Marines Are Something Sacred

“I have grown to look upon Marines as something sacred,
I have laughed with them and cried with them,
Cursed them and prayed for them,
Shivered and sweltered with them,
Fought with them,
bled with them, and held them in my arms while they died.
I have buried them.
And all the time I have loved them.”
–Major Gene Duncan

Semper Fidelis
Bryan J. Holy
MGySgt. USMC Retired

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19 thoughts on “Marines Are Something Sacred”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Top. Although this is a reprint, poetry is as timeless as the ages. But, I wonder, who was G. R. Downen. It is evident that he was in the “Old Corps” with brown socks and name tape. Semper Fi!!!

    1. Top I was in 81 mortars in H&S Co 2/8 from 63 – 65. I’ve seen you somewhere, went to 81’s 1/9 in Nov . 65. I went through boot with Plt 124 in 1963.
      And yes I was issued brown socks and the horse blanket greens.

      1. Hi Frank – I went to boot camp at MCRD San Diego Plt 141 from May – Aug ’64. After ITR I returned to MCRD for Basic Electronics & teletype schools. In the spring of ’65 I was assigned to Comm Co/HqBn 2d MarDiv at Camp Lejeune (Swamp Lagoon) and didn’t go to WestPac until spring ’66. I can’t remember knowing anyone in 2/8 during that time. Did you hang with any communicators? I had several friends in various units at Camp Lejeune. Semper Fi!!!

        1. I was in 2/6 and troop handler at ITR 67- 68 then back to Nam to HQs III MAF, G-3 COC from 69-70. I was probably mistaken about having crossed paths somewhere. You may have known M/Sgt George Sexton he was a close friend of mine, just passed away a few days ago. Semper Fi,Frank

          1. Hey Frank – We were close in ’69-’70 as I was assigned to 1stFSR/FLC out at Camp Books, Red Beach north of DaNang. March to August I worked as a Watch Supervisor in the FLC Comm Center, was promoted to SSgt in May, and took over as a Plt Sgt for the Provisional Rife Platoon in August. I had several friends who were assigned to III MAF Comm and on occasion would drop-in if I was over that way. In particular was SSgt Rob Spencer, he was the UNIVAC-1004 & KW-13 technician. The name Sexton doesn’t sound familiar but I am sure I would have enjoyed knowing him. May he rest in peace. Semper Fi!!!

  2. Who wrote this poem? If it was Major Duncan, he summarized good leadership and the bond between brothers. I served from 68 thru 83 and resigned when the barracks was blown up in Beirut. Couldn’t take the politics anymore. The “O” main responsibility is to take care of their people If that is done, the mission will be accomplished.

    Semper Fidelis to all my fellow Marines.

  3. If you have not read Major Duncan’s books, you have missed a lot. The first four should be required reading – maybe especially at TBS. I would have loved to meet the man, but probably would have been too awed to speak.

    1. I still have a letter that Gene Duncan wrote to me. It is one of my prized possessions. He was a wise, thoughtful and caring man.

    1. Major Duncan was my Commanding Officer with Company D, Marine Support Battalion on Okinaw in 1976.
      Kept in touch with him for many years and still have letters that he has written to me. Incredible marine and extremely wise. Collected all his books. His leadership and example have helped me all through life.

  4. Green Side out… Brown Side out… run in circles and Scream and Shout !! Maj Gene Duncan was one crusty guy … who spoke from the heart. Only met him once but we did have our correspondence exchanges ( before there was email and computers) . If others had followed his leadership philosophies we would have been a leaner but meaner disciplined Corps. God Bless him and all those who proudly wear the cloth of Corps.

  5. Gene died years ago. We served together in 8th CommBn, Force Troops, Camp Lejeune (1968-69). He was the C. O. of Radio Relay and Construction Company and I was the Adjutant/S1. We both were recovering from wounds…Gene had been a Tanker and me, AmTracs (birds of a feather). He was encouraged to take up flying as part of his recovery therapy and qualified for his Private Pilots License. He asked me to go with him to HQMC and visit friends in Bethesda Naval Hospital. His landings had been in the open field in Jacksonville, NC…Nothing like the field in Virginia which was surrounded by high tension wires, etc. He finally put the damn thing on the ground, aided by the most oaths and prayers in my repertoire. He was a great writer who’s love for the Corps and Marines is apparent in every word.
    Semper Fi

  6. I proudly served 30 years in our glorious Marine Corps, if God would give me a hundred lives, hundred times I would be a United States Marine again!

    Once a Marine, Always a Marine

  7. And Oh, yes, I do also remember the brown socks. Since you couldn’t stamp your name with black ink on brown socks, you had to iron-on a sticky white tape on which you stamped your name. Damn, it’s been too long.

  8. I was with 1/5 H&S Comm Plt from ‘67 to ‘68, Capt Duncan was the comm officer. On 1 February ‘68, the beginning of the Tet Offensive, I volunteered for a detail commanded by Capt Duncan to go out of the perimeter at Phu Loc. Our mission was to help a prior detail that had gone out to bring in the battalion CO and others who had been caught in an ambush. We were in a firefight that lasted for most of the afternoon and cost us many of the detail, including Capt Duncan who was shot in neck and MedEvac’ed. I had the chance to talk to him a few times over the years and that day came up more than once.

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