Friday, November 19, 2004

When "Good" Marines Go "Bad"

It's Who We Are... It's What We Do. Posted by Hello

(What I am about to write may come as a surprize to many of you. Yes. I am a Liberal and I am probably going to take some heat for this from my Liberal friends and readers. No, I do not support George Bush or his decision to invade Iraq. But...I am also a realist. I realize that we are in Iraq. We cannot just "pull out". Even John Kerry recognized the need to stabilize Iraq and see this through. There is, at this point, no other course. Those of us who opposed the War must, therefore, separate the Warrior from the War.)

Much has been made lately of the shooting of a wounded enemy in Iraq by a United States Marine, (World - AP, U.S. to Probe Shooting of Wounded Iraqi) .

For the life of me, I just don't get it. Killing the enemy is our job. It's who we's what we do. It's what we are trained and ingrained to do from Day One. From the moment the new recruits line up on the famous yellow footprints at Parris Island or at MCRD San Diego, every waking moment is spent molding those recruits into the finest, most efficient killing machines on the planet. In order to achieve this remarkable transition, recruits are stripped of their individual personalities - a vacuum is created and then filled in again. Recruits are trained to be void of emotion, to neither love nor hate the enemy, but rather, to regard the enemy as a target, only a target. When a Marine switches into "Combat Mode" only Death will keep him from eliminating his enemy.

As Marion Sturkey relates in his excellent book, "Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines":

"Why are U.S. Marines considered the world's premier warriors? Why? What puts the Marine Corps above the rest? Other military services have rigorous training and weapons of equal or greater lethality. So, why do U.S. Marines stand head and shoulders above the crowd?

The truth lies in the individual Marine. He (or she) did not join the Marines. Roughly 40,000 try each year. Those who survive the crucible of Marine basic training have been sculpted in mind and body. They have become Marines."

But do we actually feel anger, fear? Ofcourse. Hatred? Maybe. Love? Definately. Love of our families, our Corps, our country and always our Brothers and Sisters. It is the love that motivates us to become Marines and to remain Marines forever. It is only when that switch is thrown that emotions leave and training takes over.

So what does all this have to do with killing a wounded enemy?

Everything. Consider the fact that the enemy has brought this treatment on himself! In the fighting leading up to this incident Marines had been killed and injured by enemy troops faking wounds and surrender, only to turn at the last moment and open fire on unsuspecting Marines. Enemy bodies have been booby-trapped to explode when examined. In short, Marines in Falluja were left with no other option than to take aggressive action in their own defense! As a salty old Lt. Colonel once told me, "Son. Let the other guy die for his country. We need you alive to fight again."

And what are we fighting for? Or rather, what are they fighting for? Really? The answer is simple to those of us who know. Each other. That's it. You are fighting for the guy next to you. All the patriotic hoopla and grand ideals go out the window in a firefight. It breaks down to survival, to making sure it's the "other guy" who dies. If that means shooting an enemy who "appears" to be wounded, so be it.

Below is a letter from a Marine who fought in Falluja. It was posted on Newsmax and I found it via Mike The Marine. (Yeah, Newsmax is a Right-leaning News Service, that doesn't detract from the impact of the letter!)

Letter From a Fallujah Marine:

This is one story of many that people normally don't hear, and one that everyone does. This is one most don't hear:

A young Marine and his cover man cautiously enter a room just recently filled with insurgents armed with AK-47's and RPG's. There are three dead, another wailing in pain. The insurgent can be heard saying, "Mister, mister! Diktoor, diktoor (doctor)!"

He is badly wounded, lying in a pool of his own blood. The Marine and his cover man slowly walk toward the injured man, scanning to make sure no enemies come from behind. In a split second, the pressure in the room greatly exceeds that of the outside, and the concussion seems to be felt before the blast is heard. Marines outside rush to the room, and look in horror as the dust gradually settles.

The result is a room filled with the barely recognizable remains of the deceased, caused by an insurgent setting off several pounds of explosives.

The Marines' remains are gathered by teary-eyed comrades, brothers in arms, and shipped home in a box. The families can only mourn over a casket and a picture of their loved one, a life cut short by someone who hid behind a white flag.

But no one hears these stories, except those who have lived to carry remains of a friend, and the families who loved the dead. No one hears this, so no one cares.

This is the story everyone hears:

A young Marine and his fire team cautiously enter a room just recently filled with insurgents armed with AK-47's and RPG's. There are three dead, another wailing in pain. The insurgent can be heard saying, "Mister, mister! Diktoor, diktoor (doctor)!" He is badly wounded.

Suddenly, he pulls from under his bloody clothes a grenade, without the pin. The explosion rocks the room, killing one Marine, wounding the others. The young Marine catches shrapnel in the face.

The next day, same Marine, same type of situation, a different story. The young Marine and his cover man enter a room with two wounded insurgents. One lies on the floor in a puddle of blood, another against the wall. A reporter and his camera survey the wreckage inside, and in the background can be heard the voice of a Marine, "He's moving, he's moving!"

The pop of a rifle is heard, and the insurgent against the wall is now dead. Minutes, hours later, the scene is aired on national television, and the Marine is being held for committing a war crime. Unlawful killing.

And now, another Marine has the possibility of being burned at the stake for protecting the life of his brethren. His family now wrings their hands in grief, tears streaming down their face. Brother, should I have been in your boots, I too would have done the same.

For those of you who don't know, we Marines, Band of Brothers, Jarheads, Leathernecks, etc., do not fight because we think it is right, or think it is wrong. We are here for the man to our left, and the man to our right. We choose to give our lives so that the man or woman next to us can go home and see their husbands, wives, children, friends and families.

For those of you who sit on your couches in front of your television, and choose to condemn this man's actions, I have but one thing to say to you. Get out of your recliner, lace up my boots, pick up a rifle, leave your family behind and join me. See what I've seen, walk where I have walked. To those of you who support us, my sincerest gratitude. You keep us alive.

I am a Marine currently doing his second tour in Iraq. These are my opinions and mine alone. They do not represent those of the Marine Corps or of the US military, or any other.

During the last Presidential Campaign, much was made of John Kerry killing a VC who was aiming an RPG at Kerry's swift boat. Many said that the VC was wounded, many said he wasn't. It didn't matter one way or the other to me or most of us who supported John Kerry.. What mattered was that there was one less VC to kill Americans. And this situation is no different.

Was this action honorable? I think so. And it was definately necessary, if for no other reason than to send a message to the enemy that this ruse won't work anymore. We will not take chances anymore.

Honor is also ingrained in Marines. To quote from Sturkey's book again:

"Once he has earned the title and entered the Brotherhood of Marines, a new warrior must draw upon the legacy of his Corps. Therein lies his strength. In return, the strength of the Corps lies in the individual Marine. The character (often defined as "what you are in the dark") of these warriors is defined by the three constant Corps Values: honor, courage, and commitment.

Honor: Honor requires each Marine to exemplify the ultimate standard in ethical and moral conduct. Honor is many things; honor requires many things. A U.S. Marine must never lie, never cheat, never steal, but that is not enough. Much more is required. Each Marine must cling to an uncompromising code of personal integrity, accountable for his actions and holding others accountable for theirs. And, above all, honor mandates that a Marine never sully the reputation of his Corps.

Courage: Simply stated, courage is honor in action -- and more. Courage is moral strength, the will to heed the inner voice of conscience, the will to do what is right regardless of the conduct of others. It is mental discipline, an adherence to a higher standard. Courage means willingness to take a stand for what is right in spite of adverse consequences. This courage, throughout the history of the Corps, has sustained Marines during the chaos, perils, and hardships of combat. And each day, it enables each Marine to look in the mirror -- and smile.

Commitment: Total dedication to Corps and Country. Gung-ho Marine teamwork. All for one, one for all. By whatever name or cliche, commitment is a combination of (1) selfless determination and (2) a relentless dedication to excellence. Marines never give up, never give in, never willingly accept second best. Excellence is always the goal. And, when their active duty days are over, Marines remain reserve Marines, retired Marines, or Marine veterans. There is no such thing as an ex-Marine or former-Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Commitment never dies.

The three Corps Values: honor, courage, commitment. They make up the bedrock of the character of each individual Marine. They are the foundation of his Corps. These three values, handed down from generation to generation, have made U.S. Marines the Warrior Elite. The U.S. Marine Corps: the most respected and revered fighting force on earth."

Many will argue that the actions of this Marine were neither Honorable or Courageous. I beg to differ. He had the courage and honor to do what he felt he had to do to protect himself and his Brothers from the enemy. He had the commitment to follow through on his training and eliminate the enemy.

Consider what every Marine is taught, what every Marine believes in:



This is my rifle.

There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

My rifle without me is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.

I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me.

I will...

My rifle and myself know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our bursts, nor the smoke we make. We know it is the hits that count.

We will hit...

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights, and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other.

We will...

Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy,

but PEACE!

When you breed and train an attack dog you can't be upset when he bites.

Marines are America's attack dogs and we will bite!

After all...

An Eye For An Eye, Make 'Em Die Posted by Hello

It's who We are...It's what We do.

Saepius Exertus, Semper Fidelis, Frater Infinitas
(Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever)


Post Script:


A high school senior in Ohio, Adrienne, got an English class assignment. She had to research and write a thesis. And, she could pick her topic.

Adrienne dipped back into our Nation's history. She reached back to a time before she was born, back to a time of national turmoil, back to the time of the war in Vietnam. Today, that long-ago conflict is a mere footnote in her history books. Who fought? Why? Who survived? Who died? Who were the heroes?

From her Nation's long struggle during the war in Vietnam, Adrienne picked her topic: WHO ARE THE HEROES?

An exhaustive search began. As part of her research, young Adrienne posted a notice on the web-site of the USMC Vietnam Helicopter Association. For the Marine Corps helicopter crews who flew and fought in Vietnam, she asked: "Who are the heroes?"

The many responses included an e-mail reply from Marion Sturkey, a Marine Corps helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He wrote not of glory and valor. He never mentioned anything he did, or tried to do. Instead, he wrote of basic human virtues: commitment, loyalty, brotherly love, and a cause greater than self. His reply to a young American schoolgirl is quoted below, verbatim:


March 6, 2001


I understand you are researching a project about heroism during the war in Vietnam. I commend you for the extent of your research.

"Who are the heroes?" you ask. I had the privilege of knowing many heroes during my time in Vietnam in 1966-1967. But, I doubt they are the type of men you would recognize as such. They were simply common men. Actually, "boys" would be more accurate with regard to many of them. They were not the "Follow Me!" type you may have seen in the movies. I have never heard any of them call themselves brave, although I witnessed what you would call bravery on a daily basis.

So, who are the heroes? They were the men (or "boys," many just a year or so older than yourself) who believed in each other, who relied on each other, and who sacrificed for each other. They were bound together by simple loyalty to their fellow Marines, their friends. They shared an unspoken trust and responsibility. Each knew that no matter how grave his peril, his friends would try to save him. They might fail and lose their own lives in the attempt. But, we all knew that they would try. We each had the same obligation. When one of our friends was in peril, we had to try, despite the danger. We had no choice. That was the pact we made. That was our code.

Heroes were soft-spoken men like Jim McKay, a helicopter gunner. Jim had survived his scheduled time in combat and was scheduled to fly home on the night of August 8, 1966. But, that night he learned that four of his friends were cut off, surrounded, fighting for their lives in the dark. Jim refused to leave Vietnam. He volunteered to fly on a rescue mission. His helicopter was shot down.

Heroes were men like Joe Roman, a helicopter pilot. On January 26, 1967, he answered the plea for help from Marines trapped on a ridge in Laos. They warned him of the danger, but he disregarded the warning and flew down to attempt a rescue. He, too, got shot down. Wounded in the head and buttocks, he survived. But, he never talked about it afterwards. When questioned, he would shrug and say that it was "nothing anyone else wouldn't do." He was right. Incidentally, Joe died last year. I attended his internment in Arlington National Cemetery.

There were thousands of such heroes. I am honored to have had the privilege to have served with them. Simply stated, they believed in a cause greater than themselves. They believed in each other. They knew the danger, but they also knew their responsibility and their code. They shared a brotherly love that no earthly circumstance can shatter. They, along with the 58,000-plus names on The Wall in Washington, DC, are true heroes.

The heroes who survived are now in their fifties or sixties. You know them as fathers, uncles, neighbors, maybe teachers. They have jobs and families. They pay taxes and make our society function. They don't label themselves as heroes. Yet, they are American Patriots in every sense of the words. And, deep down inside, they still maintain that undying brotherly love for the men with whom they served in Vietnam, thirty years or so ago. Without question, they are your heroes.

I hope the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Warmest regards,

Marion Sturkey

Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines

by Marion Sturkey

These "new" Marines fighting in Iraq are no different. Gotta go now, I have to dry my eyes.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Up Next!


deuddersun says what he thinks about Marines who kill wounded enemies!

No news story re-posts, just deuddersun's opinion!

Stay Tuned!!!


I had this post written and ready to post when my fuckin' machine crashed and I lost it all. So be patient, it's coming and it's worth it, (well, at least I think so and since it's my blog that's the way it is!).

I know, this sounds like "the dog ate my homework", but c'mon, folks, it's 9:30 Saturday night, I got a hot blonde waitng and a heavy bet on Sugar Shane Mosley in the fight tonight (HBO, 9:45 est.). Cut me a huss, willya? It'll be up tomorrow, I promise Teacher!

In the meantime, since it is Saturday night, I hope all of you are curled up with the one you love enjoying each other.

Nothing could be finer...

Pax Tibi,


Kinder? Gentler? Less funny. More sad.

Republi-cons? Posted by Hello

A week ago I posted "Fuck The South".

While I agree with the sentiments expressed there-in completely, I realize that it may, (ahem) have been "offensive " to some of you.

I am, therefore, posting a piece I found at Any Which Way which also sums up my feeling - just not quite as brutally.

As you read this, understand what this woman is saying. I know how she feels - I feel it everyday. Whenever I enter the Lincoln, Holland or Queens-Midtown Tunnels, (which is damn near every day I work!), I always wonder if today will be the day. Lord knows if I wanted to hurt the US I would blow the tunnels leading into and out of Manhatten! Anyone who has ever been there can tell you of their strategic importance.

So tell me "Middle America", what is it that you are so afraid of?


From scroff at Any Which Way Forums:

"Here's another I found over at Patridiot Watch. While it's not as sarcastic as the first, nor as vitriolic as the second, it has just as much punch, maybe more. I don't know who wrote it or where it came from, but it says it all too well... " - scroff

----------------------------------------------------A LETTER TO THE RED STATES

Sorry, I try not to deluge people with my ramblings. But I had to write this and, having written it, had to send it. Even though I don't know anyone I can send it to (without alienating my Republican in-laws, who are the only "middle country" people I know.)

I am writing this letter to the people in the red states in the middle of the country -- the people who voted for George W. Bush. I am writing this letter because I don't think we know each other.

So I'll make an introduction. I am a New Yorker who voted for John Kerry. I used to live in California, and if I still lived there, I would vote for Kerry. I used to live in Washington, DC, and if I still lived there, I would vote for Kerry. Kerry won in all three of those regions.

Maybe you want to know more about me. Or maybe not; maybe you think you know me already. You think I am some anti-American anarchist because I dislike George W. Bush. You think that I am immoral and anti-family, because I support women's reproductive freedom and gay rights. You think that I am dangerous, and even evil, because I do not abide by your religious beliefs.

Maybe you are content to think that, to write me off as a "liberal" -- the dreaded "L" word -- and rejoice that your candidate has triumphed over evil, immoral, anti-American, anti-family people like me. But maybe you are still curious. So here goes: this is who I am.

I am a New Yorker. I was here, in my apartment downtown, on September 11th. I watched the Towers burn from the roof of my building. I went inside so that I couldn't see them when they fell. I had friends who were inside. I have a friend who still has nightmares about watching people jump and fall from the Towers. He will never be the same. How many people like him do you know? People that can't sit in a restaurant without plotting an escape route, in case it blows up?

I am a worker. I work across the street from the Citigroup Center, which the government told us is a "target" of terrorism. Later, we found out they were relaying very old information, but it was already too late. They had given me bad dreams again. The subway stop near my office was crowded with bomb-sniffing dogs, policemen in heavy protective gear, soldiers. Now, every time I enter or exit my office, all of my possessions are X-rayed to make sure I don't have any weapons. How often are you stopped by a soldier with a bomb-sniffing dog outside your office?

I am a neighbor. I have a neighbor who is a 9/11 widow. She has two children. My husband does odd jobs for her now, like building bookshelves. Things her husband should do. He uses her husband's tools, and the two little girls tell him, "Those are our daddy's tools." How many 9/11 widows and orphans do you know? How often do you fill in for their dead loved ones?

I am a taxpayer. I worked my butt off to get where I did, and so did my parents. My parents saved and borrowed and sent me to college. I worked my way through graduate school. I won a full tuition scholarship to law school. All for the privilege of working 2,600 hours last year. That works out to a 50 hour week, every week, without any vacation days at all. I get to work by 9 am and rarely leave before 9 pm. I eat dinner at my office much more often than I eat dinner at home. My husband and I paid over $70,000 in federal income tax last year. At some point in the future, we will have to pay much more -- once this country faces its deficit and the impossible burden of Social Security. In fact, the areas of the country that supported Kerry -- New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts -- they are the financial centers of the nation. They are the tax base of this country. How much did you pay, Kansas? How much did you contribute to this government you support, Alabama? How much of this war in Iraq did you pay for?

I am a liberal. The funny part is, liberals have this reputation for living in Never-Neverland, being idealists, not being sensible. But let me tell you how I see the world: I see America as one nation in a world of nations. Therefore, I think we should try to get along with other nations. I see that gay people exist. Therefore, I think they should be allowed to exist, and be treated the same as other people. I see ways in which women are not allowed to control their own bodies. Therefore, I think we should give women more control over their bodies. I see that people have awful diseases. Therefore, I think we should enable scientists to try to cure them. I see that we have a Constitution. Therefore, I think it should be upheld. I see that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Therefore, I think that Iraq was not an imminent danger to me. It seems so pragmatic to me. How do you see the world? Do you really think voting against gay marriage will keep people from being gay? Would you really prefer that people continue to die from Parkinson's disease? Do you really not care about the Constitutional rights of political detainees? Would you really have supported the war if you knew the truth, or would you have wanted to spend more of our money on health care, job training, terrorism preparedness?

I am an American. I have an American flag flying outside my home. I love my home more than anything. I love that I grew up right outside New York City. I first went to the Statue of Liberty with my 5th grade class, and my mom and dad took me to the Empire State Building when I was 8. I love taking the subway to Yankee Stadium. I loved living in Washington DC and going on dates to the Lincoln Memorial. It is because I love this country so much that I argue with my political opponents as much I do.

I am not safe. I never feel safe. My in-laws live in a small town in Ohio, and that town has received more federal funding, per capita, for terrorism preparedness than New York City has. I take subways and buses every day. I work in a skyscraper across the street from a "target." I have emergency supplies and a spare pair of sneakers in my desk, in case somethng happens while I'm at work. Do you? How many times a month do you worry that your subway is going to blow up? When you hear sirens on the street, do you run to the window to make sure everything is okay? When you hear an airplane, do you flinch? Do you dread beautiful, blue-skied September days? I don't know a single New Yorker who doesn't spend the month of September on tip-toes, superstitiously praying for rain so we don't have to relive that beautiful, blue-skied day.

I am lonely. I feel that we, as a nation, have alienated all our friends and further provoked our enemies. I feel unprotected. Most of all I feel alienated from my fellow citizens, because I don't understand what you are thinking. You voted for a man who started a war in Iraq for no reason, against the wishes of the entire world. You voted for a man whose lack of foresight and inability to plan has led to massive insurgencies in Iraq, where weapons are disappearing into the hands of terrorists. You voted for a man who let Osama Bin Laden escape into the hills of Afghanistan so that he could start that war in Iraq. You voted for a man who doesn't want to let people love who they want to love; doesn't want to let doctors cure their patients; doesn't want to let women rule their destinies. I don't understand why you voted for this man. For me, it is not enough that he is personable; it is not enough that he seems like one of the guys. Why did you vote for him? Why did you elect a man that lied to us in order to convince us to go to war? (Ten years ago you were incensed when our president lied about his sex life; you thought it was an impeachable offense.) Why did you elect a leader who thinks that strength cannot include diplomacy or international cooperation? Why did you elect a man who did nothing except run away and hide on September 11?

Most of all, I am terrified. I mean daily, I am afraid that I will not survive this. I am afraid that I will lose my husband, that I will never have children, that I will never grow old and watch the sunset in a backyard of my own. I am afraid that my career -- which should end with a triumphant and good-natured roast at a retirement party in 2035 -- will be cut short by an attack on me and my colleagues, as we sit sending emails and making phone calls one ordinary afternoon. Is your life at stake? Are you terrified?

I don't think you are. I don't think you realize what you have done. And if anything happens to me or the people I love, I blame you. I wanted you to know that.

Thanks for the post, scroff. I wish I knew who this lady was so I could tell her I understand.


Pics Are Up!

Cookies! 2004! Posted by Hello

(A proud Marine in Evening Dress! Ever seen a finer looking unifrom? Didn't think so. Thanks Sarge!)


The Pics from Cookies 2004 are almost all up and some even have the correct caption! For those of you who just can't wait for my tired old ass to finish, go to Happy Birthday To The Corps, click on the picture of the fine Marine above and you're there! (Thanks to scroff and Ruthie at Any Which Way for hosting the pics in their Gallery!)

Hope you have as much fun looking at the pics as I had being there taking them, but I doubt it!

Next year, getcher ass in gear!

Cya at Cookies! November 10, 2005!

Semper Fidelis!