I was on Recruiting duty from Nov87-Oct90. I was stationed at RSS Santa Fe, New Mexico from RS Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had stopped to fill the gas tank on my GOV. (Government Vehicle) before setting out on another long drive to a rural high school in order to find a highly qualified applicant that had the guts to earn the title of the World’s Finest. Dressed in my Dress Blue uniform, I heard the screeching of tires as a gentleman in a light colored sedan pulled into the service station and right up to me. He got out of the vehicle with determination and I prepared myself for some strong words from a disgruntled civilian. Instead he reached out his hand to shake mine. He said, “I saw you here, and I have always made it a point to stop and shake every Marines hand I can find”. I asked him, Why was that? He told me that if it were not for the Marines that he would not be there to shake my hand. He went on further to explain that he was a pilot during WW2, A B-29 super fortress pilot. He had flown many missions to drop his bombs on Japan and Okinawa. On his last mission over Japan he and his crew had encountered Japanese planes on their return and were shot up severely. They would not be able to make it home to their base. He then told me that he was able to make it to Iwo Jima and land his plane there. He said that the Marines had secured the island only a few days earlier. Still holding my hand and shaking it, He said thank you again, for you and all Marines. “God Bless the Marines” he said, as he turned and got back into his car. As he drove away, I saw that he was teary eyed. I remember thinking about that moment for many days afterward. It was not until I went to see Clint Eastwoods movie, Flag of our Fathers, and saw a similar seen in the movie, were a crippled B-29 made an emergency landing, even as the fighting continued that I remembered that morning clearly. As I drove home that night, after the movie, I had several memories come back to me and it was a difficult night for me, but not as difficult as it has been for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and those that were there on Iwo, and all the other islands, and in Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Bosnia, Desert Shield/Storm, Iraq, And countless other parts of the world where Marines serve faithfully. May we take time to reflect on those that have served, and are serving and the sacrifices that our families make as well, Especially during this holiday season.
Jon K Liebert SGT. USMC
MOS 0321, 1982-1996