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AmericanCourage #202     11 JUN 2009

"The galleries are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down in the arena are the doers. They make mistakes because they try many things. The man who makes no mistakes lacks boldness and the spirit of adventure. He is the one who never tries anything. He is the break in the wheel of progress. And yet it cannot be truly said he makes no mistakes, because his biggest mistake is the very fact that he tries nothing, does nothing, except criticize those who do things."

David M. Shoup
United States Marine Corps

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Sgt. Grit,
I am the son of a Marine that was in the 5th Marine Division at Iwo Jima. Dad never talked much about Iwo but I knew he was always proud to be a Marine. In the last days before he died I had been reading James Bradley's "Flags of Our Father's" and I was gaining an understanding of what my dad had endured on the beaches of Iwo Jima. We were able to get him to open up a little before he passed.

He talked of the hand to hand fighting that took place the night that last bonsai charge came. That his unit had been waiting to board ship that day to leave Iwo and they had turned in all their ammo except for one clip each. He talked about a Mustang pilot that shared a bottle with dad and his fox hole buddy earlier that evening. As most of you already know that entire unit of pilots was slaughtered as they slept that night. Dad said when their one clip was gone they fought with anything they could swing.

When Dad passed I found in his wallet a card he had been carrying for over fifty years. The card reads "Imperial Domain of the Golden Dragon" and is dated 2315 hrs, 31 January 1945. It also states he was on board the "Rutland".

I was pretty much puzzled by this because I knew on that date he was on his way to Iwo. Then I remembered James Bradley had written about a hazing that took place when a Marine crossed the international date line for the first time.

This Memorial Day as I remember my dad and what he stood for I want to thank every man and woman that ever wore the uniform. And if Dad was here I think he would want me to add "Semper fi"

Michael Swartz

(Proud son of) PFC George A. Swartz
5th Pioneer Battalion

Dixie and her Marine fiance No real story, I just wanted to say thank you to ALL military veterans and active duty men and women. I'm only 17 so of course I wasn't much concerned about the war and such, until I met my fiance.. He is in the Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune. He will be leaving again in February of 2010 for Iraq or Afghanistan. I never knew how hard it would be with the deployments and being 4 hours away from each other during the weeks. I feel myself to have a very important job now, taking care of my Marine and hoping for a safe trip home. Thank you again :D

Dixie Roberts

And I Quote...

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."
-- George Washington

Acting SSgt William H. Lewis, Jack's SDI Acting SSgt William H. Lewis was our Senior Drill Instructor in Platoon 264 at MCRD San Diego. I was Platoon Guide (sometimes Right Guide but usually Left Guide) from shortly after we left Receiving Barracks in late August 1959 to graduation just before Thanksgiving 1959. As a result, I spent more time in the duty hut than other recruits. I should add that most of that time was spent in the "thinking position" doing penance for our platoon's transgressions on any given day. Ten years later, in 1969, when I was a Captain and the S-3 for 1st Recruit Training Battalion (1stRTBn), I got a call from the Regimental Adjutant, Capt Frank Waters (an LDO, later as a LtCol to become Admin Officer to CMCs Wilson and Barrow). He asked me if I had anything to keep some former 8511s (DIs) busy for a while. There were some SNCOs in his office that had been sent down from Balboa Naval Hospital where they were recuperating from wounds or other injuries/maladies, were bored to death, and needed something to do to occupy their time. Since they were 8511s they came to the Recruit Training Regiment (RTR). I asked my Ops Chief if he had any special projects that he needed to have done. He said he had one but he would only need one man. I told Frank we could use one, to have him report to me, and I hung up the phone.

Capt. Jack A. Ruffer, USMC, MCRD San Diego, 1969 Several minutes later I heard foot steps on the deck of the old wooden WWII-era building that was the 1stRTBn's headquarters (our building, the other two battalion's headquarters and DI School were situated on the four corners of that block with the Centralized Recruit Administrative Center and the RTR armory filling in the east and west flanks). The foot steps became louder as they got closer to my office. In an instant I heard the sound of heels snapping together and a deep husky voice announcing, "Sir, Gunnery Sergeant @#%&$ reporting to the Captain as ordered, Sir." I didn't catch the name due to the sound of a jet airliner taking off from Lindbergh Field next door but there are a couple of things a Marine never forgets: his service number and the voice of his senior drill instructor. I looked up to see Gunnery Sergeant Lewis standing at rigid attention, head and eyes fixed straight ahead at the bulkhead above and behind me. I asked, "Gunny, do the numbers 2, 6 and 4 mean anything to you?" He paused for a few seconds with a quizzical look on his face and then responded, "Sir, no Sir". I then asked, "How about Platoon 264"? After a second or two the Gunny glanced down at me and then at the name plate on the front edge of my desk. His head and eyes snapped abruptly up and straight ahead again. I then heard him softly exclaim, "Oh s_ _ t, Sir". In His wisdom, God had seen to it that our roles were reversed. I was now the senior and there was justice in this world after all.

Pvt. Rugger, Plt Guide at Camp Matthews rifle range, 1959 I didn't have time to talk with him just then as the Battalion Commander and I had a meeting to attend at Regiment. I turned the Gunny over to my Ops Chief, MSgt Schlecht, and joined LtCol Dallas R. Walker for our walk across the street. When I returned an hour or so later, the Gunny was gone. He'd completed whatever task my Ops Chief had given him and that was the last time I ever saw Gunnery Sergeant Lewis.

Several years after my retirement I got a call from a MGySgt acquaintance who had access to the newly computerized personnel system. He asked for my Senior Drill Instructor's name and after a brief search he gave me GySgt Lewis' mailing address. Now maybe it's just a coincidence but every holiday season after that phone call Gunny Lewis got an anonymous Christmas card just to let him know that someone was thinking about him. About the time the card sender (whoever that person might have been) was ready to "fess up", he learned that the Gunny had died a few months earlier. His family told me he looked forward to the cards and suspected, correctly, that they came from one of his former recruits. The family would later invite me to his grandson's commissioning ceremony and post-ceremony celebration cocktail/dinner party. The young man had just graduated from San Diego State University (unfortunately it was the Air Force that got him). He's now a senior Captain at Nellis AFB, an experienced F-16 instructor pilot and combat veteran.

We only get to San Diego about once a year now but every time my wife and I go we stop by Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery out on Point Loma to visit some friends. Among the graves we visit is that of Gunny Lewis (Section A-F, Site C-27D). It's fitting that his grave is located where it is, high toward the southwest end of the cemetery overlooking San Diego Bay. On a clear day you can see MCRD from there and I'm sure he's keeping an eye on things making sure we're still making Marines like he used to.

Jack Ruffer
Major, U. S. Marine Corps (Ret)
Palm Desert, CA

My Marine My Hero Shirt

Hey Sgt Grit;

Just wanted to let you know that I had similar situation as Brian Schultz and understand what it meant when someone says thank you and welcome home.

In October of 07 me and the wife went to Branson MO for a couple of days and went to Silver Dollar City. The morning that we arrived it was announced over the loud speaker for all veterans to go to the main flag pole where the colors were to be done for the day. They had veterans raise the colors for that day. What a sight that was to behold. Later on that day as we walking the grounds and looking at the various vendors I heard someone holler out "Hey Marine". That caught my attention since I was wearing my Red Marine Ball Cap that morning. I turned around and it was a young lady that made the statement. I said "Yes Maam" what can I do for you."

She asked me if I was Viet Nam Vet. I told her yes that I was. She gave me a key chain that she had beaded with the colors of the Viet Nam Service ribbon. She looked me square in the eye and said "Thank you for your service and welcome home", and gave me a big ol hug. Needless to say I was not ashamed that tears were running down my check. I told her thank you and that no one ever said that to me. The rest of the day I walked a little prouder and taller that day. It will me a day that I will remember.

Just wish we all could have received that when we got back.

Mike Parkhurst
RVN 70-71

And I Quote...

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
-- Sir Winston Churchill

SGT. Grit,
After reading this story with a tear I will never again degrade any female Marine. I will also apologize to my best friend's wife for all the h&ll I have given her over the years. I grew up with her husband Ray and we have been friends for 40 years. We went to boot (the only one I know) Parris Island. I stayed in the Reserves and he went back to Parris Island as an MP.

I regret to this day that I never went active, but I did have more training and survived Mountain Warfare School and Winter Survival School. We arrived at Parris Island on 8 June 1976 and completed training 24 August 1976. We were 3rd Battalion Platoon 347 under the leadership of SSgt. T.W. Wyckoff. We took both drill competitions and just missed taking the range. We had the old greens full of starch, haven't sweat starch in a long time may have to buy a bottle as Ray got us the "OLD Corps" covers. He does not know it but I am going to buy from you the cover block for us. Below is the best saying I often put at the end of my emails I send out if you have a good one let me know. Thanks again for the news letter I look forward to it.

John W.C. Riffle

And I Quote...

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem."
-- Ronald Reagan

The League and myself Rendered Honors at a funeral for a James W. Erwin Piping for the Fallen Warriors Memorial for Golf Company 2/24, of Madison

Recently the League and myself Rendered Honors at a funeral for a James W. Erwin, (Sept 6,1927-May 1,2009)

Then yesterday, for Memorial day I had the Honor and privilege of piping for the Fallen Warriors Memorial for Golf Company 2/24, of Madison. There was a good crowd there in attendance. Of course the Marine League was there for that as well.

Semper Fi, and carry on.
Javier Teniente

PFC Castilleja My son graduated from MCRD San Diego on May 22, 2009 as Pfc. Castilleja and Meritorious Honors. I can't think of anything that could make me prouder!

Thank you,
Angel Castilleja

And I Quote...

"No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave."
-- Calvin Coolidge

Home for Christmas! Cpl. Nicholas Xiarhos
Cpl. Nicholas George Xiarhos

On Friday, May 15, 2009 under a cerulean blue North Carolina sky, my wife and I watched our oldest son, Marine Cpl. Nicholas George Xiarhos; go off to war in Afghanistan.

Steven, Lisa, Alexander, Elizabeth, and Ashlynne Xiarhos Earlier in the week we gathered Nicholas's three younger siblings together and drove all night from Yarmouthport, Massachusetts to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., to visit with him and his brother Marines and then watch them get on the buses to start their important but dangerous 7-month mission to seek out and clear the enemy out of several vital areas and cities in southern Afghanistan.

Nicholas is 21 years old and is a Class of 2006 graduate of Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School. He fought in Iraq last year, and thanks to his brother Marines, returned home safe for Thanksgiving. He now joins fellow DYRHS class of 2006 classmates, Marine Cpl. Andrew Coville and Marine Lance Cpl. John Tibbetts as part of the historic Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Afghanistan. All 3 fought together in Iraq and now in Afghanistan.

We look forward to all of the Marines accomplishing their mission and their safe return this Christmas...that will be the best Christmas present ever!

Steven, Lisa, Alexander, Elizabeth, and Ashlynne Xiarhos
Yarmouthport, Massachusetts

And I Quote...

"Man is not a slave of society, but a sovereign being."
-- Edwin A. Locke

Sgt. Grit,

I can only imagine how often the stories that cross your desk hit you right in the gut and heart. The current one regarding the female Marine yanked at me hard.

Thank you for sharing them.


Good afternoon,

First, I would like to extend my condolences to the Rawlings family.

Second, I would like to say that I totally agree with the letter. I am a former Marine and always hated it when we were called WM's or Women Marines. We earn the title just like the men, so don't separate us. We earned the title, Marine, not Women Marine, just MARINE! Our uniforms do not say US Woman Marine, it just says: MARINE!

The shop I worked in, was, of course, all men, so when they would say something about WM's or Women Marines, I would give them a nice "class" on not calling us WM's. If or when they would do it again, I would just counter with, male Marine and would do that for awhile, until they finally got the picture.

Before I got out, not one of them called me a WM or referenced WM's, just Marine!

I never tell people I was a Woman Marine, I am and always will be a MARINE! Just Marine!

So, to all the Male Marines out there, how about changing the school of thought and just get rid of WM completely! We are just as much Marines and earned that title just like you, so next time you are talking to a Marine, who happens to be female, just refer to her as Marine!

Thanks for letting me sound off!

Kyla Lout
(Cpl, USMC, 91-95)

And I Quote...

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread."
-- Thomas Jefferson

Greetings Sgt. Grit and Oorah to Marine Moms & Dads.

I am a taekwondo instructor and mom of S/Sgt Andy Schwartz, currently in the MECEP program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk VA.(He is married to Amanda, also a Marine, and they are about to have their first little Marine baby) Andy went to black belt before I did when he was 12, and did well in the martial arts sections of his Marine training.

A young man just out of the Marines came to our taekwondo school. His demeanor was exceptionally polite and respectful, and his work ethic superior. He advanced quickly, and was sparring quite soon.

I know you will understand that point sparring is an entirely different game, and for a completely different purpose than the highly efficient techniques used in close combat situations to permanently neutralize an adversary. You will understand that it might be possible for an old woman, who has been doing this kind of sparring for 17 years to score several points on a young Marine, for whom this kind of exchange is not so familiar. Still he did get the normal ribbing you might imagine, he being a Marine, and all.

My response was "Of course! I'm a Marine Mom. I spank Marines."

The young Marine received the reminder graciously.

Marian Schwartz
Mom of
S/Sgt. Andrew Schwartz USMC

Memorial Day -2009

The 5 - Honolula My Father and his Marine Corps buddies, a 60+ year timeline, and never forgotten encounters are what follows in a little written capsule I would like to share on this Memorial Day 2009. My father Robert E. Vogel served in WWII as part of the 4th Marine Division, 20th Marines (Engineers), 23rd Marine Regiment, Company "A" with the tour through the Pacific including Roinamur, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. My Father passed away in 1960 at 36 years of age when I was 10 months old. Though my mother retained many of my father's records, letters, and photos from the war, there was a time to seek insight from those who may have served with my Dad. On Veteran's Day 1998 I started the search on the internet for information regarding my Dad's service. About 5 months later on April 1st, 1999, an amazing thing happened. An email was sitting in my inbox with the subject line "Your Dad - My Buddy" with the message beginning with words "It's a small world...." Wow! A message from one of my Dad's buddies was waiting for me. His name was Roy Strickland and to this day I still have the email in a scrapbook. I soon realized this was definitely no April's fool and our family is forever grateful of making contact with Roy.

Throughout that summer we exchanged emails and phone calls that all led up to me, my wife and our two young children attending the 52nd 4th Marine Division in Detroit Michigan. We will always remember, walking into the social gathering room and being greeted by Roy and several of his buddies. What a wonderful group of gentlemen!

We would continue on to meet at the 53rd reunion held in Washington DC and since then I have made it a point to send a thank you each Memorial Day and Veteran's Day to Roy with appreciation for the friendship he and his buddies brought to our family and the honor to our country.

We shared stories, photos, and realities of the moment. I learned in the heat of the moment when my Dad was wounded on Iwo Jima how, first hand from the perspective of those who bring the stretcher bearer, our wounded got help. I learned that my father was always whistling "Far Above Cayugas Waters", the alma mater song for Cornell University. I learned how these men lived through the phases of life with family, friendships, and careers. I had the honor of several actually signing by Dad's original red book. There are many more simple and memorable events. Roy even introduced my wife and I to the Marine Corps Commandant P.X. Kelley who at the time experienced the tragic event of the 1983 bombing of our Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon.

To name a few who we met were Harry "Cricket" Crickmer, Bob Sosbe, Harry Edwards, John "Gunner" Link (Platoon Leader), Warren Boo, and Bob McDaniels. Together, they filled a gap in my life with stories and information only they could provide about my Dad. Together, they even took a pretty good photo shoot (see photo, L to R, Rogers, Strickland, Vogel, Crickmer, Phillips) on leave in Honolulu. Some have since passed on since meeting them, but have not passed on from our family's memory.

Its been 10 years since that April 1st, 1999 email from Roy and it's just an amazing reflection to think that 40 years on the other side of my Dad's death, our family united with such a terrific group of men and Americans. Thank you Roy and buddies for the memories, your names are forever an extension to our family's memoirs of my Dad.

Semper Fi
Bob Vogel, son
Cato, NY

And I Quote...

"No bast*rd ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bast*rd die for his country."
-- George Patton.

Dear Sgt. Grit,
Thank you for your wonderful newsletter and website. I came across it about 3 years ago...also on your website I found a link to I read how Marines and other military branches serving overseas did not have accessibility to basic necessities (toothpaste, razors, etc.). It made me quite angry that the men and women serving and ensuring our safety and way of life were unable to get simple things they needed, so I did something about it...I adopted a Marine unit and began sending letters and packages. I didn't expect to receive a reply or correspondence...but one day, as I checked my email, there was an email from one of the Marines from the unit I had adopted!

I was so pleasantly surprised, and of course I emailed back. My adopted Marine, Sgt. Katy as she became known to me and my family continued to email and write throughout her deployment. We connected quickly and easily as if we had known each other for a long time. Many times, through some difficult times, unknown to her, she was a great strength to me. When she finally came home from Iraq, it was such a relief knowing she was back home safe and sound!

We continued to email and phone each other and hoped that we could get together and easy task however since she lives on the west coast and I am on the east coast, no where near each other! We figured though that "one day" we would meet. Well 3 years have gone by (and 2 deployments for her husband), this past spring Sgt. Katy informed me that she would be out to the east coast on an assignment for six weeks. She would be an hour away from where I live.

In mid April, I met "my adopted Marine" Sgt. Katy! We had a wonderful time truly getting to know one another over the last six weeks. She is one of the best people I know. Katy went back home to the west coast yesterday, and yes we already miss her dearly, but we know we will see each other again soon.

From taking action to do a little something for our brave Marines in Iraq, I have gained a new family...(Friends are our chosen family), Marine Sgt. Katy is now Aunt Katy to my children and a dear, dear friend to me, like a sister. We have grown to know and love Sgt (Aunt) Katy. Thank you Sgt Grit...if it wasn't for your website, I wouldn't have found the AnySoldier website.

God bless all the Marines and military and their families. And special thoughts and prayers to Katy's husband that is still on deployment in Iraq. Thank you for what you all do, and may more people support our troops out there that are giving so much!

All the best always,
Irene H.


My name is Rebekah. I have been with my Marine now for a little over 2 1/2 years. He is currently deployed on his first deployment to Iraq. When he's not overseas, he's stationed in Camp Lejeune, NC.

I just wanted to thank you for the newsletter. I love hearing the stories from older Marines. I know I'm not a Marine, but I love the Corps. When Daniel (my Marine and fianc�) left for boot camp, I learned as much as I could about the Marines in those 13 weeks. Sometimes he says I could teach a Marine a thing or two... I think the thing that I love most is the brotherhood.

Wearing a USMC t-shirt as I walk down the street, someone will ask who I know that's serving. Or if I see someone ask when they served they are always ready to share their story.... I ABSOLUTELY love that. Well, I think that's all I have to say, other than thanks for the letters!


And I Quote...

"One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence."
-- American historian Charles A. Beard (1874-1948)

Dear Sgt. Grit,

This is to honor a Marine, not a female Marine, but a MARINE! As I was reading today's Newsletter one story in particular was all to familiar to me. It was the one written by the parents of LCpl. Kelli M. Rawlings of MCAS, Yuma. You see, my son, LCpl. Timothy R. Marshall is an MP stationed at MCAS, Yuma. He is the youngest of my three children, the only one I hadn't heard from on Mother's Day.

I knew he was on Duty that day but still, it was, after all, past 2230 here in Wisconsin. I recall saying he better have a darn good reason for not calling by now. No sooner had those thoughts crossed my mind when the phone rang, and he was apologizing for the delay, explaining that it had been a very difficult day for all the Marines on Base.

I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was deeply disturbed by whatever had taken place and asked what had occurred. As he described the earlier events of the day, he mentioned that there had been a terrible accident off-Base, and that two of his Brothers had been killed. He went on to explain that as an MP he was involved in some of the investigation of this horrific accident, and having known these two Marines personally it affected him greatly. He said that one was a male, the other a female, but he still referred to them as Brothers.

As I listened to the sadness in his voice my thoughts raced back to the fact that it was still Mother's Day. He hadn't forgotten to call me, he did have a darn good reason, and no matter the hour I was still able to speak to him at the end of the day.

Kelli's Mom was not so fortunate, instead, on Mother's Day she learned that her daughter, a Marine, had been killed. That is how she will remember Mother's Day every year from here on out, even though she has two other children. My heart goes out to both her Mom and Dad for their tragic loss, and I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers. So often we hear that our brave Sons and Daughters aren't REALLY serving their country because they are "home". When I hear people say that I am absolutely infuriated. No matter where they are these Marines, all of them, regardless of gender have our backs, and we owe them our gratitude for a job well done. David and Sharon Rawlings have every right to be proud of their three Marines!

Semper Fi
Maribeth Park
Proud Marine Mom of LCpl. Timothy R. Marshall, MCAS Yuma

picture of us with his beautiful wife Gillian After losing Diane, my wife of over 27 years to cancer, over the past few years, I was able to find and marry a wonderful woman, my new bride Elizabeth. For the wedding, I had my two sons as the Best Men. The younger of the two is my son Corporal Paul Skulas, out of MCAS Cherry Point, NC. We both wore our blues for the wedding and reception. Attached is a picture of us with his beautiful wife Gillian, and another of our covers and sabers on the baby grand piano at the reception.

covers and sabers on the baby grand piano at the reception

I am a proud and happy dad and new husband, and very pleased that I could team up with my favorite Marine in the whole wide world for the festivities.

Semper Fi.
Ron Skulas
MAJ, Field Artillery
US Army (Retired)

And I Quote...

"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force."
-- Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

When people asked me why I joined the Marine Corps, I always answered that it was the only way I knew I could get a front row seat to the Bob Hope Christmas Special. It turned out that that was easier said than done. You did not simply show up in Vietnam and go to the show. Of the 250 men in my outfit, only two went to the show (on Christmas day) Willy was one of the two. I remember the conversation where we decided that if we got Willy (Bill Gwin) into the show, we knew he would connive his way up front and we would get at least 500 pictures of the event. We did, and he did.

Bob Hope: The Vietnam Years DVD Box Set It turns out that Willy stuck around for another year and actually met PFC Bob Hope at the 1970 show where he presented him with an album of pictures from the 1969 show. That album turned up in the Bob Hope display at the Library of Congress, and Willy sent me a couple of pictures of the display.

I didn't get to see Bob in Vietnam, but I did get to one of his shows in Memphis early in the 1980's. He was still spot on.

The reason I am boring you with all this gibberish is that Bob Hope is 106 years old today and is probably entertaining the Marines who guard the streets of Heaven. If not, I know he will be there for Christmas. He always was.

Every entertainer today should have to go to the Bob Hope School of Class before they step on stage or in front of the camera. The world would be a better place.

Happy Birthday Bob and Semper Fidelis!


Sgt. Grit

On Memorial Day 2009, the little town of Florence, Oregon dedicated our Veteran's Memorial Park. This was a project that started over 5 years ago and finally became a reality. I included a picture of the ceremony as well as one of the panel of bricks which are engraved with names of veterans. Also pictured are some of the people responsible for making it happen. 3rd MarDiv vets Terry Robertson C/1/26, 1st Sgt. Tony Cavarno, and fellow corpsman Dean Hirst A/1/9.

Ceremony Panel of Bricks Terry, Top, and Doc Wally and Maj. Nick

Can't forget former 3rd Recon Marine Wally Shoults and Mustang Marine Maj. Nick Ostreyko (who will be 92 years old in a couple of weeks and is the only one of us that still fits in his uniform).

Doc John Connally

And I Quote...

"His (George Washington) example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read."
-- John Adams

This is a response to the letter submitted by the Father of the son who graduated High School in Farmersburg, Indiana. My Grandsons High School frowned on any deviations from the planned program for graduation. However this did not delay him from wearing his dress blues and secreting his cover under his gown. Once on stage he turned to the audience, removed his mortor board, disrobed, dawned his barracks cover and gave the audience a snappy salute. Needless to say he brought the house down. That young man is now in Iraq with our prayers for a safe return home. I too think that it should be a proud moment for any High School to allow graduating members to appear in uniform as a show of support for our troops.

Stan Brangham (Cpl of Marines)
Grandfather of
Cpl Scott Lake

After 17 years in the Marine Corps, my son, Sean (GySgt.) is being deployed today. While he has done overseas duty, he has never headed into a war zone. I want to call him to hear his voice but I don't want to take one precious moment away from Tara, Jaron and Jayson (wife and sons). I'm sure he will call me when he is ready and my primary concern is to remain strong and not let him hear feelings. He doesn't need to be more worried than he already is.

He doesn't have to report until midnight, but as the hours pass, I will feel the emotions swell. I want to put my arms around him and hug him before he heads off to a place I know very little about. Oh, I did that last month when my husband and I went to visit him at Camp LeJeune but I don't think I hugged him hard or long enough.

Tonight, I'll leave my "I love you" message with the moon as I have done every night we have been apart since the day he was born. I'll feel the pain in my heart and a lump swelling in my chest. A burning sensation will travel through me and I can't fight the tears as they begin to flow. I'll pray and plead to God and St. George (the patron saint of soldiers) to watch over him and beg my mom, grandparent's, mother-in-law and all who have passed away to watch over Sean, Tara and the boys.

My husband hung a blue star flag in the window and we tied a yellow ribbon to a planter in the front of the house. I always cry when I hear the National Anthem and see the American flag against a blue sky gently blowing in the wind but for the next ten months, it takes on a more private meaning.

I'll keep in touch with Tara and the boys and depend on the Internet and his blog to keep in touch with Sean. I'll send care packages, cards and notes routinely and I'll wait. Wait until he returns back home.

God Bless American and it's men and women in the Armed Forces.
Jane Barnes O'Donohue
Proud USMC/Blue Star Mother

And I Quote...

"Marines believe in rote, in doing things over and over until one gets it right, and, once right, doing it right without exception thereafter."
-- Zell Miller

My only child, my son, decided on 9/11/01 at age 15 to become a Marine & left for Parris Island 2 months after our small northern NJ town buried a Marine Sgt who died heroically in Iraq. Anxiety became part of our daily lives, but so did Pride.

I never saw anything so impressive as boot camp graduation! My son was in his class' Honor Platoon. My husband and I were never so proud as we were of our son on that day. He went on to become an MP and served in Iraq where he was injured in a vehicle mishap (he was a turret gunner & hit his head on the gun butt when the truck rocked during a mission) & also earned a Meritorious Mast. When he returned from Iraq, his grandmother (who passed away a few weeks later) gave him her car which he proceeded to personalize with "stuff" to indicate he was MP, and had been in Iraq.

One evening while on his post-deployment leave here in NJ, he was driving along the Parkway & was stopped by a State Trooper. As he'd been driving carefully, he was wondering why he was stopped. The Trooper hastened to reassure him it was due to his Iraq campaign ribbon & his Iraq MP brassard; turns out the Trooper had served as MP in the same unit in Iraq a couple of yrs earlier!

Being a Marine is no easy thing for anyone. My son has had his share of difficulties & some medical issues due to the head injury. But I am so very proud of how he just hangs in there, sticks it out, uses his intelligence and sense of humor and maturity. He was determined to improve his scores on the rifle and pistol range and finally made Expert on both. He is one of the Few, but his Dad & I are the Proud, he is a Marine!
Thank you,
Proud Mom of LCpl Vopasek, Frank J.

And I Quote...

"To many who have watched the transition from socialism to fascism at close quarters the connection between the two systems has become increasingly obvious, but in the (Western) democracies the majority of people still believe that socialism and freedom can be combined. They do not realize that democratic socialism, the great utopia of the last few generations, is not only unachievable, but that to strive for it produces something utterly different - the very destruction of freedom itself. As has been aptly said: 'What has always made the state a h&ll on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven.'"
-- F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

Sgt Grit
I saw a story by Gerald Merna 1stLT about being covered inside, if you were the bell was rang and you owed the bar a round... I have my own story. My husband and I were stationed in Yokosuka Japan 8/06-3-08, he's the active duty member, I worked with MWR (civilian) at the time and when we needed cash exchange or just dinner we went across the street to the CPO club. One night I went in there with a "cover" on-it was a ball cap. Well no one was in the money exchange area so I went to the bar, the person working the bar was a retired Marine. Needless to say the bells went to ringing and I was out of some of my own money. I have some other stories volunteering with a Marine unit (civilian) where I was but those are the ones unsaid....some of it involved alcohol (use your imagination) and some if it involved talking when it was not appropriate (again use your imagination) I still laugh about it to this day. Feel free to post this and if you can let 1stLT know that would be great. Thanks Semper Fi

V/R Teri Urban CIV

Sgt. Grit,

If you can thank Dale Peterson of Elkhorn, Nebraska for submitting the "Guardian Angel" story. I got the same chills reading that story as well as now as I am writing to you. That just goes to show you that when they tell you "Marines stick together" they mean it, weather its in this life, the next life or both as this story goes. Also the whole "Once A Marine Always A Marine" never dies, even if you do.

Happiness is a belt fed weapon Thank you Sgt Grit for having all these awesome stories. I look forward to your news letters for the awesome stories you put out.

Semper Fi

Happiness is a belt fed weapon

Kyle Barrett
Stanley, Virginia
CPL of Marines 03-07
OIF Vetx2

And I Quote...

"A coward turns away, but a brave man's choice is danger."
-- Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC), Iphigenia in Tauris, circa 412 B.C.

Sgt. Grit~

I just wanted to comment on Dale Peterson's story about getting to the airport.... almost on time! Just as I was getting to the end, and he said he could not find the big black man that brought him to the airport, and then he was told that he reported alone, I teared up and got chills... then I read the next paragraph, only to read that Mr. Peterson still feels that way every time he thinks about that story.

I have a similar story...

Creighton and his mom My son graduated boot camp Dec. 2006. The following Sunday, our church was having a special patriotic service, so my son wore his dress blues. We sat toward the front of the church. When the service was over, my daughter and husband were talking with some others, and my son and I had just stepped out into the aisle. An elderly (very elderly) man walked down the aisle and shook my son's hand, thanked him for serving and asked if he had been to Iraq yet. My son said, "No sir. I just finished boot camp." The elderly man said, "Well, you'll be going to Iraq, and you're coming back; I'm praying for you, son." Creighton and I looked at each other and smiled with tears in our eyes.

Creighton and his mom When we looked back to thank the elderly gentleman, he was gone. (and he couldn't have walked that fast on an uphill aisle of a large church!) I told my son that the man must have been an angel sent from God to tell us that my son would be OK when he was deployed.

More than a year later, my son did go to Iraq. There were times I felt so much fear, but then I would remember the "old angel" God sent that Sunday morning, and my trust would be restored! It was an event (miracle) that I have held on to ever since! Oh, and by the way, my daughter and husband said they never saw a man talking to us and they were right there!

As I hugged my son the day he left for Iraq, I thought about the "old angel's" message to us... and how I thanked Him for that promise when my son returned! (pictures attached)

Proud Marine mom,
Cheryl Greene
Atlanta, GA

Morning all, I hope and pray this finds all in good spirits and great health. I know I might be whining a little, but in the last few years I have noticed a trend that kinda rubs me the wrong way. I have noticed that the memorabilia and reverence of our veteran brothers of Desert shield/Storm have been laid to the way side. There is little in way of recognition and material available and get the strong inclination of how my Korean veteran brothers felt.

I do not in anyway want to take away from all before me as well as all that are seeing action now. I just want to ensure our place in our illustrious history as well as the contribution's and actions taken.

Just as our Korean war brothers, Beirut brothers as well as those who have held the torch high in little far away places that never get on the main stream news. Let us as patriot's take our history to a never ending level of excellence and keep the torch burning, not just for our sake and our future, but as our duty to the one's who gave all and made the true sacrifice of what the Honor and Legacy of our Corps means and reflects.

Semper Fi,
Todd r. Mendenhall

And I Quote...

"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare."
-- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Sgt Grit,

As the proud father of a Marine, the Father in law of a Marine I am ashamed to see this article about my home state of Texas. Being a customer and avid reader of your news letter, I could think of no better place to share this with some Marines.

Both my son and daughter in law have deployed to Iraq and they both report daily knowing what may be asked of them. There are a few important things in the life of a father a few so far are, the days my sons were born, the day my oldest passed his Microsoft Certification test, the day my youngest graduated boot camp MCRD SD and was handed his EGA, the day my son deployed and returned, the