Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jerrod and I lived together for six months in Iraq. So you can imagine when I read the article, "Marine Charged With 225 Counts of Abuse", I felt like someone punched me square in the stomach. I have not spoken to Jerrod since he and I hugged and shook hands at the airport in San Diego when I got back from Iraq in March of last year. Come on the bus with me as we head off to Marine Boot Camp. Please, read the above article first.

We have been driving around in circles for the past three hours. The sun set hours ago the chatter on the bus is lively and spirited. A few of us have high-and-tight's, but as we look around the bus, the majority of guys look like they just left their high-school campus. The bus slows noticeably and turns sharply right. "You all may want to sit down now", the bus driver yells with an ominous smirk on his face. A long stretch of straightaway....the chatter and laughing quiets...silence. We are all looking out the windows into the darkness, into the blackness of the swamp. Dim street lights now line the narrow two lane road. A small shack approaches in the distance. The bus slows as it approaches. Two Marines stand at the edge of the curb. They share a short empty glance with one another before they robotically wave the bus through the gate...

We are strangers in a foreign land. We have all been given a glimpse into a different world...a world where no matter where we came from, there is something greater than us. None of us know it yet, but in thirteen short weeks most of us will have accomplished more than we ever dreamed we could. Many of us will find what we came in search of. For a few, it was a choice made to be "the best". For others, it was the only service which would take them. We are a bus full of selfish individuals who would gladly trample the desires of the fellow sitting next to us in order to further ours. We have no concept Honor, Courage or Commitment. Many of us think we do, but in our lives, pure selflessness, an unwavering sense of duty and an unquestioning devotion to a cause are nonexistent. Soon enough however, we will meet the men who will take this busload of individuals and instill in each one of us these qualities...the qualities which have been trained into thousands of Marines who have stepped on the same yellow footprints where our feet are soon to tread. The means necessary to achieve this end, as every Marine will will attest to, are not pretty and at times, they hurt. The necessity of these means are also difficult to explain.

As I reflected on the purpose of this post, I realized that I will never be able to explain this transformation. It is an anomaly. It is something that is only going to be understood by those of us who have experienced the ultimate test of desire, will and determination. Let me share with you though, something that is going to cause you to shake your head in disbelief, but something that is also going to resonate with every Marine who reads this....I was hit by my Drill Instructors in boot camp. I was cursed at, at times spat upon, ridiculed, berated and at times threatened with bodily harm by these same men. Five short years later, I was being shot at and buildings were being blown up all around me. I was watching men blow themselves up yards away from me. I was hearing that unforgettable zing of rounds flying by my head. I was watching Marines being dragged out of the street after they were struck by the enemies bullets. I was being called upon to immediately and without question place myself in a position where I may give my life for the sake of the cause and my fellow Marines. Jump in a dang trash can? Have someone shove me in it? Hear me here...I prayed that the corner that I was crouching in in that shack in Husaybah would protect me from the car screeching toward us because I was not in a position to take it out and I feared it was going to take me out. I thanked GySgt Bodie for throwing that mattress on me and Bingo right before they blew that weapons cache. Marines follow orders because by following orders, we stay alive. How are we trained to follow orders? By being given strange orders to follow, and being made to follow than immediately without question. "GySgt Bodie, why should I keep this mattress over my head, and why should I jump down into this dugout?" You see what questioning orders can lead to?

Jerrod...thank you. SSgt Lorance, Sgt Casarez, Sgt Simms, thank you. You all did what was necessary to effect a transformation that only we can understand and appreciate. Hold your heads high....I am and will continue to do so because I know those lessons taught to me by the pain you inflicted, kept me and my brothers alive.


Anonymous said...

Superior training by tough DIs, by whatever means, helped keep my son alive through two tours at Camp Corregidor in Ramadi. Bless them all... it's not an easy job, and charges like these make it even harder.

Marine Mom

Barb said...

It is very frustrating to see the story about DI's being charged for using force as called for. Then again, these are coming from the same folks who feel it is wrong to discipline a child ... and are obviously clueless about the concept of forming young whippersnappers into a formidible fighting force. I, for one, am glad that you had SSgt Lorance, Sgt Casarez, and Sgt Simms to knock Marine tradition into your head - since that training brought you home with your brothers from Iraq.

I don't know that I can appreciate your transformation, and certainly not the steps within that transformation, without going through the process. But the proof is in every Marine who has ever worn the uniform and been true to their oath.

Barb said...

Two other facets to this story that have floated to the top of my brain.
First - I recall seeing in an article that officers involved were being transferred ... that smacks a bit of dumping the pain all onto Sgt. Glass, and if so - it is sad to see happen.
Second - I think the Corps must take responsibility for the preparation given to Sgt. Glass, and more importantly - have been watchful for the potential for stress effects from his deployment driving his behavior.
Both of these make me feel that he has been selected as some sort of scapegoat, and I am disappointed in the Marine Corps.

Jim Baxter said...

Every September, I recall that is more than half a century (62 years) since I landed at Nagasaki with the 2nd Marine Division in the original occupation of Japan following World War II. This time every year, I have watched and listened to the light-hearted "peaceniks" and their light-headed symbolism-without-substance of ringing bells, flying pigeons, floating candles, and sonorous chanting and I recall again that "Peace is not a cause - it is an effect."

In July, 1945, my fellow 8th RCT Marines [I was a BARman] and I returned to Saipan following the successful conclusion of the Battle of Okinawa. We were issued new equipment and replacements joined each outfit in preparation for our coming amphibious assault on the home islands of Japan.

B-29 bombing had leveled the major cities of Japan, including Kobe, Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, Yokosuka, and Tokyo.

We were informed we would land three Marine divisions and six Army divisions, perhaps abreast, with large reserves following us in. It was estimated that it would cost half a million casualties to subdue the Japanese homeland.

In August, the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima but the Japanese government refused to surrender. Three days later a second A-bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. The Imperial Japanese government finally surrendered.

Following the 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese admiral said, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant..." Indeed, they had. Not surprisingly, the atomic bomb was produced by a free people functioning in a free environment. Not surprisingly because the creative process is a natural human choice-making process and inventiveness occurs most readily where choice-making opportunities abound. America!

Tamper with a giant, indeed! Tyrants, beware: Free men are nature's pit bulls of Liberty! The Japanese learned the hard way what tyrants of any generation should know: Never start a war with a free people - you never know what they may invent!

As a newly assigned member of a U.S. Marine intelligence section, I had a unique opportunity to visit many major cities of Japan, including Tokyo and Hiroshima, within weeks of their destruction. For a full year I observed the beaches, weapons, and troops we would have assaulted had the A-bombs not been dropped. Yes, it would have been very destructive for all, but especially for the people of Japan.

When we landed in Japan, for what came to be the finest and most humane occupation of a defeated enemy in recorded history, it was with great appreciation, thanksgiving, and praise for the atomic bomb team, including the aircrew of the Enola Gay. A half million American homes had been spared the Gold Star flag, including, I'm sure, my own.

Whenever I hear the apologists expressing guilt and shame for A-bombing and ending the war Japan had started (they ignore the cause-effect relation between Pearl Harbor and Nagasaki), I have noted that neither the effete critics nor the puff-adder politicians are among us in the assault landing-craft or the stinking rice paddies of their suggested alternative, "conventional" warfare. Stammering reluctance is obvious and continuous, but they do love to pontificate about the Rights that others, and the Bomb, have bought and preserved for them.

The vanities of ignorance and camouflaged cowardice abound as license for the assertion of virtuous "rights" purchased by the blood of others - those others who have borne the burden and physical expense of Rights whining apologists so casually and self-righteously claim.

At best, these fakers manifest a profound and cryptic ignorance of causal relations, myopic perception, and dull I.Q. At worst, there is a word and description in The Constitution defining those who love the enemy more than they love their own countrymen and their own posterity. Every Yankee Doodle Dandy knows what that word is.

In 1945, America was the only nation in the world with the Bomb and it behaved responsibly and respectfully. It remained so until two among us betrayed it to the Kremlin. Still, this American weapon system has been the prime deterrent to earth's latest model world- tyranny: Seventy years of Soviet collectivist definition, coercion, and domination of individual human beings.

The message is this: Trust Freedom. Remember, tyrants never learn. The restriction of Freedom is the limitation of human choice, and choice is the fulcrum-point of the creative process in human affairs. As earth's choicemaker, it is our human identity on nature's beautiful blue planet and the natural premise of man's free institutions, environments, and respectful relations with one another. Made in the image of our Creator, free men choose, create, and progress - or die.

Free men should not fear the moon-god-crowd oppressor nor choose any of his ways. Recall with a confident Job and a victorious David, "Know ye not you are in league with the stones of the field?"

Semper Fidelis
Jim Baxter
WW II and Korean War

Job 5:23 Proverbs 3:31 I Samuel 17:40

Anonymous said...

It's been a while~