Where Do You Live?

By: Ed Creamer

I find there are times when doors open and memories sit beside me. Now that may sound like a strange statement to make. But I believe we all have those times. Times when our mind takes a breather from the rush of today and stops just long enough for an instant in time to remember. The times that caused us to live where we live.

I’m not talking about what street we live on or if we live in up state or by the river or even in the heart of the city. I’m talking about what in our mental house makes us who we are and why we are that person. The people and the things that caused us to build the number of rooms we have in our mental makeup.

There are rooms devoted to my parents, my family and some uncles I had. Some of the rooms belong to teachers I had in school. One room in particular belongs to the judge who could have locked me up at age 18 but instead gave me a choice. I have rooms for my senior D.I., a room for my Company Commander who promoted me to Corporal when I was an 0311 and the First Sheriff who told me, “Corporal, you’re too dumb to carry a BAR”. He then pointed me toward aviation as a career.

Over time, as I received more promotions and made Warrant, rooms were set aside for people who touched my life and helped point the way toward where I would live. There’s a special room in my house for my first squadron commander. Not only did he help define who I was as an officer but what the definition of SLJO was.

During each of my two tours in combat I found there needed to be rooms set aside for those that cheated playing acey-ducey. I’ve even set aside a room for the mess cook who never learned how. And, if you’re the one who short sheeted my rack, your room is the four holer.

Then, there are the rooms for those who walk with me every day. I can visualize some of them dressed in their flight suites. Can hear the terrible jokes some of them told. I even think that when I sit down to put words on my monitor screen, the doors open for some to sit with me. For these are the rooms for those that gave their lives defining what the words “ultimate sacrifice while defending freedom” meant.

Now you know. And, if you stop and think about it, it’s a house like your house. It’s a house built with memories and touched by the lives of others. And in this house, you are never alone. It’s where you live.

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Former Marine Navigates Life After Active Duty

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 Dianna DiToro
Former Marine Dianna DiToro

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.

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Al Gray, Marine — The Early Years, 1950-1967, Volume One

by Scott Laidig slaidig@gmail.com
Dear family, friends, Marines, veterans, and colleagues,

Many of you know that, for the past 5 or 6 years, much of my time has been devoted to writing a multi-volume biography of General Al Gray, the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps. It has been the honor of my lifetime to have been given the opportunity to undertake this project about the finest Marine I ever knew. It turns out he is an even finer man.

Good biographies start with interesting men or women; no writer ever put pen to paper, or began typing, with a better, more heroic or more worthy subject than I. General Gray deserved a better and far more accomplished biographer, but for reasons known only to him, it was yours truly that he permitted access to his library, his personal papers, but most of all his thoughts and memories. And his memory is, as all who know him can attest, superb.

The primary reasons that, in my opinion, he permitted the project to go forward were twofold. First, we agreed that no one but Marine-related charities would profit from book sales. Consequently, neither the publisher, the Potomac Institute Press, nor I will earn a dime from the book. After printing, shipping and other minor costs are paid, the money raised from book sales and associated dinners or other events will all be donated to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, the General’s favorite charity. Second, the General was finally convinced, and I surely agree, that his story may inspire young Marines in their professional lives. His dedication to lifelong learning, to accomplishing his mission, to being the best professional that he could be, and to hard work really are the stuff of legends. When combined with his humility, his acceptance of any assignment, his devotion to those he led or served with, and his intense curiosity, all of which were evident during his years as a young man and then as a Marine, his life is a lesson in leadership.

Volume 1 begins with Al Gray’s childhood in New Jersey but quickly moves to his service as a Marine. Many remember him as a transformational Commandant of the Marine Corps, but Al Gray was just as impressive as a sergeant, lieutenant, captain or field grade officer as he was as a general – perhaps even more so. Al Gray, Marine: The Early Years, 1950-1967 , the hardback edition, will soon be available at algraymarine.org. It is currently available from the Marine Corps Association and the Marine Corps League and will soon be at other Marine-related outlets. The ebook will be available at Amazon soon (but not the hardback.)
Leatherneck Magazine, in its online February edition, recently published a review of the book. For those who are not members of the Marine Corps Association, the text of the review is printed below.

We realize the $49.95 single-book tariff for the hardback is high. However, we remind you that at least $35 of that go to the Semper Fi Fund and is tax-deductible. The ebook likely will be $9.95, and as with the hardback most of the price will be donated to the Semper Fi Fund.

Thanks for your support. Enjoy the book!

Scott

P.S. Please forward to anyone who may be interested!
———————-

Leatherneck Review:

General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., the Corps Greatest Commandant

A Book Review by Don DeNevi

Reading “Al Gray, Marine — The Early Years, 1950-1967, Volume One” (Potomac Institute Press, $49.95) stirs the heart and mind, leading one’s imagination to demand additional volumes with such subtitles as “Nobility While Soldiering” and “Inspiring Creative Leadership.”

In his lucid and masterful biography, author Scott Laidig, a decorated Marine combat veteran in Vietnam, clearly reinforces what every knowledgeable Marine already knows: Alfred Gray, Jr., is the greatest post-Vietnam commandant the Corps has known, a general who has earned the right to march alongside its 64 four-star generals. Like virtually all of them, as well as others in American military history such as Eisenhower, Bradley, Hodges, Stilwell, Ridgeway, Patton, Vandegrift, to name just a few, he subordinated his own amazing contributions and achievements to the risk of battle, victory, and his relationships with the officers and the men who served under him.

Combining an astonishing number of interviews with a formidable amount of facts collected from private sources, command chronologies, and public as well as military archives, to say nothing of the endless vignettes from eyewitness accounts of close friends, superiors and subordinates, mentors, and Gray’s family members, Laidig spans the years between June, 1950 (south Korea) and December, 1967 (Charlie Ridge, Da Nang) to portray the fledgling growth and development of a creative military mind that would one day envision a new and advanced type of Marine Corps — one that would put it back in the limelight after the near diasterous post-Vietnam era. Says General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command, “His greatest contribution would be a strategy for how our service would best meet our mission to win our country’s battles. General Gray saw a much more expansive role for us — a role that would not encroach on the roles of other services but complement them because of flexibility, readiness, adaptability, deployment, interoperability, and the expeditionary nature of our organization.”

In short, author Laidig sets the stage in this initial 400 page text for who years later will become the 29th USMC Commandant: i.e., combat service in Korea; Communication Officer School, Quantico; AO2F Staff, Washington, DC; among the first boots in Vietnam; Operation Tiger Tooth Mountain; Da Nang with the 3rd Marine Division; commanding Gio Linh Outpost; and learning of the coming Tet Offense. From such valuable combat and administrative experiences would slowly evolve a belief that the Corps should be a reservoir of combat capability that can shape, organize, and meet aggression in the most effective and efficient manner possible. For the maturing general-to-be, rigid Corps structures and dogmatic organizational designs would no longer be acceptable. If he had his way someday, Gray would insist upon flexible and imaginative organization and inspired leadership. There would be brand new operational concepts.

“Al Gray, Marine — The Early Years, 1950-1967, Volume One” is a wise and winning introduction to a good man and soon to be great leader. The author’s love for his subject is both apparent and deserving, as the respect any reader will have for Scott Laidig himself. By providing us with Gray’s early higher echelon experiences, insights and understandings, coupled with the overall picture of the Vietnam War and America’s role in it, the book is all the more captivating as well as a major contribution to serious military biography.

To no one’s surprise, because it cuts to the core of the humanity of all those involved, proceeds from the book will be donated to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

And, Scott, when can we expect Volume Two? And, possibly, Volume Three, the general’s private letters, military correspondence, and unpublished writings?

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06OCT2011: MSgt Joel Weber

Ramblings of a Deployed Mind
From the confines of Camp Leatherneck

ALMAR/ALFAM/ALFRDS,


Another week in the books and I couldn’t be happier at the moment.  This week fly by because of another round of inspections, this time NATO decided to visit us all the way from Belgium.  After prepping, very little, and allowing NATO to get settled in, we started our inspection at roughly 1400.  By 1800, we were done.  We have prepared so well and had every ready to go, that the three day inspection lasted 4 hours.  If I must say, that’s pretty damn good.  We received glowing remarks as the best Regional Command in theater…I wouldn’t expect anything less and Brian and I are pretty good at what we do.  I’ll give most of the credit to him since he is the Manager and I just supervise.  Either way, we sent them on their merry way the next day with RC(SW) Coins for their troubles.  We are still trying to get to the NATO Schools in Italy though, so we are keeping in close contact with them.  Right now I am scheduled for the end of the month and Brian in December, we don’t think we’ll go due to commitments, so we’re gonna try and get our replacements to take the slots…we are good guys.  The rest of the work week has been just as busy as day one.  Trying to figure out plans of what goes home and to whom and how has been quite a process.  We brought Chris out from DC to take a look at all the work out here and do his inspections and we’ve kept him 2 weeks longer than what we were supposed to.  If he’s nice, we’ll let him go next week sometime… after all the work and processes are complete.  Again, it’s been a productive deployment from our side; we’ve accomplished way more than we set out to and it’s going to benefit the Marine Corps and Afghanistan as a whole when we leave…so we have the right to feel good sometimes, regardless of what people think we do.

I’m a little late in sending this out again this weekend, but I participated in the DANCON MARCH AFGHANISTAN 2011.  It’s supposed to be a 25k march or run with a 20lb to 55lb pack.  The march ended up being 16.5 miles long and I ended up weighing my pack at 51 pounds.  I walked with MGySgt Kirby and we finished in 4 hours and 17 minutes…not to bad to two of the oldest guys in the section.  


MSgt Weber & MGySgt Kirby


The short, but hot shower was nice.  Especially after last Sunday’s marathon and me losing a toe nail this week, I was glad and fortunate to do this one with the Danish.  We are preparing for the December Danish Marathon on Dec 4th, but I believe I’ll only be doing the half Marathon and not the full…my body needs to relax a minute before it rebels.  I know it’s going to be extremely sore tomorrow morning and rightfully so.  We did receive nice medals and certificates for our troubles though.




 Kirstin and Kara had pretty good weeks from what I gathered.  I’m able to talk to Kara after she gets off of school and before her parental units get home.  They are at the Great Wolf Lodge this weekend for Kirstin’s birthday.  I can’t believe my little bird turns 9 on Monday…OMG!!!  SHE TURNS NINE!!!  She is such an awesome little girl and for every one’s information, she seems to be doing great since being put on Remicade.  So far, so good, so that is awesome!  I hope she has.  I’ll say thank you now to those who sent gifts and cards.

A few other important dates this week…our official 8th Month Mark!!  Woot, woot…what more can I say about that!?!?!?!  Probably the holiday most important to me (minus Jesus’ birthday) is the Marine Corps Birthday!  November 10th means a lot to me and it’s more important than my own birthday.  We will be celebrating out here, that’s all I can say.  Us Marines are fanatical about our birthday and that goes out here as well.  Yet another important day is that of Veteran’s Day…enough said with that one.

Well all, another week down and another week starts.  I’m heading to dinner soon, then back to work to watch my Buffalo Bills defeat the NY Jets on the TV.  My Bills have been voted “AFN Game of the Week” 7 of the 9 weeks they’ve been playing…tells ya how many die hard Bills fans are in the service.  Have a good week all!  Happy Birthday to Kirstin and the United States Marine Corps.


MSGT JOEL WEBER
II MEF FWD C6
UNIT 73920
FPO AE 09510-3920

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30OCT2011: MSgt Joel Weber

Ramblings of a Deployed Mind
From the confines of Camp Leatherneck

ALMAR/ALFAM/ALFRDS,

GOOD AFTERNOON FROM CAMP LEATHERNECK, AFGHANISTAN! It’s been quite a morning so far. Today, thousands are running the 36th Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC and 380 of us ran our 26.2 miles as part of the Marine Corps Marathon Forward here in the A-Stan.

It was chilly at the start but warmed up very quickly. Since we don’t have 26 miles to run here, we had to do laps of 5 miles around parts of Leatherneck. It was quit a day and I’m glad it’s over, BUT, Brian and I decided to run the 26.2 miles and then proceed to make it a full 30 miles!! Yes, Brian and I ran 30 miles…basically because we’ve both run marathons before and we wanted to go farther. The finishers collected the very same medal that will be given away in DC this morning to the finishers there. I HAD A GREAT TIME and I feel fortunate to have been able to run this Marathon here in Afghanistan!! I’m going to go ahead and rest my feet for a few minutes (hours) and then proceed to head to work. The pain isn’t really there right now, but it will be tomorrow, guaranteed! I ran marathon personal best of 3 hours, 56 minutes. It took another 50 minutes to complete the 30 miles…something I will never do again!

Now, on to work. I hate it…I’m just being real. I believe that my Team and I have been able to do more for the our community than some people will have accomplished in their careers. We have take our jobs to a whole new level, thus making our predecessors job easier as they filter in here. I know that the “pats on the back” will never come, as this is a thankless job in it’s self, but I know we kicked ass! Either way, I’m going to leave this slum in way better shape then when I arrived, just like good Marines should. As for the Marine Corps, someone decided to give us our 100% Tuition Assistance back. I don’t know why the 180 degree decision, but it’s the right one. Too bad we still won’t be able to roll our sleeves; I’d take sleeves over Tuition Assistance.

Kara and Kirstin seem to be doing pretty amazing as well this week. Both are excelling in school and in their respective sports and music classes. Kirstin turns 9 on the 7th, I can’t believe it. It is so crazy how much my little baby has grown up in the last year. I love them both to death!

So, one of the most exciting things we discussed this week was……REDEPLOYMENT. We are almost at the 8 month mark, leaving 4 months to go. We’re discussing when our replacements will be here and when we tentatively plan on leaving this crap hole…all dates will be kept until the end, so no one starts making plans like idiots.

On a bad note, my cousin Kevin is battling cancer and not doing so well. I ask that everyone pray for him and his family. Thank you all!

MSGT JOEL WEBER
II MEF FWD C6
UNIT 73920
FPO AE 09510-3920

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23OCT2011: MSgt Joel Weber

Ramblings of a Deployed Mind
From the confines of Camp Leatherneck

ALMAR/ALFAM/ALFRDS,

Greetings from Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan!  Another smoking week down and boy did it go.  I was stressed for most of it due to inspections and all that non-sense, but overall my boys performed to the tune of, “DOWNRIGHT AWESOME”.  No no one else in the Marine Corps has overcome some of the obstacles that we have since we’ve been out here.  Minor little administrative discrepancies here and there, but things went very well.  The inspector is being kept out here by my boss due to some issues with another unit…he’s kinda not happy.  The initial request to was keep him for 6 months, lol.  Could you imagine???  Going someone where for three weeks and being told when you landed that you have to now stay 6 months, LOL.  I’d be upset too!  Either way, we’re going to try and get him out of here as soon as we can.  He’s got a few month old baby he needs to get back to and we want our peace and empty desk back and I’m sick of traveling all over this place!  We’ve been moving at the speed of light here.  It’s good on one hand, as it makes time move; it’s bad on the other hand, cause it’s wearing our butts out.  


The weather here has been a little unpredictable.  We had a thunderstorm that knocked our socks off, it rained for one whole day, and its been as cool as 57 degrees here.  I know some of you are saying, “aren’t you glad it’s not in the 130’s and 140’s anymore”…YES, I am.  But to go from the 50s to the 90’s in one day is sick and I don’t like it…so yes, I’m going to complain…HUSH!!  But hey, Halloween is coming!!!!!!!    

Kara and Kirstin seem to be doing great this week.  Kara is very involved in Church and even won some kind of Math contest and won; a $50 gift certificate to Starbucks…that’s my girl!  She says school and violin are going great.  Kirstin has been feeling very well since starting her Remicade, thank God.  She won her soccer game yesterday 2-1 and as the goalie the 2nd quarter, she didn’t allow a goal.  That’s my girl!  Speaking of Kirstin, the Wine Country Take Steps had their Crone’s & Colitis Walk yesterday.  The chapter raised over $13,340 with the “Babes With Bowels” team collecting $1,550 of it.  A BIG SHOUT OUT TO KATIE F for forming the team in Kirstin’s honor!  Kirstin actually help pick the name and the BWB Team had t-shirts and wrist bands made.  The Babes With Bowels team was the 2nd highest in money collect and Katie F was the top individual earner.  Kirstin laughs every time she hears the team name.  Thank you Babes With Bowels and thank you Katie F!!!!!!  You have no idea how much this means to Kirstin and I.    Here is their team page:


So some news on the Marine Corps front this week.  In my opinion, it’s all bad.  Not that it’s enough for the President and Congress to even think about messing with our retirement a few months ago, now our Tuition Assistance has been slashed by 75%.  No longer will recruiters be able to use college and Tuition Assistance as an incentive.  We get $850 a year, or 5 credits.  OK, what school as a class that is other than a 3 or 4 credit class and how much are those credits?!?!?  Seriously?!?!?  And then the Commandant of the Marine Corps decided it was a good idea to wear our cammies, sleeves down…ALL YEAR LONG!!!  Seriously?!?!?  Whatever happened to the Keepers of Tradition and the White Sleeves that the Marine Corps has known for 230 years?!?!?  All gone now and we must march in step like good Marines and go with it.  I’m NOT a fan!  On a good/great note, it’s been passed by the Senate that October 26th is now the National Day of the Deployed!

There have been lot of questions posed to us as what the boys out here want for Christmas.  Well, as most of us aren’t picky, there has been many items listed: air freshers, Doritos (me), Nintendo DSi games, Christmas cookies, Christmas trees/lights/decorations, gum, beef jerky (it’s hunting season), knives (I have no idea why) and even gift certs…whatever.  Anyway, we can’t wait for Christmas to get here, cause that just means it’s another day closer to coming home.  Speaking of coming home…I can’t wait…I’m not sure if I mention that or not.  A little under 5 months and I’m outta here…for a future of uncertainty at this point.  Well, that’s it kids, I hope everyone has a great week.  The Bills have a bye week, so they are playing some other team on TV this week, but GO SABRES! 


MSgt Joel Weber
II MEF FWD C6
Unit 73920
FPO AE 09510-3920

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Castra Praetoria: Under the black flag.

America’s 1stSgt Vents

The problem with being a Marine is sometimes lesser beings try to hobble you with their own perceived limitations. In the case of FAST Co this takes the form of Sailors losing their minds over the day to day activities of Marines.

In Bahrain any time a FAST Marine is seen doing anything resembling training with an actual weapon we always get a phone call from the Naval Security types. “There are Marines with rifles! THEY HAVE RIFLES!” Seriously? I would trust the average Marine with a rifle over most anyone else.

READ THE REST

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