Former Marine, Dianna DiToro, joined the Marines shortly after college and transitioned to life as a Reservist in 2008. Read below to hear her inspirational story about navigating life outside of active duty and finding success in a rewarding new career as a Certified Personal Trainer.
Former Marine Navigates Life After Active Duty
by Dianna DiToro
Many servicemen and women will choose to leave active duty this year and many veterans will be left wondering, “what’s next?” From my personal experience, there many unanswered questions when you make the transition into civilian life, especially when it comes to finding a job. I hope my story about career selection may provide some with a different perspective.
I joined the Marines shortly after graduating college. I saw the opportunity as the ultimate test of mind and body, a challenging fit for my competitive nature. After serving as an air support officer and deploying twice, my husband and I decided that I would leave active duty and serve as a Reservist so we could expand our family.
Using the standard post-military resume builders and tips, I found a desk job quickly after the transition, but it wasn’t something I loved; it was difficult to find the same motivation and excitement in a career outside of active duty. I knew that there must be something else. After a series of life events, I found myself newly widowed and alone with my young son, who suffered from health problems as an infant. I was afraid and the path in front of me felt daunting, but I knew my experience in the Marines had provided me with the courage to not only face fear, but also overcome it.
I quickly realized that any job I pursued couldn’t be “just a job,” it had to be something of which I could be proud. I asked myself, “What would I do even if I wasn’t getting paid to do it?” Helping people and fitness were the answers for me. A few of my friends encouraged me to look into the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) program. I was hesitant at first but after attending a seminar, I was impressed by the NASM instructors’ knowledge and decided to enroll in the CPT program. The fact that I could do something I loved on a flexible schedule was an added bonus.
After I completed the program, a few of the instructors told me about NASM’s Military Pursuit of Excellence Award and I jumped at the opportunity. On a whim, I applied for the award and was shocked, and honored, to learn that I had won. The award paid the full tuition for my master’s degree and gave me the foundation I needed to pursue my next dream of working as a physical therapist.
Today, I am finishing my doctorate and feel fortunate to have the skills I received through NASM. My journey hasn’t been an easy one, but I’ve found comfort in working with wounded warriors to teach them adaptive exercises through Team Red, White, and Blue. I’ve been able to use my education to offer online and in-person training sessions when my schedule allows and best of all, my son is a happy and healthy four-year-old who tags along to my group training classes.
I know that if I can overcome, so can others. I can only encourage my fellow Marines to think about what their passion is and what truly matters to them. Reflect on what you would do even if you weren’t getting paid and then use your creativity, resilience, and motivation to find a way to get paid for doing what you love.
What’s more American than an American flag? Turns out that maybe it’s more than you think. Like a plethora of other items, American flags can be manufactured less expensively in China than they can here. North Bay, California Congressman Mike Thompson joined other citizens in being up in arms over the concept that our soldiers were carrying foreign-made flags into battle and in honorific processions. He proceeded to write legislation that requires all flags purchased by the U.S. Department of Defense be made in America; the legislation was signed into law as part of the 2014 omnibus appropriations bill.
While many Americans think that it’s bad enough that so few of our goods are actually “made in America”, they probably had no idea that it also applied to American flags. Since 1941, the Defense Department has been banned from buying food, clothes, uniforms, fabrics, stainless steel and hand or measuring tools that are not produced in the United States. Now, flags have been added to the list.
Part of the issue, though, was that post – 9/11, the surge of patriotism in the form of American flags flying from people’s homes and cars meant that U.S. manufacturers were having a hard time keeping up with demand. The new law guarantees that the Defense Department will not be spending American tax dollars on U.S. flags made overseas.
However, this does not mean that all American flags are homegrown; the law applies only to the Defense Department. Other agencies can still buy overseas-made flags. A bill similar to Thompson’s, but calling for a ban on all overseas-made flags purchased by government agencies, did not pass. Flags purchased by the federal government do need to be made from at least 50% of American-made materials, and this applies to all flags on federal buildings. Until now, about $3.3 million worth of American flags have been imported from Beijing each year.
The law isn’t perfect, though. Like plenty of legislation, there are loopholes. One is that American flags are considered textiles. That means that flags sold online don’t have origin labels that are required under federal law. The law should make a difference, but it makes no guarantees.
Fortunately, you can still find some retailers of American flags that manufacture and sell flags on American soil. For example, Gettysburg Flag Works in upstate New York is a small company that specializes in the manufacture of flags, flagpoles and other accessories. It’s a success story of a small, local retailer that moved its business online (though it continues to maintain its brick-and-mortar roots). These kinds of companies are cheering the legislation because they are exactly the kinds of businesses that it is designed to protect. Living in a global economy is an unavoidable truth — everything from the shoes on our feet to the vegetables we eat is imported from overseas. However, the American flag… the essence, arguably, of that for which this country stands… should be something that is made by U.S. workers on American soil.
Date Signed: 4/03/2014
ALMARS Active Number: 008/14
R 031935Z APR 14
MSGID/GENADMIN,USMTF,2007/CMC WASHINGTON DC DMCS(UC)/F002//
SUBJ/DEATH OF GENERAL CARL E. MUNDY, JR., 30TH COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS//
1. IT IS WITH GREAT SADNESS THAT I ANNOUNCE THE DEATH OF GENERAL CARL E. MUNDY, JR., U.S. MARINE CORPS, RETIRED, THE 30TH COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS. GENERAL MUNDY PASSED AWAY EARLY IN THE MORNING OF APRIL 3, 2014.
2. ALL MARINE CORPS INSTALLATIONS WILL HALF-MAST THE NATIONAL ENSIGN UPON RECEIPT OF THIS NOTICE UNTIL SUNSET ON THE DAY OF INTERMENT. MORE INFORMATION WILL FOLLOW VIA SEPARATE CORRESPONDENCE.
3. JAMES F. AMOS, GENERAL, U.S. MARINE CORPS, COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS.//
I awoke to Eminem blasting hours before dawn at Quantico Marine Base. A fog of breath and sweat permeated the cold January air as I joined 104 other nervous lieutenants hauling gear to the classroom where we would receive our first instructions. With body armor, Kevlar, a rifle and a huge pack on my 5’3’’ frame, I must have looked like a child next to the buff guys assembling for Day 1 of the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course.
I was one of four women in the group, bringing the number to 14 female officers who had attempted the course since it was opened to women in the fall of 2012. All the women so far had failed — all but one of them on the first day.
I wasn’t thinking about that, though. I was excited to have a shot at the Marines’ premier training course.
I’m typical of a Marine in that I’ve always sought out challenges. I flew my first solo flight when I was 15 and got my private pilot’s license three years ago at 21. I’ve climbed 10 of the 14,000-foot peaks in my home state of Colorado. As an ice hockey goalie for more than a decade, I put myself in the path of pucks flying at 80 mph.
I expected that this, though, would be the toughest experience I’d ever had.
The most famous Morse Code communication in history – and the bravest. Wall Street Journal, Mar. 31, Pg. A12 | Editorial
Jeremiah Denton never blinked.
He did not blink while leading bombing runs over North Vietnam as commander of a squadron of A-6 Intruders. He did not blink after he was shot down and taken prisoner on July 18, 1965, three days after his 41st birthday.
And he did not blink when, 10 months later, he was hauled before a Japanese film crew to deliver what Hanoi expected would be a propaganda statement denouncing the American war effort and praising his captors for humane treatment. “Whatever the position of my government, I believe in it, yes, sir,” he said. “I am a member of that government, and it is my job to support it, and I will as long as I live.”
All the while, he used his eyelids to bat out the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse Code. It was the first confirmation of the true nature of the treatment being meted to American POWs. Thanks to YouTube, you can watch the tape of Denton’s eyelid Morse communication, in what was an astonishing act of bravery and fidelity to duty. His captors soon realized what he had done, and he was beaten and tortured some more. Of his nearly eight years in captivity, four were spent in solitary, often in boxes the size of a coffin.
The North’s torturers never broke him. With James Stockdale and other senior officers, Denton inspired his fellow prisoners to resist, to say no, to maintain their honor amid the relentless and violent efforts to degrade it.
Freed at last in 1973 after the Paris Peace Accord, Denton, who would go on to become an admiral and a Senator, delivered a brief speech: “We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.” We’ve no doubt God is blessing Jeremiah Denton.
“Denton, who would survive 7 1/2 years confined in a tiny, stinking, windowless cell at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” and other camps before his release in 1973, died of heart problems Friday in Virginia Beach, Va., at age 89.” [cbsnews.com]
Author and Marine Jude Eden served in the Marine Corps from 2004-2008, deploying to Fallujah Iraq in 2005-6.
Jude shares her thoughts about women in combat…
“Women have many wonderful strengths, and there is certainly a lot of work for women to do in the military. But all the problems that come with men and women working together are compounded in the war zone, destroying the cohesion necessary to fight bloody, hellish war. We are at war; and if we want to win, we have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And the top priority should be military readiness and WINNING wars, not political correctness and artificially imposed “equality” on the military.”
ROTC cadets looking to get a little bit of extra spending money or those who need help covering the costs of tuition are encouraged to apply for the first-ever AmmoMan.com ROTC Scholarships. Applications are open now for a pair of ROTC-exclusive, $500 scholarships for cadets enrolled at accredited 4-year colleges and universities. Two scholarships will be awarded in June to a pair of cadets who demonstrate excellence in the classroom and outstanding leadership skills within their cadre.
"We wanted to do something that would help bring attention to the young men and women who are dedicating a portion of their college years to helping serve their country as well as their local college campus," Eric Schepps of AmmoMan.com said. "We realize a lot of these men and women will go on to serve their country through the military and that commitment to serve as well as their commitment to personal development is something we appreciate. It’s worth encouraging that sort of behavior."
These ROTC Scholarships are open to cadets serving in any branch of ROTC so long as they maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average, or a B-average in their university’s respective grading system. However, the winning applicants will be more than just sharp in the classroom; a letter must accompany eligible applications from cadre leadership describing the cadet's leadership abilities.
"Many cadets enjoy the benefits of paid tuition if they commit to serve active duty military for four years after graduation but we realize that there are a lot more expenses and opportunities available to college-aged students than just inside the classroom. Further, there are a number of students who don't receive full tuition and are active leaders among their ROTC peers. It is our hope to help these students get the most from their time in college and recognize their dedication."
About AmmoMan.com: AmmoMan.com is among the oldest online ammo retailers on the web with an online history dating back to the late 90's. Based in New Jersey, AmmoMan.com's ROTC Scholarship is making its debut in 2014 as part of what the retailer hopes will be an annual and increasing effort to recognize our nation's future leaders.
On 30 August 2006, Marine Col. F. Brooke Nihart, at 87 years of age, executed his orders to report for duty at Marine Detachment, Heavens Pearly Gates. As a Sgt. during WW-II, he served on the aircraft carrier Saratoga during the battle for Wake Island. He later fought on Okinawa. In 1951 he lead a force of 200 Marines in the first nighttime helicopter operation in military history. He and his men landed on a hilltop near the Punch Bowl. As a result of actions against North Korean forces there, he was awarded the Navy Cross.
That alone should be enough for us to remember most men by. However, he will best be remembered for something we, who have served, all take for granite. He will be remembered for putting down on paper in 1955 the words we learned to speak by heart. He was the originator of “The Code of Conduct”. The code we each followed and practiced while serving in the defense of our country. On 17 August 1955 President Eisenhower signed an Executive Order making this the official credo for Americans in all who serve.
Article I tells us, “I am an American, fighting in the armed forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.” How true those words are even today. For they speak of the ultimate sacrifice we all understood the price we, and those serving today, might have to pay just to have our freedom.
Article III goes on to say, “If captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape.” This is the one statement I think all of us wanted so much to adhere to if we were ever captured. The one statement that went to our very core of what we hoped we were all made of. WE MUST NEVER GIVE UP was the thought we always kept in the back of our mind.
Article V advises us to give only our name, rank and service number if captured. It goes on to say, “I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.” And with these words we each wondered how much we could endure just to abide by those words.
While the words “Code of Conduct” seem simple enough when taken by themselves. We all had them read to us in either Boot Camp or OCS. It’s not until you take that first step toward serving in a combat zone that you realize how real those words have become. How your fellow man and your country expect you to act in the face of an enemy. How you would want yourself to act.
“Welcome Home” is a new series being produced by Sleeping Dog Productions, Inc. It tells the story of Viet Nam Veterans, from all branches of the service. It is scheduled for release in 2015, the 40th anniversary year of the end of the War. It is a thank you — and a welcome home that is long, long, overdue.
For updates on the series visit our website, www.sleepingdogtv.com
American Legion Editorial
By Jim Webb, September 2003
Against a backdrop of political mismanagement and social angst, history has failed to respect those who gave their all to the war in Vietnam.
Forty years ago, Asia was at a vital crossroads, moving into an uncertain future dominated by three different historical trends. The first involved the aftermath of the carnage and destruction of World War II, which left scars on every country in the region and dramatically changed Japan’s role in East Asian affairs. The second was the sudden, regionwide end of European colonialism, which created governmental vacuums in every second-tier country except Thailand and, to a lesser extent, the Philippines. The third was the emergence of communism as a powerful tool of expansionism by military force, its doctrine and strategies emanating principally from the birthplace of the Communist International: the Soviet Union.
Europe’s withdrawal from the region dramatically played into the hands of communist revolutionary movements, especially in the wake of the communist takeover of China in 1949. Unlike in Europe, these countries had never known Western-style democracy. In 1950, the partitioned country of Korea exploded into war when the communist North invaded South Korea, with the Chinese Army joining the effort six months later. Communist insurgencies erupted throughout Indochina. In Malaysia, the British led a 10-year anti-guerrilla campaign against China-backed revolutionaries. A similar insurgency in Indonesia brought about a communist coup attempt, also sponsored by the Chinese, which was put down in 1965.
The situation inside Vietnam was the most complicated. First, for a variety of reasons the French had not withdrawn from their long-term colony after World War II, making it easy for insurgents to rally the nationalistic Vietnamese to their side. Second, the charismatic, Soviet-trained communist leader Ho Chi Minh had quickly consolidated his anti-French power base just after the war by assassinating the leadership of competing political groups that were both anti-French and anti-communist. Third, once the Korean War armistice was signed in 1953, the Chinese had shifted large amounts of sophisticated weaponry to Ho Chi Minh’s army. The Viet Minh’s sudden acquisition of larger-caliber weapons and field artillery such as the 105-millimeter Howitzer abruptly changed the nature of the war and contributed heavily to the French humiliation at Dien Bien Phu.
Fourth, further war became inevitable when U.S.-led backers of the incipient South Vietnamese democracy called off a 1956 election agreed upon after Vietnam was divided in 1954. In geopolitical terms, this failure to go forward with elections was prudent, since it was clear a totalitarian state had emerged in the north. President Eisenhower’s frequently quoted admonition that Ho Chi Minh would get 75 percent of the vote was not predicated on the communist leader’s popularity but on the impossibility of getting a fair vote in communist-controlled North Vietnam. But in propaganda terms, it solidified Ho Chi Minh’s standing and in many eyes justified the renewed warfare he would begin in the south two years later.
In 1958, the communists unleashed a terrorist campaign in the south. Within two years, their northern-trained squads were assassinating an average of 11 government officials a day. President Kennedy referred to this campaign in 1961 when he decided to increase the number of American soldiers operating inside South Vietnam. “We have talked about and read stories of 7,000 to 15,000 guerrillas operating in Vietnam, killing 2,000 civil officers a year and 2,000 police officers a year – 4,000 total,” Kennedy said. “How we fight that kind of problem, which is going to be with us all through this decade, seems to me to be one of the great problems now before the United States.”
Among the local populace, the communist assassination squads were the “stick,” threatening to kill anyone who officially affiliated with the South Vietnamese government. Along with the assassination squads came the “carrot,” a highly trained political cadre that also infiltrated South Vietnam from the north. The cadre helped the people prepare defenses in their villages, took rice from farmers as taxes and recruited Viet Cong soldiers from the local young population. Spreading out into key areas – such as those provinces just below the demilitarized zone, those bordering Laos and Cambodia, and those with future access routes to key cities – the communists gained strong footholds.
The communists began spreading out from their enclaves, fighting on three levels simultaneously. First, they continued their terror campaign, assassinating local leaders, police officers, teachers and others who declared support for the South Vietnamese government. Second, they waged an effective small-unit guerrilla war that was designed to disrupt commerce, destroy morale and clasp local communities to their cause. And finally, beginning in late 1964, they introduced conventional forces from the north, capable of facing, if not defeating, main force infantry units – including the Americans – on the battlefield. Their gamble was that once the United States began fighting on a larger scale – as it did in March 1965 – its people would not support a long war of attrition. As Ho Chi Minh famously put it, “For every one of yours we kill, you will kill 10 of ours. But in the end it is you who will grow tired.”
Ho Chi Minh was right. The infamous “body counts” were continuously disparaged by the media and the antiwar movement. Hanoi removed the doubt in 1995, when on the 20th anniversary of the fall of Saigon officials admitted having lost 1.1 million combat soldiers dead, with another 300,000 “still missing.”
Communist losses of 1.4 million dead compared to America’s losses of 58,000 and South Vietnam’s 245,000 stand as stark evidence that eliminates many myths about the war. The communists, and particularly the North Vietnamese, were excellent and determined soldiers. But the “wily, elusive guerrillas” that the media loved to portray were not exclusively wily, elusive or even guerrillas when one considers that their combat deaths were four times those of their enemies, combined. And an American military that located itself halfway around the world to take on a determined enemy on the terrain of the enemy’s choosing was hardly the incompetent, demoralized and confused force that so many antiwar professors, journalists and filmmakers love to portray.
Why Did We Fight?
The United States recognized South Vietnam as a political entity separate from North Vietnam, just as it recognized West Germany as separate from communist-controlled East Germany and just as it continues to recognize South Korea from communist-controlled North Korea. As signatories of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization, we pledged to defend South Vietnam from external aggression. South Vietnam was invaded by the north, just as certainly, although with more sophistication, as South Korea was invaded by North Korea. The extent to which the North Vietnamese, as well as antiwar Americans, went to deny this reality by pretending the war was fought only by Viet Cong soldiers from the south is, historically, one of the clearest examples of their disingenuous conduct. At one point during the war, 15 of North Vietnam’s 16 combat divisions were in the south.
How Did We Fight?
The Vietnam War varied year by year and region by region, our military’s posture unavoidably mirroring political events in the United States. Too often in today’s America we are left with the images burned into a weary nation’s consciousness at the very end of the war, when massive social problems had been visited on an army that was demoralized, sitting in defensive cantonments and simply waiting to be withdrawn. While reflecting America’s final months in Vietnam, they hardly tell the story of the years of effort and battlefield success that preceded them.
Little recognition has been given in this country of how brutal the war was for those who fought it on the ground and how well our military performed. Dropped onto the enemy’s terrain 12,000 miles away from home, America’s citizen-soldiers performed with a tenacity and quality that may never be truly understood. Those who believe the war was fought incompetently on a tactical level should consider the enormous casualties to which the communists now admit. And those who believe that it was a “dirty little war” where the bombs did all the work might contemplate that it was the most costly war the U.S. Marine Corps has ever fought. Five times as many Marines died in Vietnam as in World War I, three times as many as in Korea. And the Marines suffered more total casualties, killed and wounded, in Vietnam than in all of World War II.
Another allegation was that our soldiers were over-decorated during the Vietnam War. James Fallows says in his book “National Defense” that by 1971, we had given out almost 1.3 million medals for bravery in Vietnam, as opposed to some 1.7 million for all of World War II. Others have repeated the figure, including the British historian Richard Holmes in his book “Acts of War.” This comparison is incorrect for a number of reasons. First, these totals included air medals, rarely awarded for bravery. We awarded more than 1 million air medals to Army soldiers during Vietnam. Air medals were almost always given on a points basis for missions flown, and it was not unusual to see a helicopter pilot with 40 air medals because of the nature of his job.
If we compare the top three actual gallantry awards, the Army awarded:
289 Medals of Honor in World War II and 155 in Vietnam
4,434 Distinguished Service Crosses in World War II and 846 in Vietnam
73,651 Silver Stars in World War II against 21,630 in Vietnam
The Marine Corps, which lost 103,000 killed or wounded out of some 400,000 sent to Vietnam, awarded:
47 Medals of Honor (34 posthumously)
362 Navy Crosses (139 posthumously)
2,592 Silver Stars
Second, although the Army awarded another 1.3 million “meritorious” Bronze Stars and Army Commendation Medals in Vietnam, this was hardly unique. After World War II, Army Regulation 600-45 authorized every soldier who had received either a Combat Infantryman’s Badge or a Combat Medical Badge to also be awarded a meritorious Bronze Star. The Army has no data regarding how many soldiers received Bronze Stars through this blanket procedure.
We made errors, although nowhere on the scale alleged by those who have a stake in disparaging our effort. Fighting a well-trained enemy who seeks cover in highly contested populated areas where civilians often assist the other side is the most difficult form of warfare. The most important distinction is that the deliberate killing of innocent civilians was a crime in the U.S. military. We held ourselves accountable for My Lai. And yet we are still waiting for the communists to take responsibility for the thousands of civilians deliberately killed by their political cadre as a matter of policy. A good place for them to start holding their own forces accountable would be Hue, where during the 1968 Tet Offensive more than 2,000 locals were systematically executed during the brief communist takeover of the city.
What Went Wrong?
Beyond the battlefield, just about everything one might imagine.
The war was begun, and fought, without clear political goals. Its battlefield complexities were never fully understood by those who were judging, and commenting upon, American performance. As a rifle platoon and company commander in the infamous An Hoa Basin west of Da Nang, on any given day my Marines could be fighting three different wars: one against terrorism, one against guerrillas and one against conventional forces. The implications of these challenges, as well as our successes in dealing with them, never seemed to penetrate an American populace inundated by negative press stories filed by reporters, particularly television journalists, who had no clue about the real tempo of the war. And one of the most under-reported revelations after the war ended was that several top reporters were compromised while in Vietnam, by communist agents who had managed to gain employment as their assistants, thus shaping in a large way their reporting.
Most importantly, Vietnam became an undeclared war fought against the background of a highly organized dissent movement at home. Few Americans who grew up after the war know that a large part of this dissent movement was already in place before the Vietnam War began. Many who wished for revolutionary changes in America had pushed for them through the vehicles of groups such as the ban-the-bomb movement in the 1950s and the civil-rights movement of the early and mid-1960s. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the infamous antiwar group Students for a Democratic Society was created at the University of Michigan through the Port Huron Statement in 1962 – three full years before American ground troops landed at Da Nang. The SDS hoped to bring revolution to America through the issue of race. They and other extremist groups soon found more fertile soil on the issue of the war.
Former communist colonel Bui Tin, a highly placed propaganda officer during the war, recently published a memoir in which he specifically admitted a truth that was assumed by American fighting men for years. The Hanoi government assumed from the beginning that the United States would never prevail in Vietnam so long as the dissent movement, which they called “the Rear Front,” was successful at home. Many top leaders of this movement coordinated efforts directly with Vietnamese communist officials in Hanoi. Such coordination often included visiting the North Vietnamese capital – for instance, during the planning stages for the October 1967 march on the Pentagon – a few weeks before the siege of Khe Sanh kicked into high gear and a few months before the Tet Offensive.
The majority of the American people never truly bought the antiwar movement’s logic. While it is correct to say many wearied of an ineffective national strategy as the war dragged on, they never stopped supporting the actual goals for which the United States and South Vietnam fought. As late as September 1972, a Harris survey indicated overwhelming support for continued bombing of North Vietnam – 55 percent to 32 percent – and for mining North Vietnamese harbors – 64 percent to 22 percent. By a margin of 74 percent to 11 percent, those polled also agreed that “it is important that South Vietnam not fall into the control of the communists.”
Was It Worth It?
On a human level, the war brought tragedy to hundreds of thousands of American homes through death, disabling wounds and psychological scars. Many other Vietnam veterans were stigmatized by their own peers as a classic Greek tragedy played out before the nation’s eyes. Those who did not go, particularly among the nation’s elites, were often threatened by the acts of those who did and as a consequence inverted the usual syllogism of service. If I did not go to a war because I believed it was immoral, what does it say about someone who did? If someone who fought is perceived as having been honorable, what does that say about someone who was asked to and could have but did not?
Vietnam veterans, most of whom entered the military just after leaving high school, had their educational and professional lives interrupted during their most formative years. In many parts of the country and in many professional arenas, their having served their country was a negative when it came to admission into universities or being hired for jobs. The fact that the overwhelming majority of those who served were able to persist and make successful lives for themselves and their families is strong testament to the quality of Americans who actually did step forward and serve.
On a national level, and in the eyes of history, the answer is easier. One can gain an appreciation for what we attempted to achieve in Vietnam by examining the aftermath of the communist victory in 1975. A gruesome holocaust took place in Cambodia, the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. Two million Vietnamese fled their country – mostly by boat. Thousands lost their lives in the process. This was the first such diaspora in Vietnam’s long and frequently tragic history. Inside Vietnam, a million of the south’s best young leaders were sent to re-education camps; more than 50,000 perished while imprisoned, and others remained captives for as long as 18 years. An apartheid system was put into place that punished those who had been loyal to the United States, as well as their families, in matters of education, employment and housing. The Soviet Union made Vietnam a client state until its own demise, pumping billions of dollars into the country and keeping extensive naval and air bases at Cam Ranh Bay. In fact, communist Vietnam did not truly start opening up to the outside world until the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
Would I Do It Again?
Others are welcome to disagree, but on this I have no doubt. Like almost every Marine I have ever met, my strongest regret is that perhaps I could have done more. But no other experience in my life has been more important than the challenge of leading Marines during those extraordinarily difficult times. Nor am I alone in this feeling. The most accurate poll of the attitudes of those who served in Vietnam – Harris, 1980 – showed that 91 percent were glad they’d served their country, and 74 percent enjoyed their time in the service. Additionally, 89 percent agreed that “our troops were asked to fight in a war which our political leaders in Washington would not let them win.”
On that final question, history will surely be kinder to those who fought than to those who directed – or opposed – the war.
Headquarters Marine Corps
Commandant Gen. James F. Amos: Corps is going sleeves up
By Gen. James F. Amos | Headquarters Marine Corps | February 25, 2014
Sgt. Maj. Barrett and I have now spoken to the majority of you about our efforts to “Reawaken the Soul of our Corps.” Each time that we have talked with you, we come away with a strong belief that you “get it.” You understand that our renewed focus on the four enduring principles of: DISCIPLINE; ADHERENCE TO STANDARDS; ENGAGED AND CONCERNED LEADERSHIP (24/7); and FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE TO ORDERS, is key to resetting the Corps and getting ready for tomorrow’s fight. You understand that those 4 principles define what we have called “The Soul of the Corps.” They have been with us for over 238 years…it’s always been that way.
As we complete the mission in Afghanistan, it’s critical to understand that there will be no “peace dividend” for America’s Marines…there will be no operational pause for us. The world that we will live and operate in over the next two decades will be a dangerous one; there will be plenty of work for those who wear our cloth.
As we have travelled throughout our Corps, many of you have let us know how important your identity as a Marine is to you and the Marines you lead. I can’t tell you how many times we have been asked the persistent question “Commandant, are we ever going to return to SLEEVES UP?” I’ve thought a lot about this over the past 2 .5 years; I realize that it’s important to you. Sleeves up clearly and visually sets us apart.
WE HEAR YOU MARINES!
Because of the persistence of you, my Sergeants and Corporals, this evening I am publishing a MARADMIN that will return us to SLEEVES UP status when wearing our Desert CAMMIES in non-combat areas. This will take effect on 9 March when we transition to our summer warmer weather uniforms. Get the word out Marines.
Thank you for your leadership in some very challenging times!!!
Commandant Gen. James F. Amos: Corps is going sleeves up