Bury me next to a Marine

Bury me next to a Marine,
When my time comes to an end,
So I can spend eternity
Beside my brother and friend.

I’ve served beside them for years,
And they inspired me every day,
They’ve never ask for anything’
So a debt I can never repay.

None of them served for money,
None for glory or fame,
But they’ve served in every clime and place,
Heroes with but one name.

None will ever out do them,
Their honor is never outdone,
They will go down in history’
As America’s favorite sons.

Marines will never fail you,
And their guard will never cease,
Please bury me next to a Marine,
So I may rest in peace.

Written by Robert L. Owens, a 2nd Class Corpsman serving with Marines in Iraq.

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Old Jarhead Poems

I recently read “Old Jarhead Poems – The Heart of a Marine” by Robert A. Hall.

Old Jarhead Poems
In all my years of reading Marine Corps literature, never I have come across such a meaningful and reflective book of Marine poems. One or two I recognized from past editions of Leatherneck Magazine but most of the poems I had never read and Brother, how beautifully inspiring they were.

Anyone who has served in our beloved Corps would thoroughly enjoy reading the outstanding heartfelt words of Robert Hall, such as this one:

The Honor of Our Corps

When the beer, it flows like water,
And the talk, it turns to war,
Then we speak of absent comrades
And the Honor of our Corps.

Of the fights in distant places
And the friends who are no more,
Dying faithful to the nation
And the Honor of our Corps.

Though our bones are growing brittle
And our eyes are growing poor,
Still our hearts are young and valiant
For the Honor of our Corps.

Should the Eagle, Globe and Anchor
Call us to the field once more,
We would muster at the summons
For the Honor of our Corps.

When the years have told our story
And we close the final door,
We will pass to you for keeping
Bright the Honor of our Corps.

Will you take the awesome burden?
Will you face the fire of war?
Will you proudly bear the title
For the Honor of our Corps?

Robert A. Hall served four years (1964-68) in the Marines before attending college, including a shortened and by his account very easy tour in Vietnam, where he was a Radio Relay Team Chief with Headquarters, 26th Marines at Khe Sanh in 1967. He left the Corps to attend college and enter politics, to try to serve the country in another way. While a state senator, he reenlisted in the Marine Reserves (1977-83), finishing with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He says being around Marines helped keep him sane in political life.

“This collection is far from all of my poetry, but I included those most likely to appeal to Marines. I’ve tried to note those I know were previously published, and where, but haven’t done a good job tracking that. No excuse, Sir. I hope this book will raise a few dollars to help wounded troops, and that my fellow Marines will find some merit in it. If not, well, the money went to a good cause. Semper Fidelis. ~Bob.”

All author’s proceeds from “Old Jarhead Poems” are donated to “The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund” to help wounded troops and their families, so buy your copy now!

Copyright © Robert A. Hall, 2011

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The Man in the Doorway

Written by Marine Michael Ryerson

They came in low and hot, close to the trees and dropped their tail in a flare, rocked forward and we raced for the open doorways. This was always the worst for us, we couldn’t hear anything and our backs were turned to the tree line.

The best you could hope for was a sign on the face of the man in the doorway, leaning out waiting to help with a tug or to lay down some lead.

Sometimes you could glance quickly at his face and pick up a clue as to what was about to happen. We would pitch ourselves in headfirst and tumble against the scuffed riveted aluminum, grab for a handhold and will that son-of-a-bitch into the air.

Sometimes the deck was slick with blood or worse, sometimes something had been left in the shadows under the web seats, sometimes they landed in a shallow river to wash them out.

Sometimes they were late, sometimes…they were parked in some other LZ with their rotors turning a lazy arc, a ghost crew strapped in once too often, motionless, waiting for their own lift, their own bags, once too often into the margins.

The getting on and the getting off were the worst for us but this was all he knew, the man in the doorway, he was always standing there in the noise, watching, urging…swinging out with his gun, grabbing the black plastic and heaving, leaning out and spitting, spitting the taste away, as though it would go away…

My friend Jim Farley with his M-60
They came in low and hot, close to the trees and dropped their tail in a flare, rocked forward and began to kick the boxes out, bouncing against the skids, piling up on each other, food and water, and bullets…a thousand pounds of C’s, warm water and rounds, 7.62mm, half a ton of life and death.

And when the deck was clear, we would pile the bags, swing them against their weight and throw them through the doorway, his doorway, onto his deck and nod and he’d speak into that little mic and they’d go nose down and lift into their last flight, their last extraction.

Sometimes he’d raise a thumb or perhaps a fist or sometimes just a sly, knowing smile, knowing we were staying and he was going but also knowing he’d be back, he’d be back in a blink, standing in the swirling noise and the rotor wash, back to let us rush through his door and skid across his deck and will that son-of-a-bitch into the air.

They came in low and hot, close to the trees and dropped their tail in a flare, rocked forward, kicked out the boxes and slipped the litter across the deck and sometimes he’d lean down and hold the IV and brush the dirt off of a bloodless face, or hold back the flailing arms and the tears, a thumbs-up to the right seat and you’re only minutes away from the white sheets and the saws and the plasma.

They came in low and hot, close to the trees and dropped their tail in a flare, rocked forward and we’d never hear that sound again without feeling our stomachs go just a bit weightless, listen just a bit closer for the gunfire and look up for the man in the doorway.

Mike Ryerson was an 0844/0846 with 11th Marines at Chu Lai (hill 69) and then an FO with 5thMarines for a while before being transferred to 3rd MarDiv, 12th Marines(hill55) and then to the DMZ (Dong Ha, Charlie 2, Con Thien) with 4th and 9th Marines. Feb ’66 to Mar ’68 (yes, 25 months!) michaelryerson@sbcglobal.net

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Recon Team Little Gull

by Tom Shainline

When I arrived in country, you were in the bush.
I was assigned to your team, call sign “LITTLE GULL”.
You were on patrol; I was in your tent.
I did not know you.

I saw your pictures, your Mother and Father,
your wife, your children, your sweetheart, your friends, Miss January.
People you knew and loved, people who knew and loved you.
I saw your Bible, your prayer book, your cross and beads.
I picked up your mail, and laid it on your bunk.
I picked up a care package from home, it smelled so good.
It must be filled with lots of goodies, packed by loving hands.
I thought, when you get back I’ll have some of this good stuff.
I did not know you.

For two days I went to the comm center and followed your progress on the map.
Little colored pins were placed when you reported your position
as you made your way through the mountains.
I looked at the contour lines, and thought how terribly steep they were
and far in you were.
How difficult that climb must be for you.
But I did not know you.

Then I heard on the radio, “Contact! Contact! Contact! Little Gull, Contact!”
The company commander said (don’t worry) it happens all the time, they will be …all right.
We could hear the gunfire when you keyed the handset.
We could hear the explosion of hand grenades.
We heard your last choking words that sounded like, “GAS!”
I heard your voice; I did not know you.

The radio operator called you again and again, “Little Gull, Little Gull, sitrep.”
“Little Gull do you hear me? Little Gull go to secondary frequency.”
No answer,
only silence.
A reaction team was put together, I made sure I was on it.
We flew out as darkness set in and landed several miles from your position.
There was no moon.
In the darkness we stumbled up one mountain and down another.
It was too dangerous; we set in for the night.
I wondered how you were? What happened to you?
I did not know you.

At first light we set out climbing up one mountain,
sliding and falling down another.
We were fourteen, carrying weapons and ammo,
you were just six carrying three times as much,
how difficult that must have been for you.
We found your position.
I was not prepared for what we saw.
All your equipment,
your weapons, your radios were gone.
You were strewn about, hacked apart,
tears filled my eyes, rage filled my heart,
I gagged and chucked.
I saw you, but I did not know you.

We called for an airdrop of body bags.
Six bags for six men.
Six bags for six boys who became men,
so far from the people in the pictures.
So far from the people in the letters,
so far from those who knew you.
But I did not know you.

I picked you up carefully and placed you in the bag,
piece by piece, trying to put the same person in the same bag.
We moved out, back to the LZ, I carried you, the smallest.
I carried you, I felt you, I smelled you,
I did not know you.

I tried so hard not to drop you;
I tried to keep you from hitting the ground, as we went up and down the mountains.
I could not, please forgive me.
The bag ripped, blood and body fluids seeped out and over me.
I can still feel it.
I placed you in the chopper and flew back with you to the base.
I placed you on a litter as if you were still alive and watched them roll you away,
I never saw you again,
I did not know you.

All these years you have been a part of me.
You have lived with me every hour of every day of every year.
A secret to be kept, a memory to grow,
pain to be nurtured until the secret was too great,
the memory overwhelming, the pain unbearable.
I must let you out; I must let you go, I must tell the secret.
I will always remember you; I will always honor you.
I never knew you.

Marine Recon: militaryphotos.net


I thought I was the only one, the only one who felt the pain. The only one who shed tears of blood. The only one who lived every day and every night in the past. For years and years I felt this way. For three decades I have felt this way. I was wrong!

I was in the PTSD ward at a VA hospital in PA. When I finally began to come to grips with the past. WE were going to the Memorial in Reading. As with the cutbacks we no longer went to THE WALL. My therapist has been pushing me to put my feelings down on paper, what came tumbling out was LITTLE GULL.

LITTLE GULL was the overflowing of all the feelings of all the years of all the pain and suffering I have endured. I felt I was the only one feeling pain. I WAS WRONG!

I am not the man in the poem. I am not the man in the tent. I am not the man looking at the pictures. I am not the man on the reactionary team. I am not the man carrying the bodies. WE ALL ARE.

We feel the loss of every brother. We feel the pain of every wound received. WE all wish we could have done something different. We all wish we could change the past, but we can not!

All we can do, what we must do is keep their memories alive. Not just their exploits, not just what they did on patrol but the humanity of those brave men. WE must tell their story over and over again, we must not let it die.

The RECON TEAMS of the past (our teams) are the bridge to the teams of the future. The next generation of MARINES needs to know of the valor and honor of our brothers, of you.

I will continue to put my feelings down on paper for all to see. I will not be quiet. I will not shut up. I will not be silenced. I will tell the story of RECON and their humanity until the day I die.

Charlie Company 68-69

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~Maj Gene Duncan, USMC (ret)

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Paul (Obie) O’Brien-Kinsey-Sgt-2097636
2nd Recon Bn (1964-1966)
2nd Marine Division Rifle & Pistol Team (1966-1967)
2nd Battalion 8th Marines (1967-1968)
Honorable Discharge (1968)

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I am a Marine

I am a Marine,

Born in 1775.

Through two centuries, I’ve fought the best;

And through two centuries, survived.

I’ve fought the British twice,

And two times I have won.

Because of me, there was a setting of the Empire’s sun.

I am a Marine.

And I’ve fought in many nations,

From Mexico’s Chapultepec, to China’s American Legation.

I was the Devil Dog, at bloody Belleau Wood.

My mastiff and I discerned between dog and man,

But the Germans never could.

I froze at Chosin Reservoir,

And burned in the Pacific sun;

Always, I was the first to fight

And last to leave when done.

I stood my ground at Khe Sanh,

Though afraid, I did not run;

Amazing – the miracles that can happen,

When Marines get behind a gun.

I have fought in every clime and place,

Whether cold or warm;

From balmy third-world nations to dusty desert storms.

With every Marine who goes beyond,

A little piece of me ends,

And with every boy who grows up green my life begins again.

I have fought here for people I love,

fought here and on foreign shores,

Fought every type of action and every type of war.

If my country calls on me, I will fight again,

For I am a Marine, and my duty never ends.

We say we’re always faithful,

And that always has been true.

And here’s a truth that some forget,

It always will be, too.

For when you say you are a Marine,

you’re saying more than most,

And when you say you are a Marine,

make sure it is not a boast.

For when you say you are a Marine,

you stand on those gone before.

It’s because of them and up to us,

that there’s honor in the Corps.

Yes, I am a Marine and that really says much more –

I am a Marine, I am timeless, I am the Corps.

Semper Fi

~Author unknown

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Whisper Semper Fi

He was sitting on a park bench, hunched and looking low. It was hard to imagine how he’d looked so long ago. His beard was long and shaggy now; his sparse hair white as snow but his steel gray eyes were piercing and I turned away to go.

He looked lonely and forgotten and maybe homeless too. Like life had dealt him a bad hand maybe quite a few. He was probably abandoned by those who didn’t care I wondered what had happened. What drove him to despair.

He said, “Son, I’m a Leatherneck, of wars before your time.” His eyes grew still more piercing as he looked deep into mine. “Your uniform says you’re a Devil Dog, the man I’ve waited for. And there’s something I want to tell you — things I’ve never said before.”

The tattoos on his weathered arm read “Mom” and “Semper Fi.” “Let’s sing our hymn together, son, once more before I die.” As we sang of Montezuma’s halls and the shores of Tripoli, the old man stood straight and tall and he looked down at me.

“Bury me at Arlington; put an EGA upon my chest. Tell all the world I died for them that I was one of the best. I was with the Fifth on Iwo and I fought in Korea too. During that ugly war in Vietnam, I stood proud, and cheered for you.

“Get me a straight edge razor, lad and give me a good clean shave. I want to look my very best as I go to my grave. Cut my hair; shine my boots; let me borrow your best blues. You have them back after I’m gone and all my medals too.

“I don’t want no flowers, an American flag will do. My life was lived and given for the Red and White and Blue. Whisper ‘Semper Fi’ my boy, so loud that all will hear. Fire them rifles in the air; they’re music to my ear.”

As he told me his last wishes. I saw him standing tall. I could see the ribbons on his chest, in the dim light of the Mall. And as he closed his steel gray eyes, I thought about the Corps. He’d lived the life of a real Marine, who could ask for anything more?

“Whisper ‘Semper Fi,’ my lad,” his voice lingered in my mind I thought about all my buddies, those I’d left behind. Today, I’d met a real Marine, a hero through and through.

Forgotten by his country, but not by me and you.
By Cordell Keith Haugen

[ image from here ]

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A Marine Toast

There once was the love of a beautiful maid

And the love of a staunch, true man

And the love of a baby, unafraid

All have existed since time began

But the eternal love

The love of all loves

Even greater than love for mother

Is the infinite, passionate, tender love

Of one drunken Marine for another

Here’s to you, and here’s to me, best of friends we’ll ever be, but if we ever disagree, then fuck you, here’s to me.

Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting, and drinking;
If you cheat, may you cheat death;
If you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart;
If you fight, may you fight for a brother;
If you drink, may you drink with me.

To women, wives, and lovers: may they never meet.

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