of Marines and soldiers that are serving in harm's way read their letters and they are always letters of hope and encouragement, outlining the good things that are happening , the accomplishments of our brave military that far outweigh the bad things that the newspapers and reporters tell us about. I have learned so much by listening to these thoughts of the men that are in the middle of this war, the ones who live it and who know truly what is going on. I am proud of Karl and all of our military. I wish him and your entire family good luck! Please tell him , Kayren, that I'll pray specifically for him!

Marilyn Miller, Proud Marine Mom

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
Abraham Lincoln

Yo grunts, break time over saddle up, pointman out.

To the Illinois Mother, You should be proud of you son. I would be also. When you point out his Medals, you are putting him on the spot and may be setting the stage for someone to ask what he did to get them. Some of this may be unpleasant and he does not want his Mother to know what he did. I know from experience that the men I was with in Nam do not relate the "bad times" to people outside our little group. This is a private thing and it is a very hard subject to discuss. I know of several guys that I was with in 67 and 68 that were awarded Medals of Heroism that will tell you they got them because somebody saw them do something and that there were men with them that deserved the same Medal. Be proud of him but remember that in a Combat situation, Medals are won everyday, and some are even awarded and to us it is just our job, ain't no thang.

Say a prayer for out little brothers and sisters in the big sandpits.

Semper Fi
Ron Shouse

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.
Jose Narosky

A Marine squad was marching north of Basra when they came upon an Iraqi soldier badly injured and unconscious. Nearby, on the opposite side of the road, was an American Marine in a similar but less serious state. The Marine was conscious and alert. As first aid was given to both men, the Marine was asked what had happened.

The Marine reported, "I was heavily armed and moving north along the highway and coming south was a heavily armed Iraqi soldier." "Seeing each other we both took cover."

"What happened then?" the Corpsman asked.

"I yelled to him that Saddam Hussein was a miserable low life slug, and he yelled back: (insert name of politician of your choice) are miserable slime balls'. "

"We were standing there shaking hands when a truck hit us."

Hello Marines
Just a note for Cpl. Mike LaB about his missing flag. A flag is flown on a pole via a rope called a Halyard not a Lanyard. A Lanyard is something you wear around your neck with a name tag or other ID.
Semper Fi L/Cpl William Cadwallader 1989477
1961-1966--(4 Bonus Months)

Date of entry: 3 January 2005, 1800L

Friends and Families of Small Craft Company

I write this letter today with great trepidation and a heavy heart as it is my duty to report that Small Craft Company has lost one of our best and brightest young Marines on 1 January 2005. Lance Corporal Brian P. Parrello, an infantryman with 4th Platoon, was mortally wounded from a gun shot wound to his chest as his platoon searched the western bank of the Euphrates River, following an ambush early that day. Brian was carrying the platoon radio on his back next to 1st Lt. Andrew Thomas, the 4th Platoon Commander, when an explosion ripped through the heavy vegetation lining the river. It appears that the insurgents had fallen back to an alternate fighting position from where they had earlier engaged our riverine patrol, and were poised to engage our ground patrol from covered positions from the irrigation ditches and rubbled urban area adjacent to the river. During first contact, Brian was struck by a bullet in his chest as the 4th Platoon machine guns began tearing into the enemy, stealing their initiative and repelling their attack. HM3 Rubio, the 4th platoon corpsman, dashed from his position and began rendering first aid to Brian's wounds. The remainder of the platoon assisted in moving him as our machine gun continued with mind-numbing suppression shattered the cinder block walls the insurgents hid behind. Brian was carried back to a covered and concealed position where the watercrafts were signaled for extract. He was loaded aboard and a medically evacuated back via boat to the firm base. He remained conscious during the extract and was alert for several minutes until he succumbed to his wounds, while flying on a Marine medical evacuation helicopter in route to a higher echelon of medical care.

Lance Corporal Brian Parrello
7 June 1985 – 1 January 2005

We will never forget!!

Wounded Marines:

Gunnery Sergeant Brian Vinciguerra, the 4th Platoon Sergeant, was also wounded during the fighting sustaining shrapnel to his forearm and wrist. He continued to perform his duties coordinating for the extract of all Marines from the banks of the river. GySgt Vinciguerra is currently awaiting surgery on his wrist on Tuesday, 4 January 2005.

Lance Corporal Christopher Fallen, a Machine Gunner with 4th Platoon, was wounded during the initial ambush on our watercraft while patrolling on the Euphrates. He continued to suppressing the enemy with his machine gun throughout the engagement and didn't report being shot until he returned to the firm base. He has been treated and returned to duty with 4th Platoon.

HM3 Juan Rubio, the Fleet Marine Force Corpsman with 4th Platoon, was wounded while helping the injured. He also received shrapnel to his elbow and wrist. Once again, he didn't report his wounds until he returned to the firm base. He has been treated and returned to duty with 4th Platoon.

Captain Jonathon Kuniholm, an Engineer Officer attached to the platoon for the mission, was wounded in close proximity to Lance Corporal Parrello. He sustained shrapnel wound to his forearm and is currently in Landstuhl, German awaiting surgery.

Lance Corporal Brian Parrello was a Marine's Marine: tough, intelligent, unselfish and fiercely loyal to his family and fellow Marine's within the company. Our thoughts and prayers reach out to the Parrello family during this most difficult time. May God Bless and keep the Parrello family and Marine's of Small Craft Company to help cope with loss of our fallen Brother. I take solace in knowing that Brian is now an angel and is in a much better place.

Semper Fidelis,

Major Daniel J. Wittnam
Commanding Officer
Small Craft Company

"We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."
--George Washington

Hi Sir,
For quite some time now I never knew what PMS stood for. And on a nice Thursday morning on Dec 5, 2002 at MCRD San Diego, I finally figured it out, with the help of my brother Lcpl Luis Figueroa:

So now if someone tries telling me I have PMS, I say, "You better believe it!"

Jessica Figueroa

Hello Sgt. Grit,
I just wanted to pass along the bad news about another one of our Brothers that gave his all over in Iraq. His name is Sgt. Thomas Houser. I really don't know him, but I know his father. He is also a Marine. He is a CPA and has done my families taxes for about the past 12 years. He has another son that is also a Marine here in the United States. Sgt. Thomas Houser is from our home town. Council Bluffs, Iowa. He is the first Marine from our town that has died during the war.

Semper Fi
Cpl. Smelser 88-92

Sgt. Grit,
Thank you for this newsletter. I read it several times when it is published. In a nation where the media is self-centered, biased, unfactual, and mostly anti-military, it is good to read the letters from my brother Marines and those who love us. They are a reminder that all is not lost in America.

To all my brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan, remember you are there for a reason and that you are in the right. Stay strong and never forget there are people here who love every one of you, pray for you, and support you. Take care of each other and come home safe.

Freedom is obtained by the Grace of God and kept by Marines with good sight alignment and sight picture.

Semper Fi,
Sgt. Mike Damigo

I just want to say I really like these newsletters. I'm not a Marine, but my brother is. He's currently in Iraq again for the second time. And receiving these letters and checking out the site just brings a little closure. So keep up the good work. To all the Marines over seas...Come home soon and safe!

R.I.P. Lcpl George J Payton KIA 11/14-You'll never be forgotten!!!!!
3/5 Co K

Proud Marine Sister,

My husband is currently deployed in Iraq. They have started this program for deployed service members to send a video story and book home to their kids. Let me tell you this is the best thing that can happen when a family member is deployed.

We have three children and our youngest one is 7 months old. When my husband left she was only 1 month. His video story and book arrived at home to the kids on December 24, 2004. That was the best Christmas present that they could of received.

I want to say thanks to the men and women who came up with the idea

Marine wife

The following is a portion of a letter written by a U. S. Marine to his four-year-old daughter.

"How is daddy's big girl? Daddy loves you more than anything and I miss you very very much. You know, Denise, you are very lucky to live in the United States of America. The United States of America is the greatest country in the world. It is a good country because you are free and healthy and have everything you need...Little girls and boys over here are not as lucky as you because they don't live in the United States. Here they are hungry, many don't have mommies and daddies to take care of them and see that they are safe. They don't have little dollies to play with. As you know daddy is a United States Marine, and Marines protect the United States for you and mommy...Have mommy show you the flag of the United States and remember that it is the flag that daddy is fighting for...Daddy hasn't too much longer over here, and I'll be home again and we'll do anything you want to do. Daddy loves you very very much."

This sounds like a letter that could have been written by a Marine in Iraq or Afghanistan, but it was written by my husband while serving in Vietnam. My prayers and heartfelt thanks are with all the Marines who are away from their families and who are doing what they do best.

Joanne Cargill

Dear Sgt Grit,
After reading last weeks newsletter, and the "Fightin Words" poem, I immediately, without thinking , (sigh) read it to several people, wrote an e-mail to you about how great I thought it was & I that agreed with it. I still feel that way. BUT I must admit, I didn't look at it from the perceptive of someone who went to an Ivy League School. That went right over my head! I don't know when I'm going to learn to stop & wait, for my feelings to settle down, let my brain work to look at the other side before I blast off with my opinion. I just watched "Heartbreak Ridge" recently, I learned something about that movie, & how Marines feel about it from comments in this weeks newsletter. Thank you. Grit, there's hope for me yet!
Barbara J Scott
PROUD Mother of a Marine Sgt.

I just want to say thanks to my "brothers" and "sisters" who are overseas right now, fighting for all of us. And also to the ones here stateside because we're all doing something in fighting this war. I have 2 girls under age 3, and it's hard when I have to be away from them for a little bit. I can only imagine what the ones far away with kids at home feel like. My thanks and prayers are with you all. God bless yall and come home safe and soon!

LCpl Susan R. Rosas

In response to Sgt B.,
As "fighten words put it a couple weeks ago. They're FAT UGLY virgins and you'd think that they should be gettin low on virgins with as many of em that are makin the date.

Oh and IMO Clint's cadence calling in Heartbreak Ridge was enough to withdraw support.

In response to the Recon Marine Mom,
Maam,being the product of a marine family(my brother is a nam vet 69-75, I served 79-89 and my son is serving 01-present),I think I can address your question. The short answer is yes. Your son has just been through some of the hardest days of his life. He's serving with an elite unit within the elite of the American military and he was awarded a commendation medal w/combat V device. That tells me that his actions were of a note worthy nature and he may not be ready to talk about it for a long time (kinda like nuns talkin bout sex). So just be patient and give him lots of hugs.

In response to the Israeli cartoonist,
If memory serves me, didn't one of our first ladies say something similar about marines. I think FDR's old lady went over to one of the islands during wwII and visited a bunch of jarheads. Said somethin bout them being obnoxious, rude and thanking God that they were on our side. Maybe some of the old salts here can get my heels on line in regards to this.

Semper Fi my brothers and sisters
2nd Recon, 2/12 and 5/11

Eleanor Roosevelt Quote White Tile
Eleanor Roosevelt Quote T-Shirt

Dear Sgt. Grits,
First to the mother who is wondering about is it normal for her son not to talk about Iraq. From what I have been told YES! I know that you are Very Proud of your son, I am too. But I have been talking to former Marines ( any that will listen to me) trying to find out what to expect from our son's return, and the one thing that I seem to be hearing is let him talk. He will tell you the thing that he Feels mom and dad can handle and nothing more. Don't ask for more either. We have no idea what he has seen or done. Plus you honestly won't know everything that is involved with the metal that he received.

I want to quote something that my son said to one of his friends here " I have done things here that No GOD Will Ever Forgive Me For!" So you can see how my son's mind is working and maybe it will help you.

So, Mom and Dad, Give your son a hug from this Proud Marine Mom, and just give him some space. There will be a time to talk and not before that. Don't hide his accomplishments but just don't show them off either. If and when he is ready he will tell you.

I'm giving you the same advice that I have been told and how I hope and pray that we handle everything when our son is home.


As to : Saving Private Ryan", "Band of Brothers", and "Windtalkers" being on the right track; a short comment.

No one would risk a squad to go find some guy that's got orders to ship back home. The concept in Pvt Ryan is pure Hollywood.

Windtalkers is 100% BS. There's a few Marine Code Talkers down New Mexico way, and we had a couple in Korea 1n 1950. The idea some Lt. is going to kill a Code Talker to protect the code is off the wall. A poor movie and a stupid plot.

Band of Brothers seems legit. A 101st Airborne executes a bunch of German POWs. Sounds legit history to me.

and for Marine Mom in Illinois who asked "Is This Common?" O yeah. Talking combat facts to civilians will take a long number of years and will still be pretty short conversations. If u can eavesdrop in on a conversation he has with one of his Marine buddies who served with him you'll hear the real story. Discussing it with civilians is like trying to explain how sex produces babies to a 5 yr old; u just don't; they can't possibly understand the subject matter.

Ray Walker
USMC '48/53

Dear Sgt.Grit;
27 years ago I tried everyway that and my recruiter Gunny Rn Uttley in Binghamton,NY could come up with to get me into the Corps. But due to life saving surgeries between the age of 1 month and 2 years of age I was rejected. Years later 2 of my sons were rejected for medical reasons in spite of their best efforts to prove their abilities. None the less I and my children will leave this world forever grateful to those who did make the grade to carry the title "Marine"!
Thank You to all the men and women who have been able to earn and defend the Privilege to be called"MARINE"
Curt Dawson

I just read an article on the net, source Reuters.
U.S. Marine in Mysterious Case Declared Deserter

This is about that jack %ss that SOMEHOW became a Marine, at least he was given the title. I am outraged that this THING was ever in a position that ALLOWED him to place himself in the same category as Chesty, Daley, Oh Sh!t, so many others , as well as MY SON! I am totally aghast that this sleeze-ball, rag-head, moth&&-***** wasn't confined to "lower than whale S*^T" when the Corps got their hands on him the first time! Before anyone starts sending nasty-grams about my description of the THING in question, just don't go there.

The article went on to say that the Corps had contacted his family in Utah when he failed to show up on Tue. and the family was not able to provide any information. Well DUH!! The SOB was already in Lebanon for heavens sake! And why was he given a pass for going home AFTER he had been charged with desertion?

He even stated to the press upon his return to the Military after his so called abduction "Once a Marine always a Marine" Semper Fi" Makes me want to puke!

Martha Philipps
PMMO Sgt. J. Philipps

I found a dog tage from WWII and want to make sure it gets back to the Marine or his family. It read Billow W.J. 483350 P Type O T.12/42 USMCR. I found it in Seeley CA.

Sgt. Grit,
The most wonderful thing happened last week. I received your catalogue. I don't know who signed me up, but who ever did, I am in their debt.

I served in the Corps from 1954 -1957. For a very short while I was stationed at Camp Lejuene in Amtracks. After that I was transferred to the Naval Mine Depot at Yorktown,Va.

Your catalogue is like a visit from all of my buddies from the past. Not only is your book (the world's best wish book) but it serves as a doorway to the past and to many fond memories from Parris Island right up through Yorktown. I can truly say that I never had one moment of regret. One of the greatest moments of my life was that my parents drove from Pa. to S.C. for my graduation.

I have often wondered what it would have been like to retire from the Corp. Instead I ended up as a psychologist in a state mental institution which in some instances was a battleground in and by itself. This I did for 25 years.

I am proud to say that my brother was also a Marine, but at a later time than me. Although we live many miles apart we still talk about the Corp via email.

Keep up the good work.
Semper Fi,
Ed Force

"I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. ... Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope."
--Ronald Reagan

Sometimes it is hard to explain how one feels when the come back from a combat situation.

I returned from Viet Nam with 9 ribbons, (Purple Heart included). Some I felt I had not deserved. My mother had all kinds of questions about them. I didn't want to talk about any of it. I tried to forget everything that I had seen and done. It took many years and the help of the VA before I could open up. Be patient and supportive.

Suggest that he look up fellow Marines that have been there. Sometimes talking with them can help. Also suggest the VA County office. They can get him an appointment with the clinic or hospital in your area. I had waited 30 years and ruined two marriages before seeking help for PTSD. Don't try to force the situation as it could make him become farther removed from you. Everyone has different feelings about what they have gone thru and express it in different ways. Respect his privacy for now and in time he will open up.

This is the first time I have sent in a response, but have been a faithful reader for over a year. I felt this Marine Mom could use the support from someone that has been in her sons shoes.

Al Davis USMC
Viet Nam 65-66

Our son Brian graduated from MCRD San Diego this past week. All the men in my family have served in our wars going back to World War I as soldiers or sailors. One uncle was on two different ships that were sunk in WWII and another wounded in Belgium. My grandfather was in the trenches in France and my father served as a combat engineer during the Korean era. When my time came up, he "suggested" the Air Force and I ended up as an airman during the last stages of Vietnam, though never sent there.

When our son came of military age, he decided to go with the Marines after a year in college. I have worked Marines when I was in the AF as a military cop and later, as a police officer, worked with many fine men who were former Marines.

One in particular, Larry Anderson, I supervised when I was a police sergeant and he an officer. I had to retire due to on the job injuries, but we kept in touch now and again. Larry has been a cop and a Marine reservist for over 30 years. He is currently a CWO4 with a Marine reserve unit and is on active duty, having returned from Iraq in September. He made it a point to come by the house and talk with Brian about the Corps before he left for boot camp. He has known Brian since he was born.

He sat Brian down, told him the ins and outs of the Corps and its traditions, told him that if he set his mind to it, he could accomplish just about anything.

Well, Brian did. He had a rough first few weeks with an upper respiratory infection, but pushed on. He did well at the range, completed each PFT, each time with a better score and finally, as graduation day approached, my friend wanted to know when it was. We informed him of the date and time and headed down to San Diego.

On Family Day, we saw our son for the first time in 3 months. What the Marines did to an already good boy was to make him better and make him a man. He has accomplished more in 3 months than I did in four years in the AF. After the moto run and Eagle, Globe and Anchor ceremony, we got to be with our Marine for 5 hours. Bigger, stronger and more confident than I had ever seen him. He pushed through and finished.

After we left, awaiting graduation the next day, the first of several storms hit Southern California. Snow, rain, closed roads in the mountains, flooded streams, roads and hill sides sliding, a typical California winter storm.

On graduation day, it was disappointing to have the ceremony in the theater, but it had to be. High winds and driving rain were the order of the day. Just before the ceremony started, my cell phone rang. It was Larry. He was at MCRD and wanted to know where I was. We met just as the ceremony started. He was decked out in his "Alphas" and we had to watch and listen from the rear, due to an overflow crowd. Mom and grandma got the good seats, as they should.

After the ceremony, the new Marines grabbed their gear and headed toward parked cars and 10 days leave. We were going to take a quick trip to Disneyland and some of his friends had come down for the graduation, so he was going to get them tickets at the ticket outlet near the exchange. He did not know that Larry was waiting for him in the breezeway. As he came around the corner, he saw an officer first, snapped a salute and said "good morning sir" and then realized it was Larry. Larry returned the salute, gave him a hug and shook his hand. They talked for a few minutes and then Larry had to leave. He was still on duty and needed to get back to his duty station, Edwards AFB, a FOUR HOUR drive from MCRD.

Larry had left at 0530 Hrs to make the graduation. He braved high winds, rain and snow bound roads to make it. There is a bond among police officers and service veterans, but there is a special bond that I have witnessed between Marines of any generation that is special. While I have heard other services say "we take care of our own" the Marines mean it.

We are extraordinarily proud of our new Marine, grateful to a good friend, and I personally am envious of what my son is now experiencing and will experience through his enlistment. Godspeed to all of our servicemen and women, and Godspeed especially to the United States Marine Corps. You are a breed apart. Mark Tarte
USAF 73-77

R & R

Recently, I completed my R & R rotation back to the United States. Every soldier hears grand stories of the soldier who returns to a grateful nation and a loving American people of the soldier returning home. It is now commonplace to see service members in their desert combat uniforms through out major metropolitan airports. As I walked through the airport I was greeted by compassionate Americans who just wanted to shake my hand or offer me a quick prayer, almost as if conditioned, saying "thank you".

Nothing touched me more than a gentleman on my return trip. I noticed this gentleman in the gate area waiting to board. He stood about five feet, ten inches with silver hair and a slender build. He had on a crisp white dress shirt with razor creases, pleated hounds tooth trousers, cuffed with a slight kick in the bottom with creases to match his shirt. His belt was brown with a polished brass buckle which was in perfect alignment with his shirt and trousers. On his feet he wore a pair of florsheim wingtips, cordovan, with a thick leather sole exactly like the shoes my grandfather used to wear. The ones you can not find anymore, with a brilliant high-buff shine.

What struck me most about this gentleman was his aged look. He was well into his eighties at best estimate. Yet, he walked erect with his chest out, arms swinging six inches to the front and six inches to the rear with a smooth 30 inch step, as he strutted through the airport.

I had just finished my quick goodbye with my special someone before boarding. At this time I had lost sight of him. As I took my seat in 16 D, along the isle, I looked up to see him approaching. He placed his left hand on my left shoulder. As he did this, I observed an aged green tattoo on his forearm in the shape of an eagle globe and anchor. He was a former marine. As he passed, he squeezed my shoulder and gave it a pat and mustered a smile and continued to his seat. No words were exchanged, just a glance and a brief touch of acknowledgement. His actions spoke volumes. His small gesture of thanks made me hold my head a little higher and sit a little straighter in my seat. In that brief moment one man, and a slight unnoticed gesture, to most, made all my sacrifices over the past twelve months insignificant. He was an American by birth, a marine by choice, and a patriot forever.

Don't ever forget you are a patriot. There will always be individuals who do not understand our commitment or why we do it, yet there will always be those who remember. Those who know you are a true patriot.

Sgt J. Nannery

To Don "Mac" McCourtney (email in the 6 Jan 05 Sgt Grit Newsletter) --

You sound like exactly the man who could make good use of the Marine For Life program, which links recently honorably discharged Marines up with Marine-friendly employers in their hometowns. It's relatively simple and it's free to participate -- you can post help wanted listings on the job board. For more info, visit

"Marines take care of their own"

Semper Fi --
Jenny Potter

Marine sniper credited with longest confirmed kill in Iraq

Dear Sgt. Grit,
I'm a very proud Marine Mom whose son is currently serving in the sandbox. I am also old enough to remember how our military was treated during the Viet Nam war. As I traveled over 1,000 miles of highway during the holidays, I was so pleased and overwhelmed by the numbers of yellow ribbons I saw on the backs and sides of vehicles from Georgia to Ohio and back again. Each one declared their support of or prayers on behalf of my son and all of the men and women who serve our country. It makes me realize that my Marine can return to his country knowing that he was being supported by people all over this country. If only the news media could take a clue and show the same support to our men and women who are fighting so they can continue to write and broadcast their dribble. God Bless the USA. God Bless our Marines. And God protect my son and send him back to me.

Proud Mom of LCpl C.
Suwanee, GA

This Letter of Apology was written by Lieutenant General Chuck Pitman, US Marine Corps, Retired: "For good and ill, the Iraqi prisoner abuse mess will remain an issue On the one hand, right thinking Americans will harbor the stupidity of the actions while on the other hand, political glee will take control and fashion this minor event into some modern day massacre. I humbly offer my opinion here: I am sorry that the last seven times we Americans took up arms and sacrificed the blood of our youth, it was in the defense of Muslims (Bosnia, Kosovo, Gulf War 1, Kuwait, etc.). I am sorry that no such call for an apology upon the extremists came after 9/11. I am sorry that all of the murderers on 9/11 were Islamic Arabs. I am sorry that most Arabs and Muslims have to live in squalor under savage dictatorships. I am sorry that their leaders squander their wealth. I am sorry that their governments breed hate for the US in their religious schools, mosques, and government-controlled media. I am sorry that Yasir Arafat was kicked out of every Arab country and high-jacked the Palestinian "cause." I am sorry that no other Arab country will take in or offer more than a token amount of financial help to those same Palestinians. I am sorry that the USA has to step in and be the biggest financial supporter of poverty stricken Arabs while the insanely wealthy Arabs blame the USA for all their problems. I am sorry that our own left wing, our media, and our own brainwashed masses do not understand any of this (from the misleading vocal elements of our society like radical professors, CNN and the NY TIMES). I am sorry the United Nations scammed the poor people of Iraq out of the "food for oil" money so they could get rich while the common folk suffered. I am sorry that some Arab governments pay the families of homicide bombers upon their death. I am sorry that those sam! e bomber s are brainwashed thinking they will receive 72 virgins in "paradise." I am sorry that the homicide bombers think pregnant women, babies, children, the elderly and other noncombatant civilians are legitimate targets I am sorry that our troops die to free more Arabs from the gang r*pe rooms and the filling of mass graves of dissidents of their own making. I am sorry that Muslim extremists have killed more Arabs than any other group. I am sorry that foreign trained terrorists are trying to seize control of Iraq and return it to a terrorist state. I am sorry we don't drop a few dozen Daisy cutters on Fallujah. I am sorry every time terrorists hide they find a convenient "Holy Site" I am sorry they didn't apologize for driving a jet into the World Trade Center that collapsed and severely damaged Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church - one of our Holy Sites. I am sorry they didn't apologize for flight 93 and 175, the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the murders and beheadings of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, etc....etc! I am sorry Michael Moore is American; he could feed a medium sized village in Africa. America will get past this latest absurdity. We will punish those responsible because that is what we do. We hang out our dirty laundry for the entire world to see. We move on. That's one of the reasons we are hated so much. We don't hide this stuff like all those Arab countries that are now demanding an apology. Deep down inside, when most Americans saw thi