Sgt Grit, I wanted to share a special blessing I received in the Atlanta airport on Easter weekend. My husband and I were there putting my step-children on a plane back to Wichita. I had hoped to be picking up our Marine, PFC Justin Lincoln, but due to a schedule conflict, he couldn't be home for Easter.

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While awaiting the outgoing flight, I noticed a very well dressed, well mannered group of men with the familiar back packs, waiting on the same flight. Because I miss my son greatly, I gathered the courage to go over to the group. I picked out the one who most resembled my son, and I asked" Are you by any chance a Marine?" he said" Yes Ma'am". I then did what a lot of Marine moms do, I broke down. Sobbing on this poor Marine's shoulder, telling him I hadn't seen PFC Lincoln in almost three months, and I so wanted him to be home for Easter.

He comforted me as Marine's do. I went back to my seat and noticed several of the Marines were carrying flowers. I continued to watch the m, and then I noticed Preston (My new Marine friend), walking towards me. He had pulled out a flower from the bouquet he was carrying, and gave it to me. It was like it was a gift from my son, through another Marine. Preston had been in Iraq for seven months and was returning to his wife and a daughter he had never seen. I will never forget him, and I am sure his family would be very proud. Thanks to all Marines, and all you do.

Love Valerie Rankin (proud mother of PFC Justin D. Lincoln)

Sgt Aldridge

My son, Sgt. Matthew Aldridge returned home from Iraq in April of 2007. I flew to Twentynine Palms, CA to be there when he arrived. The first picture is of the bus bringing our soldiers to the field to meet their families. I sent this pic to you because you can see our soldiers in the bus and the reflection of their loved ones in the bus windows. Next photo is my son calling home after his arrival. Next pic, he is in San Diego on Pacific Beach. He wanted me to see the ocean, so we spent 3 days there. It was wonderful. (San Diego apparently is more receptive to Marines than "pink" Berkley, the people there were friendly).

Last two photos were when he arrived back home in Indiana. He visited my nephews school. The children and staff at Mackey Elementary were so excited to meet a "real soldier". I just wanted to brag a little. Thank you for you publications and newsletters.

Sincerely, Natalin Akles, Marine Mom

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Today I kept the peace - I wanted to say stuff - but I promised Dee Mills Gold Star mom that I would stand Silent to honour our troops. Code pink and the rest of the Crazies hit our little town of Brooksville today. A few of us moms stood out there with our Support the Troops banners. We were not protesting them; we were not supporting the war, or protesting against it. We were there, with our heads held proud as mothers of United States of America Service Men and Women. We prayed in the parking lot for guidance. I did not go as a Blue Star Representative. I left that shirt at home. I did wear my Army Mom T-Shirt, and my sons "corpsman Doc hat from the Marines" and another pin that said my son is in the Navy. I handed out Army Strong pins to anyone in the group that had an Army member. We marched forward. Just a little band of us mums, against the hate mongers! We were happy to see the Tampa Marine Moms join us.

The protesters said they were there for Peace. What a joke! I thought these were supposed to be Peace people. I was called every name you can think of today, by those so called Peace people. They did everything they could possibly do to antagonize us, and get us fighting, they yelled in our faces, screamed obscenities and called us names. We sung God Bless America and the National Anthem. I can't carry a tune in a bucket, so I hope I hurt their ears. Our police were wonderful. Our Marine Gold Star Mom Dee Mills was not taking any lip from anyone, and she was attacked verbally again and again. She was out there as our leader and we are darn proud of her. Our police came to our rescue when we were being constantly harassed. We were peaceful, but they were militant. I have never seen such hateful people in my life. There was nothing peaceful about this bunch. They were truly disgusting. I was honored today to stand beside a bunch of mothers who had children serve, who are serving, or who had children die, to support freedom in America and all over the world. God bless each and every one of them. They stood proud in Brooksville, Florida today.
(jan zabel mother of 2 who serve)

. "Any clever person can make plans for winning a war if he has not responsibility for carrying them out."
Winston Churchill

Dianne with her ruck and new tank top. I just LOVE my new tank top! You guys are the best. One of my adopted Marines suggested that I send you guys this pic :)

I have the ruck because I am training for a charity event in Texas to honor a Recon Marine who was KIA in Al Anbar in 06 (God help my civilian *ss). It is a new event which could probably use a little bit of exposure if you could find it in your heart to maybe put something about it in your next newsletter The commandant of one of the local Marine Corps Leagues said that you all are great about things like that.

Semper Fidelis,
Dianne Villano
Support Our Marines, Inc

Fritz's Motorhome - Back I can't begin to express thanks to Sgt Grit and the staff for what you bring to old and young Marines alike. This forum is just the tool for some old vets to appreciate what so many Americans are saying today about the men and women who have gone forward to prior wars and conflicts. I've lived with this for the pass 38 years, since returning home from Viet Nam. I always believed what I had to do was right and I still do today. No military person should hang their heads about what happened there. They were there and did their duty as ordered by our government.

The politicians of this country should hang their heads in shame forever. They say we are Marines forever, yes I honestly believe this. If I have to, I will go down fighting with the cold steel in my hands and do so honorably. Hard cold fact, Marines are trained killers and very good at it, just ask the enemies of prior wars. BUT, there are times when they show compassion beyond their years. The Marine Corps gave me a re- birth from a smart aleck kid, to a viable product for employment in this country.

My pride in the Corps is greater today than at anytime in the past. My wife and I were able to retire at younger ages and purchase a motor home. I just finished putting a large mural on the back of the coach. Anyone who sees me and little woman on the road, honk, the first beer is on me. We plan on seeing all we can of this great country in our years of retirement.

Fritz McDowell (Sgt)

"We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst."
C.S. Lewis

Mr. and Mrs. Merrin kiss My son, Pvt Christopher Merrin got married on St. Patrick's Day, 2007 and joined the Marines that same October. He is currently waiting to begin his MOS training at Camp Lejeune. He was given a few days leave this week (Spring Break 2008) and his intention was to surprise his wife for their first anniversary. Everyone knew that he was coming home — except his wife!

The crazy weather in the midwest meant that his connector flight in Chicago would be grounded so the airline diverted him to Washington DC. He called me at 3:45AM expressing his frustration and disappointment while he waited for the DC flight to leave. He wanted to call his wife but couldn't because he still was hoping to surprise her. Our elaborate scheme included my mother asking my daughter-in- law to take her to the airport to pick up a friend of hers who was flying in from Chicago. Was she ever going to be surprised to see that my mother's friend was really her husband!

My son and a fellow Marine were finally on the plane waiting to take off when they learned that a family would be separated and not be able to fly together. The family needed two seats on my son's flight so they could all travel together. Without hesitation - that commitment to something greater than themselves, my son and his fellow Marine gave up their seats. They gave up their chances to see their families.

The few make us so proud everyday.
Cathy Zavala, CA

"If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it?"
Benjamin Franklin

Okay!.... I just have to reply to the Marines In Berkley clip someone sent in......You HAVE GOT To Be KIDDING! Do these people have a clue????? You can't tell me there are people who are really that stupid in this country. Is there a vaccine for stupid? It needs to be sent to Berkley. And my son-in-law fights for there freedom of speech???? I feel just like the man who interviewed the hippie. UNBELIEVABLE!
Ma B!

I am Canadian. Although I have never been in the military I have always had the greatest respect for all those who serve in any branch of the military, in any of the world's free and democratic countries.

I have always considered The USMC to be one of my favorite units.

I often wear hats or t-shirts with USMC symbols. I do not wear them so people think I was ever a Marine nor do I wear them to appear as a "vet".

The reason I am writing this e-mail is to let Marines out there know that although some people are "make believe Marines" there are others like myself who wear the articles out of respect. When asked "Were you a Marine?" I always respond "No, but I am a fan". Just as people wear hockey or other sport jerseys, I wear these articles to show my support for the team that keeps not only the U.S. free but also other countries which include Canada. Marines and other military personnel of the Free World never lose a battle or war. Just by standing up for what is right, they have won before they even step n the battlefield. A good example of this was Viet Nam. People including some vets say the U.S. lost. Nothing could be further from the truth. The country of Viet Nam fell but that was only part of the battlefield. The larger war against communism was won. The idea was to stop world domination and the action in Viet Nam obviously did or I would not have any rights let alone the right to send this e-mail. There are people who bad mouth the U.S. and the U.S military. Keep in mind there are others like me who know we would not be living free if not for the U.S. Do not pay attention to the ungrateful idiots whether they be from North America, Europe or any place else in the world.

All the people I know are thankful for the U.S., but then again, I do not hang around with idiots.

Please allow me to say "Thank You" to the all Marines and to all military personnel fighting for our freedom including our Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

May you all stay safe and come home soon!

K.P. McCormick

"I profoundly believe it takes a lot of practice to become a moral slob."
William F. Buckley

After reading the story of the unfortunate Marines in Berkeley, CA, an anonymous Marine, having had enough of who he called "traitors of the USA", called up Code Pink, specifically the branch that was closest to Berkeley, CA. This Marine, over the phone, called Code Pink for what they were, and then told them to "get out of my country" (quite tactfully, considering he was in a full rage). He then hung up, preferring to stay anonymous, and to honor his wishes, I too will keep him anonymous.

A US Marine stationed in Okinawa

Sgt. Grit,

In response to the letter about democracy, from K. Brown: If one is going to defend the Constitution, one should read the Constitution he/she is going to defend. The United States is a REPUBLIC, not a democracy. Article IV, Section 4., United States Constitution. The failings of democracies are articulated in the Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison & Jay. And those failings are why our Founding Fathers avoided the democracy Form of government, like the plague. Look it up.

Respectfully Submitted,

Don Hepburn, Sgt. of Marines (HD)

"You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing is worth dying for, when did this begin? Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots of Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard round the world?"
Ronald Reagan (1964)

I definitely enjoy reading the articles each week on my e-mail about our brave Marines. I served on Marine active duty from 1970 thru 1976. Being deployed during the Vietnam war, my family constantly tried staying in touch with me to keep my morale as high as they could. I remember appreciating the mail as much as I did pay call. Just a note to parents, spouses or significant others, please write your Marines as often as you can. We Marines knowingly put ourselves in harms way for the sake of our country's defense as well as our personal pride.

Even though I received an honorable discharge 32 years ago, I swell with pride when I hear about or see my fellow Marines. Every time you think about a difference that you've made, always remember, Marines don't have that problem! I was so lucky as a young man to have had the privilege to earn the title, "UNITED STATES MARINE"! Semper Fi

Good Morning Sgt Grit!
I am always so encouraged as a future Marine mom when I read your column. I was happy to agree with your statement about Marine wives and girlfriends as my 21 year old daughter has just become engaged to a Marine. She has been an amazing encouragement. We as a family have ALWAYS been proud of our service men and women from all branches.

I cannot tell you what a support I know she is to my future son- in-law. He is an upstanding young man who has already done one term in Iraq and possibly another in September. He is truly what a Marine should be. He is a Godly man who practices Godly character. He is a man of integrity and honor. He gives to us and my daughter without hesitation. We are proud to call him our son and welcome him into our family.

I don't know what the future holds but my two sons have both said they would like to be Marines. My 14 year old is in the Young Marine program here in Post Falls, Idaho. They are the Silver Lake Young Marines. I am proud to watch him as he learns discipline and honor. He is strong in character. For any of you Marines whose time is coming to an end I would suggest you seeking out these units in your areas and volunteering. You have something great to pass on to the youth of our country.

Thank you to every mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, etc who have given either in the service or given yours to be in the service for unselfishly providing for our country. Freedom is not comes with a price and you know this better than any. You are ALL in our prayers and pray Gods blessings on you.

Semper Fi
Liz B

. "All the greatest things are simple and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope."
Winston Churchill

About country singer Jason Michael Carroll the "ex-Marine" singing the Anthem at NASCAR... I have done some checking and I don't see any proof that he is a Marine. On his official website that gives his bio, not once does it mention the Marine Corps. Surely a man proud enough to put his back to an audience, to be able to face the flag would not hide that fact that he was a Marine - well, no Marine I know.

M. Carter
Cpl 1993-1997

As a Marine of 11 years and having stood in flag lines for our fallen servicemen, I have had dealings with these protesters. I have walked away once before because my hatred level was so high and was about to act on it. Dealing with these people is hard and not for everyone. To anyone that has to bury their fallen serviceman or woman please contact the Patriot Guard and the state police prior to any funeral or viewing so they can keep them out of sight.
T. Kalvin SSgt, USMC, Semper Fi

"It is no use leading other nations up the garden and then running away when the dog growls."
Winston Churchill

Title: Marine Chronicle
When I was MCAS Cherry Point in 1969, I saw a film that chronicled the day-to-day activity of a Marine infantry company in Vietnam. This was not a Hollywood type of movie, but rather more like a documentary with actual footage. It was in black and white as I remember. I don't know if it was commercially produced, or produced by the CORPS / Dept. of Defense. I can't remember if I saw this at the Station theater or at the E-Club. I was wondering if you, or any of your readers, might know of the film I am talking about, and if so, where I can locate at copy of it (if available).

USMC 1967-71 RVN 1970

Marine Rose and Dogtag Tattoo Hello Sgt. Grit.

My name is Tracy and this is my very first tattoo. My husband served in the Marine Corps for 20 years. He went to the gulf war in 90 for 8 months. I wanted to get something to symbolize our love plus, his time in the Marine Corps. I am very proud of him and I showed him thru this tattoo that I received. I want to thank Mimi who works at Taggurs in Yuma, AZ. She did an amazing job.

Semper Fi

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
Patrick Henry

I was catching up on the Sgt Grit news letters when I saw this and knew I had to write.

"I don't care who first said "ONCE a MARINE ALWAYS a MARINE", but I know that I will be a Marine even after the life has left this body." said by Robert D. Hawkins Sgt of Marines 64 -69 Third Battalion Platoon 342

Here is proof of that. In the Chicago Sun-time March 21, 2008. Brian Troy of Rockford IL, a Marine in the 1980's. suffered several heart attacks before receiving a new heart in 2006. He didn't know who the donor was but felt it was a Marine.

Eventually he found out the heart was from Ricky Martinez who was shot on April 26, 2006 while driving home from a Cubs game with friends. Martinez had signed up after 9/11 and served 2 tours in Iraq. Here is a link to the full story.

Wife of a Viet Nam Viet
Proud Mom of PAO Marine

"It would be a great reform in politics if wisdom could be made to spread as easily and as rapidly as folly."
Winston Churchill

It has been quite some time since my son was in boot camp. At that time there was concern that there were recruits that were not receiving letters from home to assist them through camp. As a parent I could not imagine NOT writing my child. My children had several years ago been victimized by a family member so I had made it a mission to become an advocate for children. It broke my heart to know that there were children.....young men and women who had not heard from their families or people from home since they enlisted.

My son shared his letters that I had written to him with those in his barracks. I recently spoke with a Staff Sergeant and had mentioned the incident to him from 5 years prior. He thought it was a great idea that we get into the schools and have the children of all ages write letters to young men and women who have dedicated their lives to their country, letting them know how it makes them feel.

I believe that the children of the world have the right to voice their feelings as to how this war effects them. These young people in one way or other touch their lives and it is very important that they tell them how proud they are of what they are doing as it is for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to hear that someone really does care no matter how small. I believe that it is the parents as well as the recruiting offices that should take the first step to implement this in their area for the sake of their recruits. We owe them that.

Semper Fi,

Charlene S. Lovano
PROUD Mother of
Corporal Nathan M. Lovano

i am a Marine mom. i was just reading the sgt grit newsletter. the story of the little boy telling the Marine thanks for his service was great. i feel the service men are really unappreciated most of the time, or just not told thank you enough for all they do. i remember years ago when i lived in wichita, ks. there was an older man wearing an old beat up uniform setting on the curb holding a sign that read HOMELESS VET. every friday i would take my three young kids (the youngest son is my Marine son serving in iraq today) and go thru the mcdonalds drive thru and order a quarter pounder and cheese extra value meal with coke. i would drop a $5 bill in the bag and we would drive up by him. he would come up to my drivers window and i would hand him the bag and cup. just wish there was more i could have done to repay him for his service. YOU ARE ALL APPRECIATED and LOVED for ALL YOU DO! thanks

"A nation cannot be conquered which determines not to be so."
Thomas Jefferson

Sgt Grit, i'm not a Marine but i want to be, i enlist june 1 of this year and i hope i can serve honorably just like the Marines before, i got your news letter and there seems to be a lot of discussion on what a true Marine is, this is the Iwo Jima sermon, a rabbi said preached it after all the dead had been buried i think this says it all:

"Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores.

Here lie officers and men, Negroes and whites, rich men and poor ...together. Here are Protestants, Catholics and Jews together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many men of each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy.

Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery. To this, then, as our solemn duty, sacred duty do we the living now dedicate ourselves: to the right of Protestants, Catholics and Jews, of white men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price. .

We here solemnly swear that this shall not be in vain. Out of this and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere.

bless all the Marines out there now
jeffrey cole
semper fi

"I feel assured that no American will hesitate to rally round the standard of his insulted country in defense of that freedom and independence achieved by the wisdom of sages and consecrated by the blood of heroes."
Thomas Jefferson

Please pass this on to your friends and loved ones: So they never forget one man's sacrifice!

On this day four years ago...our family lost our Leroy! So, on this day....not unlike every day since...we pause to remember the day and all the events that lead up to it, the ones that surrounded it, and the ones that came later! But...for this belongs to I won't go into other details pertaining to any of our lives in our family!

Leroy started a journey with no way of knowing its outcome. Surely, by the time Leroy volunteered...our family knew that going to war in the Marine Corps was something that a person could survive. All...we had to do was look to our nephew and cousin, Eric, and see that he had been one of the first of the first Marines to go into Iraq and then into Baghdad, and see that he made it out! Excuse I grow weary at the moment from of all that has taken place since that time, and all that lead up to it! (Please excuse me for a moment...!) ( I return to Leroy's story!) But...this is a day of victory and of, I will press on in honor of our Leroy!

Victory...because one man had a split decision to make, and helped turned the tide of a serious ambush. One designed to make America think twice about what lay ahead in Fallujah, and one designed to bring about many injuries. I know, have been told, or have read this information, but am pertaining only to the facts, especially since I'm including Leroy's Lieutenant in this e-mail...but, I only know what I know through second-hand please excuse any errors. I truly believe that Leroy's own personal account needs no embellishment...So, I'm not trying to add anything to it! By the way...if you're wondering why I don't just get down to it...I have to apologize, as I am a self- proclaimed "wanna-be" writer (with 50 chapters of a rough draft story typed, and new ideas for stories on the way!), so if you would...please forgive the process of getting on with it! -

On March 26, 2004, after a day of patrolling the streets of Fallujah (of which Leroy played a big role in at least one other altercation-as well-prior to the one I will address), the unit named "Palerider 3" was given the task of blocking an intersection some 300 yards away from their base for the night.

Lt. Wade Zirkle of Palerider 3 set every one of his men into place for their assignment. They were to keep the road free and clear, so the rest of the patrols could egress the city for the night and return "home" to base. Lt. Zirkle checked on Leroy's position, seconds before the ambush took place. Leroy was on his Gulf 240 machine gun atop a Humvee set at a diagonal position to help block the intersection. Lt. Zirkle was at a distance of 10 to 15 feet directly in front the Humvee at the time when the ambush broke out. At the precise time that the enemy intended to inflict damage, the bullets flew and RPG's were launched. According to one eyewitness, Samuel Reyes, bullets literally came within inches, and some passed underneath everyone's extended arms. At a close approx. distance of 17 -25 meters nearby, and from rooftops, according to Sgt. Cardenas, the enemy started firing. Leroy was the only one able to return fire from the machine guns, of the three surrounding Humvees. His machine gun had no shield in place along with it. Leroy successfully suppressed the enemy all around him while providing evasive covering fire for the Marines around him. He stayed on his machine gun, firing for a duration long enough to have cleared several jambs in the weapons ammo feed, and could be heard returning fire from his weapon after each jamb.

For his actions, Pfc. Leroy Sandoval received several gun shot wounds, and one to the head while laying down covering fire. In a state of semi-consciousness afterwards, Leroy's last thoughts were of asking if everyone was OK! Leroy's responding medic corpsman was able to tell him that he had saved everyone's frickin' lives, while he was still able to hear. Later, that same Navy Corpsman reported to us (Leroy's family) that by all means, and with no exaggeration on our behalf to help make us feel better, that Leroy had saved upwards of ½ of the platoon.

This same Navy corpsman had grievous injuries to one leg, and had lost the other one at the same time, in a later battle after the one I am describing. It was estimated from the Marine 1/23rd of Houston, that Leroy's unit had been in no more than three patrols, based on the time frame they started entering Fallujah.

Leroy had been part of a battalion sent to Fallujah under the edict that the Marines were coming there, and there was no greater friend; no worse enemy! They took over a Fallujah base that was once a resort place for Saddam, from our Army. That resort had been called, "Dreamland" at one time, and may still have that name. We had letters and phone conversations with Leroy pertaining to this place, where he was happy to have a chance to have some Air Conditioning, and possibly a chance at some fishing during any off time. The Marines took over Dreamland, from the U.S. Army, on March 20, 2004, officially.

Leroy had traveled from Kuwait to Fallujah prior to this, with the Marine force he left with from his base at Camp Pendleton, at the end of February of 2004. Where Leroy had trained and gone to School of Infantry, since graduating with Globe and Anchor on August 19, 2003. Leroy arrived for boot camp at MCRD-San Diego towards the end of May 2003, and Leroy volunteered for the Corps on March 19, 2003.

All but one Marine mentioned (I don't know of one of the one's mentioned status), have been injured in Iraq during their service over there. Our other nephew, that was brother to the first nephew mentioned previously, has been through several explosions, one effectively left their Humvee in pieces. His name is Bryan, and he had to pull shrapnel from his face after the last explosion, and has had to have an ear drum operated on because of it. We are awaiting the outcome of this operation, as it has been recent. At one point, Bryan and Leroy were at the same location for boot camp, although a few weeks apart in training time periods. Together Eric, Leroy, and Bryan make up our family's Three Marines, and as first cousins, that were practically like brothers, they each gave a valiant part of themselves in their efforts for our country in the Marine Corps.

But, they were still united in cause as first cousins, and that can never be understated!

We all have paths to take in one gets to determine the exact path we get to take...few get to chose the outcome...and even fewer just make it happen in their own way!

Thank you, God, for the Leroy's on our planet that reach out to us...further than we can take ourselves...and thank you for their service to us all!

Leroy...Thank you for letting us be a part of your Journey...and I'll see ya' sometime real soon!

a Family member

. "The laws of nature render a large country unconquerable if they adhere firmly together and to their purpose."
Thomas Jefferson

The other day after leaving the VA hospital in Fayetteville, NC I stopped in at Ft. Bragg to get a ID card so I could go to the Commissaries and PX. Well, while walking around the old Womack hospital with my cane and of course my proudly worn USMC jacket and hat a Gentleman of a high rank looked at me and said I quote; sir Thank You for your service.

Him being a Army guy really made me proud to be a Marine once and that he took time too stop and thank me.

Boot Sessoms

Article Clipping Good After noon,
Attached is an article from Stars and Stripes to give everyone who isn't a former Marine an ideal who we are.

Semper Fi

"In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate - look to his character..."
Noah Webster

Posted on Sat, Mar. 22, 2008
Life, in all its beauty, cannot be limited to black and white By JIM KEITH SPECIAL to the SUN HERALD

-- It was a bad day.
I was a young Marine and I was bleeding to death in a putrid rice paddy in the middle of a wretched place that had no name. Hornets were buzzing all around me it seemed. But no, the buzzing was from a rain of bullets directed at my unit.

Mortar rounds began to fall everywhere around us while we were trying to fight through the muck of the rice paddy that our small company of Marines had been trying to cross. We were in really bad shape.

A Marine called for help. "Corpsman!" he yelled.

As my consciousness began to fade, I moaned for Mama and Jesus as my life was draining away. Suddenly a face appeared over me.

It was a U.S. Navy corpsman.

He dragged me out of the rice paddy, over a protected dike and performed the miracle that only those angels of mercy can do. He saved my life.

The bad day faded into the darkness of a bad night.

There was no airlift med-evac for us, for we came to realize our company of about 100 had intruded into a regiment of North Vietnamese Army soldiers, about 1,000.

We spent the night in a desperate fight. The dawn brought reinforcements, and the fight continued.

Three helicopters and their brave crews were shot down by the NVA while attempting to evacuate the wounded. Finally, though, other crews managed to fly through the battle and extract us.

Some of us are alive today because of their heroism. God bless them.

That Navy corpsman, the guy who saved my life, was a black man, risking all for a white Southerner. He just kept smiling at me through it all.

The deafening sound of war drowned out all reasonable speech, but to this day, I still recall his unbelievably mellow voice telling me not to worry. "I'll take care of you," he said. "You're gonna be just fine.

Yeah right. Like I believed him. But he was a truth teller.

He was wounded himself while dragging me back to the safety of a dike where he turned me over to another corpsman. Then he turned around and went back into the fight to get another Marine, and another.

Navy corpsmen do that. They are heroes to all the sailors and Marines they serve. Until I die, I will salute them. From a former Marine, believe me, there is no greater praise.

During that bad night I saw him twice more. He came crawling through the ditch that was my refuge and gave me morphine. H&ll was all around us and this young man was as calm as if he were making rounds in a hospital ward stateside.

I never saw him again. I don't even know his name.

I was a young Marine from the Deep South and this was 1966. I had been raised in an environment where the "N" word was commonplace. I can remember as a kid sitting in front of the "white only" signs on the bus and on the trolley in New Orleans. Even worse, when we kids decided to be as nasty as only adolescents can be, we would move the signs farther back on the bus so the blacks would have to be compressed at the rear. It was what we were taught to do.

On that day in Vietnam, however, when the corpsman appeared, I didn't say to him, "No, thanks, I think I'll wait for a white corpsman." Or, "go to the back of the rice paddy."

Nor did he say to me, "Sorry, I save only black Marines."

I am alive today because of that Navy corpsman and the remarkable heroism that he displayed. His valor taught me great lessons about race that I have not forgotten.

I no longer see things in black and white, and life makes more sense.

It doesn't have to take a rice paddy on a bad day to get your attention. It takes only a minute or two of intelligent thought.

Jim Keith was a U.S. Marine combat correspondent in Vietnam. He lives in Long Beach.

© 2008 Sun Herald. All Rights Reserved

Three men and a Genie

Three men - a Canadian farmer, Osama bin Laden and a Marine are all working together one day.
They come across a lantern ....

And a Genie pops out of it. "I will give each of you one wish, which is three wishes in total", says the Genie.

The Canadian says, "I am a farmer and my son will also farm. I want the land to be forever fertile in Canada."

POOF! With the blink of the Genie's eye, the land in Canada was forever fertile for farming.

Osama was amazed, so he said, "I want a wall around Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Iran so that no infidels, Americans or Canadians can come in our precious land."

POOF! Again, with the blink of the Genie's eye, there was a huge wall around those countries.

The Marine says, "I am very curious. Please tell me more about this wall."

The Genie explains, "Well, it's about 5,000 feet high, 500 feet thick and completely surrounds the country. Nothing can get in or out; it's virtually impenetrable."

The Marine sits down, cracks a beer, smiles, and says, "Fill it with water."

"A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later."
Gen. George Patton

Well just want to say a BIG THANKS and Semper Fi to all of the Marines who took a young a$shole Corpsman and made a man out of him. Gunny Theirout wherever you are I still remember the day when you kicked me in the *ss and said "Doc it's time to start fvcking making a difference". It was a wild ride and one I wouldn't trade for anything. Plus remembering the circle of fate with my fellow "Diesel Brother" BJ Jones who taught me at the Field Medical Service School, Camp Pendleton and then going on to be his "Sponsor" for CPO Initiation when we showed the Blue side how it was really done.

HMC(FMF) Elheran Francis

"America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser, this is why America has never, and will never, lose a war."
Gen. George Patton

Like Father, Like Son United States Marines
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Welcome Home Marine, Job Well Done!
Semper Fi
Sgt Grit

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