Once A Marine, Always A Marine
by James Glaser
Ted Williams, The greatest hitter baseball has ever knew, the last .400 hitter, Hall of Famer, and also inducted into the Fishing Hall of Fame, said that his greatest accomplishment was becoming a United States Marine. Ted spent five years in the Marines in two wars and flew 39 combat missions in Korea.
When I was growing up, Readers Digest had a article about how long it took veterans of World War 2, to readjust to civilian life. I remember that it took Marines 10 years to never. Even after over thirty years and a real full life I can honestly say that nothing even came close for me in personal pride, as becoming a Marine.
People ask, were you in the service? Most guys will say yeah, I was a Fly Boy, Soldier, or Sailor. There is that small group though that says, Yes sir, I was in the Marine Corp. For most Marines, their time in the service is remembered a real lot and there is a bond with other Marines, even if you were years apart and in different wars.
Marines can tell if you were really in the Corp just from a few minutes on history. Every Marine can tell you about Dan Daly, Smedley Butler, and every grunts hero, Chesty Pullar. Both Dan Daly and Smedley Butler, won two Congressional Medals of Honor. At Belleau wood Daly is famous for his words before the Marines charged the Germans, "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?" Chesty Pullar never did win that Medal of Honor, but was awarded something like seven Navy Crosses.
I always liked this one. The Marine Corp was started in 1775 by the Continental Congress. Therefore the Marine Corp is older than our country. Yeah, that is true.
During my war, Marines in Vietnam suffered over 14,000 more casualties than those Marines in the south Pacific in World War 2. Hard to believe that, as nobody, I would have believed, could of had it bloodier than those Marines hitting those beaches with the "Japs" waiting for them. I don't know if we killed more Vietnamese than those guys killed Japanese, but I would guess so just because of our increased firepower.
The Marines are a small branch of the Department of Defense. It is said that the Marines are a part of the Department of the Navy, the Men's Department,
It is hard a lot of times to have this fierce pride in being a Marine and also have to deal with the fact that not only were you involved in a war created by Washington, but also you have to deal with the fact that America commits so very many war crimes. On one side of your brain, you are that guy in the TV ads that is wearing his "dress blues," looking so sharp and on the other side of your brain, there are all the dead women and children blown to bits in their homes by our air power or artillery while they were trying to live in a war zone we made.
The Marines make you a part of the Corp. You ask no questions because you know that the Marine Corp in only doing things to make sure that the majority of you get home. Marines fight not for America, no, Marines fight for Marines. That is probably why I fly the Marine Corp flag on every holiday.
I can really understand why Ted Williams would pick becoming a Marine as his greatest achievement, not only is it the hardest thing a man can do, but it also puts a little twist in your brain. That twist stays there and 60 years later it is still right at the top of even Ted's mind.
Some of you might say that Marines are brainwashed and you would be right. The Marine Corp is only after one thing and that is to incorporate you into their fighting machine. There is only one way to do things and that is the Marine Corp way, For fighting a war there is no better training, but when you leave there is no class to reverse all that they have taught you.
Those in Washington only look at the material costs and those that could be killed or wounded, as what it would take for America to go to war. Never do any Congressman get up and say "but what about the troops?" Those that make it home are just supposed to blow off whatever happened to them. Go back to normal. Normal left after "boot camp."
Ted Williams said that all he wanted to do was become the best hitter baseball ever saw. He had just a splendid career, even his last at bat he hit a home run. The war, his training in the Marines, and his sense of duty wouldn't allow even Ted Williams to put his life's work on top of his accomplishments. That shorter, more intense time in the Marines out ranked all others.
The Marine Corp motto is "Semper Fidelis," Latin for "always faithful." It is even in my dictionary. Marines always say "Semper Fi" when they leave a gathering of other Marines. It is kind of like saying, if you need any help, I'll be there for you.
Having been an active duty combat Marine, I am the last person that can judge if Marine Corp training has been bad for me. I can say that it has put a imprint on my mind and soul like no other experience in this life. It has brought mostly sorrow and pride. What a weird combination.
BACK to the Essays.