Sometimes You Have to Look Up

Sometimes You Have to Look Up

Our granddaughter joined the Air Force and I asked her why she didn’t join the Marine Corps to which she replied, “Grandpa, I don’t think I could take the stress.” I said good for you. Better to realize it before you are on the receiving end of a Drill Instructor rant. Well, most of the family made the drive from Chicago to San Antonio to Lackland Air Force Base for her boot camp graduation. To say I was one proud grandpa, regardless of the branch of service would be an understatement. We had to park a couple of blocks away from the parade area where the graduation would occur, so we walked along the main street and crossed over an expansive bridge and I couldn’t help but look up and notice that every light post had an American flag flying from it, and most were torn and tattered. So now I’m a p-ssed off Marine on an Air Force base. We watch the graduation, which was pretty cool and then our granddaughter took us to show us her barracks. While there I’m introduced to her commanding officer, a Captain, who I thanked for the guidance and training he gave all the Airman and then asked, “is the Commanding General of the base available?” His eyes got real big and asked why to which I replied, “I have a message for the General – it is unacceptable to be on an American military base and have torn and tattered American flags flying.” Well, my family went ballistic on me fearing our granddaughter would lose her weekend liberty. I assured them that a good officer would take it with the intent meant. His response was, “no Generals around here.” We drove back to Chicago and a few days later our granddaughter called and said, “Grandpa, do you remember what you said to that Captain?” I replied, how could I forget after the h-ll I got from the family. She said, “well grandpa, because of what you said they replaced every American flag on the base today.” Mission accomplished. How many times have officers, including the Commanding General, Staff NCO’s and NCO’s traveled along that street and bridge and failed to look up and notice the disgrace looming over their heads? Sometimes you have to look up from what you are doing and recognize what is wrong and get it squared away.

Semper Fi Marines,
Tom Gillespie
USMC / RVN ’70 – ’71

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


  • Kevin Whitmore

    Outstanding! Semper Fi!

  • Sgt. Wolf aka Bob Rader

    Great posts, Marines.

  • Harry

    YES!! Job well done!! Unfortunately, this is not that uncommon. I am always in a battle with our township supervisors about the condition of their flags.Not as bad as on a military base!!! SHAME!! SEMPER FI!! Harry

  • Mean Irving

    Well done Marine!!!!

  • Michael Wagner USMC Retired

    My Father was a Marine, and also were his six sons, I was number 3 son. My father bread in his sons the pride in the Marine Corps and the love of our flag. and it has remained with me all my of my favorite songs is our National Anthem. many years ago one of my brothers and I were home on leave at the same time. We were out visiting friends and old school chums one day when we were driving by a lumber company that had fences all around it and a 20 foot flag pole with the worst tattered Flag I’ve ever seen. right then my brother who was driving whip the truck around and headed for the front gate that was still open even being about 7pm. we enter the office and asked to see the owner or manger. when the guy came out he was a middle age gentleman hippy looking. no hello but what do you want in gruff manner. We explained our concern about the flag and ask if they would let us take it down and dispose of it properly. he was very disrespectful and the words I won’t reprint. but he told us he didn’t care about the flag know matter what shape it was in. They cost money you know. We then offered to pay for a new one. he told us bleeding hearts to get off the property. Well we left. but two nights later My brother and I returned with a new flag. It was about 1am we pulled up to the fence climb up on the roof of the cab and climb the fence. over we went. It took us only about 4 minutes to hoist the colors. we both saluted the flag and climb the fence and returned to the bar to toast our achievement. I understand nobody knew for almost a week that a new flag had been raised. and I understand it flew for many years before it was replace with a new one. God bless America Our flag and USMC. Have a merry and happy holiday everyone.

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