Bushido Warrior Mentality

Sgt. Grit,

I was USMCR ’57 to ’63, a Cold War Marine, later I served as a Los Angeles Co. Sheriff’s Deputy with my last 24 years assigned to SEB/ESD, Special Weapons Team and Paramedic Air Rescue.

My youngest son, Mike, told me when he was 15 y/o, that he wanted what I had, the camaraderie and the brotherhood. (That’s pretty much what he grew up with, the Marine Corps and a SWAT Team). He joined the Marines right out of high school and made it into 3rd ANGLICO, spending six weeks with the SEALs in Coronado to get his MOS and then LASD when he was 19. He went to Iraq with 150 other deputies from the department in January 2003.

Mike was part of an 18-man British Spec-Ops Team (think Marine Force RECON) and was operating way behind enemy lines when the war began. Upon his return almost eight months later, he called, asked where I was working security, then came out to see me. At that time, I was working at WAMU Bank in Anaheim Hills with a retired LAPD undercover Narco guy who had been a Corpsman with the Marines in Nam.

Mike came out with a little vial of sand and a box that was obviously a bottle. I asked him what the vial of sand was and he said, “My first engagement, dad. We were right up against an Iraqi Division and got jumped by an Iraqi Company sized force of about 200-300 guys.” My partner and I both said “Jesus, what happened?” Mike said, “We killed them all, dad, we burned them down.” (Mike was 23 y/o at this time, and all I could see was the little kid that used to go everywhere with me riding on my shoulders). This little 15-man British Spec-Ops Team with 3 United States Marines, wiped out a company sized force of bad guys.

I then opened the box and it was a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue. Mike said that was for everything we had ever talked about and everything I had taught him, because it had righteously saved his f-ckin’ life over there. That old SEB/ESD attitude and bushido warrior mentality.

Well, even though the bank was still open and we were still working armed security in the parking lot, we cracked that bottle of high-dollar scotch, I got some Styrofoam cups, and all three of us toasted each other, and all combat vets, slapping each other on the back and blowin’ snot bubbles with the tears rollin’ down our cheeks. And, that’s all I have to say about that…

PS – The Team that Mike was with was designated Lightning 3/4, and they sustained 40 percent casualties during their combat operations in the field.

Saepius Exertus, Semper, Fidelis, Frater Infinitus,

Mike Kennard, Cpl of Marines, 161—-

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

5 comments


  • Jim Adams

    SemperFi !!! –Couldn’t have done any better myself!!! Jim Adams Cpl. 3rd Marine Division ‘Nam 68.


  • Cpl Selders

    Mike, L.A. County Fire/Paramedic, had a couple of your Swat guys as trainees in the ’70s/’80s . Station 47 and 29. Great bunch.


  • C. Stoney Brook

    MIke – After my tour (1961-65) and college, I did 30 years in law enforcement in NorCal. I, too, did the SWAT, firearms & special weapons instructor gigs, and trained with Bob Koga (former LAPD). Like you, my Marine ‘mind-set’ training literally saved my life on the streets on many occassions. The adage that ‘you fight liek you train’ is very, very true. Your story truly touched me and you have every reason to be proud of your son, your own career and how you applied your learning. Semper Fi, brother.


  • Jack

    Jack- It seems that the Marine Corps, changes a boy in to a Man in very short order, and most keeps that edge in what ever field they go into to work. I was in Nam in 1972 2nd RECON, watching all of this men an material moving south, getting ready for us to pull out. Our 4 man teem returned with our reports of what was happen, not much was done, The country was war weary, So in 75 Nam was really lost, They got no help from us, just taking out they old government personal an people and their family’s that work for us. Just so many good men lost, and then just to give up, and watch a country falling apart, an so many wanting to leave to save their lives an family’s. And then President Ford just letting all those men that went to Canada, so they didn’t have to server their country, like the rest of us Marine’s, and Army an Air Force, an Navy needing those men that ran away. God Help Our Country. Sgt 72 to 77 2nd Recon.


  • Bob Romano

    Joined USMCR 1957, right after basic was sent to Okinawa for 14 months. What a great time, learned more as a Marine then all my years in school. Semper Fi.


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