<DIV dir=ltr align=left><SPAN class=484360321-27012010>This is from a man who served with me in Vietnam. He spent 4-1/2 years in the USMC and 20 years in Special Forces (Army Green Beanies) and retired a Command Sgt Major but he considers himself a USMC Vietnam Tanker first and foremost.</SPAN></DIV>
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<DIV dir=ltr align=left><SPAN class=484360321-27012010><EM>-John</SPAN></DIV>
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<DIV>I was asked at work what the difference between an Army soldier and a Marine was.</DIV>
<DIV>I remembered a Sergeant Major who wrote a piece about the differences between the services and I would like to share it with you.</DIV>
<DIV>Even though I spent twenty years in the Army and a short 4-1/2 years in the Marine Corps, I can only remember in detail the 4-1/2 years of comradery in the Corps and only bits and pieces of the Army. I think of what Sergeant Major Dougherty says and, like my other brothers in the Corps, can only smile!</DIV>
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<DIV style=“TEXT-ALIGN: center” align=center><FONT face=Arial size=3><SPAN style=“FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial”><FONT size=5>Subject: The Corps</FONT> </SPAN></FONT><FONT face=Arial size=2><SPAN style=“FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Arial”></SPAN></FONT></DIV>
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<DIV style=“TEXT-ALIGN: center” align=center><FONT face=“Times New Roman” size=3><SPAN style=“FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; COLOR: black”>(Courtesy of Sergeant Major Dougherty)</SPAN></FONT></DIV>
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The Marine Corps is the only branch of the U.S. Armed Forces that
recruits people specifically to Fight.
The Army emphasizes personal development (an Army of One), the Navy
promises fun (let the journey begin), the Air Force offers security (its
a great way of life).
Missing from all the advertisements is the hard fact that a soldier’s
life is to suffer and perhaps to die for his people and take lives at
the risk of his/her own.
Even the thematic music of the services reflects this evasion. The
Army’s Caisson Song describes a pleasant country outing. Over hill and
dale, lacking only a picnic basket. Anchors Aweigh the Navy’s
celebration of the joys of sailing could have been penned by Jimmy
The Air Force song is a lyric poem of blue skies and engine thrust.
All is joyful, and invigorating, and safe. There are no land mines in
the dales nor snipers behind the hills, no submarines or cruise missiles
threaten the ocean jaunt, no bandits are lurking in the wild blue
The Marines’ Hymn, by contrast, is all combat. “We fight our
Country’s battles”, “First to fight for right and freedom”, “We have
fought in every clime and place where we could take a gun”, “In many a
strife we have fought for life and never lost our nerve”.
The choice is made clear. You may join the Army to go to adventure
training, or join the Navy to go to Bangkok, or join the Air Force to go
to computer school. You join the Marine Corps to go to War! But the
mere act of signing the enlistment contract confers no status in the
The Army recruit is told from his first minute in uniform that “you’re
in the Army now, soldier”. The Navy and Air Force enlistees are sailors
or airmen as soon as they get off the bus at the training center.
The new arrival at Marine Corps boot camp is called a recruit, or
worse (a lot worse), but never a MARINE. Not yet, maybe never. He or
she must earn the right to claim the title of UNITED STATES MARINE and
failure returns you to civilian life without hesitation or ceremony.
Recruit Platoon 2210 at San Diego, California trained from October
December of 1968. In Viet Nam the Marines were taking two hundred
casualties a week and the major rainy season and Operation Meade River
had not even begun, yet Drill Instructors had no qualms about winnowing
out almost a quarter of their 112 recruits, graduating 81. Note that
this was post-enlistment attrition. Every one of those 31 who were
dropped had been passed by the recruiters as fit for service. But they
failed the test of Boot Camp! Not necessarily for physical reasons. At
least two were outstanding high school athletes for whom the
calisthenics and running were child’s play. The cause of their failure
was not in the biceps nor the legs, but in the spirit. They had lacked
the will to endure the mental and emotional strain so they would not be
Marines. Heavy commitments and high casualties not withstanding, the
Corps reserves the right to pick and choose.
History classes in boot camp? Stop a soldier on the street and ask
him to name a battle of World War One. Pick a sailor at random and ask
for a description of the epic fight of the Bon Homme Richard. Ask an
airman who Major Thomas McGuire was and what is named after him. I am
not carping and there is no sneer in this criticism. All of the
services have glorious traditions, but no one teaches the young soldier,
sailor or airman what his uniform means and why he should be proud of
But…ask a Marine about World War One and you will hear of the wheat
field at Belleau Wood and the courage of the Fourth Marine Brigade
comprised of the Fifth and Sixth Marines. Faced with an enemy of
superior numbers entrenched in tangled forest undergrowth the Marines
received an order to attack that even the charitable cannot call
ill-advised. It was insane. Artillery support was absent and air
support hadn’t been invented yet. Even so the Brigade charged German
machine guns with only bayonets, grenades, and an indomitable fighting
spirit. A bandy-legged little barrel of a Gunnery Sergeant, Daniel J.
Daly, rallied his company with a shout, “Come on you sons a bitches, do
you want to live forever?” He took out three machine guns himself.
French liaison-officers hardened though they were by four years of
trench bound slaughter were shocked as the Marines charged across the
open wheat field under a blazing sun directly into the teeth of enemy
fire. Their action was so anachronistic on the twentieth-century field
of battle that they might as well have been swinging cutlasses. But the
enemy was only human. The Boche could not stand up to the onslaught.
So the Marines took Belleau Wood. The Germans, those that survived,
thereafter referred to the Marines as “Tuefel Hunden” (Devil Dogs) and
the French in tribute renamed the woods “Bois de la Brigade de Marine”
(Woods of the Brigade of Marines).
Every Marine knows this story and dozens more. We are taught them in
boot camp as a regular part of the curriculum. Every Marine will always
be taught them! You can learn to don a gas mask anytime, even on the
plane in route to the war zone, but before you can wear the Eagle, Globe
and Anchor and claim the title United States Marine you must first know
about the Marines who made that emblem and title meaningful. So long as
you can march and shoot and revere the legacy of the Corps you can take
your place in line. And that line is as unified in spirit as in
A soldier wears branch service insignia on his collar, metal shoulder
pins and cloth sleeve patches to identify his unit, and far too many
look like they belong in a band.
Sailors wear a rating badge that identifies what they do for the Navy.
Airmen have all kinds of badges and get medals for finishing schools and
showing up for work.
Marines wear only the Eagle, Globe and Anchor together with personal
ribbons and their CHERISHED marksmanship badges. They know why the
uniforms are the colors they are and what each color means. There is
nothing on a Marine’s uniform to indicate what he or she does nor what
unit the Marine belongs to. You cannot tell by looking at a Marine
whether you are seeing a truck driver, a computer programmer or a
machine gunner or a cook or a baker. The Marine is amorphous, even
anonymous, by conscious design.
The Marine is a Marine. Every Marine is a rifleman first and foremost,
a Marine first, last and Always! You may serve a four-year enlistment
or even a twenty plus year career without seeing action, but if the word
is given you’ll charge across that Wheatfield! Whether a Marine has
been schooled in automated supply or automotive mechanics or aviation
electronics or whatever is immaterial. Those things are secondary - the
Corps does them because it must. The modern battle requires the
technical appliances and since the enemy has them so do we. But no
Marine boasts mastery of them.
Our pride is in our marksmanship, our discipline, and our membership
in a fraternity of courage and sacrifice. “For the honor of the fallen,
for the glory of the dead”, Edgar Guest wrote of Belleau Wood. “The
living line of courage kept the faith and moved ahead.” They are all
gone now, those Marines who made a French farmer’s little Wheatfield
into one of the m ost enduring of Marine Corps legends. Many of them did
not survive the day and eight long decades have claimed the rest. But
their actions are immortal. The Corps remembers them and honors what
they did and so they live forever. Dan Daly’s shouted challenge takes
on its true meaning - if you lie in the trenches you may survive for
now, but someday you may die and no one will care. If you charge the
guns you may die in the next two minutes, but you will be one of the
All Marines die in either the red flash of battle or the white cold of
the nursing home. In the vigor of youth or the infirmity of age all
will eventually die, but the Marine Corps lives on. Every Marine who
ever lived is living still, in the Marines who claim the title today.
It is that sense of belonging to something that will outlive our own
mortality, which gives people a light to live by, and a flame to mark
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