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These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Thomas Paine

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My name is Michele Carey and I recently moved from Hellertown, PA to Oldsmar, FL. I am a huge FOX News fan and have been for many years. I relied constantly on your superior, fair, and balanced coverage for information during both of my son's deployments in Iraq.

I am also a Forever & Always Very Proud Marine Mom - Gold Star. My only son, Corporal Barton R. Humlhanz, was killed in action on 26 Aug 2004 at age 23 1/2 years (to the day) and only four days after his only sister turned 18. He was killed during his second deployment in Iraq while attached to the 24 MEU who lost 15 outstanding Marines during their 7 month deployment. Bart was the first, but not the only, military police casualty in 2D MP BN.

I am tired of quietly sitting back and listening to all the publicity and free speech of only those protesting the war! Any group or individual that wants to go out just to kill people is indeed sick and criminal. Our military did not ask to go to war but they are all willing to give their lives to protect our freedom and support the mission assigned them to the best of their abilities. What about supporting not just our troops but also their mission! Not doing so does have a negative impact on moral, not believing that our military is making a positive difference hurts not only the Marines but all of our military service personnel. Yes, I know this first hand from actual conversations with many different military individuals.

For the protestors with military ties (both casualties and service to our country), we all know there have been at least 2,314 military's always all over the news. This has left many times more families affected by these tragedies and many times more that don't know how we feel because they have no direct experience. However, to demand pulling our troops out before they have finished their mission is disrespectful and not very supportive either. The protesting Marine in Tampa, FL and the protesting Gold Star parents should be ashamed of themselves for not fully supporting those currently serving and sacrificing their lives for this mission assigned them!

While "all gave some...some gave all" and my son was one of the many who are truly proud to serve their country, complete their mission and to make a positive difference. I know because he told me this himself before his last deployment on 4 July 2004. Bart has brothers and sisters in the US Marine Corps who want to finish the mission, and for this I thank and support them all. Many have done so by volunteering numerous times to go back in Iraq to make sure that Bart did not die for nothing, their promise to Bart and my entire family is "you will never be forgotten brother..." and they always keep their promise! Semper Fi and God Bless the USA, Our Troops and Their Mission, Michele Carey, Forever & Always a Proud Marine Mom

First I want to thank you for your wonderful newsletter. I know longer feel alone, and that I am truly part of a Marine family. The sentiment of this country makes it hard to endure some things at time. My oldest son is a Doctor of Medicine, the day he took his oath, I was so proud. Never, ever in my entire life did I think that kind of Pride could be matched. Until my Dr. son sat beside me along with my 7 other children and watch our son PFC Justin Carman, receive his eagle, anchor and globe. While some parents had a hard time picking out their sons, I knew who he was by the way he walked. His head was held high and shoulders back. Long gone was "my baby" that went away to boot camp! My diamond in the rough was now polished. Gone was the teenage arrogance that I used to see in his eyes. It was replaced with Pride and Fierceness, that only a UNITED STATES MARINE COULD HAVE. He is being deployed to Iraq this summer and I am terrified, the only thing that give me comfort, is that I know that his Marine Brothers will watch his back as he will watch theirs. They are the best trained warriors in the world. My son was born to be a warrior as his grandparents before him, to protect his country from those that might choose to destroy it out of hate and jealousy. I said to him in boot camp, "why do you have to go to Iraq?" He said something way beyond his years and was a heart opener for me. He said, "Mom, it can't always be someone else's son!". It brought me back to reality. Although at times I feel I am the only mother that feels this way, I know how wrong I am in my heart. As our forefathers before, their mothers felt no different when they went to the Pacific, and off to Europe to fight the evilness of their day. God bless all the troops that are their. May he protect all of our Marine sons, daughter, husband, wives and father.
Faith Carman
PMM of Pfc Justin Carman
2nd Marines
Semper Fi!

"It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society."
-- James Madison

My heart has been full with this story for many years, but for the past several weeks I cannot get it out of my mind. Please allow me to share.

My first born child, Sgt. Daniel Householder, has been a Marine since 1996. When he and his brother were young men, we sat on the edge of my bed and watched as the Persian Gulf war unfolded on TV and I held my two sons hands and cried for all the mothers sending their children to war. The boys asked why was I crying? I told them it frightened me to think that one day in the future they may have to do the same and how much just the thought of saying goodbye in the situation caused me extreme pain and heartache.

Jump ahead to February 2003. I know my son and 'his Marines" have been training and preparing for deployment for an invasion to Iraq for many months--it's been all over the media. I'm shopping in a mall--here in Southern Oregon trying to keep from watching TV and listening to the media- my cell phone rings, I see his number and my heart stops as I answer. In the middle of a discount shoe store I hear my 27 year old son say "Mom..we're going. I have 5 hours to get my sh!t together, say goodbye to Kathy (his wonderful wife) and call Dad and Grandpa. We'll be on a plane headed out by this evening. Gotta go Mom. . .are you ok? Mom, stop crying, I'm gonna be fine. We're trained and we're ready. Love you Mom. . .Kathy will keep you updated. Bye, Love you."

I must have been quite a sight--panic look, frozen posture, lost stare. A woman came towards be from the end of the shoe isle I was standing in and looked at me hesitantly and said,--"Could you use a hug?" She obviously had heard enough to know exactly what was happening in my life at that very moment. She hugged me tight and the understanding, love, and concern of another mother braced me up. We spoke nothing else to one another, I nodded a soft and soggy "thank you", and we parted. I have no memory of her face, color, size, age, anything. But I guarantee you she was a mother, I'd like to think a mother of a Marine.

Sgt. Householder returned safely with all of his unit. From the lowest day of my life to the high point of existence, all in one years time. I have owed a much more public "thank you" to the woman in the shoe store than I have been able to give. Hopefully she reads this.

I am thankful to Daniel and to his fellow Marines and to those that are there now, I pray that my daughter never faces the day of my Grandson repeating history. I pray that the mission be accomplished this time, that I may never have to pass on the "supportive hug" to another Mom, at least for the same reason.

I cannot seem to sort out the pride from the love I feel for the job my son and his buddies were so willing to undertake. "Thank you" was not enough gratitude for the woman in the mall and it's not enough for the Marines, but it's all I have.

Teena M. La Vette
Mother of Sgt. Daniel O. Householder, USMC

"'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.' That's a catchy phrase but also misleading. Freedom fighters do not need to terrorize a population into submission. Freedom fighters target the military forces and the organized instruments of repression keeping dictatorial regimes in power. Freedom fighters struggle to liberate their citizens from oppression and to establish a form of government that reflects the will of the people... [O]ne has to be blind, ignorant, or simply unwilling to see the truth if he or she is unable to distinguish between those I just described and terrorists."
-Ronald Reagan

To that fine man who served in the army who could not bs his way into the suck, any one who serves his country, no matter what branch, is something to be strongly proud of. My daughters ask me what our nationality is and I answered American, it is because of people like you that I can say that. You served our country proud.Semper fi to you, and most importantly Thank You.

Cpl James Rameau
Foxtrot 2/3 `90-`94

Dear Sgt Grit-

I have read your newsletter and wanted to respond with some thoughts of my own. I became the mother of a Marine when my son joined in June of 2004. I never expected all of the things that i would go through emotionally but am so glad that my son made the choice that he did. When I took my family out to San Diego for boot camp graduation I can't even explain the amount of pride that I felt for my son, I know that this was a choice that he made on his own and I knew that ever since he was a small boy that this is what he was going to do with his life. I can honestly say that this has been the best experience for our whole family. We have become more aware of what is going on in the world and have had a true concern for all soldiers. I have talked to my son and told him how very proud I am of him and that I am supporting him all the way.

He left last September for Iraq and I didn't think that I would make it through his deployment but as I write this he has only 40 more days to go before he is back stateside and then back home to us on leave.

He is a photo-journalist with the 2/6 platoon and with the advances in technology I have been able to read and copy all of the stories and photos that he has submitted. It has been an eye opening experience and I pray each and every day for all of our soldiers no matter where they are.

I can't even begin to tell you how I have felt throughout this whole experience except to say that I have never in my life felt such pride and know that I am not the first mom to feel this.

My son is my hero and I know that he will do well in life because of the discipline and experiences that he has learned through the US Marines.

By the way- you can tell my car- my house by the US Marines stuff that I have all over the place.

To all the soldiers out there- all of us moms know that you are doing the best that you can and we are proud and thankful for your commitment to serving our country. Just know that you are in our thoughts and prayers each and every day.

Stay safe and come home soon

We love you


Marine mom for life and proud of it

"We in a free society without the faith that built that society-and without the conviction and dedication needed to sustain it... We still have the cathedral of freedom but how long will it last without the faith?"
-Thomas Sowell

I joined the Army in November of 1967 after walking out of a college class angry over a good friend being killed in Nam. I walked into the recruiter's office and said to him "I want to go to Viet Nam and kill some Gooks." Man, was I a recruiter's dream or what? I served for 4 years and know a lot of names on the wall in DC. My high school class is having it's 40th reunion this year and through the correspondence I have learned that 4 others from our school were killed in Nam. It hurt all over again hearing this but know I can't head down to the recruiter and join. I think back over the years and all the freedom I have enjoyed because of these great Americans. It humbles me greatly ever time I think of them and it will until the day I die. I believe I will get to thank each one of them personally some day in heaven.

But now it has gotten even harder because I'm the father to a Marine who has just finished his first tour of Iraq. His unit lost 3 guys on Super Bowl Sunday this year to a roadside bomb. Thankfully he wasn't one of them but I know some mom's and dad's are out there grieving and this gives me a lot of pain. He called just recently as they are headed out of Iraq and told me how hard the memorial service they had for these three guys was. I cried just hearing this because I know that he will carry the memory forever. Hopefully when he's an old man looking back on their death's he will thank them for all the freedom he has enjoyed. It hurts a fathers heart knowing that his son has seen things that no one should see and that he has grieved over friends that died much too soon. I know he will be a better person because of it but it still hurts your heart.

I told him and his mom before he left that I do not believe that being in a war zone takes away one second from your life. When it's your time it's your time and where your at has nothing to do with it. I knew a guy who fought in Nam for 2 tours and didn't get a scratch on him. After landing in the states coming back from Nam he tripped on the stairs of the airplane and fell down the steps breaking his neck and dieing at the bottom of the stairs. His father told me it was just his time to go. I have never forgotten that and believe it to this day. I told my son what a drill sergeant told me. "Everyone dies and there is no shame in it, just don't die stupid." He was trying to help us prevent mistakes by doing something dumb when he said this. My son has worked hard to be a good Marine and to do nothing stupid. I can't believe how proud I am to be an Army dad with a Marine son. Semper Fi

Missed Tributes
By Ben Stein

Now for a few humble thoughts about the Oscars:

I did not see every second of it, but my wife did, and she joins me in noting that there was not one word of tribute, not one breath, to our fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan or to their families or their widows or orphans. There were pitifully dishonest calls for peace -- as if the people we are fighting were interested in any peace for us but the peace of the grave. But not one word for the hundreds of thousands who have served and are serving, not one prayer or moment of silence for the dead and maimed.

Basically, the sad truth is that Hollywood does not think of itself as part of America, and so, to Hollywood, the war to save freedom from Islamic terrorists is happening to someone else. It does not concern them except insofar as it offers occasion to mock or criticize George Bush. They live in dreamland and cannot be gracious enough to thank the men and women who pay with their lives for the stars' ability to live in dreamland. This is shameful.

The idea that it is brave to stand up for gays in Hollywood, to stand up against Joe McCarthy in Hollywood (fifty years after his death), to say that rich white people are bad, that oil companies are evil -- this is nonsense. All of these are mainstream ideas in Hollywood, always have been, always will be. For the people who made movies denouncing Big Oil, worshiping gays, mocking the rich to think of themselves as brave -- this is pathetic, childish narcissism.

The brave guy in Hollywood will be the one who says that this is a fabulously great country where we treat gays, blacks, and everyone else as equal. The courageous writer in Hollywood will be the one who says the oil companies do their best in a very hostile world to bring us energy cheaply and efficiently and with a minimum of corruption. The producer who really has guts will be the one who says that Wall Street, despite its flaws, has done the best job of democratizing wealth ever in the history of mankind. No doubt the men and women who came to the Oscars in gowns that cost more than an Army Sergeant makes in a year, in limousines with champagne in the back seat, think they are working class heroes to attack America -- which has made it all possible for them. They are not. They would be heroes if they said that Moslem extremists are the worst threat to human decency since Hitler and Stalin. But someone might yell at them or even attack them with a knife if they said that, so they never will.

Hollywood is above all about self: self-congratulation, self-promotion, and above all, self-protection. This is human and basic, but let's not kid ourselves. There is no greatness there in the Kodak theater. The greatness is on patrol in Kirkuk. The greatness lies unable to sleep worrying about her man in Mosul. The greatness sleeps at Arlington National Cemetery and lies waiting for death in VA Hospitals. God help us that we have sunk so low as to confuse foolish and petty boasting with the real courage that keeps this nation and the many fools in it alive and flourishing on national TV.

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He also writes "Ben Stein's Diary" in every issue of The American Spectator.

Sgt. E. Mazzie USMC 539252 1943-1951

Note: Also, Mr. Stein when called by the 1st MarDiv Assoc. to speak at their reunion last year said he would speak for free foregoing his usual speakers fee. He also was gracious enough to take a few pics with me and the staff. It's about 3/4 the way down on the right side.
Sgt Grit

Hi Everyone
This is my son's second deployment and it is a bit easier but it isn't as easy as I expected.

I pray that it all moves very rapidly and they come home soon. Thanks to Sgt Grit and all you fine family members this newsletter gets me through.

May the Lord bless all our troops and may He grant peace throughout this world.

My son is with 2/11 G btry if there is anyone else out there with a relative or friend in this unit please email me so we can keep in touch.

God bless
Teresa (Terry) Rodriguez

My husband is currently deployed to Iraq.
He should return home shortly. I have not seen him since August 2005. It is now March 2006. Needless to say I am very anxious and excited for his safe return home. I will be joining him down at Camp Lejeune to live upon his return. I made the mistake of reading this newsletter at work. I know once I start to read it I will definitely read it all the way through. I just can't tear myself away from it. I started receiving the Newsletter shortly after my wonderful husband was deployed. It has helped me a great deal. Although I must say many times I can't get through them with a dry eye. As I said I read today's letter, #118, at work. And yes half way through I had tears in my eyes. Seeing the picture of the Marine with his Dad at his homecoming was incredible because I know that very shortly I will be experiencing the same joy as I stand in a spot much like that seeing my husband for the first time in 7 months. My husband is the love of my life.

We have been together for over 7 years, but married for just over 1. We are high school sweet hearts. The past 7 months have been the hardest yet out of my 22 years on this earth. But I know I am not alone. I have made many friends with family members of the Marines that are deployed along side my husband. I am so thankful for the internet. It is a fantastic tool! So thank you once again to Sgt Grit and Staff. I also want to send a great big thank you to all the troops proudly serving our great country, Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart! We live in the land of the free because of the brave. Thank you for being one of the brave!

Semper Fi
L. Reed - Proud Marine Wife

This one is for all the ladies who are part of a Marine's life in case they don't know this as I didn't.

I'm a person who has never used umbrellas for some odd reason, but being older with my health declining, I picked up the habit of keeping one in the car in case of sudden downpours. My husband and I were going shopping recently, and right when we started to get out of the car, out of nowhere it started raining. Very hard pouring rain, and after sitting there for a while, we could see that it wasn't going to let up. The next thing I know, my husband jumped out and ran around to my side of the car, opening the door and the umbrella for me so that I wouldn't get soaked. I told him, "Hurry, get under here with me, you're getting drenched." He's shaking his head "no".

As we're hurrying towards the store, I'm trying to put the umbrella over him too because he'd been sick recently. He's acting strange about it, sidestepping every time I tried to move it his way. I'm thinking to myself that he's wanting to make sure that I don't get wet and that if he gets under there too, he thinks that I will. He's considerate that way, as all of you ladies who are part of a Marine's life know about your Marines. They're going to protect you first no matter what the situation is. So I asked him again to get under the umbrella with me, telling him there was plenty of room for both of us. He said, "I don't want to, I can't!" in that tone that we wives recognize as meaning "end of subject". Needless to say, I dropped it then and there and we continued on up to the store, got what we went to get, and once again, on the way back to the car, he's walking in the pouring rain, getting soaked even further. (All of you longtime wives out there can hear my thoughts at this point.)

When we got in the car, he knew that I was wondering why he was being so stubborn about the umbrella, especially since he was just getting over the flu. So he looked at me and said, "I didn't get under the umbrella with you because it's something I could never forgive myself for or live with if I did. Marines DO NOT EVER use umbrellas, they're for women, children and sissies. It's one of the first things we're taught and it's something that you will never see me do, not ever."

Of course I then understood why he had acted so strangely about it. And I felt really bad for having asked him to get under it, but he knew I didn't know and that it was because I love him and was concerned for his health. I sat there thinking about what he said and I realized that I'd never seen my father use one either and I said as much. But I grew up thinking that it was a "man thing" with my father, because he never said why he wouldn't use one, just adamantly refused anytime my mother ever tried to get him to. I didn't know it was a Marine ethic/standard. In 20 years of being married to my Marine, this was a new one to me. Since I'd never used umbrellas before now, it just never came up. So for all the ladies like me who might not have known this, now we know.

For those of you who are new wives, fiancés, and girlfriends, when your Marine uses what I call the "Marine tone" around you, it usually means "there's more to this than meets the eye". Sometimes you'll be told (like me with the umbrella), other times you won't. Just accept what he gives, keep loving him, and when trusting him is all that he hands you, trust him. Besides the obvious things of duty, deployments, separations and relocations, you hear that being married to a Marine is the toughest job in the Corps for the reason that marriage is built on love, trust, commitment, honesty and open communication. There will be times that your Marine can't share things with you. There will be times that he could but won't, for the reason of sparing you of things he feels would be better that you don't know. It isn't that he's trying to shut you out, it's just part of his nature and training to protect you from anything he feels might make you afraid, sad, or hurt or harm you in some way. That isn't always easy for a wife to deal with, but if you look at it in the context that you're the most precious thing in his life, it's easy to understand and it isn't hard at all being married to him. He's going to protect you period, no matter how strong you are. It's what he does best, and you, out of all the people he protects, are the most precious of all to him. So you're going to get it double time whether you want it or not. He already knows that you're strong before he ever marries you. He wouldn't choose you as his wife otherwise. He knows that you will have to deal with things that most wives don't. But if you try to see his times of silence in the context of his love for you, being married to him will bring you all the rewards that you could ever hope for. He'll talk to you when he's ready to talk, and only with you, will he share certain parts of himself. Any longtime wife will tell you that this is how Marines are. They are as hard headed and stubborn as one man can possibly be. But they'll love you like no other. There is no finer husband, no better father to your children, no better lover, no better friend, no better soul mate. And no worse enemy to anyone who tries to harm you. Marines only get finer with age and we wives only become prouder to say that they're ours, even when they prefer pneumonia to an umbrella.

Best wishes to all the new wives, fiancés and girlfriends and to your Marines. Love them, be there for them, stay faithful to them. You won't be sorry.

Cindy Crook
Forever Faithful to Cpl. John Crook

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. W. James

Dear Sgt Grit, and all the parents out there worried about their kids dropping out of college to enlist. Don't worry about it, they can continue their education while on active duty or as a reservist. I completed two years of college and was bored out of my mind! I went straight out of high school, and was not being challenged enough, my instructors were ultra liberal and annoyed me constantly, and this was in 1985! So I enlisted, I thought my mother was going to have a heart attack, it was bad enough my younger brother had enlisted but for her only daughter to do it, lol. That was an unpleasant scene, but I never regretted it, the harder things got, the more determined I was to gut it out. And I learned so much about what I'm made of, and am so proud to have done something that very few women (and darn few men) are capable of doing. Encourage your kids to do what is right for them, you won't regret it and they'll thank you for it. I'll be 40 tomorrow and now that my 4 kids are in school all day, I'm considering finally going back to college and taking some classes in Forensics which I find utterly fascinating.
Respectfully Submitted,
Semper Fi
Anna Grabill
USMC 86-93

After reading many of the messages from your Newsletter, I wanted to express my thoughts of appreciation to all the courageous young men and women who have given so much to make it possible for us to live the lives we do. Our son joined the Marines in January of 2005, and as of January 8th of this year left for his first deployment to Iraq. He has been married for almost 3 years now to his sweet and supportive wife. They made this decision together knowing this was what they needed to do in their lives right now. This has been an experience for our whole family that has been a real challenge and yet filled us with more gratitude and patriotism for our country than ever before. It is amazing what our Marines go through to be what they are, in being so capable and willing to protect and take care of us back here at home. I've never worried more before than I have now. Our son Lance Corporal Ryan Saunders, has always been adventurous growing up, and I worried about him then, but one day when he told me, "Mom, you don't need to worry about me, I always pray, and have my Heavenly Father's help with me." It was then that I realized he would have the greatest protection ever. And now with him in the infantry, I am again worried, but I have to remind myself that he continues to have help from someone stronger than us with him, and from someone whom loves him a great deal, along with the brotherhood of his fellow Marines. I will never stop worrying, but I will also never be prouder than I am of my son for making the sacrifices and being courageous enough to be one of the Marines taking care of our country. Thank you to all those Marine for giving so much of yourself for our comfort and happiness. I know to me and my family, you will never be forgotten for all you have done. And to all those families at home waiting for their loved one to come home safely. . .we will continue to pray for their safety and guidance to be with them. We are so very proud of everyone of them!
From a Proud Marine Mom, Kristy

Dear SgtGrit,
I have just got done reading your articles they were absolutely wonderful and exciting thank-you very much for adding me to your list to receive your letters. I retired from the United States Marine Corps after 21 and 3/4 years in l980 and went right into Education becoming a Bilingual teacher for Adults until I received my BA and MA in English and went as an English and ESL Teacher into the Junior High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. I was medically retired from the School system and am sitting in my stall at age 66 helping my wife with the home chores and matters.
I went to VietNam 1965-l966 and again in l969-l970 and learned to have a lot of respect for all branches of the services serving at this time of need in the protection of our country. May God Bless each and everyone of our Military and may God bring all of American soldiers and sailors back Home.

MSgt Juan Villanueva ,l698806, USMC

Since receiving your mail I have been reading a lot of the letters. What really gets my goat is when I read how some idiots call our service people baby killers and have never served or attempted to put on a uniform and serve our great country. But you never heard them say that to our veterans of WWII. Don't get me wrong I'm proud of all our veterans of all wars and for the freedom they gave us. But innocent people do get hurt and sometimes killed it isn't anyone's real intention to shoot those innocent people but accidents do happen. Then I remember reading what someone had written on a wall of a bunker at Khe Sanh and it went something like this For Those Who Fought For It, Freedom Has a Taste The Protected Will Never Know. I served two years in the CORPS and then another eighteen in the Army.

W Renfeld
CPL 1969-1971

I would like to respond to a letter I read in the newsletter #118. Shelby Gordon wrote that a lady called his brother a baby killer. I want him to know that people like that do not realize that because of the Marines who die for our freedom, they are able to voice their opinions no matter how stupid they may be. Some of us came home to the same name calling a long time don't mean nothing! Be proud, do not lower yourself to the level of these people who do not have a clue. Thank you and your brotherfor wanting to be Marines. Thank you for wanting to keep us safe---Semper Fi Al LaSoya
USMC 1965-1968
RVN 1967-1968

"Altogether, national hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I just wanted to take the time to say thank you, my son is currently in the Tornado Alley Young Marines in Wichita Kansas. Within a matter of months he will be entering into the Marine Corps and I am very proud that people like yourself our out there looking out for the young men and women of today. My son is the only TAYM member to have gone to New Mexico all three years to honor our Bataan Vets and fallen and has worked hard to help make sure the new kids that are going understand the true meaning behind the hike. Part of his class that he gives honors people like yourself by giving summaries of Marines and others that have helped the kids reach their goals in order to make the trip. They have been training since January 1st for this event and have been following the marathon training schedule daily, this is hard for an adult let alone some of the kids. But I'm happy to say we've never left a man or lady behind and all the kids that start finish. Several members of other groups have told us that we helped to give them the motivation to finish when they were getting ready to quit. This group has been fantastic for so many children my son has wanted to be a Marine since he was about 7 years old. I've never thought for a second that he wouldn't one day do just that, but he happened upon a newspaper story back in 2003 about TAYM and will the rest is history. He wanted to be a member of the group and set his goals high, he is now 3rd in charge and loves every minute of the program. This year with our new CO we are looking at doing some new things, for one Pro SCUBA and Ski from Wichita is going to give the kids SCUBA listens and the Flying Eagle are going to take the kids flying. All of this would not be possible without wonderful people like you.
Once again thank you.

March 11, 2006

Barnes honored in 'last trip home'

On behalf of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Department, I thank each and every law enforcement person who participated in the last trip home for Lance Cpl. Matthew Ryan Barnes.

Matthew was born in Monroe, La., on July 24, 1985, and was killed in combat on Feb. 14 while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.

Matt arrived at the Jackson Airport and was transported back to West Monroe for funeral services. From Jackson to West Monroe, law enforcement escorted Matt all along I-20, stopping traffic at each ramp.

Thank you to the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Jackson Police Dept., Hinds County Sheriff's Dept., Vicksburg Police Dept. and the Warren County Sheriff's Dept. This display of respect and honor was a sight to behold and one of our deputies said it all when he said: This is the only way to bring a hero home!"

God bless the military who serve us faithfully each and every day away from home to give us freedom and the American way of life, and God bless the law enforcement personnel serving us at home so that we may continue to live a good quality of life.

Sheriff Richard Fewell
Ouachita Parish
Monroe, La.

Submitted by:
Ken Riskedahl
Tupelo, Mississippi

"[T]he right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave."
-John Adams

Dear Sgt. Grit,
I have been a visitor to the website since my grandson's recruiter in Topeka, KS gave me the address. Michael graduated from MCRD San Diego March, 2003 and currently is at Camp Courtney, Okinawa. The smiles and tears over the years have been great! I am so proud to be the grandmother of a Marine. I stood a bit taller when his older brother, Waylon joined the Air Force and graduated from Basic, also on the same day in March, 2003 . He is stationed at Andersen AFB, Guam as a Security Police member and just began a deployment @ Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan.
One of the best things on the website is the sharing by loved ones when they have deployed family members far, far, far away. Yes, I realize this is a Marine website, but... it has helped this USMC & USAF grandmother get into the "proper" frame of mind to get through my loved one's deployment. My Airman did volunteer to deploy and I look forward to the day when he returns and I can hug his neck. I know my Marine is very proud of his brother. Oh, yes I grew up in Oklahoma and my 1st love was a Marine who served during the Vietnam war.
The Best to you,
Priscilla Zadoka
A Very Proud USMC & USAF Grandmother

"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is 'not done'... Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness."
-George Orwell

Letter written by Maureen, Proud mother of two Marines.

Preface: I have two sons who are United States Marines. Both boys will be in Iraq for the following year. One son, Dana Mattice, arrived in Kuwait and is currently on his way to the Syrian border for duty. He is a dismount in one of the humvees. But anyway, he will be there from now until September 15, 2006. Dana is a graduate of 2005 from Gladwin High School. He signed on to be a Marine in his junior year. He was shipped off to basic training on graduation day, just an hour or so after the ceremony. Pete is his older brother. He signed on to be a Marine in his senior year. That was in 2001, shortly after the towers went down in September. He felt very strongly about signing up and protecting us at home. He only got 1/2 of a semester of college in before he was shipped off to war. He attended the Henry Ford College down near Detroit. Just before the war started he was activated from a reservist, which made it impossible to finish out his semester. Anyhow, I just want to thank both of the boys in this letter. Pete's best friend was Brad Wentz, who was killed in action. Pete is all pumped up to go back over to Iraq this second stint to do it for Brad mainly.

To my sons,
I want to thank you so very much for being my sons. I want to thank you both for becoming two fine young men in today's world and also for being the Marines that you have become.

As I write this letter, you are most likely driving through Iraq to your destination near the Syrian border. I wish you all of the luck in the world and hope that you will have a safe return home to me in September. You are about to see and do many things while over there. I am so very proud of you. I just want you to know that from the bottom of my heart, I love you deeply. I know it has been a long journey in life to have to be raised as a fatherless child. As far as having the father to look up to, it has and always will be your Grandpa. He has always been there for me and you three kids, to guide you the right way, to help you when you needed help, and to try to advise you to do your best in life. You and your brother, Pete, and your sister, Rita, have all proven that indeed. living in a single parent household is possible to grow into fine responsible adults. I promise to always be there for you when you need me to be. Once again, please stay safe while being so far away from home. I will see you in September!

You are my eldest son, you set the path for the younger two to follow. I want to thank you for stepping up to the plate and doing your duty to protect this great United States of America. I am very proud of you for your achievements in life so far as well. I know it has not been an easy road for you since 2001. You made that commitment to yourself that you were going to be a Marine when the towers went down in September of that year. You were one of the first set of boots on the ground when the Iraq war started. I will always remember the look on your face the day you left to go off to war. At that time none of us had any idea what you kids, and I stress the word, kids, were up against with the threat of war. You signed on with the Marines before you were even out of high school, Dana did the same thing. You waited at home to be shipped off to basic training. There were days when you were so bored and depressed because all of your friends were off to college or getting their life started, and you, even though it was just months of waiting, it was a long wait for you. And then after basic training, you were finally able to sign up to go to college and continue your education. Once again, you were unable to complete the first semester, and you were shipped off to war to Iraq. There were no complaints, you did your job as a Marine, and I must say, I adore you for your patriotism towards your country. Your life has been in limbo ever since your return to this country. And once again, I have to see you off to Iraq for another year in June. I want to wish you a safe trip over and a safe trip back home again as well. I want to thank you so much for being my son as well. I promise you as well that I will always be there for you when you need me to be there.

Our house has never been the same since you two boys, and Brad and Mitch have all been off to war. I miss the antics that Brad used to do all the time when he was here at home. I miss Dana and Mitch blaring their guitars and practicing with the other boys in the band here at the house. Well, ok, so you all got shifted to the Little's house when it came to the noise, but I still miss the good old times. I miss all the paintball splats you kids would do around on the property, and I miss the cookouts you all used to have, even though Brad was a great one with fire, and burned steaks and burgers on the grill. They were all good. Once again, thank you for being the fine young men you are. And good luck to both of you in the following year. God bless all of the Marines and soldiers and please come home soon.

"[T]he more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."
-Benjamin Franklin

This eulogy was prepared and delivered by retired First Sgt Gil Contreras who is now a Nuclear Security Officer at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Phoenix Arizona.

This was from a memorial service for a recently fallen brother Marine here in Phoenix.

Another Marine reporting for duty at Heaven's gates.

Semper Fi
Mel Meter

Finding Josh

My name is Gil Contreras and I am a Marine. I retired in August of 2004 after 21 and 1/2 years of service. I spent my last 2 years assigned to 3d Battalion, 11th Marines out of Twentynine Palms, California where Josh was assigned. I was also assigned to 7th Marine Regiment during the war, the same Regiment Josh was assigned to. I did not have the pleasure of serving with Josh nor did I ever meet him. When his Uncle John called me and asked me if I would do Josh's eulogy, I had a number of emotions that hit me all at once. First off I was honored then embarrassed and saddened. I immediately said yes and sat alone and asked myself what will I say about this young Marine that will do him justice? What did he do for fun? What made him happy? How did he feel about the war and the men he fought with? What was his family like? What right did I have to speak about this young Marine? I immediately prayed for guidance and the wisdom to speak for Josh. I also asked a friend, where do I start? He said Brother, it is simple, you were a Marine and he is a Marine and that's all that matters. Here I am, a retired Marine First Sergeant, been there, done that and got the badge but cannot even think straight for one second. I then immediately went on my quest to find Josh beyond the Marine.

John Joshua Thornton was born on the 19 November, 1983 in Phoenix, Arizona to Rachel and Robert Thornton. He grew up in the Phoenix area with his brother Kyle and sister Brianna. He attended Tolleson High School, where he was part of the ROTC Program and graduated in 2002. He stayed in the area upon graduation and held down a few miscellaneous jobs when on 1 November 2004 he joined the United States Marine Corps. He attended Marine Corps Recruit Training at San Diego California and upon Graduation he was assigned to the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, California where he graduated as an (0311) Infantryman and was then subsequently transferred to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California for duty. In April of 2005 he reported to 2d Squad, 1st Platoon, Company "K", 3d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. Proving his mettle he was assigned additional duties as the squads Radioman.

This information was not enough, I still felt hollow on really finding Josh, so I made a few phone calls to various Marine units to see if I could speak with friends of this young Marine and they could tell me about him and who he was. There were a few road blocks along the way but this would not deter me on my mission. As doors slowly began to open I kept hearing the same theme, as noted by First Sergeant Smith who was there with Josh in Ar Ramadi where he fell to an enemy mortar:

Lance Corporal Thornton would always smile even in the worst of conditions. He was a Marine who was easy to like. He was a real laid back kind of guy who never judged his fellow Marine. He was very good at drawing and was always sketching something. You could wake him up after he did not sleep for days and he would gladly cut your hair. He would often tell stories and make you laugh. He really enjoyed getting tattoos and also had a talent for sketching them. He carried the radio because he was strong and could communicate well with higher command. He will always be remembered for his ability to smile, in every circumstance, and his willingness to always help fellow Marines. Lance Corporal Thornton will be greatly missed, but not forgotten.

I asked John if I could meet his family and walk in his bedroom. He said yes and gave me directions as I was driving downtown to pick up some information the Marine Corps had for me, which I did not commit to memory. I immediately called my wife at her work and asked her to help me navigate via map quest. As usual our communication was way off as I ended up in Buckeye instead of on Buckeye Street. It's funny how you can handle the stress of every crazy thing the Marine Corps puts you through to include my time in hostile environments around the world but Lord help a husband and wife in trying to get to the other side of town. Anyway, when I arrived I was greeted by John and introduced to Josh's wonderful family. Josh was a rich man, not in the monetary sense, but in the spiritual sense. He has a strong, beautiful and caring mother who is the center of the family at this time. He also has a younger brother who idolized his older brother and beautiful younger sister who had to put up with both of them. Friends and family were present and I was introduced to them as they came and went to pay their respects to Rachel and her family. I looked at a number of photos of Josh through various stages of his life and then we finally walked down the hall to his room. As I entered I immediately found what I was looking for...he was guilty. He is a TRUE MARINE. Every wall, every piece of furniture had Marine Corps paraphernalia on it. Through the 100's of skateboarding stickers on his closet I found a Marine Corps sticker, to the photo of the Battle at Belleu Wood in 1918 to the Marine Corps Drill Instructor photo. On his dresser were numerous stuffed animals that were all camouflaged, as well as an inert hand grenade. Rachel told me all he wanted to be was a Marine Rifleman! Imbedded into the ceiling were 2 beer bottle caps. I asked his brother and sister what they were all about but they did not know. His grandmother told me she though they were his first 2 beers. Just like a Marine, everything has a meaning and mile stones in life are never forgotten but saved and cherished forever. As Josh's family and I continued to talk I became so relaxed I felt as though I had loved them my whole life. On every wall in Josh's room there was the cornerstone of what the Corps basis it's foundation of leadership, pictures of Christ and various religious medallions. God, Country and Corps...Josh lived it well before he became a Marine. He had to learn this early for it to be so strongly embedded into his character. His mother is to thank for this...You made him a success by instilling in him the value of life and believing in something greater than himself. That's going out and sharing himself with the world. As we spoke even further we began to speak about the war and what it was like. How we lived and what we did. I answered as many questions as I possibly could to help ease the pain that only a mother can know. An awful pain unlike the pain on that day he was born. I asked Kyle and Brianna what they did together. I was told a story about how they were not seeing eye-to-eye and Rachel asked Josh to help out so he promptly grabbed his little sister and put her head in the toilet. We all got a laugh out of that one. I asked Kyle what happened to him and he said nothing...he just got chased. Just like a Marine swift and direct action to resolve even the simplest of problems and only one example needs to be made.

I left the house and went to Tolleson High School to meet with his ROTC Instructors. We spoke about Josh and reminisced about our times as Marines. Embellishing a few sea stories and of course talking about Josh, the scholarship fund being developed in his name and where his photo will be placed for all to see and remember why America is free. The Colonel is a hardened Vietnam Veteran and the Master Gunnery Sergeant a Desert Storm era Marine. Channel 12 News, Sylest Rodriguez was present and doing a story on Josh and asked my relationship to him. I told her what I have told you. She asked if she could get some of this on film but I asked her if the Colonel could do it because I was already to close to Josh and it became real emotional for me. I had finally met Josh! The Colonel stated he already did and wanted me to share it with her and whoever else would listen that night by tuning in to Channel 12 News. I humbly agreed. I read her the following article written by Martin Savidge, a CNN reporter, who was embedded with the 7th Marine Regiment during the start of the war. I had did him some favors as we advanced towards Baghdad so he wrote my wife a letter when he returned telling her I was okay. His letter is entitled,

Young Men Like This:

Martin Savidge of CNN, embedded with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, was talking with four young Marines near his fighting hole this morning live on CNN. He had been telling the story of how well the Marines had been looking out for and taking care of him since the war started. He went on to tell about the many hardships the Marines had endured since the war began and how they all look after one another. He turned to the four and said he had cleared it with their commanders and they could use his video phone to call home. The 19 year old Marine next to him asked Martin if he would allow his platoon sergeant to use his call to call his pregnant wife back home whom he had not been able to talk to in three months. A stunned Savidge who was visibly moved by the request shook his head and the young Marine ran off to get the Sergeant. Savidge recovered after a few seconds and turned back to the three young Marines still sitting with him and asked which one of them would like to call home first, the Marine closest to him responded without a moments hesitation, "Sir, if it's all the same to you we would like to call the parents of a buddy of ours, Lance Corporal Brian Buesing of Cedar Key, Florida who was killed on 23 March 2003 near A Nasiriya to see how they are doing." Martin Savidge totally broke down and was unable to speak. All he could get out before signing off was, "Where do they get young men like this?"

I tell you they get them from Phoenix, Arizona and a family who supports them and believes in them to live out their dreams, regardless of the cost, based on a simple principle that fighting and dying for this country and countries not as fortunate as ours is worth it. These warriors like Lance Corporal Thornton, mostly young, all volunteers are prepared to give their lives for our future, the future of his younger brother and sister as well as a people he didn't even know. He carried the weight of the world on his shoulders while he was a Marine. Not concerned with politics or the reason he was told he must fight. He had to make some tough decisions just to survive, which I am sure haunted his memories as he would not share these demons with others. Many times they were disguised with tough words but he always carried the love of his family and fellow Marines in his heart, he would not let them down. This I believe in my heart...he was true to being, "No better Friend, and no worse Enemy...A UNITED STATES MARINE!"

In closing I know he would want you to grieve for him, if you must, but he would say let me go now. I have shared 22 great years with my family and hopefully paved a path that they could be proud to follow. I have given love when there was no more to give and smiled when many were sad. I have given all I can give and now it is some else's time to carry the load until they are called. I know he would say never forget me and in telling my story I will live forever. He may have already felt your sorry before he slept and wondered what you were thinking if he was taken from you. If I may read this final story to help you continue on with our journey without Josh and in an attempt to heal our broken hearts:

Where was God?

I know you may be angry with me right now. That's alright. People have been angry with me before and will be again. Being angry is part of being human. My son got angry, too. It's alright to be angry at injustice, for example, or the death of your son and brother, Josh.
You probably think I am unjust that Josh was taken from you and all those Marines lost. It doesn't seem right; it can't be loving. You ask, where was God? Why did he allow this to happen.
I allowed it to happen because I allow you to have freedom. I could have left you on a string and made you dance all day without getting tired. I could have moved your mouth for you and made you sing all night without growing hoarse. I could have pulled a wire that would have let you soar skyward and never have fallen.
I could have, but I didn't because I love you so much. I want you to be free to decide when to dance and sing. Free to determine when you will come to me in faith and hope. Because you are free, some of you choose not to dance or sing. Some of you select hatred over love, revenge over forgiveness, bombs over a helping hand. As you choose, I watch. I do not disappear. I listen to both the songs and the bombs and I remember. Where was God? You wonder...I was there when Josh fell. I whispered in his ear and said, "Don't be afraid, I am with you. I held his hand and he held mine. I cradled him against my chest as if he were a baby again. I was with his squad when they carried him back to you and as they deal with his loss wondering themselves if they will make it home.
Amid the paralyzing fear, I was there, as I was there with my son in the Garden. Amid the unbearable pain, I was there, as I was with him as he was whipped. Amid the terrible realization that life was ending soon, I was there, with him as he was hung on the cross and asked, like you, "My God, why have you forsaken me?"
I had not forsaken him as I have not forsaken you. I did not forsake the Marines. I was there as they fell and will be there as Josh rises to eternal joy. I listened to their anger, answered their questions and showed them why they had been created. Not to end that way, but to live forever!
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share Josh with you and so many others and being a part of your family on this day. I would also like to thank the Lord for giving Josh to us for his short 22 years than to have never been given him at