Once, Always Marine

A great reflection from Fred Reed…

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Fourteen women have tried, and failed, the Marines’ Infantry Officer Course. Here’s why

By Sage Santangelo, Published: March 28

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.

Second Lt. Sage Santangelo says the Marine Corps should train women to the same standard as men.
Second Lt. Sage Santangelo says the Marine Corps should train women to the same standard as men.

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.

Read the entitre article on washingtonpost.com

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LETS BE REAL: WOMEN IN COMBAT

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…

bilde
“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.”

[Read the full article here]

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Why We Fought & Why We Would Do it Again

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.

marineh2
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.

Atrocities?
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?

Marines in Hue
Marines in Hue

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.

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Do you still think of Vietnam?

by Kerry “Doc” Pardue

A couple of years ago someone asked me if I still thought about Vietnam. I nearly laughed in their face. How do you stop thinking about it? Every day for the past forty years, I wake up with it- I go to bed with it. This was my response:

“Yeah, I think about it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I never will. But, . I’ve also learned to live with it. I’m comfortable with the memories. I’ve learned to stop trying to forget and learned to embrace it. It just doesn’t scare me anymore.”

A lot of my “brothers” haven’t been so lucky. For them the memories are too painful, their sense of loss too great. My sister told me of a friend she has whose husband was in the Nam. She asks this guy when he was there.

Here’s what he said, “Just last night.” It took my sister a while to figure out what he was talking about. Just Last Night. Yeah, I was in the Nam. When? Just last night, before I went to sleep, on my way to work this morning, and over my lunch hour. Yeah, I was there

The Wall
My sister says I’m not the same brother who went to Vietnam. My wife says I won’t let people get close to me, not even her.They are probably both right. Ask a vet about making friends in Nam. It was risky. Why? Because we were in the business of death, and death was with us all the time. It wasn’t the death of, “If I die before I wake.” This was the real thing. The kind boys scream for their mothers. The kind that lingers in your mind and becomes more real each time you cheat it. You don’t want to make a lot of friends when the possibility of dying is that real, that close. When you do, friends become a liability.

A guy named Bob Flanigan was my friend. Bob Flanigan is dead. I put him in a body bag one sunny day, April 29, 1969. We’d been talking, only a few minutes before he was shot, about what we were going to do when we got back to the world. Now, this was a guy who had come in country the same time as me. A guy who was loveable and generous. He had blue eyes and sandy blond hair.

When he talked, it was with a soft drawl. I loved this guy like the brother I never had. But, I screwed up. I got too close to him. I broke one of the unwritten rules of war. DON”T GET CLOSE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO DIE. You hear vets use the term “buddy” when they refer to a guy they spent the war with. “Me and this buddy of mine.”

Friend sounds too intimate, doesn’t it? “Friend” calls up images of being close. If he’s a friend, then you are going to be hurt if he dies, and war hurts enough without adding to the pain. Get close; get hurt. It’s as simple as that. In war you learn to keep people at that distance my wife talks about. You become good at it, that forty years after the war, you still do it without thinking. You won’t allow yourself to be vulnerable again.

My wife knows two people who can get into the soft spots inside me-my daughters. I know it bothers her that they can do this.It’s not that I don’t love my wife. I do. She’s put up with a lot from me.She’ll tell you that when she signed for better or worse, she had no idea there was going to be so much of the latter. But with my daughters it’s different. My girls are mine. They’ll always be my kids. Not marriage, not distance, not even death can change that.They are something on this earth that can never be taken away from me. I belong to them. Nothing can change that. I can have an ex-wife; but my girls can never have an ex-father. There’s the differance. I can still see the faces, though they all seem to have the same eyes. When I think of us, I always see a line of “dirty grunts”sitting on a paddy dike. We’re caught in the first gray silver between darkness and light. That first moment when we know we’ve survived another night, and the business of staying alive for one more day is about to begin. There was so much hope in that brief space of time. It’s what we used to pray for. “One more day, God. One more day.”

And I can hear our conversations as if they’d only just been spoken I still hear the way we sounded. The hard cynical jokes, our morbid senses of humor. We were scared to death of dying, and tried our best not to show it.

I recall the smells, too. Like the way cordite hangs on the air after a fire-fight. Or the pungent odor of rice paddy mud. So different from the black dirt of Iowa. The mud of Nam smells ancient, somehow. Like it’s always been there. And I’ll never forget the way blood smells, sticky and drying on my hands. I spent a long night that way once. The memory isn’t going anywhere.

I remember how the night jungle appears almost dreamlike as pilot of a Cessna buzzez overhead, dropping parachute flares until morning. That artificial sun would flicker and make shadows run through the jungle. It was worse than not being able to see what was out there sometimes. I remember once looking at the man next to me as a flare floated overhead. The shadows around his eyes were so deep that it looked like his eyes were gone. I reached over and touched him on the arm; without looking at me he touched my hand. “I know man. I know.” That’s what he said. It was a human moment. Two guys a long way from home and scared to death.

God, I loved those guys. I hurt every time one of them died. We all did. Despite our posturing. Despite our desire to stay disconnected, we couldn’t help ourselves. I know why Tim O’ Brien writes his stories. I know what gives Bruce Weigle the words to create poems so honest I cry at their horrible beauty. It’s love. Love for those guys we shared the experience with.

We did our jobs like good soldiers, and we tried our best not to become as hard as our surroundings.You want to know what is frightening. It’s a nineteen-year-old-boy who’s had a sip of that power over life and death that war gives you. It’s a boy who, despite all the things he’s been taught,knows that he likes it. It’s a nineteen-year-old who’s just lost a friend, and is angry and scared and, determined that, “some*@#*s gonna pay”.To this day, the thought of that boy can wake me from a sound sleep and leave me staring at the ceiling.

As I write this, I have a picture in front of me. It’s of two young men. On their laps are tablets. One is smoking a cigarette. Both stare without expression at the camera. They’re writing letters. Staying in touch with places they rather be. Places and people they hope to see again. The picture shares space in a frame with one of my wife.. She doesn’t mind. She knows she’s been included in special company. She knows I’ll always love those guys who shared that part of my life, a part she never can. And she understands how I feel about the ones I know are out there yet. The ones who still answer the question, “When were you in Vietnam?”

“Hey, man. I was there just last night.”

~Kerry “Doc” Pardue

Thanks to Ben Cascio for forwarding

Share this article with others so they understand why many of today’s veteran’s behave the way they do be it Vietnam or other conflicts, this is a common thread shared by all.

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An Amazing Pool of Talent at an Employer’s Fingertips

In combat, a sniper’s goal is to become a needle in a haystack. Marksmanship is only a piece of the puzzle. Whether I was in the Sierra Nevada Mountains or the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, stealth was not just a tool — it was the objective. Before I became a Marine sniper, I spent months learning to tread softly and blend in to my environment, skills that have saved my life more than once.

Dakota Meyer
Dakota Meyer
When I transitioned out of the military, however, it didn’t take long to see that my objective needed to change. To be successful as a civilian, I had to go in the opposite direction of my training — I needed to make myself standout.

With less than eight percent of Americans having served in the armed forces, your military service already makes your resume unique. Now you have to make sure it gets in front of the right people. Standing out — not stealth — should be the new strategy of every veteran and transitioning service member searching for a career after the military. How can an employer hire you if they can’t find you?

Employers are looking for men and women who have proven skills like leadership, discipline, and problem-solving. Who better than the men and women who have served in uniform? I’ve spent over a year now working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes and Toyota to get my fellow veterans hired through job fairs and online efforts. This means that over the course of that year, I’ve been in numerous rooms with countless people whose only job is to recruit veterans.

With this in mind, our team launched the Personal Branding Resume Engine, an online tool that helps veterans market all of the skills they gained in the military to civilian employers. But helping veterans brand themselves for employers was only the first part of our effort. The endgame is to connect these men and women with the recruiters that are searching for them. Well, I am proud to report that this week we’ve taken the next step forward by introducing a first-of-its-kind, free employer search feature as part of the Resume Engine. This new option allows veteran users to add their completed resumes to a searchable database. Companies looking to fill open positions can then search that resume bank for candidates that fit their job qualifications, at absolutely no cost.

As a veteran, I know that the talent of my fellow servicemembers is without question. But as a business owner, I have found that it can be not just challenging, but also expensive, to find good candidates. One of the primary reasons I started my own business — Dakota Meyer Enterprises — was to put veterans back to work. Through my advocacy and experience though, I’ve found that it’s not always an option for a small business owner to close up shop and attend a hiring fair or to put critical cash into purchasing access to job banks. By making the Resume Engine’s new search feature free-of-charge, we’re hoping to level the playing field and create opportunity for businesses of every size to have access to this incredible pool of talent.

When President Obama presented me with the Medal of Honor in 2011, I felt like my Commander-in-Chief was giving me a new charge. I firmly believe I have a responsibility to help as many of my fellow veterans and their families succeed after their years of sacrifice. I’ve said time and time again — if you want to help a veteran, hire one. But now I find myself saying something equally true, if not more so — if you want to help your business, hire a veteran. I encourage veterans and employers to check out the latest version of the Resume Engine and let’s keep working together to make a difference in the employment issues facing our military families and our great country.

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The Man In The Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

~Theodore Roosevelt, Man In The Arena Speech given April 23, 1910

us-marine

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They wish to hell

Bill Mauldin (1921-2003) on Marines:

They wish to hell they were someplace else,
and they wish to hell they would get relief.

They wish to hell the mud was dry,
and they wish to hell their coffee was hot.

They want to go home.

But they stay in their wet holes and fight,
and then they climb out and crawl through minefields and fight some more.

Marines Warm Coffee - Iwo Jima
(from the book “Backbone”)
more on Bill Mauldin

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How the Marines have survived, and why

MAY 6, 2013, VOL. 18, NO. 32 • BY MACKUBIN THOMAS OWENS

In 1957, the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Randolph Pate, sent a brief note to the director of the Marine Corps Educational Center, Brig. Gen. Victor Krulak, in which he asked, “Why does the U.S. need a Marine Corps?” Krulak, already a legend in the Marines, penned a lengthy reply: “The United States does not need a Marine Corps mainly because she has a fine modern Army and a vigorous Air Force. .  .  . We [the Marine Corps] exist today—we flourish today—not because of what we know we are, or what we know we can do, but because of what the grassroots of our country believes we are and believes we can do.”

BOB.v18-32.May6_.Owens_Krulak went on to say that the American people believe three things about the Marines: that they will be ready to fight on short notice; that they will turn in a dramatically and decisively successful performance; and that the “Corps is downright good for the manhood of our country; that the Marines are masters of a form of unfailing alchemy which converts un-oriented youths into proud, self-reliant stable citizens—citizens into whose hands the nation’s affairs may safely be entrusted.” Krulak concluded that as long as the American people “are convinced that we can really do the three things .  .  . we are going to have a Marine Corps. .  .  . And, likewise, should the people ever lose that conviction—as a result of our failure to meet their high—almost spiritual—standards, the Marine Corps will then quickly disappear.”

Read the entire STORY

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Beyond The Bumper Sticker: 10 Ways Americans Can Support the Military Family

by Erin Whitehead, Marine Corps spouse

Yesterday, many Americans paused to honor those who have served and continue serving in our nation’s military. Flags were flown and prayers were said in civilian homes and backyards around the country.

But because of the nature of our lives, the military spouse community has a special understanding of the meaning behind Memorial Day. For us, it is not simply another day off work, a chance to BBQ, or the opportunity to save big bucks on a mattress or new car. It is about honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country… a sacrifice that can keep us awake at night with worry.

Sometimes, it feels as though the “civilian” community just does not get what the holiday is really about, which can feel frustrating and make us feel like we are in this alone. But the reality is that many Americans do understand the true meaning of Memorial Day. They do want to support our troops and understand, on some level, the hardships that they and their families have endured over the past 10 years of war.

But unless they’ve actually served or been a member of a military family, it’s really hard to truly “get it.” They want to do something to make sure our troops and families know how much they are appreciated… but how do they help when they don’t know what is needed?

It’s a two-way street. We have to be willing to share in what areas we can use support. We asked our social media community to share what things they think Americans could do to help out or simply show their appreciation for the sacrifices of service members and their families. We hope you will share this list with those civilians who want to show their support…because there really are a lot of them out there.

10 Ways Americans Can Support the Military Family

10) Take the time to learn what our life is really like.

There are many misconceptions about our lifestyle. The list is a mile long. Some of the most frustrating are that our spouses can return home for important events (holidays, births, all family emergencies), that once they return from deployment everything goes back to normal, and that we make a lot of money. But unless you know a family and can ask for their perspective, how do you learn more? There is no shortage of blogs written by military spouses, and they’re easy to find with a simple Google search. There are also many organizations that service military families—again, very easy to find online. And of course, you can visit www.baseguide.com to read our articles, follow us on social media, or subscribe to the magazine.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.baseguide.com/Articles/Article.aspx?title=beyond-the-bumper-sticker-10-ways-americans-can-support-the-military-family&page=1

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CPL P letter to POTUS

Via Corporal Kevin P.

Thanks to overwhelming support, I have decided to release this. I wrote a letter to the President! Tell me what you guys think:

“January 25, 2012

The Honorable Mr. Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Kevin. I am twenty three years old and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. I served two tours in Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. I am writing to you to inform you of the current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs as seen from a veteran’s perspective, and to increase public awareness and support for veterans. Although our nation is facing many major issues today, the media and politicians are barely recognizing veterans as an issue this election year even though this election takes place during the longest war in United States history. Considering my own experiences with Veterans Affairs and the experiences of my fellow veterans, this is absolutely unacceptable.

Every aspect in which I have dealt with Veterans Affairs so far, compensation, education, and healthcare, has been completely inadequate. I have been waiting for my compensation claim for over one year. When I call the VA they have no updated information on my claim for me. When I check the e-benefits website it still tells me my attention is needed for an issue that I corrected seven months ago. For the GI Bill, I was told it would 100% cover a flight school program I wanted to take. I was guaranteed this by the VA hotline and the VA representative at my school. I moved halfway across the country from Chicago to San Diego only to be told I would have to wait an additional four months before the program would be covered. Three months and three weeks later I was told the program would not be covered by the GI Bill under any circumstances. I had no income and had to move back to Chicago. I wasted four months and over $15,000 in moving and living expenses. I considered attempting to sue Veterans Affairs for my financial losses, but I knew any money I was awarded surely wouldn’t come from executives paychecks, but that it would come from the funds used to help veterans. What is most troubling is an article I read in the military.com news from November 15, 2011 titled ‘Vet Organizations Hit VA Executive Bonuses’ in which it states, “Carl Blake, national legislative director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, said the VA paid out bonuses averaging about $14,000 to some 240 Senior Executive Service employees last year.”

Healthcare is the worst of all. With the little income I am currently receiving from unemployment and the GI Bill while I attend a community college I do not wish to go to but need the money, I cannot afford any health or dental insurance whatsoever. The majority of my income goes to my mother who was laid off two years ago. When it comes to service connected issues, to say that nobody at the VA cares is completely unfair. I have met several amazing VA employees who have helped me tremendously. However, it is difficult to find many people who actually care. For example, during my PTSD exam less than one month after discharge from active duty (two months after returning from my second deployment to Afghanistan), I was handed a one page questionnaire by a VA psychiatrist. After filling it out, the psychiatrist proceeded to spend less than 5 minutes speaking with me. For the most part, they simply repeated the questions I had just filled out. I was told although I showed many symptoms of PTSD, I did not show enough for a diagnosis. I was then prescribed psychiatric medication after specifically saying I did not want psychiatrics. Based on this experience, and the experiences of fellow veterans I have kept in touch with, the VA healthcare system is more concerned with prescribing drugs than helping veterans. These drugs are often prescribed in experimental combinations to people already suffering from mental illness. It is no wonder suicide among veterans has skyrocketed. Although I did not take any of the medications, I would have taken my own life several months ago if it were not for one thing: A very close friend of mine named Jonathan Porto did not come back from Afghanistan in 2010. He left behind his wife and newborn daughter. I can think of nothing more selfish than to take my own life when I know he would give anything to have his back.

Like most United States Marines I did not enlist for the benefits. They were nothing more than an added bonus to something I already knew I wanted to do regardless. To be promised no benefits would not have changed my decision to join the military whatsoever. However, if I’m going to be promised these benefits, I’m going to make post-military plans that depend on them. By not receiving the benefits that I was promised, my plans were clearly severely and adversely affected. But that’s okay, I am not concerned with my own problems right now. I will adapt, overcome, and succeed. My concern is for the next generation of veterans that will follow me. I absolutely refuse to let the Marines I trained be discharged from active duty only to face the same issues I am now facing. It is my responsibility and my duty to do everything in my power to make sure future veterans have the smoothest and easiest possible transition from the military to civilian life, and to make sure that they are taken care of as well as possible. It is the responsibility and duty for every veteran to do this. Like the “Bonus Army” that assembled in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1932 over World War One veteran’s benefits, I urge the public whether you’re a veteran or not, protect those that protect freedom and individual’s rights. With social media and today’s technology, veterans can communicate and organize like never before in history. Your voice and vote CAN make a real difference.

Yours faithfully,

Corporal Kevin P, USMC”

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War Is Hell

Last week’s video of Marines urinating on Taliban corpses went viral on the Internet. Among the responses was Lt. Col. Allen West’s ‘Shut Your Mouth, War Is Hell‘.

I agree the actions of those Marines do not represent the values we learn in the Corps, however, unless you’ve been shot at by the Taliban, Shut Your Mouth!

Here’s an insightful perspective from a Combat Marine and Purple Heart recipient…

“When you have witnessed your brothers-in-arms being killed, when you have had your very own brush with death, when you have endured deployment after deployment…

Sergeant Jason R. Arellano
Sergeant Jason R. Arellano
In that single moment, when the dust has settled and you are the one left standing. Your emotions may or may not get the best of you. While certain actions may not be condoned and will certainly be frowned upon by many, they can be understood.

In war, our emotions can be like the venom of a baby rattlesnake… they can be released uncontrollably but at some point we will be responsible for our actions. This may be done publicly or internally.

We have all done something in our lives that we can now look back and say “what was I thinking?” War can bring out the worst in ANYONE. It has brought out the worst in me. Engage, reload and move on to the next target.”

~Sergeant Jason Arellano (USMC 3/5, ’01-’05)
Follow Sgt. Arellano on Twitter: @ResolutionGear
See also: Perfect Valor

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Applying The Just-War Theory To The War On Terrorism

I ran across this piece while researching morality of killing in war. If “jus ad bellum” and “jus in bello” are of interest to you, this is an interesting read.
~Wally

by Mark S. Latkovic
Before answering this question of how just-war principles apply to the war on organized terrorism, we must first deal with the question, what is terrorism? While admittedly difficult to define precisely, Pope John Paul II has usefully defined “terrorism” as “the intention to kill people and destroy property indiscriminately and to create a climate of terror and insecurity, often including the taking of hostages.”26 The Pope’s definition is close to that of Harvard University terrorism expert Jessica Stern, who makes clear that firstly, terrorists, unlike those fighting in a (just) war, aim at noncombatants. Secondly, unlike simple murderers or assailants, terrorists use violence for a dramatic purpose, for example, to instill fear in the targeted population. Thus, Stern defines terrorism “as an act or threat of violence against noncombatants with the objective of exacting revenge, intimidating, or otherwise influencing an audience.”27

This desire to instill fear and create panic, I might add, is already satisfied to a great extent in the terrorists inasmuch as they know that we react with fear and panic over the knowledge that they, the terrorists, are willing to use (but even apart from their use, i.e., the mere threat of using them) chemical and biological weapons (just think anthrax) and nuclear weapons if and / or when they acquire the latter. In sum, terrorism is not so much an ideology as it is a (violent) means adopted by those individuals or groups who wish to further a particular ideology or political goal.

Given the non-conventional nature of terrorism and of the war on terrorism itself, does the just-war theory have anything to contribute to moral reflection on them? As I have already noted, I as well as other respected scholars believe that it most assuredly does. With respect to the use of force against terrorists, the Georgetown University professor of social ethics John Langan, S.J. offers three useful questions that must be answered affirmatively in order for the military response to international terrorism to be and continue to be, moral.28 These questions, it seems to me, are essentially specifications of some of the conditions of the just-war theory:

[READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE]

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Marines still the mavericks we need

By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, NEW YORK POST

HBO’s 10-part series on the Pacific campaign of World War Two just ended. That story of island-hopping was mostly about how the old breed of US Marines fought diehard Japanese infantrymen face-to-face in places like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Guam and Okinawa. No one can question the Marine Corps’ record of having defeated the most savage infantrymen of the age, shattering the myth of Japanese military invincibility.

Since World War Two, the Marines have turned up almost anywhere that America finds itself in a jam against supposedly unconquerable enemies — in bloody places like Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, at Hue and Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War, at the two bloody sieges of Fallujah in Iraq and now in Afghanistan.

Over the last two centuries, two truths have emerged about the Corps. One, they defeat the toughest of America’s adversaries under the worst of conditions. And two, periodically their way of doing things — and their eccentric culture of self-regard — so bothers our military planners that some higher-ups try to curb their independence or end the Corps altogether.

After the Pacific fighting, Defense Secretary Louis Johnson wanted to disband the Corps. What good were amphibious landings in the nuclear age? Johnson asked. His boss, President Harry Truman, agreed and didn’t like the cocky Marines either. Then came Korea — and suddenly the Pentagon wanted more Marines.

The fighting against hard-core North Korean and Communist Chinese veterans was as nasty as anything seen in three millennia of organized warfare. The antiquated idea of landing on beaches once again proved a smart way to outflank the enemy.

The Marines survived Korea, Louis Johnson and Harry Truman — and continued to carve out their own logistics, air-support and tactical doctrine. Marine self-sufficiency was due to lingering distrust dating back to the lack of air and naval support in World War Two, and to Marine paranoia that the other services liked their combative spirit but not their independence.

We are once again seeing one of those periodic re-examinations of the Corps. This time, the old stereotype of the lone-ranger, gung-ho Marines supposedly doesn’t fit too well with fighting sophisticated urban counterinsurgency under an integrated, international command.

After all, America is fighting wars in which we rarely hear of the number of enemy dead, but a great deal about the need to rebuild cities and infrastructure. In Afghanistan, there have been rumors about a new medal for “courageous restraint” to honor soldiers who hesitated pulling the trigger against the enemy out of concern about harming civilians.

The Marines are now starting to redeploy to Afghanistan from Iraq and are building a huge base in Delaram. They plan to win over southern Afghanistan’s remote, wild Nimruz province that heretofore has been mostly a no-go Taliban stronghold.

While NATO forces concentrate on Afghanistan’s major cities, the Marines think they can win over local populations their way, take on and defeat the Taliban and bring all of Nimruz back from the brink — with their trademark warning “no better friend, no worse enemy.” So once again, the Marines are convinced that their own ingenuity and audacity can succeed where others have failed. And once again, not everyone agrees.

The US ambassador to Afghanistan, retired three-star Army Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, reportedly made a comment about there being 41 nations serving in Afghanistan — and a 42nd composed of the Marine Corps. The Washington Post quoted an unnamed Obama administration official as saying, “We have better operational coherence with virtually all of our NATO allies than we have with the US Marine Corps.”

Some officials call the new Marine enclave in Nimruz Province “Marinestan” — as if, out of a Kipling or Conrad novel, the Marines have gone rogue to set up their own independent province of operations.

Yet once again, it would be wise not to tamper with the independence of the Marine Corps, given that its methods of training, deployment, fighting, counterinsurgency and conventional warfare usually pay off in the end.

The technological and political face of war is always changing. But its essence — organized violence to achieve political ends — is no different from antiquity. Conflict will remain the same as long as human nature does as well.

The Marines have always best understood that. And from the Marines’ initial mission against the Barbary Pirates to the battles in Fallujah, Americans have wanted a maverick Marine Corps — a sort of insurance policy that kept them safe, just in case.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution.
Source – http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/marines_still_the_mavericks_we_need_OUW9Xa9UNxwJ0EGDnNdBVK

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