A Letter I Sent to Commandant Dunford

A Letter I Sent to Commandant Dunford

Sgt Robert Hougher USMC Ret.
POB 1270
Fairfield, IA 52556
24July2018

Dear General Dunford

I am a Viet Nam era Marine. I was in Nam all of 1970. I enlisted at age 17. I had received a couple of meritorious promotions and was a Sergeant shortly before I turned 19. I was hit by friendly fire in late December 1970. There needs to be a different definition for friendly fire. It wasn’t friendly to me.

As young enlisted Marines we rarely had the skinny on what was going on. We would get on the choppers with no idea where we were going or what we could expect. I don’t know why it was that way. Maybe the word gets passed down the chain of command these days. It would surely improve performance of the mission.

Recently at age 66 I ran across the Commandant Reading List. It is a treasure that should be shared with the enlisted. Even as a Sgt, my only education for leadership was on the job training. If I had read some of the books on leadership it may have cut short the learning curve.

My main reason for writing is to inform you of my discovery of your Reading List. I have begun to read the list and my goal is to read them all.

I do have one story I’d like to share. A few years ago my wife and I were in London for a financial event and the a great trip through Scotland. While we were in London we went to the theatre to see “War Horse”. The story of a man and his dedicated horse in WWI. At intermission we were having a drink and this young Brit SAS soldier came up to me and asked if I had been a Marine. It caught me off guard. I responded in the positive. Here I am, a busted up man hobbling around and I asked how he could ever know I was a Marine. He said he had
worked with Marine Recon in Iraq and he could recognize the persona and attitude. I was amazed as was my wife. After the play he and his beautiful date took us on a buggy tour of London. We went to all the special spots of London and tried to drink all the liquor in the town. I paid for nothing. It was quite a night. I guess it is true “once a Marine always a Marine.” It has been true for me.

Semper Fi
Sgt Robert Hougher USMC Ret.
POB 1270
Fairfield, IA 52556
24July2018

Dear General Dunford

I am a Viet Nam era Marine. I was in Nam all of 1970. I enlisted at age 17. I had received a couple of meritorious promotions and was a Sergeant shortly before I turned 19. I was hit by friendly fire in late December 1970. There needs to be a different definition for friendly fire. It wasn’t friendly to me.

As young enlisted Marines we rarely had the skinny on what was going on. We would get on the choppers with no idea where we were going or what we could expect. I don’t know why it was that way. Maybe the word gets passed down the chain of command these days. It would surely improve performance of the mission.

Recently at age 66 I ran across the Commandant Reading List. It is a treasure that should be shared with the enlisted. Even as a Sgt, my only education for leadership was on the job training. If I had read some of the books on leadership it may have cut short the learning curve.

My main reason for writing is to inform you of my discovery of your Reading List. I have begun to read the list and my goal is to read them all.

I do have one story I’d like to share. A few years ago my wife and I were in London for a financial event and the a great trip through Scotland. While we were in London we went to the theatre to see “War Horse”. The story of a man and his dedicated horse in WWI. At intermission we were having a drink and this young Brit SAS soldier came up to me and asked if I had been a Marine. It caught me off guard. I responded in the positive. Here I am, a busted up man hobbling around and I asked how he could ever know I was a Marine. He said he had
worked with Marine Recon in Iraq and he could recognize the persona and attitude. I was amazed as was my wife. After the play he and his beautiful date took us on a buggy tour of London. We went to all the special spots of London and tried to drink all the liquor in the town. I paid for nothing. It was quite a night. I guess it is true “once a Marine always a Marine.” It has been true for me.

Semper Fi

Sgt Bob Hougher

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

6 comments


  • John Spencer

    Cpl Tomaschik, I wanted to say “Welcome Home”… I was in the 24 MAU at the “Root” , on my birthday 23 Oct 83. I haven’t talked to any Beirut Marines for a while, so I thought I would reach out when I saw your post… I’m told I march every where as well! Semper Fi, Marine!!! Ssgt J. Spencer, USMC retired


  • Jerry Tomaschik Cpl. ’81-’85 Beirut Marine

    I work at an oilwell completion tool manufacturing plant on my off-duty days at the fire department as a QC inspector. It’s a long walk of about 500 feet down to my shop area. I get told all the time that don’t walk, I March. Lol. “Lean back and strut! 6 to the front, 3 to the rear!” Great letter though! Thanks for sharing!


  • Ed Giddings…Sergeant Of the Marines 1969-1973

    I too have recognized by wives, mothers, sisters and fellow Marines when NOT wearing anything to show I spent the most formative years of my life…1969-1973…..in the Corps…when I asked, “How did you know?” The answer was always about how I walk, carry myself, attitude..etc…I worked with young boys who were wards of the state for several years after retirement from the San Antonio Police Department…..tried to wear a t-shirt from Sergeant Grit as often as Possible……got several “Semper Fi “ yells while with the boys on outings…..One asked, “What do Army Guys to each other.” I replied, “ I guess hello…” a few of them boys became Marines when the finished high school….ONCE A MARINE……….


  • CThomas

    Commandant’s reading list; https://www.usmcofficer.com/marine-corps-knowledge/commandants-reading-list/


  • Keith

    Not related to any of today’s letters but a thought just the same. Headings on most of your newsletters which I read faithfully every Sunday,include some mention of what is for sale. I wish it were possible to list Navy Cross ,Rifle Instructors Passion and A Letter to Commandant, on its own merits. I look thru all that yo sell,high light the sales down the page please (Navy Cross 50 0/0 off today) is just getting a little tacky. Why it takes 50 years for these great hero’s to be honored is beyond my realm of thought. Mom and Dad would have loved to know about this Marines Valor. His friends and community should have known of his will to save lives and serve to the best of his abilities. 50 years and the world just now is hearing of this Marines fearless efforts for salvation of the rights and privileges of mindless do Goodreads in our country saving all the stray cats and dogs, while our fellow VETS live on the streets,eating out of dumpsters. Save this and that send your money over seas(19$ a day can feed and house) enough help our VETS our homeless our addicts our people. Bring our Heros to the forefront get exemplary actions out there today not 50- 70 years from now I am a Marine from 69 -78 and this Medal should have been awarded then so we all would have known who we were following. War was not a walk in a foreign park it was hell . Semper Fi God Bless


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