A Letter to Cpl Valdes

My book shelf dedicated to the Marine Corps and the Marines I know; of which I will have to expand at some point!

Hello Cpl. Valdes,

First and foremost I want to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your service. I don’t exactly know for how long, but I have been a subscriber to SgtGrit for quite some time. Though I never served, I certainly represent the latter half of the slogan, “There are two kinds of people in this world: Marines and those who wish they were.”

Unfortunately due to asthma I could not serve in the Marine Corps and all I ever wanted was to be a Marine – not a sailor, soldier, or airman. A Marine. There is no other branch of service that carries the brotherhood quite like The Corps. That isn’t to dismiss or say that there is no bond or brotherhood among those serving in other branches, not at all. The Marine Corps has always struck me as special. There is something about the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor that – even for someone like myself who didn’t get an opportunity to adorn that emblem – strikes me in the chest and brings a smile to my face whenever I see it. One like myself who gets chills whenever he sees it, I can only imagine what the sight of The Corps’ emblem means to one who actually earned it.

On November 9, 2001 I had the privilege of being on Parris Island and watching a friend graduate Marine Corps boot camp; a friend who later told me he was inspired by me to join The Corps. He served in Iraq and when his four years were up, I had the other privilege of being the one to pick him up from the airport and bring him home to his family. He gave me one of his chevron pins that adorned his collar on his desert BDU and a few months later, out of the blue I received a package in the mail. That package was an American Flag that had flown at Camp al-Fallujah with a certificate from the Marine Corps authenticating the dates it flew.

This past April, the son of a friend graduated Marine Combat Training at Camp Geiger, NC and I had the privilege of attending that graduation as well. Upon graduation from boot camp, that son had given me The Crucible coin with the date inscribed of when he completed The Crucible and officially earned the title, Marine.

Whether it was Parris Island fifteen years ago or Camp Geiger just a few months ago, the pride, adrenaline, and emotion that came upon me for being on such hallowed grounds was overwhelming. I never had the opportunity to wear the uniform and call myself “Marine”, but I don’t take it lightly that I had the opportunity to be where I have been – no matter how minimal – and have the privilege of being a friend to such fine men.

Having said that, though I am not a Marine and unfortunately could never be one, I subscribe to the newsletter to read about the brotherhood, read all of the experiences that Marines share, learn more about the Warrior Ethos and Marine Corps culture. Some of it is humorous and entertaining, some of it puts things into perspective and makes me appreciate the sacrifices even more than I already do, some of it continues to teach me.

All of it reminds me of why I wanted to be a Marine and why I absolutely love the Marine Corps and the brotherhood it represents.

Thank You, Again for your service and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say “Semper Fi’!”

-John Y.
Hamilton, NJ

A nice memento I have from when I had the opportunity to meet R. Lee Ermey
A nice memento I have from when I had the opportunity to meet R. Lee Ermey

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

9 thoughts on “A Letter to Cpl Valdes”

  1. Very respectful Johnny and I appreciate you being a great patriot and supporting our beloved Corps. Semper Fidelis.

  2. Even though you never earned the title the words you put together are very strong and mean a lot to the US Marines around the world. As for me I can only say with pride in my heart for you SEMPER FI you will always be a brother to me.

  3. Semper Fi Johnny…….I can remember feeling the same desire as you have but mine came to be. That doesn’t reduce your love for our Corps my brother….it’s attitude that counts. Nice words my man, you do us proud. Take it from an “old corps” jarhead…”Gung Ho”

  4. I could well understand and appreciate this article! My story is different–I was a WAC Lt. who married a Marine Capt. I knew a little about the Marines and did not expect to become fascinated with everything Marine! My late Marine and his friends had a strong influence on my life! During our 38 years of marriage , I developed the desire to read and learn as much as I could about the Marines. I support Marine organizations (my first priority) and play the Marine Hymn every day (yes, I know all the words). I have seen how strong the Brotherhood is and frequently feel envious. One of my Facebook friends recently asked friends if they had a chance to repeat their service , if they would do the same thing again. Without even thinking, I said no–I would join the Marines. I have to admit I surprised myself!

  5. I had a rare opportunity to revert to kind recently. It has been since January 1970 that I rendered a salute. I have been a pogie bait eating civilian since then. We don’t salute all that much. I have buddy of mine that is very much like the man that wrote…A letter to Cpl. Valdes… his disability was polio of his leg. His father, a greatest generation member, who was in the European Theater in WWII, died. He rated and got a military burial at one of the National Cemeteries in Florida. His burial was officiated by a retired Naval Chaplin. The honor guard was from a local VFW post. And the burial detail was a local Army detachment with a major in charge of it. The ceremony was simple and complete with the flag presentation to the veteran’s wife. Then the Chaplin said something I never heard in any veteran’s burial. He gave all active and all discharged service people the opportunity to salute when TAPS was played. It was 46 years since my last salute. Feet 45 degrees, head and eye straight to the front, fingers along the seam, fingers along the brow elbow in line with the shoulder, and arm parallel to the deck. and I probably got it all wrong. But the one thing I think I did was I impressed the major. I kept the thumb close to the palm and the palm at the proper angle, I was looking right across the room right at him. Interesting situation…I was saluting a corporal that was at the Battle of the Bulge and looking at a soldier that just returned from Afghanistan…Semper Fi….

  6. Sometimes our dreams do not materialize here on earth but I believe you and I will be protecting the gates of heaven together. Semper Fi

  7. John, I suggest that you check to see if there is a Marine Corps League detachment near you. If they accept. Associate members you can join and still serve. They can always use volunteers for Toys for Tots or other things. Dave Humphrey Sgt. 1968-1972 Marine Corps League 277 Canton, Ohio

  8. YOU CAN STILL BE A MARINE, YOU CAN JOIN REENACTOR GROUPS FROM THE CORPS PAST. I SENT THREE YOUNG MEN INTO THE COPRS PAST BECAUSE FOR VARIOUS REASON’S THEY COULD NOT JOIN THE REGULAR ACTIVE OR RESERVE USMC. ONE IS SERVING IN PRESIDENT THOMAS JEFFERSON’S MARINE CORPS,ANOTHER IN PRESIDENT GRANT’S AND THE LAST IS A WORLD WAR ONE MARINE! THEY ARE ALL PROUD AND VERY PLEASED THAT THEY CAN STILL SERVE OUR COUNTRY AND STILL BE A MEMBER OF UNCLE SAM’S MARINE CORPS! SO GIVE IT SOME THOUGHT THESE GROUPS ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR GOOD MEN LIKE YOURSELF!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *