As a 1st Sgt of 3rd Bn. Kilo Co. while at Parris Island during the summer of 2001, I stepped out of the squadbay for a breath of fresh air and noticed a former Marine taking pictures of the barracks. As I got closer to the individual I noticed his wife sitting in the car patiently waiting for him to finish.
I struck a conversation with him just to pass the time and he informed that he had done two tours in Vietnam. By this time and hearing his fascinating stories, I just could not let him leave without inviting him inside the squadbay. I asked him if he would like to step inside the barracks and he quickly turned around and asked his wife if he could, she of course nodded her head up and down and he quickly turned around and had a look and smile of a ten year old boy who had just gotten permission to do what ever he wanted.
As we entered the squadbay Drill Instructor Sgt Brasil was giving a period of instructions to the recruits on the quarterdeck. We walked around the recruits and as we stepped further into the squadbay he stated that this was the actual squadbay he spent time in as a recruit back in 1968. He then proceeded to look for his rack. He touched four or five racks in a slow and timely manner and suddenly he stopped, turned around and said; this is it!
He also stated that everything looked the same and it felt like time had stood still. I took the camera from his hand and took a picture of him as he stood proudly next to his rack. As we were leaving, we passed by the head and of course he asked if he could enter. When we entered the head, he paused looked around and you could see he was full of emotions and suddenly fell to one knee and began to cry, He then proceeded to tell me something I will never forget "It is because of people like you that I survived Vietnam".
I of course went on one knee and began to cry with him and whispered in his ear "Welcome Home". I had some very fond memories while a Marine of over 21 years and of Parris Island (both good and bad) in the Drill Field, but by far this is one tale I will never forget. I tell this story from time to time and almost always end up with an eye or two full of tears but after all it is what it is "Marines being Marines".
Take Our Survey
Marine Wives? Best description...
- Understands me / the Corps completely
- She does not have a clue
- Wishes I'd joined the Peace Corps
- Says just bring home a " 6 pack"
- Prefers Chesty to me
And the greatest American President was...
(1) Ronald Reagan
(2) George Washington
(3) Abraham Lincoln
We call it 5 Marines
PFC Rachel K. Fredericks on Graduation day 10/18/08
Also, from the left
Aunt - Sgt Billie Jo Fredericks
Cousin - Sgt Rob Fredericks (active)
Uncle - SSgt Bill Payne
Uncle - Cpl Steve Fredericks
December 30th, 2008 Marine Sergeant / Police lieutenant Bobby Z. McAllister 75 reported in at heavens gates for duty. Bobby served during the Korean ( War ) as a artillery forward observer and was privileged in that he had been in formation one day and was inspected by Chesty Puller. Bobby was a Marines Marine and a perfect gentleman in the presents of the lady's. Throughout the years bob was more a father to me that father in law as I am married to his daughter, We spent many hours over the years reminiscing of our time in the Corps and going back and fourth about who had it the toughest ( Wouldn't admit it then but I am sure he did). Both of my son's would sit and listen as we would tell story after story with sort of a gleam in there eye's that pulled them closer and closer to the Corps as time went on.
Bob attended both of his grand sons graduation from boot camp at Parris Island, Seeing the drill, Listening to the cadence and just being around our beloved Corps again brought back so many memory's for both of us. I think we both felt 18 years old again, Even if was just for a few hours what a great experience . Bobby's is the first picture on the family's wall of honor and represents the first generation of Marines in our family, We will be looking forward to adding the fourth generation before to long, During Bobby's funeral his grand sons in there dress blues stood death guard at his casket and many people commented that neither one even blinked during the service and held back there tears until they were dismissed from the honor guard. Bobby was taken from us suddenly that day in December, But Because he is a Marine his name will live on forever just like the Marine Corps. I lost my Father, My Brother and my Friend that day and he will be missed by everyone who knew him.
Corporal of Marines
I love the Corps for those intangible possessions that cannot be issued: pride, honor, integrity, and being able to carry on the traditions for generations of warriors past.
Cpl. Jeff Sornig, USMC; in Navy Times, November 1994
Dear Sgt. Grit,
This Christmas my husband and I adopted some Marines through your Adopt a Marine program, and will keep doing it every year! Our son is a Marine and has been deployed to Iraq twice, and we know that it can be a really hard time for them during the holidays, so if we were able to bring a little bit of cheer to any of them by sending one of your packages then we're very grateful to you for making this happen.
The reason that I'm writing is, we received a flag that was flown over the Headquarters of Regimental Combat Team 1 at Camp Ramadi, Iraq. We were very surprised to get this and believe that it came from one of our adopted Marines. It will be placed along side the one that we received from our son while he was in Iraq. There was no note from anyone with the flag, so we just want to say "THANK YOU" to the men and women of the RCT-1, and we appreciate everything that they are doing to protect us and our country. We don't know if they will receive this, but we wanted someone to know that we did receive our flag and will treasure it forever!
Proud parents of a Marine,
Mike and Karen Gray
Just sharing: At our annual 233rd Celebration of the Birthday of the Corps (over 200 in attendance) one of our guests from the Phoenix Valley, an active duty recruiter, Sgt. Allen Casanova, stepped forward on the dance floor, got down on bended knee, proposed to his date, she accepted and we all stood and applauded to the playing of the Marine Corps Hymn.
Young Sgt. Casanova is now married and deployed. When Sgt. Major Casanova and his wife attend the 288th celebration of the Corps Birthday, they can look back and say, "WOW, that's where it all began!?
A highlight of our celebration here in Payson, AZ and another memory of the Corps.
Col., USMC (Ret)
Rim Country Detachment, Marine Corps League Payson, AZ
"A people ... who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages, may achieve almost anything."
In response to Jerry Wilson:
I too am a in-between-conflicts Marine. 1st LAR BN, 0352, '97-01', now a law enforcement officer. I believe the "Sheep dog/ Wolves" analogy can be credited to Ret. Army LTC Dave Grossman. Having recently been to one of his seminars, I believe he is right on the money. He trains both military and police, and if you have the opportunity to hear him speak, I highly suggest it. You are right, we have another cold war threat on our hands, read "Terror at Beslin", the wolves practice run on what is planned for our USA. As LTC Grossman would say, denial has no survival value, if you don't think it will happen in your community, you are setting yourself up to be terrorized- which is their goal. Though I no longer wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, I am still a Sheep Dog and will continue to train, prepare, and if the time comes, violently destroy the wolf. Oooh-Rah!
Cpl. Kris Galena USMC/0352 97-01
Hey, Sgt. Grit!
Just thought I would share a few photos of my son, Jesse. He is currently deployed in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan...
Proud Marine Mom
My dad ret. Sgt James Chris Kitinos passed away from bone marrow leukemia and 7 forms of cancer he left in pain but now may he rest in peace a Marine fought the toughest battle ....Semper Fi his daughter and wife are the only living family left now ooooooooohhhhhhrahh Semper Fi
"What we need now is cool heads without cold hearts or cold feet."
On January 24th of this year I had the great pleasure of marrying the man, (and the Marine), of my dreams! He's stationed at MCBH Kaneohe Bay, and I couldn't be more excited about moving there in two weeks. We had a nice, small wedding with a few of his closest fellow Marines at Hale Koa Beach on base. The minute I saw Jordan I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. November 7th, 2008 was our first date...(yes, that's right, we only dated for two and a half months before we got married...) But like the say, when you know...you know! The moment his Sergeant slapped me on the butt with that sword and said "Welcome to the Family" has definitely been one of the proudest moments of my life. I couldn't be happier standing by his side as a member in the Marine Corps family!
For richer, for poorer,
In good times and bad,
Wife of LCpl Jordan M. Kell
Memories from an old retired Master Sergeant... The first time I saw the reproduction of the original oil painting of General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (by Scott Mills), was on July 5, 1969. The following night after graduating from high school, I recall marching out of the rain and lightning into a squad bay in Parris Island, Marine Recruit Depot, North Carolina at 3 a.m. and getting the command "LEFT, FACE, MARCH!" Cold, trembling and timorous 80 recruits turned...Read more
A friend of mine Sergeant Major Robert Winslow passed away last year. Bob Was captured at Wake Island and spent 44 months as a guest of the Japanese! He was a nice guy and a h&ll of a Marine! Being a true Marine, he passed away on November 10Th! He will be missed. Semper Fi
Sheepdogs, Bulldogs, and old Marines: all same-o, same-o. All ready, willing, and eager to volunteer to go to Afghanistan and help our younger brothers and sisters put the mighty and righteous wrath of Chesty Puller into the hearts and minds of all those who believe that sneak-bombing innocents is a recognized religion.
Sandbox-denizen Indigenous Native Personnel have never experienced anything as frightening or as deadly as a former- Active Marine grown crotchety, and a true practitioner of "old age and treachery overcome (Taliban, Sunnis, Shiites - whomever)."
To the Commandant of The Marine Corps, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and The Commander in Chief, I respectfully and earnestly pray you, loose (we old) dogs of war: we've lived our lives - we've seen our sons and daughters become Marines - we've played with our grandkids - and we're sure sick of watching Oprah re- runs with the Old Lady. So, give us another opportunity to again help bring peace to a bedeviled world in turmoil. Don't pay us - just ship our wrinkled phannies over there, give us some cammie- jammies and a weapon, and cut us loose.
Sgt/USMC/RVN - '66 - '68
"Nowhere as lean, twice as mean, ALWAYS A MARINE"
Good example of why this every other week newsletter is called, AmericanCourage.
"Famines disappeared; poverty was (under capitalism) dramatically and continuously reduced; and hard and long hours of work were slowly but surely eased and shortened to a degree never before experienced."
Richard M. Ebeling
This is one of the most awesome newsletters You have put out I appreciate it and love my Marines. I have my son and his whole platoon. Thank the Lord.
Yours site provides lots of motivation and communication.
Thanks Marine Mom~~
Dear Sgt Grit,
I was a proud member of our beloved Corps during the very early nineties, and our first "major" scuffle in the sandbox. After reading what Dave Whitlock wrote, I just can't agree more. Times are hard for everyone now and it's not going to get better quickly (guess the politicians don't quite expedite and order like we do!) but my father is a prime example of what he says.
After over 30 years of devout service to his job he's been let go as of the first of the new month. My father, his father and going back four generations were all squids. My great- grandfather was a Sea Bee and hands on in the building of Guantanamo Bay, my grandfather (believe it or not) went from bombardier into dentistry, and my Dad was a Navy Corpsman in Nam...finished out his years in a paraplegic ward in NY. What he saw he doesn't talk about at all, even to me.
After my mother called and told me what happened I had to go over to the house and see what's what. I walk into the kitchen and my dad's there sitting doing a crossword puzzle. I walk in and ask "how are 'ya...mom told me". This I will never forget, he turns back looking me dead square and says "I'm good to go". A contingency plan was already in place and things are going to be fine for my parents, obviously took some notes along the way.
I grew up in a very military setting and for that I'm most thankful. All of our training gives us the ability to adapt and overcome, no matter what branch you fight with. The honor, discipline and respect I learned through my childhood and service to me is the greatest gift ever given.
This economic plunge is hurting everyone around the world. I'll never forget the aid and handouts I've done in other countries...never...
May God give us all safe passage home to see family...That was my prayer end every night...
"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."
I just wanted to submit a love story because everyone always tells us we should share...
Back in 2005 while I was doing volunteer work sending packages to the Military, one of my packages landed in the hands of Marine Sgt Alexander M Singer of the MACG-28 stationed in Iraq.
He acquired my email address to thank me and we started to talk and share stories but more important, since I live in Milwaukee Wisconsin, he was also from Wisconsin (what are the odds?? who knows, someone was looking out for me that day I swear) we became really good friends over the course of the next 6 months before he would come back stateside in January of 2006. I decided at that time that since he was only on a 4 day leave and didn't have enough time to make the drive back from NC to Wisconsin that I would fly down to meet him for the first time and thank him for serving my country and being my friend!
Well the rest is history, we took one look at each other at the airport, fell in love and just got married on January 16 of 2009...he is now out of the Corps after 5 years and 2 tours of duty to Iraq but I am proud of him everyday and my heart will always remain faithful!
A thank you, to a nameless Gunnery Sergeant:
(This story was told to me by my mother)
On February 17, 2009 my mother and father were attending a spinning class in the gym on Parris Island. My father in all of his infinite wisdom (and I'm gonna chide him for this for a LONG time to come) had decided not to take his blood pressure medication nor eat anything that morning. After about 20 minutes of spinning my father got off his exercise bike and sat down and became unresponsive. When my mother started to panic a gunnery sergeant who happened to be in the gym with a group of Marines sprung into action and helped my father by first calling 911 and then getting a cold wash cloth and putting it on his head and helping him until he became responsive again. My father was taken to Beaufort Naval Hospital and then to Beaufort Memorial Hospital and is doing fine now. My mother did not catch the name of the Gunnery Sergeant but has said she is very grateful for what he did to help save my father. My mother is not the only one who is grateful, the rest of my family is just as grateful. So if you are the Gunnery Sergeant who did this...thank you.
P.S. I know some of you read this and said to yourself "What type of moron doesn't take his blood pressure medication nor eat anything then goes and works out?" Well....my father was career Army if that explains it (hahaha)
"As the consumer is the public in general, without distinction of rank or fortune, the free market is the most obvious expression of the sovereignty of the people and the best guarantee of democracy."
I just wanted to share my day because it was incredible in many ways. Today my daughter in-law had her appointment for her 1st trimester ultra-sound. I was the driver and we were to meet my son who came from work on his lunch break. The hospital is in Weymouth and the only reason I mention that is I needed to go through Bridgewater to get there by Rte.18. Bridgewater Center was closed to all traffic because of the funeral for LCpl Preach who was killed in Afghanistan saving his fellow Marines.
Needless to say my mind was in 10 places at once as we drove around the center and I could see that several thousand people went to pay tribute to this young Marine. After we got past Bridgewater by 2 towns my mind got back to the ultrasound mission. Most of you guys know that we adopted my son when he was 4 days old so this 9 month pregnancy was totally different than the 1 1/2 years of interviews and then a phone call saying that our 4 day old son would be delivered by Toyota (my words) in 2 hours. I had to chase down my wife because she was gone shopping as it was our 9 year wedding anniversary (like she needs a reason to shop). So we are getting what we missed through my son and his wife. The ultrasound was absolutely amazing. The doctor who did it was incredible because she knew how amazing what she does is for the family. It was fun to see how happy she was as she showed this 2 1/2 inch miracle from head to toe showing every organ and how healthy the baby was. She gave us 10 pictures and even labeled one where the baby was sucking it's thumb "Hi Daddy". I was so d*mned happy I was crying.
As we went home we were able to go through Bridgewater Center where the flags were at 1/2 staff. My daughter-in-law mentioned that like LCpl Preach, I was a Marine. The only thing I could think to say was that there is a huge difference between us because I never was in combat. I also explained how heroic LCpl Preach was when he was put to the ultimate test. Those of you who have talked to me know that I have always had a problem with the fact that I got out just before the 1965 troop call up. I can't help it; it's just the way I feel. After I got home I got my workout gear and went to the health club. My mind was going back and forth but was mostly focused on the ultrasound. As I pulled into the parking lot one of my favorite country songs by Billy ray Cyrus came on. I sat and listened to the song and I think you will see the irony. Here are the lyrics. If I bored you, sorry.
I knew a man called him Sandy Kane
Few folks even knew his name
But a hero was he
Left a boy, came back a man
Still many just don't understand
About the reasons we are free
I can't forget the look in his eyes
Or the tears he cries
As he said these words to me
All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all
Now Sandy Kane is no longer here
But his words are oh so clear
As they echo through out our land
For all his friends who gave us all
Who stood the ground and took the fall
To help their fellow man
Love your country and live with pride
And don't forget those who died America can't you see
All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall, yes recall
Some gave all
Some gave all
"There was always talk of esprit de Corps, of being gung ho, and that must have been a part of it. Better, tougher training, more marksmanship on the firing range, the instant obedience to orders seared into men in boot camp."
I copied this from a site I blog on. The Texas Hunting Forum.
Addison is a town north of Dallas that covers roughly 4 1/2 square miles and is the home of the areas Executive Airport.
A little after noon today I noticed a large number of emergency vehicles parked about mid-field in front of one of the executive terminals. Two of those vehicles were ladder trucks and they were in the process of raising a huge American Flag between the two booms.
At about 12:45 an aircraft landed, turned off the runway and taxied to the executive terminal. As the aircraft approached the emergency vehicles 2 large sprays of water started upwards making a large arc that the aircraft taxied under. As the aircraft proceeded it taxied between the two ladder trucks and under the American Flag then on to the terminal where it parked amid a very large gathering of people.
In the aviation sector the arc of water signifies an ending, could be the last flight of an aircraft, the last flight of a pilot or in this case the end of journey.
The City of Addison was welcoming home one of it's own. A young man killed in Afghanistan serving his country. It was very moving to witness.
Just thought you would like to know what one Texas town was doing.
When British troops occupied Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812, commanding officer Admiral Cockburn entered the Capitol building and called an assembly of his soldiers. "Gentlemen," he said, "the question is, shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned? All for it say aye!" As the chorus of ayes rose in the House chamber, Cockburn brought down the gavel. "Light up!" he said, and the Capital was burned.
What's in a name?
Civil War--Reb Johnny Reb, Yank, D*mnyank
Spanish-American War--Rough Rider
World War I--Doughboy
World War II--GI Joe, Swabby, Flyboy
I am not a Marine. Was station on the USS Holland (AS-32) when it was in Holy Loch Scotland. The first day aboard in the welcome aboard presentation I was told to stay out of the passage ways when a security drill is called. It seemed like they had them all the time. It only takes a squid one maybe two or three times to learn they weren't joking around. Ha Ha Now that I am retired my son who is a Marine Guard. I tell him to knock one down for me! Sailor never learn!
Tom Hoover LT. (USN-RET)
"The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses."
I looked at the video and was shocked when I saw myself in the video. I was the one sitting in the Hootch.
On My Way To Vietnam (Video)
Michael L. Wentz HM3 USN
"A" Batt. 11th Marines 1st MarDiv.
We were really young then!
Thanks and thank you for supplying all the goodies.
On Monday morning February 23, 2009, the ranks of the guards at the gates of Heaven were enlarged by one more Marine. Lucio Moreno went home to be with the Lord.
LUCIO MORENO was a Board Member of the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Foundation of Texas. He was the President of Chapter 574 of the Vietnam Veterans of America of El Paso, Texas and also a Charter Member of that Chapter.
Lucio served in the United States Marine Corps from January 1968 - January 1970.
His tour of duty in Vietnam was August 18, 1968 - September 1969.
He served with Alpha Company, 1st Bn, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division.
He continued to serve his community until his passing. The name of Lucio Moreno will be remembered through out El Paso and the State of Texas. He will be missed at Angel Fire, New Mexico at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park by all who come for the Memorial Day Weekend.
Tent City just will not be the same.
I am Proud to say that Lucio was one of my closest and dearest friends.
I for one will always remember his Big smile and his even Bigger Heart.
Semper Fi Lucio and may God Bless your family at this time.
Sgt USMC 73-79
"Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy."
Because my 62nd birthday was 2/1, I thought today (2/26) was time to renew my drivers' license and buy the 2009 tags for my horse trailer.
At the Deputy Registrar/License Bureau, the bell on the front door rings each time someone enters or exits. As I waited in line with about five others for our turn at one of the three stations at the counter, the bell rings and everyone looks to see who's coming or going.
It was a Marine in his dress blues - a breathtaking sight, to say the least! At the same time everyone in the office, staff and customers, started to cheer and applaud this poster Marine SSgt. He was visibly surprised and quite speechless for a moment. Two patrons stepped aside from the counter so he could be served ahead of them.
After he regained his voice, he humbly answered questions about each of the glittering medals on his chest. He said he'd just been transferred here from NC for recruiting duty. What a perfect example of the Marines we know, love and respect. We all stood a little taller today.
Old WM PISC 1965
This is PFC Bonehead, ready for liberty call. all 6 lbs. of guard dog.
from Bart Baldwin, Brackettville, Tx. SEMPER FI
"In case of doubt, attack."
Gen. George Patton
When I returned from a tour with the 3rd Div in 1961 I was assigned to the Supply Center at Albany, Ga. I checked into Battalion HQ which was located in the Administration Building and after processing, I was told to report to the Company Office and was given direction as to its location. The office was located at the end of a long hallway and as I approached the office there was another office with an open door and sitting behind the desk was a Warrant Officer and he was talking on the phone. The strange part was that he had the mouth piece where it should have been, but the ear piece was in the middle of his chest. I thought that this was some new communication device that I had not seen before.
Later on I learned that the WO was Gilson Tallentire who had been assigned to Battery E on Wake Island and had spent over 3 ï¿½ years in Japanese prison camps in China and Japan. He had many physical problems the least of which he wore a hearing aid.
I did not realize the esteem in which the survivors of Wake Island where regarded until we were celebrating the Marine Corps birthday and WO Tallentire was the officer of the day. When he entered the mess hall we were call to attention and the mess sgt announced "We have a hero with us today. A Wake Island Survivor."
It's funny where you find your heroes.
James M. Kriska
When The United States Marine Corps Was Nearly Disbanded
Today's Marine isn't aware of this and many of the Old Marines doesn't know that Congress (with the active Participation of the President) were making a Bill that would disband the Marine Corps and only the Speech to Congress by the, Commandant of the Marine Corps, did the Bill fail to Pass and the Marine Corps is as it is today.
After Iwo Jima, Admiral Nimitz Said; "Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue" "This will Guarantee the Marine Corps Existence for Ten Thousand years"
World War II ended with the demobilization of all Americas Armed Forces, the new President said; "The American People are Tired of War" and refused to help the Chinese and other countries fight the Communists. Harry S. Truman's saving grace was the Berlin Airlift.
The was a General Hatred for the Marine Corps dating from World War One by most of the U. S. Army serving in that War. The reasons, mostly, had to do with the Marine Corps getting most of the publicity from the Great War than other Services.
Harry Truman was one of these former World War One Veterans that carried the Hatred with him into Office of the President of the United States of America.
A Bill was presented to Congress that would make all Americas Armed Services into One Organization called "Armed Forces of the United States" having common uniforms, one flag, common weapons and the tools of War such as Tanks, Planes, Ships, Rifles, Pistols, etc.
The Marine Corps would be disbanded, any Marine that wished to continue would be re-enlisted in the United States Armed Forces.
The Commandant at that time was the Guadalcanal Hero, General Alexander Vandergriff. He made a speech to The Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, 6 May 1946. The Speech can be had from Headquarters Marine Corps, Historical Section. But the last Paragraphs were the real kicker and won the Congress Vote for a United States Marine Corps.
Here is the last Paragraphs for Marines to enjoy;
"In placing its case in your hands the Marine Corps remembers that it was this same Congress which, in 1798, called it into a long and useful service to the Nation. The Marine Corps feels that the question of its continued existence is likewise a matter for determination by the Congress and not one to be resolved by Departmental legerdemain or a quasi-legislative process enforced by the War Department General Staff.
The Marine Corps, then, believes that it has earned this right-- to have its future decided by legislative body which created it--nothing more. Sentiment is not a valid consideration in determining questions of national security. We have pride in ourselves and in our past but we do not rest our case on any presumed ground of gratitude owing us from the Nation. The Bended Knee is not a tradition of our Corps. If the Marine as a Fighting man has not made a case for himself after 170 years of service, he must go. But I think you will agree with me that he has earned the right to depart with Dignity and Honor, not by subjugation to the status of uselessness and servility planned for him by the War Department".
You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth- and the amusing thing about it is that they are.
Father Kevin Keaney
1st Marine Division Chaplain
Before and after "Taking Chance"
While I have not yet seen the movie "Taking Chance" I look forward to watching this portrayal of human drama and respectful gratitude for a fallen Marine being escorted to his final resting place. There is, however, a beginning and an ending to this journey which I don't believe is covered in the movie but which is an integral part of any such undertaking.
As a retired Marine Corps officer, I speak from the experience of knowing the Marine Corps policy of casualty notification and assistance to the next of kin of Marines who became casualties in the Viet Nam War. By casualties I refer to not only those killed in action (KIA) but also those wounded in action (WIA). I can't believe Marine Corps policy has much changed over the years. The old policy of initial notification/condolences by the rather blunt, impersonal means of a telegram first was replaced by personal notification and condolences first with the telegram details following. This is the beginning absent I believe in the "Taking Chance" story and the ending not addressed is the assistance provided to the next of kin following burial services. There is a similar beginning, during and ending process involved with WIA's, particularly those seriously wounded requiring extensive hospitalization.
Casualty Notification and Assistance Officers can be appointed from various Marine Corps commands and other activities as an additional duty by higher headquarters. When I returned from Viet Nam I commanded the Marine Barracks at NAS, Lemoore, CA. Our area of responsibility covered a large expanse of the San Joaquin Valley and extended West to the coastal areas of Kern and San Luis Obispo Counties. Our notification process started with a phone call from our Marine Corps District Headquarters in San Francisco giving us the basic details of the death or wounding of the Marine, the name(s) and address of the next of kin and a time line of 24-48 hours to make the notification before the release of the telegram. The time line was based upon the distance involved for travel and we had to immediately report any delay in locating the next of kin.
Following death notifications, we also became involved in coordinating with funeral directors and Marine escorts, when assigned, in providing appropriate military honors at the burial services if requested by the family. Shortly after the burial services, the ending process I mentioned before began when we received a packet of forms which we assisted the next of kin to execute, such as insurance and other benefits. While cases involving a wounded Marine were not as detailed insofar as hands on assistance, there were times when we were required to provide follow up reports on the member's prognosis or forward questions of the family in some regard.
It should be noted that there is no "Guide Book" laying out cut and dried methods of conducting notifications, especially those involving the death of a Marine. It is a stressful and often highly emotional task. It requires the ability to adapt to widely varying degrees of grief on the part of the next of kin. There are "good" cases where the grief is handled extremely well and "bad" cases where the tendency is "to shoot the messenger". The numerous assignments we received were rotated among all the officers in the Barracks, including myself, to avoid "burnout". It was and I'm sure still is pretty common knowledge for families with Marines serving in a combat zone that when a Marine officer comes to the door, he is probably not bringing good news. I can recall a case or two where I was making a WIA notification and had family members become hysterical when they saw me at the door. I had to literally shout for them to calm down and say, "He's only wounded!" Needless to say, those cases involving the death of a Marine had to be handled quite differently.
I can't recall the specifics of all the notification cases I handled but two stand out in my memory, both involving a death notification.
One was a "bad" case where the Marine was killed when a watch tower he was manning collapsed. During Secretary of Defense McNamara's tenure, he devised a plan to "wall off" the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Viet Nam to prevent North Vietnamese Army infiltration. This plan involved erecting a string of watch towers to augment various intrusion detector devices implanted to warn of enemy movement. This Marine's father was aware of what had come to be known as "McNamara's Folly" and his grief was magnified by his anger at what he deemed the senseless death of his son. I don't recall exactly how I handled this situation but I do know that I had to walk a fine line between trying to console the father and not openly criticize a Defense Administration policy which I also felt was poorly planned and executed.
The "good" case was one which to this day still brings a lump to my throat in remembering the pride the parents had in their son, an only child. The father was a construction worker and the mother worked as a waitress in a highway service center not far from their home. One of the requirements for the notification team was to have a Navy Chaplain or civilian clergyman along representing the religious preference of the deceased Marine. In this case, we were told that the Marine was Catholic, so I arranged for our Catholic Chaplain, Father Keely, to accompany me. The father was home when we made the call and the mother was working. After several moments with him, he asked if we would go with him to tell his wife. Of course we said we would and drove him to the restaurant, entering by the kitchen door. The father asked one of the other waitresses, who happened to be in the kitchen, to ask his wife to come back. She obviously knew why we were there and started to cry. Father Keely gently but firmly calmed her down and told her we needed her help in this. There was of course an emotional scene when the mother was told but there was no recrimination and only pride expressed by both parents that their son had died serving his country.
As we later discussed funeral service arrangements, I asked if they would like to have Father Keely participate in the burial services in any way. They told me that they were not Catholic but they knew their son had put down Catholic as his religious preference when he enlisted because his best friend who enlisted with him was Catholic. We relayed this information to District Headquarters for any adjustments necessary. On a subsequent visit with them as their Casualty Assistance Officer, I noticed that they had a glass enclosed case on the fireplace mantel with their son's medals, shooting badge and PFC chevrons displayed. I noticed right away that the PFC chevrons were upside down. I remarked that it was a wonderful tribute to their son's service but would they mind if I made a small adjustment to it. Of course they said I could so I brought it down and very quietly reversed the PFC chevrons telling them I knew they wanted it to be perfect. I have no doubt that to this day that display case occupies a place of honor in their home.
I recently put the uniform back on and administered the Oath of Enlistment to my grandson as he entered the Marine Corps. I pray that there will never be anyone "Taking Bryce" but, if so, I know his parents and the rest of the family would carry with them always the knowledge that he was Semper Fi to the end.
LtCol USMC (Ret)
"[G]overnment, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one."
I would like to respond to former Marine Bruce Taylor. He laments the fact that as a peace time Marine he never saw combat. I think all peace time Marines sometimes feel "less than" because they didn't see combat. I served from "60"-"64". I would have gladly re-upped if I had not gotten married in my third year. Around "63" the Viet Nam conflict had begun to heat up and as an 0311 I stood a fair chance of going there and seeing combat. I too wondered about the experience of being in combat. "Could I cut the mustard", "Would I be a combat hero or just another grunt", "Would I have received some terrible wound or been killed?".
I have since come to the conclusion that it is fruitless to bother one's self with these thoughts. Things happen for a reason. I've also had time to lose the romanticized view of combat. It is not something a sane person should really want to see. Our poor troops in Iraq are now coming home with more ills, both physical and mental which will attest to combat's damaging effects. And this is in a conflict that we literally kicked the s--- out of our adversary years ago. Shameful.
This is funny.
Why Iraq Is Taking So Long (video)
"We must remember that one man is much the same as another, and that he is best who is trained in the severest school."
My Father was the Sergeant Major of the U.S.S. Charleston when the war broke out in 1941. I was always proud of this Georgia Farm boy and tried to emulate him. Dad was stationed on Parris Island from 1946 - 1950. Parris Island was a marvelous place to live as a young teenager. I worked for my Father as a P.X. Employee in "RECRUIT ISSUE" across the street from the Hygienic Unit. I listened intently to "SEA STORIES" whenever I could.
When I joined the Marine Corps I knew exactly where I was going and knew many of the people who would be my mentors.
As training progressed we were asked to fill out "DREAM SHEETS". Korea was rapidly leaving the picture and I felt that if I was going to dream, I would like to do it on a Ship, "Like Daddy Did". Low and behold, I was assigned Sea School in Portsmouth, Virginia. When we finished Sea School we were sent on work details until we were assigned to a ship.
One day at the 1300 muster names were called for people who would be leaving that afternoon. One man missed muster and the Company Gunny said to me, "WATSON, do you want to be an Admiral's Orderly?" DUMB QUESTION! Instantly I responded "YES SIR". The Gunny told me to go in to the office and tell the clerk that "SMITH" (or whomever) had missed muster and to give me the orders to "SECOND FLEET". That evening I reported to Commander Second Fleet at NAS Norfolk!.
Our Admiral owned every ship in the Atlantic Ocean whenever he held exercises. We went on two "OPERATION MARINER"s on IOWA and then WISCONSIN. On one of these exercises we took a British Admiral and his Staff on board by helicopter. I was the orderly for our Chief of Staff, a Navy Captain who in the order of "pecking " was considered to be "junior". The Orderlies did not follow directly behind their bosses, but instead followed the last person who rated an orderly in a single line, I was the last orderly that day.
We left the Flag Bridge when the helicopter was ready to fly the British Admiral off. In our Party was our Admiral, the Skipper, The X.O., The British Staff and any orderlies they might have had, the orderlies from the Marine Detachment and finally Commander Second Fleet orderlies. I was the "last man".
This string of humanity left the Flag Bridge (forward), climbed down the ladders and headed to the fantail in the appropriate order of seniority with the Chief Master of Arms in the lead blowing his tin whistle in the time honored fashion of seafarers. I was the last man in the gaggle and could hardly keep a straight face when I realized how strange we looked stretched out a hundred yards or more following the Pied Piper of a magnificent Man O'War. The funniest thing about it was the White Hats who wandered in toward the gaggle did not know exactly what was going on or, exactly what to do, some saluted the Officers, some looked befuddled and others saluted until all the Marine orderlies passed by.
Henry L. Watson, Jr,
Captain, USMC, Ret.
"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined."
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood."
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."
The Declaration of Independence
No Better Friend No Worse Enemy T-shirt
God Bless America!
Welcome Home Marine, Job Well Done.