Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Thoughts on Being a Veteran

I joined the Marine Corps in 1977. Vietnam was over. The Long War had not yet really gotten started, the Beirut Bombing wasn't until 1983, so it was all Cold War. Which meant I was joining a peacetime military. 

I tested well, I could read and had taken math all the way through high school trig and geometry. I got offered electronics schools and I took it. Spent a year in schools after boot camp and then came out to be assigned to a fighter squadron as a RADAR and missile systems tech.

I went where the aircraft went. Which meant I was gone a lot. I went to Japan, Korea, and Philippines, and bases all over the U.S., wherever the training or operational schedule took us. My job wasn't physically that hard. I pushed a cart full of tools and parts out to the planes, worked with the rest of team to fix problems, did the other stuff all Marines had to do, and generally lived a pretty easy life.

At the end of six years, I came home from Japan and we decided I should get out because it didn't look like our marriage would survive with me being gone so much. I have some amazing memories, great photographs, and a few mementos. I have been a civilian since 1983. The electronics training I received became the basis of my working career.

And yet I am a Marine. I will always be a Marine. The summer of 1977 at Parris Island changed me in fundamental ways. Some of those changes are immediate, others took years to fully develop. But it is not me I think of when someone says veteran. 

It is the Marines wading across the open water to make the beach at Tarawa. It's Marines at Okinawa, Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, Khe Sahn, Fallujah, and all the other places named and unnamed that Marines fought and bled. Those are the veterans we should be honoring today. 

It's the old man in a veteran's ballcap tottering into the store that sacrificed his youth for all of us and then came home and helped build the country in the 1950s. It's the veterans that stayed in for 20 or 25 years, deploying around world on orders, and then retired and went on to a second job to support a family, and is now retiring again, hard of hearing, limited by old injuries, and looking at the country wondering what happened. It's the guys that still wake up with the dreams at 4 AM and stare at the ceiling hoping they didn't actually scream out loud.

There are debts we owe we cannot pay.

7 comments:

McChuck said...

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.


These are words, but they are not merely words. They are the ultimate oath of fealty to the nation and each other, as well as a duty you set before yourself. There is no expiration date on this oath; it is for life. There is no limit to this oath; it may require your life.

Duty. Honor. Country.

LSP said...

Respect.

Long story very short, I joined up in '86 after university and left to become a priest. With hindsight, always 20/20, should've become a Chaplain but didn't.

But to your post, some of the things learned take years to develop. Of course I'm ridic immature, so...

God bless.

Unknown said...

Your comments are right on the money.
I served in the Corps from 1975-1997 and I think of veterans as the ones that got shot at.
Being a Marine is a great part of what defines me and I am proud of my service,
but the veterans are ones that have faced the fire.

Semper Fidelis

Glen Filthie said...

God bless the United States Marines!

Phil said...

8 years active and 23 years Ready Reserve and now I wonder why. Since 1941 this country has been at war - in one way or another - with socialism/communism, and I - along with hundreds of thousands of other veterans - willingly dedicated myself to the task. Now, in one generation, I see that the dreaded socialism/communism is ready to be welcomed BY A GOD DAMNED MAJORITY into this very republic. How the hell did this happen? It's got to be more than George Soros, Bill Ayers and that ilk with their hand picked politicians. I am saddened to witness the decline first hand.

McChuck said...

Phil -
This great nation was conquered by the Left in 1933, the day FDR took office. Everything since that day has simply been more of the same, but harder.

Aesop said...

With that, I have no quibble.

Hungry, unemployed, and fearful people are easily molded to one's will.

Which lesson explains the Left's permanent desire to return most of us to that state, and keep us there, indefinitely.