Friday, November 10, 2006

A Tribute to the Corps


Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps. In my years in the military my impression of every Marine I have ever met is that he or she is a consummate professional. Marines are the backbone of the US Military.

In my 24 years in the Army National Guard, the most professional military service members I have met are generally in the United States Marine Corps. So on this, the 231st birthday of the Corps I wanted to wish them a happy birthday.

When I joined the military many moons ago, I never gave consideration to joining the Marines. I didn't think I had the mettle for it. And after I met a few, I think I was right.

A good friend of mine is an officer in the Corps. He typifies the Corps mentality. Confidence, strength, and the expectation that personal failure is not an option.

I've never met an overweight member of the Corps. I wish I could say that about my fellow soldiers. I don't know, but Marines probably almost never fail their Physical Fitness tests. I've seen more than a few members of the Army that had a hard time doing 40 pushups in 2 minutes, 40 situps in 2 minutes, and run two miles in 17 minutes.

Marines consistently exhibit a great knowledge of military history, rank structures of all branches of the service, and the like. The average member of the Army doesn't know about these things, nor is he or she expected to.

While in Iraq, I served with members of the Second Marine Division. I got to know foot patrollers mounted patrollers, artillerymen, IED hunters, and convoy security members. They excelled at their jobs. They knew they were good at their jobs, but it didn't dampen their show of respect to the members of other branches of the military.

Marines in Iraq share a disproportionate amount of the burden. I expect it has been that way in most wars America has fought. Marines are expected to--and do--do the dirty work more often, and as a result their numbers of casualties are much higher than their proportion of the total US service members in Iraq. Marines spend more of their time in Iraq as well, rotating home for relatively short periods of time and then heading quickly back to the sandbox again.

So on the 231st birthday of the Marine Corps, I salute you. I was glad to have served with some of you. Semper Fi.

8 comments:

Flag Gazer said...

They are a pretty special group!

Today - Veterans Day - we want to thank you for your service to our country. We will ever be grateful for all you do to keep us safe and free. THANK YOU!!!

James Fletcher Baxter said...

Thank you, Frank. I consider it a privilege, blessing, and honor to have taken on the enemies of the greatest nation in history as a United States Marine.

It is only with difficulty that we live up to the standards of previous generations of Americans who loved Liberty and their fellow humans; made in God's image as earth's Choicemaker.

Only as we align ourselves with the Creator and His creation ("...in league with the stones of the field..." Job 5:23) will we attain the Victory for future generations of worthy human beings.

God bless you and yours. Semper Fidelis

Jim Baxter
Sgt. USMC
WWII & Korean War

"Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the
universe." selah

- from The HUMAN PARADIGM
http://www.choicemaker.net

...you'd have made a good Marine.

Frank Staheli said...

Sgt Baker,

Thank you for your kind words. But more importantly, thank you for your longevity of service.

In Iraq I personally was never met with a situation that forced me to test my resolve, so I don't know how how I would have reacted. Whether this is to my good or bad fortune, I can't say.

I'm not physically aggressive, which seems to be what it takes to be a good Marine. But in my 20 years as a Field Artillery Fire Direction Chief I received many plaudits for my skill and tenacity in putting steel on target with excellent timing. I hope to think that some of the younger generation (I'm almost old enough to be their dad!) will have benefitted from my example.

War is a dirty business, but I never saw much of the dirt. I know from intelligence reports that several terrorists were killed because I gave the command "Battery stand by...Battery Fire!" But being a great distance from the slaughter, I was not psychologically affected by it.

Cliff said...

I too would like to salute the Marine Corps on this particularly troubling anniversary. I have met and interviewed far too many who are terribly conflicted given the horrible choices faced by so many between their oath and their commander and chief.

I would like to remind all, that nowhere in the Oath does it mention the President.

The Oath follows:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose or evasion; that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Never before in the history of this country have so many Constitutional experts confirmed that the current administration has put Marines and other US military personnel in the position of having to follow illegal orders and make decisions no Marine should have to make.

God Bless you for your courage and dignity in the face of such conflict. May the next generation of Marines never again see combat, but rather oversee a permanent peace – God willing.

Frank Staheli said...

I susbscribe wholeheartedly to your statement "May the next generation of Marines never again see combat, but rather oversee a permanent peace – God willing."

I will admit that I did not see much of the mayhem of war while I was there. I rather saw and tried in my very halting Arabic to get to know and befriend many Iraqi people who thanked us for attempting to provide security in the void filled by Saddam's demise. Some of my early (December, January?) blog posts talk about some of my positive experiences.

It will come as no surprise that my religion colors my politics. This is no where more pronounced than with regard to war. There are instances in the Book of Mormon where the Nephite armies assist and protect those who are being decimated by the Lamanite "insurgency" I shall call them.

I did not think there was a WMD pretext to begin the war with Iraq back in 2003. But once I was called into active duty service my perspective changed. It was now my time to do my duty. Did I personally do anything about which I am conflicted? No. But can I appreciate as you say that there are those "who are terribly conflicted given the horrible choices faced by so many between their oath and their commander and chief." Definitely.

Steve Harkonnen said...

Being retired US Navy, I can tell you that I really enjoyed working with the Marines when I was a crewmember onboard USS Charleston (LKA-113) back in the late eighties. We had a small compliment of Marine communicators work with us up in radio central. They were well mannered, held the utmost respect for themselves, and often put their navy counterparts to shame when it came down to order and discipline.

I never worked with a Marine I didn't like. Semper Fi all the way. When I see them nowadays, I look on them with gratitude and a ton of respect.

Matt said...

"I've never met an overweight member of the Corps." A buddy of mine here at school is in Navy ROTC (the Marine part). The guy is ripped as all get out. A very good friend of mine from high school is in Army ROTC and he is quite in shape as well. However, I have seen one overweight person thus far and he was from Army ROTC. Don't feel bad about that though Frank. All you guys are equally damn good, regardless of branch, in my eyes.

Frank Staheli said...

Matt,

Thanks for your kind words.

I was flummoxed by a couple of guys in my unit (I may have posted about it in "PT Test in a Combat Zone") that did 1 pushup and 1 situp on our PT test while we were in Iraq. For at least one of them, his 'intentional failure' was a thinly veiled smoke screen for the fact that he was so fat he couldn't have come close to passing it.