A Marine’s Marine

While stationed with JAG at Quantico, Va. during the mid 80s, I had the pleasure of having Command Duty Officer for H&SBn. This was a 48 hour tour and to keep busy, and awake, I would conduct a routine walk through of the three buildings occupied by the battalion personnel.  While making my tours I would ensure proper security, stop and speak with some of the Marines as to any problems or questions they might have.  I actually enjoyed this part of my tour as I got to know some of the new Marines and where they worked. During one tour early in the morning I happened to see a few Marines talking in the common area but I did not want to disturb them so I acknowledged their presence and continued my tour. I did take notice of one Marine whom I did not recognize but I thought him distinguished and tall.

I finished my tour and then took a few weeks R&R to recharge as our court-martial case load was heavy and 12-14 hour days were the norm.  Arriving back from R&R I got to work, cleared up our case load and then started playing racquet ball and basketball during lunch with the other JAG Marines. After losing 5-6 pounds in sweat one day, I took a long cold shower, rehydrated and decided to buy a pesi from the junk food machines directly outside the head. As I was ready to leave I heard a voice from my left asking “Hey Gunny, you got a few one dollar bills I can borrow?”  I said sure and pulled out a few and turned to give the money to the Marine and as I did I frooze in my tracks.  The tall, distinguished Marine I had seen on my prior duty  watch was none other than Lieutenant General Peterson. I gathered myself and offered the General 3  one dollar bills and he said, hell, I just need 2.  He then asked me my name and I told him and he then said he would have his aide return the money to me shortly. He turned, walked away and said thanks Gy to which  I replied “Not a problem General.”

It wasn’t but two hours later when a sharp looking second lieutenant knocked on my office door and asked for me. I stood up and he gave me two, one dollar bills and said “The General sends his regards.” All I could reply was “ditto, sir, ditto.”  He smiled and left my office.

I was touched…here was a LtGen, soon to be base commander, driving around at night in his own vehicle while in skivies and stopping at the different barracks, talking to other Marines in skivies, finding out from the source, what they did or did not like about any particular issue.  His passing broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Here was the simplist of Marines, concerned about his Marines and their welfare above his own. He was a Marine’s Marine.

GySgt Kent, USMC(Ret)

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