Sgt Grit Newsletter

From my son Cpl. Cotter back from Iraq in Feb 2007 - signed for another 4 when he was there - what should have come to an end this August - is now an extension of what a young hero believes - That a Marine is a Marine and nothing less will do. We will pay tribute to his cousin Sgt. John G, Scharf, USMC this Sept 11th - -murdered in the towers. We will stand at the footprints for maybe the last time - and remember a fine man - a fine Marine - And the thoughts of all who are fighting for our cause - will be with us - Please Marines - Say a prayer for Sgt. Scharf on that day - the anniversary that he was taken from us. A fine Marine and a Fine man - we were honored to be a part of his life.

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Tonight I walked down memory lane regarding husband MSgt. Brian Riddle I came across about 5 little notes all of them being American Courage Newsletters regarding an article I wrote back in August 2005 when my husband left for Iraq.

I had no idea of the people that article touched or the responses that came with the article. Included with the responses were statements that I should write a journal and update everyone on his deployment... well here it is:

Brian returned in March 2006 - and I can honestly say he did not return the same man that left. After going through about a month of him walking the perimeter of the house and checking for his flack jacket & helmet every time we left the house. Then there were the times we were sitting out back on the patio and him going back inside the house every time the Marines practiced with artillery aboard Camp LeJeune. I knew his time in Al Taquadom was not good.

He has never talked about what happened there or what he saw except for the story of 3 'young cowboys" who were moving too fast and needed to slow down and be careful - he told them this 1 week before they ALL came home - he told them "we are almost there - stay safe, be calm, think about what you are doing - we only have one more week" Unfortunately those same men did not return with my husband in the same condition they had left and it touched him deeply as those were his men.

Our marriage has not been the same since his return, Brian is not as happy go lucky as he once was. He doesn't return phone calls from friends who happen to call. However, he still feels the need that his duty to his men and country is not complete it's not finished and he is putting together as I write this another enlisted package for another 3 years.

Once a Marine always a Marine - I love the man, I respect him - I do not believe he knows how to be anything else after 23 years of service. It's hard being the wife of such a dedicated man. It's hard seeing the blue fade from his eyes yet I am behind him 100%. I know our great beautiful country would not be the United States we love if not for the courage and dedication of men such as my husband.

I know I will watch him deploy once again and I will wait upon pins and needles for his return not knowing what his condition will be upon his return. I do know when my husband left in August 2005 he had 80 men he was in charge of and 77 came home in the same condition they left- he will forever mourn the 3 that didn't return as they had left. I will forever mourn the happy man that use to laugh all the time and tell great funny stories.

Maybe one day things will return to how they were before he departed August 31,2005 - maybe one day things will be better than when he returned March 2nd 2006 - however until that moment we remain faithful to the Corps - and we still get goosebumps when we hear the Marine Corps Anthem being played.

Always faithful,
Ryn Riddle
Proud wife of
MSgt. Brian Riddle
Camp LeJeune, NC

They always say time changes things,
but you actually have to change them yourself.
-Andy Warhol

Torn Card Tattoo Doc Nash...3/3/3
Mike Co...2nd Plt
R.V.N 1968-69

Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.
Thomas Jefferson

Hi Sgt. Grit -

Even though I am only a mom of a Marine, I appreciate getting your newsletter. I find all the stories, information and remembrances very compelling. I read it all the way through as soon as I receive it, and I usually end up using a tissue or two! Thank you so much for all you do to support Marines and those close to them. The reason I am writing is because I find it interesting that the people that seem the most dismayed by the changes and the apparent softening of the training are the Marines themselves! I have read many stories about how Marines are "corrected" during training. My own son told me a story of one of his experiences in boot camp. As his mom, it was kind of hard to hear. However, when I thought about what these people in charge of my son's training were really trying to teach him, it made me realize that he was learning to react under extreme pressure and that this training may some day save his life, as well as those of Marines serving beside him. Seems to me that our society is continually moving in a direction where nobody has to do anything they don't want to, and nobody should be able to make them. I say leave the Marine Corps alone. There is a reason why this amazing branch of the military is known as the few and the proud! By softening up the rules, it seems to me that the value of the "correcting" is lost, as well as the lesson. I can see where casualties will continue to rise with this mind-set. That concerns me a lot - particularly with my son still an active-duty Marine, facing his second deployment later this year! Even my son is not happy with the easing up of how new recruits are trained! To me, that speaks volumes. Maybe it's because he knows that while his initial training was while the tough rules were in effect, who knows what kind of training the Marines had who will be tasked with watching my son's back? Something to think about next time little Johnny goes crying to mama about how mean his DI is. Maybe he should stay where he belongs - behind mama's apron, instead of putting all our real Marines in danger!

I know I probably have no business getting all fired up about this issue since I'm not a Marine, but I can't believe all these whiners are missing the big picture. I just hope that all of our sons survive the war after this kinder, gentler training they receive. Thanks for your time.

Leslie B.

Very Proud Marine Mom of Cpl Adam B.

It's getting more and more difficult to support the government in the style to which it has become accustomed.

Dear Sgt. Grit,

To Concerned Devil Dog Dad who in your last newsletter questioned the easing up of Boot Camp training, my son graduated from MCRD Parris Island not to long ago. First let me say I have never been prouder and he was born to be a Marine. He feels a pride and brotherhood that is unsurpassed and will remain unmatched by anything he will ever do. His DIs were professional men who gave every waking minute to the recruits in their charge and his loyalty to the Corps is a new found passion. He did, however, feel that much, although not all, of the training was not as hard as he expected or desired. He was disappointed in the degree of difficulty of some aspects of his 13 weeks there and said that at times, through no fault of the DIs who must follow code, he had to challenge himself to a degree not placed upon him. He has a theory. Since the Corps is dictated to by US Senators and Congressmen and since those same Senators and Congressmen are interested in being re-elected, those he calls the "Mothers of America" who complain to their congressmen that Marine Corps Boot is too hard on their little Jimmy or Johnny, have had too much influence on training. Those women who, as I have heard speak, hate that the DIs "give my son nightmares" seek a kinder gentler regiment. They whine that their son is a "kind, sensitive boy" and they fear he will be turned into a harsh, mean, not nice person. They march too much, don't sleep enough, shouldn't be made to cry and what's will all that yelling! They just want their son to get on with being a Marine! Pleeeeeease! It gives this mother chills to think that these women may collectively and in the long run change to any degree what I see as necessary and God knows DESIRED training tactics. I wanted my son to have a waking nightmare while at boot so that when he is in the unbelievable and not to be duplicated nightmare that is war he and his platoon mates will have a fighting chance to survive and the mission to succeed. I want the Marine next to him trained that way as well. The United States Marines are the best trained fighting force in the world and I guess only time will tell whether these misinformed do - gooders and the congressmen that serve us will forever change the Corps and the quality of training handed down to the men and women who serve in it. God help us if they do.

A newly minted Marine Mom

Spencer Family I always enjoy reading the stories from Marines and their family members in the Sgt Grits newsletters, and seeing the photos they include. I'd like to share my pride in my husband with my own letter and photos. He recently retired from the Marine Corps, here at Quantico, VA, after nearly 29 years of service. He was able to be joined at his retirement by many members of his family including his parents, brothers and their families, daughter and son and daughter-in-law! And of course, me, his wife! He retired shortly after his safe return from an Iraq deployment. Our son is also a Marine veteran, having served his 4 years as an armorer, and now working for a police department in CA. Thank you for letting me brag for a moment on my Marine! I've attached a few pics I hope you will allow me to share!

Donella Spencer
Proud Wife of CWO5 Paul D. Spencer, USMC EOD (Ret)

Democracy is measured not by its leaders doing extraordinary things, but by its citizens doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.
John Gardner

Hello.....I enjoy your site often, and the stories told. I never had the honor of serving in the Marine Corps, but I write you because my son who passed away is a Marine. He left for Parris Island February 14, 2005 a typical 18 year old, not having direction and focus and graduated 3rd Battalion Mike Co. on June 17, 2005 . I work in law enforcement with numerable Marines who I always heard recall the Corps highly . Once my son earned the title Marine, It was like my eyes opened wide to your brotherhood. Although his first year was rough , he was becoming a fine young man, I could actually hear it in his voice each couple days we spoke on the phone and the Marine Corps was responsible for that. He was becoming a "go-to" guy, according to his SSGT. He was a Field Radio operator (621) with the 2/6 at Camp Lejeune NC, and was to be deployed to Iraq 1-2007.....and return 8/17/2007 ten days before his 21st birthday. I felt the need to relay this to yourself and all Marines in that I thank the Corps for letting my son earn the title Marine. The ongoing care and concern from day one was nothing short of phenomenal.....and I was told and I know it's true.....all we need to do is lift the phone and call, and they will do whatever they can to help us! My son's name Is Private Richard A. Mazzeo 8/27/86-9/30/2006 I still proudly call myself a Marine dad, and every time I see a is like I am looking at a part of my son standing in front of I understand the statement "as long as one Marine is left standing, Richard will never be forgotten" God bless you all .....and the Marine Corps will forever have our gratitude and support.

Richard E Rysinski
Spotswood NJ

I would like to respond to the Double Duty Dad from Durant, Ok. I know exactly how you feel. My son left for boot camp in San Diego about 2 weeks after his high school graduation of 2004. He has only been home, since then, no more than 2 weeks at a time. He returned from his first tour of duty in Iraq the last week of April, 2007. I thought the hardest part of being a Marine parent was seeing him get on the plane in OKC to San Diego, it is not. Taking a trip out to 29 Palms CA before his deployment, seeing him, telling him good-bye, not knowing what condition he will be in or when I will see him again was one of the hardest. He hasn't been home for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any holiday is one of the hardest. When we got the word and time that he will be back to 29 Palms, after his deployment was almost more than I could bare. We you see your son, step off from the bus, in one piece, your emotions run wild. He is still stationed in 29 Palms. I am so proud of all our men and women in the military. They were not appointed for their jobs, the volunteered. People ask me what is the hardest of being a Marine Mom? I have to say all of it. You cry at the flag flying, songs on the radio, even when you hear how many military personnel the USA has lost. BUT I would not change a thing. I walk with my head held high and say YES my son is a Marine and YES he has been deployed and fought in Iraq! And what did your son do this week-end? Party? I did see a change in my son when he was sent to Okinawa for 9 months. I no longer had my little boy, he had changed into a young man. But when he came back from Iraq he wasn't a young man anymore but a man.

Stay close to God and He will be there on those long nights when you can't sleep worrying about your sons safety.

Marine Mom
from Sand Springs, OK

Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.
Thomas Jefferson

Yesterday I was at a local gym lifting weights. I was wearing a "Vietnam Veteran" tee-shirt. A woman who was using some of the exercise equipment asked me if I was really a Vietnam veteran. When I said yes she asked when I was there. I replied 1966 and she said that she was just a little girl then.

She said she was Cambodian and her life has not been a happy one. She told me that after Pol Pot took control of their country her parents and her older sisters were taken away and never heard from again. She told me that she has been in this country for thirty years and that she is now a citizen. She added that she is a college graduate, was married, had children and is now divorced. I told her about being shot in the head and almost dying on the upper Dong Tranh river in Vietnam and about the years it took to recover.

We talked for about fifteen minutes. I think it did both of us good however in the future I will think more about the innocent civilians who are caught up in war.

Jim Dickson, USN,
River Patrol Force,
Nha Be', 1966

My son is a Marine stationed in Hawaii, He has done one tour in Iraq, he is married to a girl that is Hawaiian, she is in a wheel chair and has been since she was ten [bad car accident] any way Kai and my son Mike have been expecting a baby any day well at 7;00 am on 9-2 07 she delivered their baby girl at home in there bed. Mike was very scared and had no idea on what to do but he new the baby was coming he could see its head so he new he had to calm down and take the situation in hand so he did just what the Marines taught him and did just that and delivered his 6lb10oz baby girl and mom and baby are doing good. Thank God For the Marines and everything they teach these young men. I couldn't be prouder of my son. Semper fi proud Grandma

Note: Grandma doesn't know it but she just describe; Improvise, Adapt, Overcome!
Sgt Grit

Thanksgiving Menu My grandson in currently in the last half of his boot training MCRD in San Diego. I write to him several times a week & scan various photos from my file that interests him , which I print on the top of my letter, which he seems to enjoy. .Most are Beatle Baily, Ziggy & others of our family.

My wife was sorting some old family pics & files & which contained the following menu, which was interesting to us & I sent the same to him. We don't know how it came up to Northern CA & was in such fine shape. I thought you might be interesting in looking at it & we hope to eat there if & when he Graduates in Oct.

I sure enjoy reading your newsletter & am looking forward to purchasing more than the Flag I gave his mother one for her B/D.

A proud PaPa,

Dear SGT. Grit,

Regarding the letter from Concerned Devil Dog Dad Thursday August 31, 2007 issue who was wondering if his son was at "Lackland " instead of MCRD. My thoughts are that his concerns in a movie or food reward are misguided ~ I would be concerned more about the food served from Pizza Hut or McDonalds being unhealthy & noting else. They are indeed entitled to a competitive reward for work hard done. Either way, yes it is what is expected of them but lighten up ~ use your concern to the Drill Instructor (if you have such control issues that you feel you have to stick your nose into it) as to what type of food is served or butt out as to how they run their camp.

Our Greatest Glory Is Not In Ever Failing, But In Rising Up Every Time We Fail ~

Yours Truly,
Proud Marine Mom

We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth and listen to the song of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts... I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
Patrick Henry

I am reading these stories and need to say that all of them put tears in my eyes. Some are happy tears some are sad tears but there is nobody more proud of these boys and girls that serve this country that I am.

My son Justin, who is now SGT, joined Marines 5 years ago and on his third tour in Iraq. He will be coming home soon and we are very excited about that. He is very proud to be a Marine we are very proud parents to have son like him. He never talk about Iraq when he comes home. All he say when you ask him "It is my job Dad" and nothing else. He will be leaving Marine Core this year and entering civilian life. I hope he will be given respect that all of these brave men and women deserve for placing their lives on line to protect our freedom.

I need to thank all of them trough you news letter . I will continue to read it after my son leaves Marines and continue to support all brave men and women that serve in Iraq in every which way I can.

Thank you
Mick Gasparik
Middletown, NJ

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.
Albert Einstein

The Rank Structure:

1. A General = Leaps tall buildings with a single bound, is more powerful than a locomotive, is faster than a speeding bullet, walks on water and gives policy to God.

2. A Colonel = Leaps short buildings with a single bound, is more powerful that a switch engine, is just as fast as a speeding bullet, walks on water if the sea is calm and talks to God.

3. A Lieutenant Colonel = Leaps short buildings with a running start and a favorable wind, is almost as powerful as a switch engine, is faster that a speeding BB, walks on water in an indoor swimming pool and talks to God if a special request is approved.

4. A Major = Barely clears Quonset huts, loses tugs-of- war with locomotives, can fire a speeding bullet, swims well and is occasionally addressed by God.

5. A Captain = Makes high marks when trying to leap buildings, is run over by locomotives, can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self-injury, can dog paddle and talks to animals.

6. A First Lieutenant = Runs into buildings, recognizes locomotives two out of three times, is not issued ammunition, can stay afloat if properly instructed and talks to water.

7. A Second Lieutenant = Falls over door sill when trying to enter buildings, says "Look at the choo-choo," wets himself with a water pistol, and mumbles to himself.

8. An NCO = Lifts buildings and walks under them, kicks locomotives off the tracks, catches speeding bullets in his teeth and chews them, freezes water with a single glance.... And is God.

Sgt. Grit:
The news media created the myth we lost the Viet Nam war to cover up their lies and inappropriate actions of false reporting. Now they are doing the same with the war in Iraq because they got away with it during Viet Nam.

"What we still don't understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battles of TET. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media were definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. We were ready to surrender. You had won!" - General Giap, North Vietnam (memoirs)

Marty Shapiro
1/9 65-66

Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness.
Samuel Adams

I am the proud mom of a US Marine. As his father and I were cooking breakfast and talking this morning, we realized our son has been away from our home for almost a year now. That does not mean that we haven't counted the days he's been away from us. We instead count the days and ways he has grown as a person because of his commitment to the Marines.

I'll never forget MEPS and the look of a "deer in headlights" on our son's face the day he was leaving for boot at PI. Then there were the days and weeks of boot with only letters of communication. I count those words on those pages as priceless and precious. I was daily in tears and in prayer for my son and for those who stood beside him. For all but one week when he got "fired", he remained Squad Leader throughout boot. I now know the beyond words thrill of the moments after the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor ceremony when I could once again hug my son who was now a changed young man. I could read on his face the honor, courage, and commitment to which he was wedded for life!

He remains in training for at least a little while longer. In addition of some difficult classes, he was selected to lead 168 fellow men and women Marines as Duty Section Leader which is continuing his growth as a Marine and a man.

Pride in him? This must be incomparable. Miss him? Beyond measure. Want him to be back home and attending the University where he'd been accepted in the College of Engineering? Absolutely not.

He is where he needs to be among the few, the proud. I am eternally grateful.
Very Proud NC Mom of a US Marine

Sgt Grit:
My oldest son decided to join the Marine's when he was a Junior in High School after a friend talked him into joining on the buddy system. By the end of his Junior year he was filling out paperwork and taking physicals for the early enlistment program, by himself. His ASVAB score was high enough to choose any job in the Military, which shocked me since he was not a fan of school; his grades did not reflect his academic abilities.

He did opt to push boot camp out as far as possible to spend summer after graduation with his buddies who had chosen the college route instead. His large extended family and girlfriend all showed up for his swearing in and painful goodbye.

I never got the phone call or letters saying he'd made a bad choice. He never cried and wanted to come home. In the few letters I got he would write about how hard some of it was, how he anticipated the next phase and eventually that he was ready to graduate. He compared it to a long wrestling camp and said the Crucible was overrated. My son worked hard in wrestling and football in High School. His best friends were the natural athletes that were State Placer's and recruited on college scholarships. He worked hard to keep up with them. He had never stood out as the best but he was acknowledged for his hard work ethic by his football team by being named a Co-Captain his senior year. The years spent "building character" were starting to pay off.

Although he lived with a high fever and severe headache for several weeks during boot camp he graduated on time with no one knowing how sick he had been. He qualified as an Expert with his weapon in the rain during this same period. The whole family went to San Diego for graduation. On family day we walked for hours to all of the places at MCRD that had been off limits to the recruits and listened to his stories he couldn't wait to tell us. I was in awe of this handsome and professional young man.

Before boot camp started he had chosen the Intelligence field for his MOS, he waited 2 weeks to hear that he'd been accepted. During boot camp he found out his specialty training would be in radio and communications. School was located in Pensacola and I had my doubts he would make it through the very intense schooling. It was hard enough that several students were dropped but not my son. I'm sure the 5 months of training were equivalent to that of a two year college degree. I hoped and prayed for a desk job somewhere in the States when it was all finished.

He was sent to Camp Pendleton to be in a Radio Battalion. When he arrived he was told he had been assigned to the Radio Recon Unit. I didn't know much about Recon but I was pretty certain it didn't mean a safe desk job. He was even a little concerned about this assignment, that is, until his first few trainings. Needles to say, my hardworking son who has used lessons learned on the wrestling mat and on the football field has found his place in the world. He is still 19 years old and is in a position of leadership within the Recon training platoon. He has spent this past summer learning the different phases of Recon which have included dangling from a helicopter at 700 feet in the air and swimming in the ocean with dolphins.

I've never had much thought about our military until my son decided to join. Now I listen intently to the news, pray when I see another soldier has died and have camaraderie with my coworkers and family members that also have children in the Marines. I get a lump in my throat when I think of him, his accomplishments and how much he has grown in the last year. I quiz him often about how he is doing mentally and emotionally. I am comforted to know he feels confident in the training he is receiving. We are all so proud of him. Every Marine has a special story and is a special person for what they are sacrificing. God bless them all.

Proud Mother of United States Marine
Deer Park, WA

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding one's self in the ranks of the insane.
Marcus Aurelius

Dear Sgt. Grit,
My son has been a Marine almost 2 years now.. He graduated from Parris Island In December 2005.. Now on September 15th he will be going on his first tour to Iraq.(hopefully his only one) He is my only Son and he is 20 years old, he will turn 21 while in Iraq. When he first told me he was going to join the Marines, I about fell out. I did everything in my power to talk him out of it with the exception of getting down on my knees and begging him. Now don't get me wrong, I am very proud of him and I guess one of the proudest days of my life was when we were at his graduation at Parris Island.

Now like one of the other mothers said; it's one of the hardest things I have ever went through in my entire life. Knowing he was gonna be gone to boot camp for 13 weeks and then his letters started coming and I was so worried about him, I wanted to go get him and knew I couldn't. It was the first time in my life that I had no control of what was going on in my sons life. That was bad enough! But I missed him so very much and I worried about him. We are very close. I knew he was hurting, feeling alone, and probably wondering why in the h&ll he decided to do this. Ha Ha! I wondered why I didn't get down on my knees and beg him not to join! Ha Ha!

When his letters first started coming I cried but as time went on I saw a difference in him... He was becoming a Man... one with which morals, standards and strength was showing through. More than I could've ever taught him. Now I am going through a whole new set of feelings which I'm not handling very good... He tells me he's gonna be ok over there and he's ready to go... Now again I am proud of him and proud that he's doing this to protect his family and his country. But I'm scared non the less. His job is aviation electronics so he shouldn't be in harms way (that's what he tells me anyway) but I don't expect him to tell me any different cause he doesn't want to make me worry any more than he knows I will. I just pray God will protect him and guide him and keep him from evil and that he will come back to me safe and sound.

I want every man and woman in the military Marines or not that I appreciate them and pray Gods protection over them and that He'll give each ones family peace of mind and strength as I pray the same for myself..

My son is a United States Marine one of the Elite! And I'm proud of him!

His name is PFC Justin Scoggins
Renee Scoggins

Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don't hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous.
Will Rogers

Sgt Grit' my time at P.I. instilled in me a sense of PRIDE in me that has never wavered in the past 55 years. once a MARINE always a MARINE. I was boot camp ,Feb - April and early May. I was selected and was sent to LITHOGRAPHERS SCHOOL, WASH. D.C. my D.I.'s were upset that low life s*** birds were give such a choice duty station and the mos-1533. we schooled in the basement of the Pentagon Bldg till the middle of Nov. I was sent to the Depot of Supplies at 100 Harrison St San Francisco, Calif. when I was released, my rank was Sgt. with 14 months in grade. i would not listen to my seasoned Marines who Encouraged me to sign over for a 6 year hitch and become a career Marine. Lt. Donahue pleaded with me to make the Marines my a lifetime commitment. to soon old, to late smart. I have regretted that decision ever since.

I visited 100 Harrison, the building is still there Marines have left the building. I reflect back about that mistake. I wonder what might have been?
Ronald E. Hartell

This last news letter, the first letter was from GySgt P Santiago, who said he was with the 3rd Div in 1954 when they made a landing on Iwo. I was also in that group. Haven't heard from anyone from that era in a very long time, and would like to talk to him if you could connect us in some way. I was with Charlie Co, 1st Batt 4th Marines, 3rd Div. Stationed in Nara Japan at that time. One of the M/Sgt's, I forget the outfit, filled a box of Iwo Sand and sent it to John Wayne. We never thought about taking anything from the Island. What a special place for an 18 year old to be and see after growing up during those war years. My Brother, 3 years older and I were civilian aircraft spotters, on the roof of city hall Richmond California 1943 44 and 45. We kept up on the war day by day as much as we could. Tom went in the Air Force in 1950 and I went Marine Corps Feb 53 to Feb 61.

God Bless, Semper Fi
Bob Schwerin

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 just read this morning's newsletter from Sgt GRIT. Yes, there are phoney Marines/Wannabes out there and having served in the beloved Marine Corps 1982-1991, it disgusts me that these phonies think they pull one over on us. I always ask questions every "real Marine" knows. One phoney couldn't even tell me the names or locations of the two Marine Corps Recruit Depots, when I reminded him of San Diego, of course he was quick to point out that his "sisters best friend" went there for boot camp. And one day one of the transients with his sign saying he is homeless approached and asked me if I was with the 2nd Marine Division (guess the fact I was wearing my cover from Sgt GRIT gave that away) I replied that I had been with the 2ndMarDiv and he informed me he was too! Only he was with the 101st Airborne! I looked at him silently for a minute to give him time to think about his answer, less than four minutes later, I told him the 101st Airborne is also in North Carolina and based at Ft. Bragg while the 2nd MarDiv is based at Camp Lejeune. I told him I am part of Marine Corps history as I was at Quantico, VA and witnessed the first Women Marine get promoted to Brigadier General Gail Reals, General if you read this and I misspelled your name, I apologize ma'am! I was amazed as this wannabe corrected me stating Women Marines go by "WACS!" I very politely informed this wannabe he was incorrect and during my time in the Marine with an MOS of 0151-Administrative Clerk, I had served with and beside some of the most dedicated and professional Women Marines in my time. I finally told this wannabe if he really wanted to impress me, instead of sitting outside the mall near the traffic light, he could walk one block over and talk to our local Marine Recruiter and enlist and this way he can learn Marine Corps History and perhaps earn the right to wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor! With that said he moved on to other cars. To be honest, I am more impressed with young 6-11 year olds who have in fact watched "Sands of Iwo Jima" and know more about Marine lingo than the phoney's that walk our streets, or the little girl in Long's who came up and hugged me as tight as she could and thanked me and all Marines for our service for our country, she did tell me she didn't know exactly what a "Marine is!" but her Grandma pointed me out and told her, "there's a Marine hon, he's one of the best and the few who can say he earned his title, the Marines have never just taken anybody!" I believe that wonderful Grandma must have known a lot of us Marines and she was passing down her knowledge to her granddaughter!

Semper Fi!

In response to Don R.'s recent story about someone pretending to be a Marine. I can only say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I myself have had a number of run-ins with persons claiming to have earned that which we all hold as our highest honor. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. It used to make me angry, but now I've come to understand that it should just make me even prouder. It does not take very long into a conversation with a "wannabe" to ascertain that this person craves respect and admiration so much that they would try and say they were a Marine. We know who we are, and we certainly know what it means to be a Marine. From the "fighting tops", Tripoli, Chapultapec, Belleau Woods, Iwo, Chosin, Hue, Beirut, Kuwait, Iraq, and the countless other 'climes and places' where each succeeding generation of Marines can only hope they uphold the legacy of the previous generations. Rather than get angry Don, simply share a "we both know you are not me " moment, and take heart in the simple fact that you are what that person only wishes they could be.

Semper Fidelis
Craig W. Anderson
LCpl of Marines '88-'92

Life improves slowly and goes wrong fast, and only catastrophe is clearly visible.
Edward Teller

To All,

I was left very emotional when I read your last newsletter. Even more so when I was aware that it was a 3 / 6 Marine. Parents the decisions your sons and daughters have made are great ones. Be proud of the fact that you have raised honorable men and women. It is not an easy decision to know that you will be taking up arms against your fellow man. But those honorable individuals who continue to make that decision do so because of their upbringing. It is with great emotion and admiration, and I know with the support of those that have served that I and all of them thank you and your families for the sacrifice that your children are making and continue to make on a daily basis. I know it is not easy and it does not ease the pain of separation and/or fear of loss.

But it is all due to your love and teachings that these men and women do what they do on a daily basis........ooooohh rrrraaahhh and semper fi

82 - 86
3rd Battalion 6th Marines

From Letter #155, 23 August, 07

To Proud Mother of Almost a Marine" –

My son in the 2/1 had the exact same experience, not sure he made the right decision during the first 2-3 weeks. Then, it changed. The Corps must have the date/week down pretty well by now! Keep up the encouragement as you will reap the rewards of being a proud parent of a Marine.

I am the proud father of a Marine who finished his second tour of Iraq last year and completed his 4 years last May.

He IS my hero!

J. Craig Wagner
Navy Vet

Whosoever is out of patience, is out of possession of his mind, body and soul.
Sir Francis Bacon

Sgt. Grit-

Working for Dept. Homeland Security at an airport in Michigan has afforded me a great chance to see the phonies come out of the woodwork.

I no longer greet suspect Marines with a "Semper Fi." I now ask and then give that sacred acknowledgment. I once screened an airline pilot with an eagle, globe and anchor on his tie. He was rude, inconsiderate, and thought he was much better than me. At the end of the session, I asked "Sir, were you an officer in the Corps, or an Airwinger?" Either answer he gave, I would have told him how rude he was. "I was in the Corps."

Was all I got. "What unit?" I asked. "Vietnam." was the reply. "Phony."

Said I, and walked away.

My favorite was the coffee guy who served coffee at a small coffee bar around the corner from the checkpoint. Shortly after his third or fourth week working there, he told me he had not been called 'Sir' so many times since he was a Drill Instructor!" "Really?" I asked. "Where did you scream at recruits?" "Fort Benning!" He replied. "Hmmmmm, Bruce, in the Army, they are called drill sergeants." I reminded him. He didn't say much after that, but I no longer tip him when I get my coffee from him.

Sometimes I see a passenger wearing some sort of USMC garb, in which case I will strike the conversation of asking if their child is serving in the Marines. They then have the floor to tell of their child, spouse, uncle, aunt, or their own service. Once, a gentleman told me he was wearing it because it reminded him of the service he should have gone into. He reluctantly told me he served in the Navy.

Of my co-workers, some will comment on the strength and tightness of Marines, and the one supervisor I have, is so jealous that he won't speak of military service because it is too painful for him to be reminded that he is army. army strong, all day yawn.

Jeremy Doxey

Dear Sgt. About two months ago you put me in touch with another soon to be proud Marine mom from Illinois. I am from Idaho, it so happened that our sons shipped out on the same day, both heading to MCRD San Diego. We have been in touch with each other ever since, for this I thank you, she has become a big and special part of my life. I wrote my son and asked him to try and find her son if he got a chance, I said his name is Ethan Stiverton, his reply to me was, and I quote: "Mom there are over 700 kids here and I'm not going to spend my time trying to find just one.

Besides echo co. 2101 is the enemy." so I thought that was that. Well, here is where God had his hand in their lives. They both just went through the crucible and my son Josh's platoon was split in 1/2, can you believe that he and Ethan met and became friends. God truly does work wonders as he brought two proud soon to be Marine moms together and then turned around and arranged for their sons to meet as well. I have read many stories about graduation day and I only hope that I will not cause a flood and drown everyone there. I get so emotional and the deepest sense of pride overtakes me that i can't help but cry. I want to thank you as well for putting me in touch with this wonderful person and I know that I have made a new family member through the Corps. Proud mom from Idaho - Jessie Stuart

Work as if you were to live 100 Years, Pray as if you were to die To-morrow.
Benjamin Franklin

I received the following letter from my old First Sgt. (from my Embassy Duty days).

Unfortunately, this simple letter speaks volumes.

Regardless of your politics, I thought this was a great letter....especially the last line.

From today's Honolulu Star Bulletin:

Troops went quietly as civilians slumbered

On the night of the 23rd, while your city slept, members of the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division at Fort Shafter convoyed their Stryker vehicles and other equipment to Pearl Harbor to load on ships for Long Beach, Calif. They will meet it there in late August and train for two months at the National Training Center in the desert to prepare for their 15-month tour in Iraq.

They moved their equipment at night so as not to inconvenience commuters. Forgotten now is that the interstate highway system was built as a National Defense Highway System on which military traffic was assured priority. They go to California because they cannot fire or use most of their equipment in Hawaii, this land that was the threshold of war for America a short half-century ago.

There was no mention of the passing of the 6,000 through the night while Oahu slept. There was no story or photos in the paper as they prepared to leave their homes and families.

Thus do Hawaii and all America, for that matter, mark the passing of this generation to war. They deserve better but they go quietly without disturbing the sleep of their countrymen.

My son was among them.

Jack Lewis
Oakland, Calif.

July, 1952. San Diego MCRD, Plt #463. Issued 1(ea) Battle Jacket, 1(ea) Blouse. Was informed the battle jacket was NEVER referred to as an "Ike Jacket" Was also informed that the General's dislike of The Corps stemmed from an occasion he had to inspect a Marine outfit, and someone had chalked on the barrel of a howitzer: "With God's help, and a few Marines, MacArthur retakes the Philippines". No sense of humor I guess.

Nearly eleven years later I was a navigator watching a few rough landings mixed in with the "grease jobs" and I thought I could do that! So out of the Corps, into the Army, WO flight school. (Spent the next ten years making my own bad landings) Off to Viet Nam. Two years there in the Caribou supporting the Special Forces Alpha Teams. Met more than a few former Marines both flying and in the team camps.

I took a long time to "grow up" and I credit the Corps for that!

Don Hammond CWO Ret. Army of the United States
Proud USMC Veteran

Your love of liberty - your respect for the laws - your habits of industry - and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness.
George Washington

Last Sunday we had the unmitigated pleasure of Brunch with the General...Lt.General (ret) Brute Krulak, USMC, 94 years young and sharp as ever. What stories he told...about USMC before WW2, his service in the Solomons, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as when he told off LBJ, and shared a bottle of 3 Feathers with JFK in the Oval Office. (He wrote "First to Fight" still in print).

He is a true living legend, and a wonderful representative of what's best in the USMC.

Barton Lane MD
USPHS 1973-75
Proud Dad-in-Law of MGySgt H.Alan Franklin

I was in the Corps from 1987-1994, Parris Island, SOI at Camp Geiger (0351), 3/7 Dragons Wpns Co, then in Desert Storm D Co. 1/1. I just wanted to let everyone know of the Veterans' History Project. Contact your local VA and inquire about who is the local affiliate. The person will come to your home, interview you on camera for the historical record, and borrow your pics and documents to make you a part of living history. Their focus was for the older vets cause they were dying off too quickly, and not enough of their stories were being told and recorded. It was interesting to go back in time and tell a civilian some sea stories...Thanks for the great motivation of your e-mails!

Sgt. Eric A. Eaton

One of the great maladies of our time is the way sophistication seems to be values above common sense.
Norman Cousins

Another phoney Marine: I had the cable guy out the other day (looked like Larry but without the funny), he mentioned something about when he was in the service, I asked which branch and he answered Marines. I asked what he did, he said he was a "jumper". No more questions yer honor! (I wanted to get back to the Military Channel and Fox News.)

I went thru 2ndITR at San Onofre in the spring of '59 and spent the rest of my first tour at Camp Pendleton. Onofre was pronounced On-a-fray, lately I have heard it pronounced O-no- fray, when and where did I miss the change?

L. H, Marshall

RE Newsletter - Spot the phonies - pictures

Speaking from the experience of chasing and EXPOSING thousands of phonies and fraudulent vets - they have pictures. And they have pristine DD214's.

There are millions of them posted on the internet for all to see and USE. Paper documents and pictures sadly prove nothing anymore. At times we must search rosters for EYE WITNESSES to the time, battle, unit and tale to check it's validity.

Can tell you the phonies are CHANGING history. For every tale not retracted, for every phony not confronted, bits of reality are lost forever.

Our site lists the REAL heroes within the POW/MIA community - and then regretfully, lists thousands claiming to be what they are not. It's an epidemic and we desperately need help keeping the TRUTH in history!

Semper Fi Mary and Chuck (Vietnam, India 3/5 )Schantag
P.O.W. Network

Branson, MO
Nov 5-11, 2007
Command Center all week.
Military GALA Nov 9
Marine Corps Birthday Nov 10
POW/MIA service at the WALL (Welk Resort) TBA

Freedom of speech ends where treason begins.

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
William J. H. Boetcker

About 6 months after the tragic incident at PI where 9 recruits drowned and the Senate Investigating Committee had gone, my buddies and I from Trenton, NJ entered boot (50 years ago exactly).

A great Marine named Gen Geo. E. Schell took over trng. command and stiffened things up. Our SDI, SSgt Wm S. Shannon (a Chosin vet) was tremendous. This was the formative moment of my life and got me through my ration of life's BS. This country was very different then. Discipline was much more a part of it.

Today's family structure, rampant consumerism and general disillusionment have taken their toll.

Let's all hope the USMC maintains a model of the right way to develop young people for their tasks ahead.

Chris Walton

Fellow Marines: It continues to amaze me how many former 'Force Recon' vets I seem to meet. 98% can usually be dismissed with one or two questions. What I really wonder is where are the thousands of Vietnam era USMC vets who where mechanics, Motor T, engineers, avionics, etc., supply, etc.? They need to step forward to counter the ever increasing numbers of "phonies".

Semper Fi, Col Tom Cook USMC(R) (Ret) 1962-1998

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Sir Winston Churchill

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Media Contact: Major Christian Devine, USMC (703) 614-2879

July 27, 2007
"Why We Serve" Speakers Program

The Defense Department launched a program in 2006 titled "Why We Serve" in an effort to help the American people understand why U.S. service members choose to serve their country and what that experience entails. Proudly, this program continues today as the DoD's premier speakers outreach program with our service men and women traveling around the country to engage the American public and share their experiences.

Service members representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, are traveling the country sharing their experiences and motivations for serving with groups ranging from Chambers of Commerce to Rotary Clubs, to grassroots organizations, conferences, schools and media outlets.

Allison Barber, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs explained that the program has one simple goal: to help connect returning military members with the general public and give them an opportunity to tell their personal stories.

The "Why We Serve" speakers hit the streets, without any DoD- generated "talking points" or packaged speeches – just their own thoughts to express in their own words, Barber said.

The goal is that they will go out on the road to different venues nationwide to tell their story," she said. "Why did they choose to serve the military? What did they do in Iraq or Afghanistan? And why are they are serving our country?"

Barber said she hopes the effort helps connect troops returning from overseas deployments with the American public and promotes understanding about what motivates them to serve. "It's an educational campaign," she said. "We are educating the citizens of this country about why people choose a different path and why they choose to serve this country."

Although the American public stands solidly behind its service members — as evidenced by the success of DoD's "America Supports You" program — the new Why We Serve effort is designed to create a more personal connection, Barber explained.

"You just can't beat face-to-face communication," she said, and that's exactly what the Why I Serve program will promote. The public will get a chance to shake hands with the troops, talk with them and ask questions about their experiences and see their photos. "And that bond can only be developed in one-on- one, real communication," Barber said.

The program has no political agenda, she emphasized. It's not designed to sway public opinion about the war on terror, but rather is simply to give people insight into their men and women in uniform.

Community organizations, business associations, academic institutions, veterans groups, and other non-profit or non- partisan organizations may invite a speaker from Why We Serve program by submitting a request via Please visit this website to learn more about the program, our current speakers, and their stories.

Confirmed speakers are provided at no cost to the host organization, regardless of location, throughout the country.

For general questions on the Why We Serve program or to request a speaker, please contact Ms. Jennifer Giglio at (703) 697-5976.

A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.
Mark Twain

Broken Heart and Hollow Body

On December 21, 2006, our son, LCpl., Ryan J. Burgess was killed in action, along with four other men, two additional Marines, a Navy Corpsman and an Iraq interrupter.

It was a day like any other, planning for Christmas, getting ready for a huge family dinner we were having that night and looking forward to time off work over the Christmas Holiday. My husband had left to run an errand for me and I was busy cooking when the door bell rang. There had been so many other times when I had had a funny feeling or an uneasiness about something when the doorbell rang. I would peek around the corner of our front door only to find the UPS guy, etc.

You see, our son's Humvee had hit an IED on November 17th, 2006, sending one or two (not sure exactly) Marines back to the States for further medical treatment, and landing two Marines (my son included) in a hospital in Iraq. I will never forget that call. I was scared to death, yet almost relieved as to think that we survived it, his turn was over. When I got to talk with Ryan, he downplayed the entire accident, telling me that what the military had told us was more serious than it really was and that he would be back out there right now if they would let him. He wanted to get the terrorist that had hurt his men. He was a vehicle commander, thus responsible for all the men in his Humvee. His plan was to return as soon as he could. He wanted the action.

Within weeks he was back out in the action. As funny as it may sound, after hearing that he would receive a Purple Heart from this injury, I felt a sense of calm. I almost relaxed a little too much. He was assigned a new driver and a new vehicle and out he went. Somehow I thought this accident proved he could survive. That he would be coming home safely from his second tour in Iraq. He had already made plans to re-enroll into college to finish his degree and was making plans to settle down with his sweetheart. He loved the Military and loved being a Marine, but also wanted to complete the education that he had cut short to join the Marines when he felt the calling. We were so proud of him.

I was at the base in Twentynine Palms, CA when he returned from his first tour in Iraq. I thought Boot Camp graduation was one of the most awesome ceremonies I had ever witnessed, but his first return paralleled that experience for me. He was due to return from his second tour in March, after being extended. We were planning on traveling to California with his sister, and her husband, his brother and his wife, and his girlfriend.

Then the door bell rang. I didn't slowly approach, Ryan was safe now. I turned the corner, and got a direct view of the side window. I stopped dead in my tracks. There were uniforms on my porch. I ran to the phone, called my husband and told him to return home immediately. I must have stood there for several minutes, thinking could they just be here to tell me he was hit again. The thought crossed my mind, wow he must really be hurt this time, they only called us last time. But I knew.

I know nothing would ever be the same again.

It has been eight months since he was killed when his Humvee once again was struck by and IED. His fellow Marines tell me that it was one of the largest blasts they had seen to date. I believe it was two anti-tank mines stacked on top of one another (not sure of the exact working). All five were killed and I do find some comfort in knowing that he did not suffer. We were forced to have a closed casket funeral. Not sure if I am happy about that or not. I had not laid eyes on him since late July, but not sure I could have spent the rest of my life knowing the last time I saw my son he was laying in a casket.

He was one of the most amazing young men. He was not afraid to join during a time of war; he loved his family, his friends and life. He certainly enjoyed the ride that life provides. He believed that freedom came with a price and everyone should be willing to fight for it. He did everything on the edge. We never had replace brakes on his vehicles because he never used them; however, he wrecked four cars getting through high school. We were frequent visitors to our local emergency room and on a first name basis with a lot of the doctors. Even after he returned from his first tour, he would e-mail us pictures of him rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Forest and his father and I would laugh with concern that he returned from Iraq safely once, yet could hurt himself or die stateside. He could melt you with his smile. Whenever I had to correct him or get after him, I could never look him in the eye. If I did, I just could not stay mad. He would walk up from behind me and give me a big bear hug and say "you know you love me". I would give anything to discuss the missed curfews and wrecked cars. I would give anything for one of his hugs.

When he told me he had received his orders for his second rotation to Iraq, I told him I didn't think I could take another eight months of constant worry. His response was "Mom, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but this is not about you. This is about what I want to do. I am sorry if that makes you worry, but it is what I need to do". I remember being taken back by his response at first, thinking about it as I lay in bed and coming to the realization that we raised this amazing, patriotic, selfless kid that became an awesome UNITED STATES MARINE. I still worrie