Cpl. Kyle Carpenter relives his journey

Cpl. Kyle Carpenter relives his journey to the Medal of Honor through letters to his mother. From recruit training to a phone call from the president, Carpenter talks about his recovery after being wounded in Afghanistan and the strength he’s drawn from his family.

Semper Share:

The War of 1812

Battles at Sea and on Lakes
The Marines’ participation in the War of 1812 was both on land and aboard vessels sailing the high seas and lakes. In four major sea battles, Marines helped win three, and earned a reputation for deadly marksmanship.

In September 1813, Marines and woodsmen fought with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet that defeated the British in the bloody Battle of Lake Erie. This battle ended British and Indian attacks on the frontier, and opened the Northwest for American expansion.

Two hundred Marines fought during the crucial battle of the war. A Navy/Marine force met the lead elements of the Duke of Wellington’s 28,000 man British Army, fresh from victory over Napoleon at Waterloo, and defeated them on Lake Champlain.

Marines also fought on land, most notably at Bladensburg, Maryland, and at New Orleans.

The Battle of Bladensburg
In August of 1814, at Bladensburg, Maryland about 13 miles from our nation’s capital, 103 Marines and 400 sailors made a vain attempt to block a force of 4,000 disciplined British troops from advancing on Washington. The Marines stopped three headlong charges before both their Commanders (a Navy Commodore and a Marine Captain) were wounded and captured.

They were finally outflanked and driven back. The Commanding Officer of the British reported, “They have given us our only real fight.”

Andrew Jackson at New Orleans
Nine thousand British troops sailed from Jamaica and landed near New Orleans. An occupation force of Navy and Marines skirmished with the British in the bayous, killing 300 British and buying nine days for Major General Andrew Jackson to organize a defense of the city. For almost two weeks, beginning on 28 December 1814, the British shelled and assaulted the American position.

General Andrew Jackson
General Andrew Jackson

On 8 January 1815, an over-confident British commander led two regiments in a frontal assault across a flat plain into Jackson’s lines. 2,100 British were shot down in twenty-five minutes. The next day the British left American shores, badly beaten. Major General Jackson commended the Marines for their conduct and heroism, as did Congress, by passing an official resolution commending the “high sense of valor and good conduct” of the Marines.

Semper Share:

My Men Are My Heroes – The Brad Kasal Story

Last summer, a friend gave me a copy of “My Men Are My Heroes”, the book which tells the story of Marine First Sergeant Brad Kasal, the senior NCO in 3/1’s Weapons Company in Iraq during the November 2004 Battle for Fallujah. As I had several other books I was either reading or planned to read, I put this one in the queue with anticipation of reading it in a few months. Last week as I packed for a beach vacation and brought it along.

As a Marine, I thoroughly enjoyed the book which was full of familiar stories, jargon, history, and acronyms. The author did a good job keeping the material organized and sectioned. Much of the book provided great insight into Marine training and preparation required to succeed in combat as well as the complicated logistics and rules of engagement in combat situations.

Long before you’ll read about “The House Of Hell” where First Sergeant Kasal is shot (as seen on the book cover), the author takes you briefly through Kasal’s life growing up in Iowa, his joining the Corps, and into the challenging career of a Marine Grunt.

You’ll read about how Kasal was considered by some Marines to be the toughest Marine (mentally and physically) they had met and how he could “outrun, outfight, outshoot, and outthink the much younger men he led”. Many of his Marines called him “Robo-Grunt” because he was able to run them into the ground lone before he got tired.

After being medevac’d from Fallujah, First Sergeant Kasal endured unimaginable physical pain during the many surgeries and long recovery process but he describes his greatest pain as not being able to return to the fight with his men in Iraq.

“To this day, many consider it a miracle that I lived after the severe blood loss and trauma caused by seven gunshot wounds and several dozen shrapnel wounds. I simple see it as just the love for a fellow Marine and a little bit of toughness and stubbornness. Throughout this entire ordeal from the time of being wounded until I was medically evacuated close to an hour later, and despite the multiple wounds and loss of blood, I never lost consciousness or quit my post while guarding that doorway. While some may call this heroic, I just call it loyalty. It was because I loved the Marine next to me and I was determined to do anything it took to keep him alive, even at my own risk. He would have done the same for me. It’s called being a Marine – we’re all brothers and a family.”

Kasal struggled with depression, doubt, and fear during his rehabilitation. He offers his advice to others in similar situations which includes not being afraid to ask for help, not being afraid to talk about what you’re thinking and doing, and understanding that you will succeed or fail based on your own willpower.

I was very impressed with First Sergeant Kasal’s endurance, bearing, unselfishness, courage, loyalty to the Corps, and love for his brother Marines. A true Marine leader.

“My Men Are My Heroes” should be required reading for all Marines, especially Infantry Marines and Corpsmen.

In May of 2006, Brad Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism
In May of 2006, Brad Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism

I understand that Sergeant Major Kasal is still serving. Always Faithful!

Thank you Marine for sharing your experiences and love of Corps in “My Men Are My Heroes”. Semper Fi Brother!

~Cpl. Beddoe

Semper Share:

Once, Always Marine

A great reflection from Fred Reed…

Semper Share:

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!


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?

Semper Share:

UFC Fighters Train Like Elite Warriors

Watch the entire series! Good to go!

Four UFC fighters traveled to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to test themselves against a rapid-fire version of The Crucible.

After 12 weeks of intense training, the United States Marine Corps puts recruits through the ultimate trial — The Crucible. For 54 straight hours, their endurance, teamwork, and leadership skills are put to the test. {YouTube}




Semper Share:

USMC “Moto” Speech

Cpl. Rabbi gives us a little speech during mojave viper making sure to use our jargon as much as possible. {YouTube}

Explicit Language~

Semper Share:

Drive On!

My good friend Jim Hatch (USMC, RVN) is a talented artist and one of my favorite songs he does is called “Drive On”, written by Johnny Cash after he and his wife June returned from a USO tour in Viet Nam. With Jim’s permission, please take a minute and listen to “Drive On!

If you enjoy “Drive On”, drop Jim a note and you might even want to buy his awesome CD with more super songs.

Jim was in-country with HMM-161, H&MS-17 & VMGR-152.
His e-mail address is cwfhat@pacbell.net

Semper Share:

USMC Museum Quantico, VA

Uploaded by “FutureUSMCSoldier” on Jan 31, 2012
My visit to the USMC museum in Quantico VA. hope you like it. I own the rights to the video and the music used.

Semper Share:

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

Semper Share: