Some tough days for the Corps

Twenty one Marines have been killed in the past three days.  Almost all of them were from the same unit, Third Battalion, 25th Marines, and many of them were from the same town and state.  The devastating news of their deaths has left a huge emotional and personal hole in those communities.  Suddenly, those left behind at home know someone close by who also lost a Marine to hostile fire.  

A news network's website carried some of their photos showing many of them in uniform.  I clicked through each picture and stared at their faces.  Their faces never change.  The hair styles look a bit different and the pictures themselves might be a bit clearer due to advanced photographic technology, but the eyes and the commitment to something bigger than themselves remains constant.  They might just as well have been crouched in a landing craft headed for Red Beach on Iwo Jima or filing up the rear ramp of a CH—46 inbound to Khe Sanh.  They were Marines, the rest is unimportant.

Some would say it was a waste.  What have we gotten for all this carnage?  Show me something about this whole situation that is worth just one of their young, promising lives.  This response is easy to understand and quite reasonable when spoken by a grieving loved one. 

Not that long ago, as Marine reservists, they were going to weekend drills augmented by training deployments to hone their skills.  Then came the big orders to deploy to Iraq.  Jobs were abandoned, lives were interrupted, families were separated, and all of a sudden, a small Ohio town sent a few of her best off to war. 

None of them had been drafted; no one had been forced to go.  Each in his own way had made that conscious decision to join knowing, that as a reservist, in time of need, their unit would be called to serve in combat.  They knew that that call would change forever the secure and safe roles they had as civilians.  Yet, still they went...and now, fewer of them will emerge from the planes that bring their battalion home to the States when their current tour ends.

Marines around the world feel this loss.  The Brotherhood is smaller now by a count of 21.   Now, too old to be over there, I can only watch, read about, pray for and deeply appreciate their sacrifice.  For those who share these circumstances, our time has come and gone.  We still pay attention though.  Young men fighting in the most dangerous combat environments deeply bonded to one another by a blood oath to watch each other's back...no matter what.  Each of them, clear on the mission; stop it here and stop it now.
The mindless, gutless rhetoric spouted by some who sent them and now are having second thoughts escapes them. 

They have long since crossed the line of departure and the fight is theirs now.  They have sized it and rationalized it and have determined that those whom they fight and kill and those who kill them in return must be defeated.

The concepts and tactics taught them in the Corps make sense now and are put to immediate use.  Their commanders and leaders watch them in awe as they go about the bloody, dangerous business of eliminating a foe that plays by no rules whatsoever.

Marines I have had the privilege to know have had that unselfish and uncanny knack of sorting out and accepting the risks inherent in their chosen profession.  For that period of time when the value of all else in their lives had to be subordinated to the accomplishment of the tasks at hand, they stepped forward and got them done.  Those young   Marines we just lost knew all this.  I don't know the specific circumstances involving their loss, but I do know that somewhere in the events preceding their deaths, some selfless, duty—bound decisions were made and 21 Marines gave it all.  I know enough from experience that the potential for this outcome was a risk that they quietly accepted as part of their job. 

Now, we who survive have a set of decisions to make.  Do we look at these losses and say, 'Enough'?  It's time to quit the field and bring them home. Maybe, we need to cave in to these monsters who want the world order to be designed their way.  Do we say to our service—age children, 'I don't want you going into the military any time soon'?  Do we march in protest against this war and policy?  Do we smirk at their deaths and feel these Marines got what they deserved? 

Or...do we cry our tears, console one another, and comfort their loved ones, pray for their peaceful and eternal rest while recognizing that each of them saw something in all this worth fighting and dying for.  Shouldn't we at least try to understand what that is?

Some tough days for the Corps?  You bet...but they'll work through it and continue the mission...just like they always have.

Semper Fidelis, Brothers,

Rest in Peace.  We'll take it from here.

Dave St. John
Capt, USMCR
1964—70
RVN Vet

Twenty one Marines have been killed in the past three days.  Almost all of them were from the same unit, Third Battalion, 25th Marines, and many of them were from the same town and state.  The devastating news of their deaths has left a huge emotional and personal hole in those communities.  Suddenly, those left behind at home know someone close by who also lost a Marine to hostile fire.  

A news network's website carried some of their photos showing many of them in uniform.  I clicked through each picture and stared at their faces.  Their faces never change.  The hair styles look a bit different and the pictures themselves might be a bit clearer due to advanced photographic technology, but the eyes and the commitment to something bigger than themselves remains constant.  They might just as well have been crouched in a landing craft headed for Red Beach on Iwo Jima or filing up the rear ramp of a CH—46 inbound to Khe Sanh.  They were Marines, the rest is unimportant.

Some would say it was a waste.  What have we gotten for all this carnage?  Show me something about this whole situation that is worth just one of their young, promising lives.  This response is easy to understand and quite reasonable when spoken by a grieving loved one. 

Not that long ago, as Marine reservists, they were going to weekend drills augmented by training deployments to hone their skills.  Then came the big orders to deploy to Iraq.  Jobs were abandoned, lives were interrupted, families were separated, and all of a sudden, a small Ohio town sent a few of her best off to war. 

None of them had been drafted; no one had been forced to go.  Each in his own way had made that conscious decision to join knowing, that as a reservist, in time of need, their unit would be called to serve in combat.  They knew that that call would change forever the secure and safe roles they had as civilians.  Yet, still they went...and now, fewer of them will emerge from the planes that bring their battalion home to the States when their current tour ends.

Marines around the world feel this loss.  The Brotherhood is smaller now by a count of 21.   Now, too old to be over there, I can only watch, read about, pray for and deeply appreciate their sacrifice.  For those who share these circumstances, our time has come and gone.  We still pay attention though.  Young men fighting in the most dangerous combat environments deeply bonded to one another by a blood oath to watch each other's back...no matter what.  Each of them, clear on the mission; stop it here and stop it now.
The mindless, gutless rhetoric spouted by some who sent them and now are having second thoughts escapes them. 

They have long since crossed the line of departure and the fight is theirs now.  They have sized it and rationalized it and have determined that those whom they fight and kill and those who kill them in return must be defeated.

The concepts and tactics taught them in the Corps make sense now and are put to immediate use.  Their commanders and leaders watch them in awe as they go about the bloody, dangerous business of eliminating a foe that plays by no rules whatsoever.

Marines I have had the privilege to know have had that unselfish and uncanny knack of sorting out and accepting the risks inherent in their chosen profession.  For that period of time when the value of all else in their lives had to be subordinated to the accomplishment of the tasks at hand, they stepped forward and got them done.  Those young   Marines we just lost knew all this.  I don't know the specific circumstances involving their loss, but I do know that somewhere in the events preceding their deaths, some selfless, duty—bound decisions were made and 21 Marines gave it all.  I know enough from experience that the potential for this outcome was a risk that they quietly accepted as part of their job. 

Now, we who survive have a set of decisions to make.  Do we look at these losses and say, 'Enough'?  It's time to quit the field and bring them home. Maybe, we need to cave in to these monsters who want the world order to be designed their way.  Do we say to our service—age children, 'I don't want you going into the military any time soon'?  Do we march in protest against this war and policy?  Do we smirk at their deaths and feel these Marines got what they deserved? 

Or...do we cry our tears, console one another, and comfort their loved ones, pray for their peaceful and eternal rest while recognizing that each of them saw something in all this worth fighting and dying for.  Shouldn't we at least try to understand what that is?

Some tough days for the Corps?  You bet...but they'll work through it and continue the mission...just like they always have.

Semper Fidelis, Brothers,

Rest in Peace.  We'll take it from here.

Dave St. John
Capt, USMCR
1964—70
RVN Vet