Defense Secretary Robert Gates on his nomination * for CENTCOM commander:
“General Mattis … is one of our military’s outstanding combat leaders and strategic thinkers,” Gates said, “bringing in an essential mix of experience, judgment and perspective to this important post.”
“Are you going out in town?” Bill asked as he rummaged through his seabag.
Tom stood in the doorway, “I don’t know, I’m almost broke, I’ve got about seven dollars left. I’m going to the NCO club for supper. C’mon, let’s go eat, you can catch a later bus and maybe it’ll quit raining.”
Before I left for San Diego last week, I learned that one of the Lexicans has a son who was to graduate at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. A couple of us Lexicans wanted to meet him there.
I had always seen the entrance there at the base of Washington Street – right next to Lindbergh Field. It appeared like it gained entrance to a small facility.
I thought it looked strange to see a parked 757 literally feet from the fence.
And I thought that there would be 100-200 parents and family that would be in bleachers like a Little League game. That the Lexican would be easy to find.
After going through a thorough search, Marine Corps style (no pictures were allowed) I gained entrance and was I in for a surprise.
The bleachers, nearly full, were more befitting of a small stadium.
The parade ground alone could be used as a runway!
And when I saw the “bleachers” and how full they were, it was obvious that I would be watching this ceremony by myself.
It looked like there were a thousand or 2 Marines all standing out there at parade rest, but I learned later that there were 488 graduates.
I have always felt that a pass in review, with all of the soldiers or Marines in perfect harmony and precision, is a thing of beauty to watch, and they did not disappoint.
Anyway, congratulations after that long road to becoming a Marine.
It occurred to me today that along with all of these veterans of WW2 who have left us, there’s probably a million stories they had that went with them. Stories that only they – or their comrades – knew now gone. My father told me next to nothing about his WW2 and Korea service. Despite my asking many times. Sad to say, but we didn’t really have a close relationship. I never understood why he didn’t want to go camping with me, until my mother told me that he lived in a tent in Korea for 2 years.
I learned a bit from my mother about my father since he died. As I had mentioned, if he hadn’t had his accident at Ft Benning – trying to help a scared friend and tumbling out the door head first (“you always look at the horizon when exiting!“) – with his unit later going to Sicily on a mission and suffering 80% causalities, I probably wouldn’t be here.
Similarly, I’d probably be at least 3 weeks younger had he not gotten orders to report to Ft Lewis when the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel. According to my mother, it upset her so much she went into labor early. The recall was so fast – and chaotic – that 1 guy was recalled to an infantry unit who had his trigger finger shot off in WW2. The invasion took the leaders completely by surprise.
There have been a number of books that I have read over the years that have left a mark on me. Some years ago I read a book by James Bradley about his father John.
Copyright Associated Press
John was a Navy Corpsman on Iwo Jima. As I remember the book it wasn’t until his father, a funeral home owner in the Midwest, died and they went through some of his papers in the attic that they had any idea of his background.
For some number of years, I had a neighbor whom I’d consider a character. And through my life, I have come to believe that those are the best kind of people to know.
He wasn’t always a favorite of our homeowner’s association, as he would be working on some junky car or truck in his driveway. He’d be covered in dirt and grease – filthy but happy. After I’d offer him a beer he’d talk about some of his past.
I enjoyed his company.
When I first met him, I thought he was full of – well, in loftier terms, hyperbole. But his stories involved a lot of self-deprecation which makes me think they were true.
…this humble scribe was introduced into the manliest of manly institutions for the purpose of becoming a mean, green, fighting machine. Be durned if’n the time don’t fly. 38 years gone by, and a world of experience to show for it. Remembering a cute poster floating about Facebook the last couple of days:
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be older. This sh!t is not what I expected…”