Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The U.S. Marines are flooding in, and you might think that every Marine helicopter in our arsenal is here. I’ll not give numbers and types other than to say the line of aircraft is long and formidable. The U.S. Marines are a spectacle for the U.S. Army and also the British Army. The Marines will come in and live like pure animals, and build a base around themselves, whereas the British and American Armies will tend to build at least part of the base before coming in. One Marine commander told me that during the early part of this war, his men didn’t even shower for three months. We talked for a couple of hours and he was proud that his Marines didn’t need a shower for three months, and that his Marines killed a lot of Taliban and managed to lose only one good man. That’s the Marines. They’ll show up in force with no warning, and their reputation with U.S. Army and Brits who have fought alongside them is stellar. A NPR photographer who just spent more than three weeks with the Marines could not praise them enough, saying he’d been with them in Iraq, too, and that when Marines take casualties, their reaction is to continue to attack. They try to stay in contact until they finish the enemy, no matter how long it takes. Truly they are animals when it comes to the fight. Other than that, great guys. Tonight at dinner, a young Marine Lance Corporal sat in front of me at the crowded dining facility. “Good evening, Sir,” he said. I asked, “Are you living like animals out there?” “Livin’ the dream, Sir!” They are fantastic.
In his annual Birthday message to the Corps, General James Conway affirms the ethos of integrity and professionalism that has bound United States Marines in an unbroken line stretching back across innumerable conflicts, many lost in the fog of history, to a little tavern in a British colony:
Happy Birthday, USMC. So long as America can continue to produce men and women like this, we need not fear for our freedom or our security.
Semper Fidelis, Marines. You make us proud.
Years ago someone at the construction site mentioned the coffee was too strong. I replied, "That means it was made by a Marine." One of the superintendents asked me later how much I knew about the Marines. I told him about the tavern. He laughed and asked, "A lot of people know about that, but who recruited the guys who came to the tavern?" He then told me the story of one of his ancestors, who joined the Marines before they got to tavern." We talked for an hour and I can still recall an incredible amount of detail of that one hour years later. Marines are like that.