Marine and Soldier "Why you NEVER call a Marine, Soldier."
Thought you might get a laugh out of this. Maybe you can find somewhere in your news letter to post it. THANKS ! for everything and Welcome Home !
Semper Fi
Ed Hook
Sgt. USMC 73/80

A few months ago while standing in line at a Subway in a small Tennessee town, my grandfather ended up in conversation with a man who was also a former Marine. None of this is unusual since my grandfather ends up in conversations with strangers on an almost daily basis but what made this incident unique was that while paying for his own meal, the stranger went ahead and paid for dinner for my grandfather, my grandmother, and myself and then thanked my grandfather for his service. I thought this was a lovely, thoughtful gesture of appreciation but my grandfather felt self-conscious about the man's kindness, as if his sacrifices and bravery were not worth a free veggie sub sandwich.

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My grandfather's reaction touched my heart because, for all his Marine bravado, he doesn't seem to think his contributions in Korea were remarkable. I can grasp how, to him as a Marine, he thinks he was simply behaving as Marines are expected to behave but what he doesn't seem to comprehend is that, to the rest of the world, his behavior and that of his fellow Marines and friends in his stories, is remarkable indeed. The conditions they endured were almost incomprehensibly miserable yet they showed a spirit and bravery in combat that will remain legend as long as the USMC exists. Added onto the frostbite and battle was the crushing isolation from family members back home. However, these men not only endured in a wretched situation, they made themselves and all of us as Americans proud.

If you are reading this and you're lucky enough to know a Korean War vet or see one in a store, do not hesitate to thank him for his brave service to our country, even if it makes him self- conscious. He needs to know that his actions were considerably beyond the call of duty, even for Marines. And if you are a Korean War veteran reading this, please accept my heartfelt gratitude. Though my grandfather is uncharacteristically humble about his service and downplays the danger and his courage in his stories, hopefully you as a reader will recognize what I already know, that my grandfather, Pat Burris, is a hero.

Amanda Price
January 4th, 2007

I am the proud mom of a Marine serving his second tour in Iraq. My son joined the Marines in 2004 and is proud to be a part of the Marines. I am shocked at the number of people who want to bring our troops home. If it weren't for our brave young men and women, who knows what could have happened after 9/11. Although I don't like that the war is going on, and I certainly don't like it that my son is over there, I support what they are doing 150%. It isn't easy for family and friends who have loved ones over there, nor is it easy that some of them have had their loved ones over there 2 Christmas' in a row (like my son).

I do, however, want to thank all the people who are supportive of our troops and their families. About a month back, I went into a store to purchase a couple packs of cigarettes, and had on my Marine mom t-shirt, the clerk gave them to me and said "thank you for your son and thank him for me". I cried. While driving down the road with my signs in my back windows asking for prayers for my son serving in Iraq, and my Marine Mom license plates, Semper fi and Marines bumper stickers, I get many honks and waves. It makes me swell with pride. I wear my t- shirt on most weekends, and many times there are people who walk up to me and say "your son in the Marines? Tell him thank you; and thank you for your son".

We were at the hospital with my oldest daughter on Christmas Eve, my husband was out in the waiting room. He struck up a conversation with a couple and their son who was about my sons age. Their son was sicker than a dog, somehow they got on the subject of the war. My husband mentioned that our son was in Iraq for his second tour. The young man looked at my husband and said "tell your son he's my hero and thank him for me."

So thank you to all the people who do care, and who do support our troops, they are an awesome bunch of young men and women!

Debbie Hope
Proud Mom of a United States Marine

Sgt. Grit,
I sit here having just read your news letter, my drifts back over this past year. It has been a long year that has gone by very quickly. Just like they used to tells us in boot camp "The days are long, But the weeks go by fast. My son who is with 3/5 deployed for his second tour in Jan. of this past year to Iraq. (he was in the push for Fallujah in Nov 04) It was a very trying time for my wife and I( she has not been well this year). our son volunteered to go to a line co. (wpns) to be their RO. I did not tell my wife that this was a more active unit than the last one was in. It would have made her more nervous. Thankfully he has come home safe. This Christmas he was able to be home for the fist time in 3 years. we were also able to bring his older brother who lives in Georgia home. it was great to see our family together for the first item in along time. MY son has three siblings an older brother, a younger brother and a kid sister. I know that all three of them are so proud of him. The two younger ones look up to him. His mother and I are also so very proud of him. we hold in our hearts all of the pride and love for all of the men and women who are serving (voluntarily) this great nation of ours.

To all of the family members out there we pray that you all had a good Christmas and that you will have a safe new year. To all who are serving MARINES, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Coast Guard, National Guard, Reservist, GODS SPEED that you all come home soon and safe.

Father of C. REYNANTE

Hi, Sgt. Grit,
Hope and pray everyone has had a blessed Christmas. Ours was wonderfully bittersweet.
Our Marine, Daniel, a Cpl. from Camp Lejeune, was home for Christmas for the first time since '02. He was at PI in '03, and in Iraq for the last two Christmases. Man, I love that Marine. He's near the end of his 15 days leave. I don't want to let him go. I'd hide him in the WV hills, but he's so well trained, he'd find his way out ! Kidding. He will return to Iraq for his 3rd. deployment in March.
I know I sound like I'm bragging...and I am. Daniel is one of the greatest people I know. He's my hero. He's not perfect, doesn't glow in the dark or wear a halo. Neither do I. He has seen enough death to last him a lifetime. Let me tell you about my Marine. My daughter had twin girls July 25th., 2 mo. premature. The girls were a decent weight, but had health problems, rare condition called hydrops. Macy died Aug. 1st.; Carly followed her to Heaven on Aug. 16th. With all he's seen and been through, Daniel came home both times and was the only pallbearer for his nieces. He doesn't want to talk about it now. I know he doesn't want it in his mind when he deploys again to Iraq. I respect that. I love him even more for doing that for his sister during such a heartbreaking time. What a wonderful young man and how blessed I am to be his mother. We are all just crazy about him. He's one of the funniest people I've ever known. He cares deeply for his men; he's a platoon leader. God bless all Marines who've ever served, and especially ours. If only these stupid whiners could understand how grateful we should all be that there are Marines like Daniel and his men and those all over the world, standing in the gap for us to defend, protect and serve. Please keep us in your prayers as we do you all. With the Homegoing of Macy and Carly, it would be too much for us if something happened to our Marine. God give us all the strength we need day to day as we support these wonderful Marines. God bless you, Debbi Bell, proud and grateful mom of Daniel.


"So much attention is paid to the aggressive sins, such as violence and cruelty and greed with all their tragic effects, that too little attention is paid to the passive sins, such as apathy and laziness, which in the long run can have a more devastating and destructive effect upon our society than the others."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Dear Sgt. Grit: I just read my e-mail and was so glad to see that those of us who really need to "let it out" to the only ones that really understand us was back. While MY Marine was serving in Afghanistan and Iraq I was able to on your website and ask questions and get a lot of encouragement from other Marines and their families. That seems like a million years ago. A lot has changed since then. My LCpl Marine came home on leave last December and he and I went to New Orleans so he could ask his girlfriend to marry him before he left in March of 2006 to go back to Iraq. After surviving both deployments as machine gunner, on New Years Day 2006 while waiting for a cab he was critically injured when a 1200 lb. pole that was badly damaged at the bottom fell and crushed his entire body. He fell back on a piece of concrete that totally took out his right shoulder and he bled out at the scene. I got a call New Years day at 6am telling me he was brain dead and to get there as soon as possible to turn off life support. He suffered strokes on both sides, broke his jaw in 7 places and suffered traumatic brain injury. I was told he could go south any minute. That will be a year ago this next Mon. Hard headed, stubborn GRUNT that he is he fought back and is at home walking without a cane and going to therapy every day to gain back some use of his right arm. I just ordered a shirt from you that says it all. Death stares everyone in the face Marines stare back. I've gotten him a lot of things from you but this will be a special birthday present since he was in a coma last Jan 8. David is an inspiration to all of us every day and if anyone at anytime needs some encouragement his e-mail is (e-mail address removed) Thanks for being there and for the great products.
Proud MarinemomGrit

"To restore... harmony,... to render us again one people acting as one nation should be the object of every man really a patriot."
-Thomas Jefferson


I'm not sure how to write this or who to address in writing. I am in quite a panic, quandary, pleased, mixed up (obviously) state. I have two sons who are sixteen and seventeen. Both of my sons are contemplating being in the Marine Corps. after high school. How does a mother deal with the fear she sees in her son going into battle. I have always prayed for the Lord to show them and lead them in His plans. I do not want to thwart these plans but why would He pick both of my sons? How do I let go and allow my children to choose their path with me standing proudly by instead of a scared fool?

If there is anyone who can give me counsel, I would appreciate it.

Linda L.

Sgt Grit, I have a comment; I have three young Children, My boy "Trey" (3rd) is all about the military, once crawled into my chuck shirt and said "see I can be a Marine too"- is 10 years old in a couple months and has grown up under the MC flag. His room is camouflaged, scarlet, and gold. Over the last 5 years or so we have detected indications that he has a slight case of Bi- Polarism or some shxt. WTF! We just called that "High and Right". His case is not bad so I don't think it will alter his path. My Middle daughter is a knock out honey, sharp as a tack, focused, and will steal a Young Marines Heart. I see that little star in her eye when she sees a young Marine in uniform. She is 7 today. My little girl - oh shxt! She will be the first WM SgtMaj of the MC in due time. By God it is her way or she will change it. I feel for the DIs who try to reshape her brain housing group. I am a 26 year harden almost retired Marine and I just can't do it. She is not yet 4. I ask the Lord for the help to raise her to the age for college or the Corps. She will end up there and when she does- I only hope the DIs can hang. She will make it her business to break them.

Some say the Corps is changing, getting softer, becoming less discipline. I say take a visit to a grunt unit- make the call. By God- they better stay hardened and on top if they plan to break my kids.

GySgt of Marines; Graham 1980-2007

Just like to say that my daughter is on boot camp right now and I could not be prouder of her. I tried to tell her about boot and the pride that is developed but we all know its hard to describe. In her first letter home she said that now she can really see how proud we are once we earn a title that cannot be bought or given ii is worked for by paying for it in sweat and dedication to ones country. God Bless the Marine Corps and all Marines present, future and past.

Sgt of Marines
Alfonso Garcia

Photos of our "Gunny"

Gunny Gunny

Dear Sgt. Grit,
I'm a girlfriend of a wonderful Marine & have another friend who's also one. I'm very proud of both! A few night's before Christmas, I was out to dinner w/ my folks & my daughter at the local Applebee's sitting in our favorite place - the bar. Dad's a retired cop & likes to be able to "see & observe" his surroundings. Well as I was doing the word search with my daughter I noticed a uniform come in the door. Dress blues! he & his lady were seated almost immediately! Well, I asked out bar- tender to find out who the Marine's sever was...she did....I spoke to the server & gave him my business card ( I work for a gunsmith) & wrote a simple note on the back "Thank you for your service & Semper Fi!" I also gave the waiter a $5 & told him that I wanted to buy the Marine a drink, whatever he was drinking (water!) Well a couple minutes later the Marine came over to the bar - I was sitting on the end where drinks are picked up - & told me that he couldn't accept the $ but that he did appreciate the thanks for his service. I simply told him that I have 2 men in my life who're Marines & that I miss them both terribly. I tired to insist that he let me buy him a drink but "no, I can't accept it. It's a morals thing." I told him I understood. Then he hugged me! I told him Merry Christmas & God Bless & as he walked away his eyes were "sweating" a bit & so were mine, much like they are now. My parents looked at me & saw my eyes & didn't say anything & my girl had of course heard the whole convo. She just said in my ear "It's a Marine thing, right?" I told her yes, love, it is! She knows what it means to me & how I feel. I always notice the decals on vehicles when driving & sometimes leave "thank you" notes tucked in door handles, so they know SOMEONE does care! Hope you'll share this with others.
Semper Fi & God Bless ALL Marines!
Chris in KS - a Marine girlfriend & best friend

This war was a revolution against the moral basis of civilization. It was conceived by the Nazis in conscious contempt for the life, dignity and freedom of individual man and deliberately prosecuted by means of slavery, starvation and the mass destruction of noncombatants' lives. It was a revolution against the human soul.
Time, May 14, 1945

Dear Sgt. Grit
My dad was an Air Force pilot who advised all four of his daughters "If you girls don't marry pilots, marry Marines"...He had such a respect and admiration for Marines and always had good things to say about the ones he served with during the Korean Conflict and Viet Nam...retiring at the rank of Major in 1976 and after only 7 years of retirement, dad went on to glory 2 Oct 1983 (due to Agent Orange exposure caused cancer) at the age of 51... although he never got to meet my Marine husband or watch our first son graduate from USMC RD San Diego on 15 September 2006 I am certain he would have loved to know that his grandson has also graduated from SOI Camp Pendleton 21 December 2006 and is currently assigned to the 1 Division 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton. We thank all Marines past, present and future for their choice to serve our country. We pray daily for our son and all service men and women and ask God to protect and bless them...We pray for DI's and recruiters and especially the ones that molded and shaped our son into the Marine that he is and place him in the care of the Lord to mold and shape him into the Marine he should be...Thanks again, Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen for your service and dedication to God and Country and Military Service...Stand your post with honor and integrity, serve with humility and know that God will deliver and protect you...

Semper Fi
Wife of LCpl Johnnie L. Hutson, Sr. 1985-1993 Mom of PFC Johnnie L. Hutson, II Currently serving Daughter of USAF Major Edgar J. Winters Ret. 1953-1976 (Deceased)

Dear Sgt Grit,

I'm an extremely Proud Marine Mom (just ask Kristy!) and an Adopt-A-Platoon Mom. Yesterday a friend of mine and I packed up 21 boxes of Christmas for a platoon of Marines in Iraq. Judy, my friend, had a gift bag or stocking stuffed for every one in the platoon of 63 Marines. When you are sending to that many, it's hard to give them all very much, but at least they will all get something. We also included a ton of stuff for all of them to share, even a tiny tree.

I have 3 Marines and 2 soldiers I've also made and stuffed stockings for, and another 30 or so people of all branches of the military at the Phoenix Academy in Iraq (they train the trainers of Iraqi troops) got 2 boxes of goodies from me for Christmas.

I've been adopting troops ever since my son's first deployment to OIF in 2003, and I will not quit until they are all home. Last year I sent homemade stuffed stockings to 26 adopted troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm not bragging. I'm the one who is getting all the benefit of knowing that maybe I made a young Marine feel loved on Christmas and at other times when they can't be home with family. And when I get a letter from one of my adopted troops thanking me for the little bit I sent, it's just icing on the cake. I would encourage anybody to consider "adopting" and supporting a Marine or soldier through their deployment. It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done, next to being the Mom of a Marine.

I'm truly blessed in that my son did his 3 tours in Iraq, came home safe and sound, and was honorably discharged this summer.

To all Marines and their families, thank you, God bless you, and may you have the best Christmas ever.

Semper Fi,
Proud Marine mom of Sgt Tim
Proud AAP mom of well over 100

Sgt. Grit:
While sitting here at my desk I'm working on the list of names of men and women who have served in HMR(M)-461 and HMH-461. I was a plank owner in that squadron back in January of 1957. I was also an "old hand Buck Sgt" at the ripe old age of 21. Now in a few weeks I'll be traveling to meet these Marines and shortly after our reunion I will, God willing, attain the ripe old age of 71. I've had some opportunities to meet several of our "new breed". And from all I've seen, talking to them, watching them in mixed groups of different kinds of people, I must say that I am very proud to have earned the title of "Marine" and I'm equally proud to share it with our replacements. They measure up in every respect. My only regret in the recent past is that John Murtha also shares the same title and of that I'm ashamed.

But to all my fellow Marines I want to wish a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And if the New Year finds you in harm's way know that this "Old Marine" will be praying for you. Oh and one more thing should you get deployed please remember to DUCK!

Semper Fi,
Ed Bowers

Veterans Salute

I noticed a letter from one of our beloved Corpsman in the Iwo Jima edition regarding rendering the hand salute to veterans and whether or not it's appropriate indoors. I ride with the Patriot Guard and the same issue has emerged on the appropriateness of a veteran rendering Military honors. I personally have been espousing my belief that as a veteran, my salute has more significance than a military salute. The Military salute is REQUIRED by military personnel. My Veteran Salute is not. It is rendered purely out of a since of respect and recognition to the party intended. Likewise, since I am not in the military - actively- any longer I do not have to follow military procedure. Instead I follow Veteran procedure which states: As a Veteran, you may render the hand salute to anyone and anywhere you deem it appropriate so long as the salute is rendered with respect. With the latter requirement in mind the salute should be rendered with military bearing and not in a casual or sloppy manner.

Having said the above, a brief anecdote. Earlier today a number of us biker/veterans attended the Holiday wreath laying ceremony at the local State Veterans Cemetery. There were active duty military in uniform present to do the actual wreath laying. My apologies to the very squared away First Sergeant that was doing the Marine Corps Honors. He was a bit dumb- founded when several dirty old paunchy bikers wearing an assortment of Marine Corps memorabilia on their leather vest greeted him warmly and rendered Veterans salutes. He recovered quickly and returned the salutes. It was simple and easy, and I'll bet Chesty looked down and smiled.


"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
-C. S. Lewis

I am USN with most of my career with the USMC--In boot camp in San Diego, on Midway, Johnston Island, Palmyra, Canton, Tarawa (whew), Kwajalein, and flying all over the S Pacific to gather USMC F4U's to lead them to Kwaj for the invasion. The F4u's didn't carry enough fuel because of the distance to the Marianas.

My squadron of PV1's was to fly "fighter cover" for the F4u's and they were to fight and then hunt for a place to land. Thank heaven that they weren't need because of the Navy's "Turkey shoot" that rid the air of the Japanese planes.

At boot camp I was across the canal from the Marines. They spent endless hours with full gear, getting in an amphibious vessel and being taken into the canal and having to jump overboard and walk on the bottom to get out (mostly underwater) The Ancient Chief over my boot company would, in the evening march us down the canal having us sing the Marine Corps Hymn to the tune of "My darling Clementine. When the USMC would start over their Sergeant would call them back.

Then in town, when on liberty, we would meet the USMC and a terrific fight would break out. The MP's and Shore Patrol would somehow always be there. And then one day after the fracas we saw our Chief and the USMC sarf in a malt shop laughing so hard they couldn't breathe and slapping each other on the back. Last serenade and fight!

I was on Midway with some Marines that had been on the Island 5 years without going home. And on Tarawa I really learned what a dedicated Marine is. Today I have a personal Friend that was one of the TWO who lived out of the first waves.

In that short 9 months out of Tarawa I earned a DFC, 11 Air Medals and 4 battle stars. I also went from PO3rd class to PO1st class My First pilot was awarded the Commendation with a V.

I would like to hear from the Veterans. There really aren't too many of us left.

T J Mayfield USN AL1/c w/ 2 hashmarks

Marine Reservists who have been or are currently deployed and in need of financial assistance can apply to the Armed Forces Reserve Family Assistance Fund at These are grants. Proof of mobilization is required. Spouses and/or dependents can apply.

"Every noble work is at first impossible."
-Thomas Carlyle

In reply to Marilyn Kiefer who had her Corps Flag stolen - It is indeed a shame that the scum bags removed what is yours, but remember, while the trash of the world can steal, desecrate, or destroy the outward symbols of what we stand for - they can NEVER touch the "Marine" indelibly etched in your daughter's heart and soul, and apparently in yours as well.

Semper Fi Mom

Praying for the safe, mission complete return, soon for all Sgt. Wes Bland (1967-1971)

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."

-From "Sir Winston Churchill; The River War," first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 - London.

Sgt Grit:

I have a funny story to tell. My mom was a former Marine and even to this day she is very gung ho. No one could ever say anything neg. about the Marines. She is a very proud Marine. When she goes to the gym, her favorite shirt to wear is not as lean not as mean but still a Marine. I am a senior in high school and the recruiters have been hitting my school hard. I have recently earned a Scholarship to play volleyball at a local college and will not enlist at this time. I continued to have this one Army recruiter be very persistent and call me A LOT, trying to get me to change my mind. Finally I told him, I think my mom would kick my butt if I joined the Army, and he proceeded to ask why. I told him that my mom had been one of the best of the best, a United States Marine (not that she has anything against any of the other branches, but her heart will always belong to the Marine Corps.) Well with that comment he thanked me for my time and has never called again. Thanks for listening, From the daughter of a VERY PROUD once a Marine always a Marine

Semper Fi

Jamie Murray
Hermann, MO
p.s. my dad was a Marine too.

Semper Fi Sgt Grit!

I am the proud dad of a Marine! I served 22+ years in the USAF. I never thought any of my 4 kids would consider the military life as a course they would take. I never glorified the military life. We just did what had to be done.

About two years ago my youngest son comes in and tells us, his Mom and me, he wants to be a Marine. I told him he was crazy! He had to finish school first and talk about what he wanted to do with his life. It dropped for a while. About six or seven months before he was to graduate he tells me he went DEP since he was 18. I could do nothing about it. I was p!ssed and wanted to see the DD Fm 4 to see what the contract said. It was in order, but I still was not a happy camper.

After about a week of "talking" about this choice I asked a very important question, "Are you ready to die for this country?" He was stunned! He said, "I never thought about it that way." We talked a little more and then he went to his room to think about it, for 3 days. I served for 22 years and it was my choice. I was never assigned to combat. The closet I came was 6 months on Guam at the end of Viet Nam. No where near as tough as the Marines in country. I heard the stories and I heard Marines talk. I had a very small idea of what those heroes did and do.

After 3 days my son came to me and said "Dad we need to talk." We went to his room and he said "Yes! I am ready to die for this country. This is what I want to do." I heart burst with pride! He is a better "Man" than I! I told him I would support him 110%!

Since then we have gone Marine! I have a 18' flag pole in my front yard with the US Flag and the Marine Flag. I have the yellow ribbons on my car with USMC on them. It has been a roller coaster ride and we love it.

He is a Corporal, in under 2 years, and in Iraq. He is with the 1 ANGLICO and serving with great honor! No parent could ever be prouder then we are of our Son, the Marine, and he knows it!

I want to say to all you "jar heads" thank you and God Speed! You have made a man out of my great son. You deserve the reputation you have. I salute you all!

God Bless you all!

John E. Leon, MSgt, USAF, Retired
Proud Father of Cpl Micheal-Thomas Leon, USMC

When Nerchivan Barzani, Prime Minister of the Iraqi Kurdistan's regional government, met with some of the families in Iraq of fallen U.S. soldiers, he had a message for the American media. He said, "CNN International and al Jazeera are equally bad in their coverage of the situation in Iraq. When I was in the United States recently and read the negative news in the Washington Post, New York Times and in the network TV broadcasts, I even wondered if things had gotten so bad since I left that I shouldn't return."
Military Magazine

Marine and Soldier This happened to me on August 5, 2003.

I served as a Marine air traffic controller in Vietnam. My son, Austin, is currently in the Corps. He has had 2 tours in Iraq. Currently, he is enroute to Camp Butler, Okinawa.

This story is about how Austin let me know he was back in the United States from his first tour in Iraq.

At the time I was an air traffic controller at Tucson Approach Control. I have since retired. I was a controller for over 35 years.

I was working one of the radar positions that provide arrival sequencing to Davis-Monthan Air Force base. I was talking to a variety of military and civilian aircraft.

Out of the blue comes this transmission "Tucson Approach, this is Delta 9546". I was somewhat puzzled because it was not one of the normal Delta call signs that arrive in Tucson. Nevertheless, I answered "Delta 9546, Tucson Approach, go ahead".

The next transmission was "Is Ron Gagner working". Now I was really puzzled because how did this pilot know to ask for me! I said "you are talking to him".

Five seconds later this transmission came over the radio "Hi, Dad, I'm home". For a few moments I was speechless. My son was flying over Tucson on his way to March AFB. Tears began to flow as I tried to say something. For the first time in 30 years I could not say anything. Finally, I regained some composure and asked him a few questions.

Needless to say, air traffic services were momentarily delayed. The military pilots on the radio probably realized the importance of this radio transmissions. After a few moments of talking to my son I said to the pilots "sorry for the delay guys but my Marine son was calling me on the radio. He is returning from Iraq".

Several of the planes had a few comments but the one that was the most important came from a Navy pilot who said "Semper Fi, Marines".

My thanks to the Delta Airlines pilot who, when my son told them I was a controller at Tucson Approach Control, knew what to do. The picture is an actual picture of my son talking to me.

We owe the men and women of our armed forces a lot of thanks. My son gave me something that will always bring a tear to my eyes. He is proud to be one of "the few, the proud, the Marines".

Ron Gagner
Tucson, AZ

When Saddam Hussein died, George Washington met him at the Pearly Gates. He slapped him across the face and yelled, "How dare you try to destroy the nation I helped conceive!" Patrick Henry approached, punched him in the nose and shouted, "You wanted to end our liberties, but you failed!" James Madison followed, kicked him in the groin and said, "This is why I allowed our government to provide for the common defense!" Thomas Jefferson was next, he beat Hussein with a long cane and snarled, "It was evil men like you who inspired me to write the Declaration of Independence." The beatings and thrashings continued as George Mason, James Monroe, and 66 other early Americans unleashed their anger on the terrorist leader. As Hussein lay bleeding and in pain, an Angel appeared. Hussein wept and said, "but, but, THIS is not what you promised me."

The Angel replied, "Ooooh?? I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you in Heaven. What did you think I said?"

I would like to express my THANKS to Spanky and all who have serviced our country! Especially those who now continue to suffer any physical, mental or emotional effect for it. Also, their families. Spanky, you are a GREAT example to all of us! Your attitude is incredible! I'm afraid I would not be up to such if I were in your shoes. I can not thank you enough. You are a terrific AMERICAN HERO in my eyes! Keep it up! Semper Fi

Carolyn L
Blue Star Mom

Sgt Grit,

I just want to say thank you Sgt Grit for this newsletter. And thank you to all the Marines, former Marines, and Marine families, thank you so much for what you do! As a Marine fiancée, I now realize what these Marines and families go through. My fiancé is with 1/2 Alpha Co. out of Camp LeJuene, and deploying to Iraq in a couple months. He wanted to join out of high school, but we had just started to date, so he waited and went to college. After a year and a half of college, he started saying he wanted to join the Marines, so I told him to do it cause he will regret it if he doesn't. Even through the separations and hard times, I am glad he joined. It has done many positive things for him, and helped make us a stronger couple. I have never seen him so fit, confident, and having such a close brotherhood with his fellow Marines. The Marines are truly the best trained and fiercest fighting force out there. And now that he is in, I realize and give credit to all the military families out there, it is something no one else can understand. I love reading this newsletter because it shows me the wonderful brotherhood and Marine family that is out there. Thank God for the Marine Corps!

Karey Sherwood

"What you don't do can be a destructive force."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Rocker Ted Nugent on Hunting:

Nugent, an avid hunter, was being interviewed by a French journalist. The journalist asked, "What do you think the last thought is in the mind of a deer before you shoot it?
Is it, "Are you my friend?"
or is it "Are you the one who killed my brother?"
Nugent replied, "Deer aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, what am I going to eat next, who am I going To screw next, and can I run fast enough to get away. They are very much like the French."

Good video. Good group. Improvise, adapt, overcome.
Ignore the condescending tone of Harry Smith.

The other day my wife and I went into a cafe to eat lunch in Round Rock, TX. As we were walking in the hostess said is that a Eagle globe and Anchor I see SEMPER FI. I asked your husband or son and see said both and she had lost her son in Iraq April of 2006. I said am sorry for you're loss. We chatted for a few minutes and she told me that he was doing what he loved and died for what we all believe in. It was nice talking to a mother that was not saying way my son and bring our troops home.

Semper Fi
SSGT Robertson
USMC 1983-1993

Guy Gabaldon, who as an 18-year-old Marine private single handedly persuaded more than 1,000 Japanese soldiers to surrender in the battle for Saipan, has died. He was 80. Gabaldon died of a heart attack. Using an elementary knowledge of Japanese, bribes of cigarettes and candy, and trickery with tales of encampments surrounded by American troops, Gabaldon was able to persuade soldiers to abandon their posts and surrender. In a single day in July 1944, Gabaldon was said to have gotten about 800 Japanese soldiers to follow him back to the American camp. His exploits earned him the nickname the Pied Piper of Saipan. The private acknowledged his plan was foolish and, had it not been pulled off, could have resulted in a court-martial. "My actions prove that God takes care of idiots," he wrote in his 1990 Memoir "Saipan:Suicide Island."
New Orleans Times

"Victory at all cost, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is not survival."
-Winston Churchill

in reply to mr. garry Olson's query about the prosecution of Marines accused of killing innocent iraqis, he answers his own questions:
-the Marines are accused, not guilty;
-the Marines are being prosecuted, i.e. facts are being searched for and the truth is being ascertained, they are not being persecuted; -there are innocent Iraqis, and i say this without rancor or sarcasm, above the age of 1 year, and we are there to protect them as well as any of our national interests and brother Marines; -there are, regrettably, acts of murder everywhere, both in areas of war and areas of no war; the investigation of alleged crimes and prosecution of legitimate cases is what makes US, as well as many of our allies, a higher and better level of civilization; -yes, the iraqis should be pointing out the location of ieds and insurgents, but i cannot imagine the level of fear they are living under, nor can i decide now what i would do in a similar situation; i have in the past turned in superior officers for conduct unbecoming, and helped have doctors removed from the service for incompetence, but at all times my life and livelihood, and those of my loved ones, was protected.
let us not d*mn the Marine Corps or the USA because of the alleged actions of some, the uninformed opinions of many, or the incomprehensible inactivity of any group. the USA is the best nation of all recorded history. stand up and be proud of your part in it, glory in the fact that we can look for our wrongdoing and correct it, do your best to improve the actions of others.
Gregory Nye, D.O.
LCDR, MC, USNR (Ret) BN SURG 5/10, 3/6, RGT SURG 10th Marines Massachusetts

Sgt Grit,

My father reads your newsletter every week and occasionally I read it with him. I love some of your stories and articles. There is no organization or group that I respect more than the United States Marine Corps.

My father, Philip J. "Akabu" Coffman, served in the Marine Corps for 10 years, first in California and then in Okinawa, Japan. Over the years I have heard a plethora of his Marine stories around campfires on our trips. These stories have made him a celebrity among my friends. I could not be more proud of my father.

I also have a friend, Zander Behnke, who is currently serving. He is going to Iraq this March, and is in our prayers. I have told him before, but I don't feel like I've told him enough that I am so proud of him and what he is doing.

Semper Fi, to my father, my friend, and all Marines!

Have we lost the will to win wars? Not just in Iraq, but anywhere? Do we really believe that being nice is more important than victory? It's hard enough to bear the timidity of our civilian leaders, anxious to start wars but without the guts to finish them, but now military leaders have fallen prey to political correctness. Unwilling to accept that war is, by its nature, a savage act and that defeat is immoral, influential officers are arguing for a kinder, gentler approach to our enemies. They're going to lead us into failure, sacrificing our soldiers and Marine for nothing: Political correctness kills.

In war, you don't get points for good manners. It's about winning. Victory forgives. Where is the spirit of FDR and George C. Marshal, who recognized that the one unbearable possibility was for free world to lose? We discount the value of ferocity, as a practical tool and as a deterrent. But war's immutable law, proven yet again in Iraq, is that those unwilling to pay the butcher's bill up front will pay it with compound interest in the end.
Ralph Peters, a retired Army officer, New York Post

"Appeasers are ones who feed the alligators and hope they will be eaten last."
-Winston Churchill

Lucky Enough I just wanted to respond to Jim Blakemore Jr...We have met several of those from the Semper Fi Fund and know how dedicated they are in helping our injured Marines. We met some of them at their office at Quantico AND they were so helpful in giving us contacts to our hospitalized Marines! My husband and I are determined to visit our major military hospitals as often as we can...we made it to Walter Reed, Bethesda. Balboa and Brooke twice each this last year and to both Wounded Warrior Barracks...Camp LeJuene and Camp Pendleton once each. Ed is able to talk with them and offer encouragement. They can look at him...a double above knee amputee...and see that he has had a good life...different from what he had planned, BUT good! I try to talk with the families when ever I am able. Ed gives a copy of his book Lucky Enough to each one he visits.

We have had so much positive feed back that we will do our best to be able to continue this next year.

It is just so comforting to know that there are those of us out here who will NOT let our injured be forgotten...or for that matter any of those who are serving or have served!

Connie Beesley
Proud wife of Cpl Eddie Beesley ret.

I was reading all the shared stories in the January 3rd newsletter and came across one that our family also had a similar encounter. The title is "Do They Still" which illustrates the strong bond between Marines brothers and the Corps.

Our son was a recruit at Parris Island last summer and my wife made mention in a conversation with one of her customers that our son was training to become a Marine. She said that huge goose-bumps appeared on his arms and he immediately told her that he was a Marine and retired after serving 22 years. He reached into his wallet and brought out a worn card that he obviously had carried for years. On one side was a Marine in full combat gear and the other side was the Marine prayer. He told her to give to our son and tell him Semper Fi. She tried to tell him she could not accept such a special gift with sentimental value but he was adamant that she accept.

On our son's graduation day, we gave our new Marine that card.

Semper Fi to all our great Marines, past and present.

Proud parents of a United States Marine

What is written about Iraq now is exclusively acrimonious. The narrative is never how many terrorists we have killed, how many terrorists we have killed, how many Iraqis have been given a chance for something different than the old nightmare, or haw a consensual government has withstood enemies on nearly every front. Long forgotten is the inspired campaign that removed a vicious dictator in three weeks. Nor is much credit given to the idealistic efforts to foster democracy rather then just ignoring the chaos that follows war as we did after the Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan, or following our precipitous departure from Lebanon and Somalia.

Iraq is seen only in the hindsight of who did what wrong and when. All the great good we accomplished (is) drowned out by the present violent insurgency and the sensationalized effort to turn the mayhem into an American Antietam or Yalu River. Blame is never allotted to al Qaeda, the Sadr thugs, or the ex- Baathists, only to the U.S., who should have, could have, or would have done better in stopping them, had its leadership read a particular article, fired a certain person, listened to and exceptional general, or studied a key position paper.

Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Institution

Dear Sgt. Grit
About three years ago, I met a very good looking Vietnam Vet called, "Choo Choo" at a bike rally in Cheyenne, Wyo. He said that he served in the Corps and I didn't hesitate to tell him that I did as well, but joined in 1981 after high school.

We chatted and ran into each other over time, but it took this past Marine Corps birthday to bring us together.

(People I know said that this would never work because when he was fighting in 'nam, I was fighting my parents going to kindergarten.) I can honestly say that I can not remember the last time I was this happy!

The way I see it is, Marines do not see barriers or gaps with other Marines- we live and learn from each other.

God Bless America! God Bless The United States Marines!

Sincerely - VJ- aka Mamma Gunny ( Choo Choos' Caboose)

"No man in his senses can hesitate in choosing to be free, rather than a slave."
—Alexander Hamilton

Dear Sgt. Grit,

My brother is a proud Marine that has been serving his country since June 30th, 2006 when he graduated from MCRD Parris Island. He has been very happy with the choices that he has made in the Marines but this specific event made him realize how much everyone appreciates the military. He had recently come home from MCAS Cherry Point to be home for Christmas. When he caught the plane back home, he was lucky enough to have sit next to a woman who was very grateful for his service. She politely asked him if he was a Marine. With a grin on his face he said "yes mam". She replied with a thank you for everything he has sacrificed to serve his country. She then proceeded to give him money to have lunch and supper. He refused but with great appreciation and thoughtfulness. She said that she would not let him refuse her offer. He accepted and continued to thank her and carry on their conversation. When they arrived in Charlotte she wanted him to meet her family. He was more than happy to personally thank the family that made this woman so generous. So to all the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces and to all the supporters back home.
Thank you. Semper Fi.

Sgt. Grit,

I attended a funeral today. It was not for a Marine but for a fine Soldier. He was really the ideal military man. It does not matter that he was in the Army (I forgive him for that), what matters is that he was dedicated to GOD, country, and mission.

His name is CURT NORRIS. He is from Dansville, Michigan. I had the privilege of being his advisor when he was a Police Explorer. He was such a spirited, spunky youth and from every thing I have heard he has never changed.

CURT was buried today and while I was viewing his ARMY funeral I realized that he was doing what every Military Man wanted. He gave his all and asked NOTHING in return.

SGT GRIT, we may serve in different branches of the armed services, but when it comes down to the end result we all bleed the same red, white, and blue blood.

USMC 1985-1989
(Once a Marine, Always a Marine/ It's a Marine thing)

My retired Marine husband of 30 yrs died of heart failure in his sleep Dec. 22, 2006, at the age of 84. He retired from the Corps in 1961 and though he physically left the Corps. mentally he never did. Our yard flag pole flies the United States flag and the Marine Corps flag. We also fly a miniature Marine flag attached to the car window.

I met him after he retired so I am not a traditional "military wife" but I lived as one thru him. I always told him I could use the Corps as a co-respondent in a divorce. After all these years he lived and breathed the Marines.

I only hope he's up there with his fellow Marines, young and old, guarding the pearly gates.

Mrs. Donald Hughes

Hi everyone,
I was just reading the note from Bruce and let me tell ya, my dad says the same thing but with my son being a Senior DI at Parris Island now, things have changed... ;-) he told us "NEVER SANDWICH SIR" So I got a kick out of that... Must be the new Corps! lol...

Have a wonderful day!

Proud (Alabama) Marine Mom - SSGT Christopher ? Headed to New River.....

"Peace is not the absence of war, but a virtue based on strength of character." —Spinoza

"The surest way to prevent war is not to fear it." —John Randolph

Sgt. Grit,

I too deplore the fact that the Marine Corps is punishing our men for doing their "job" - eliminating the enemy. I have 3 grandsons in the Marines (all have served or are serving in Iraq within the last 2 years) and 2 due to return any day. How can we tell them to go out there and "kill" the enemy and then when they do so, say they did something wrong. In this war - so like Viet Nam in that we can't tell the enemy from the good guy - we need to let the enemy & the good guy know that we "take no prisoners" - if you aren't on our side (helping you save your country) then you are the "enemy".

If we don't "win" this war - we lose it all!

God Bless those who voluntarily serve their country and protect us by doing so.
A proud grandma

I have received an E-Mail from a nephew born 1967. He wants to know what I did in The USMC. I gave him a brief run-down of the Fun times we all enjoyed the RVN. After a few days I remembered An old box of (S***) some old important papers and other stuff I have. I found some B/W photos of DaNang Phu Bai, most memorable of all Khe Shan. I sent them off to him and have been Overwhelmed with letters and e-mails from Him and his friends and Co-workers of his age. They and I mean most people have no clue, except what Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather told them. We are again in the for-front of the un-popular war, when do get another popular one? If someone asks let them know.
Semper Fi.God bless you all, and Lets not forget the Commander in Chief W.
Bob Boyle
Cpl. 3Eng 3Bat '66-68

G'day Sgt,

I need to give my sincerest thanks to all those who responded to my call for help recently. My stepson, 2nd Lt Jason Fincher, 1st Mar Div, 1st LAR is shipping out to Iraq for his first deployment end of February and, as I stated in my recent letter, my wife (Jason's mum) is finding it hard to cope with his impending leaving. I say what any husband can say in way of consoling, but knowing full well that any words fall way short of the mark. Trish needed to hear words of support from other Marine mums and they heard my call. Trish has been receiving numerous emails from 'family members' lending their shoulders and hearts for morale support. Trish didn't know I'd done this, and is most appreciative for my effort to help her any way I can.

I just needed to express my deepest appreciation for you Marine mums and wives out there for rallying to my wife at this difficult time.

And I want to take this opportunity to pay you all homage for the toughest job in the Corps - the guys out there on the line couldn't do it without you being there for them.

If there are any others who'd care to drop Trish a line please do so at (e-mail address removed).

Humble thanks from an aussie husband.
Semper fi, mates!

Greg Smith

I will start by saying that I understand that someone in S/F tends to be a little cocky, but lets be honest not all jobs are created equal. I am disappointed at the lack of respect shown to the men who maybe not by choice go into fields in the military that are not front line dangerous.... However this does not take away from the fact that they are still U.S. MARINES and should always be shown the proper respect. I am speaking from personal involvement on both sides, 1) My uncle is a Vietnam Vet and worked and operated Marine Amtracs and 2) My husband is former S/F for The U.S. Marines. I hope that this will make S/F John think twice before downing a fellow brother of the Corps....


Not sure if I've written this before, but it happened again recently. I have noticed many times that other p