Sunday, January 07, 2007

"HONOR, COURAGE, COMMITMENT - not just a bumper sticker." I spent most of the past week with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines in their area of operations near Fallujah. My final interview of the week was with their Battalion Commander. In response to a question about his Marines and their actions and approach in the difficult area that they have been assigned, he described how proud he was of them. His comment that each day they prove that "Honor, courage, commitment (the Marine Corps' Core Values) are not just a bumper sticker" resonated with me based on what I had seen throughout my visit.

To put this comment in context, one has to understand recent history and the locale these Marines operate in. They have been assigned a rather large area situated between the two key cities in Al Anbar; Ramadi and Fallujah. Their area has likely been the unfortunate destination of many insurgents fleeing successful large-scale operations in both of these neighboring cities. As they have worked each day for the past several months to improve the security and quality of life for the local populace, they have been under steady attack by the terrorists who want desparately for them to fail in that mission. 2/8 has paid heavy toll during its time here, including 7 KIA and many more wounded. I was privileged to spend three days with the company that has been hit the hardest, losing 5 of their brothers during their time here. As I observed them conducting census operations in their area of responsibility; a painstaking and often dangerous undertaking which is vital to separate the innocent from the evil, I was amazed at the decency, bravery and professionalism exhibited by each Marine. (In other words: Honor, Courage, Commitment.)

Moving quickly through open areas to mitigate the threat of snipers (who have already claimed members of their company), they contacted each home in their assigned area for that patrol. As the Iraqis came to the door, the Marines treated them with unflagging courtesy and respect. The local citizens seemed to recognize and appreciate this, responding with cooperation and, in some cases, genuine hospitality. Children peeked curiously around parents and smiled shyly when one made eye contact.

Less honorable men wouldn't have the self-discipline to be so gracious toward a popuation that has, at times, harbored those who have killed their brothers. Less courageous men wouldn't have the heart to leave their hardened outpost each day to carry out this dangerous mission. Less committed men wouldn't have the resolve to carry out the complex and tedious jobs they are assigned each day. Fortunately for our nation and for the Iraqi citizens 2/8 has been assigned to protect, these Marines have Honor, Courage and Commitment to spare. It's not just a bumper sticker for them. It's their way of life.

I share this with you because I have seen it with my own eyes and because you will very likely not hear it anyplace else. If one of these troops was to make a mistake or to have a lapse in judgment, you would read it on the front page of every paper in America... that's the unfortunate nature of what we call "news." It is, by definition, the exceptional thing that is reported. The fact that these young men (and I mean young... when I looked at their memorial hall and saw high school graduation dates of 2004 and 2005 it put the youth of these Marines in the context of the students I have taught in my own classroom) make the RIGHT decisions a thousand consecutive times is not noticed or reported at all. But that doesn't mean it's not happening. I'm not exactly sure where we find young people who WANT to do this or how we prepare them to do it SO WELL... I'll just thank God that we do. Keep up the good work Marines. House be house, block by block, your ARE making a difference.

6 Comments:

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Capt B said...

Good blog and keep it up!! Let me know how I can help.

 
At 10:17 PM, Blogger Capt B said...

The link to my old blog is attached through blogger. Check out my new place at www.onemarinesview.com

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger JarheadDad said...

Well said! Well said indeed! Proof of the disconnect is astounding. In a world where "leaks" and "anonymity" throw over stupid words such as in an oath you have young Marines that "get it" and live their lives accordingly. When you have examples of sedition such as the NYT article yesterday morning on the "leaks" of certain portions of the NCIS investigation into Haditha no one even notices young Marines living their Honor and Courage day by day. Hour by hour. Honorably, diligently, sincerely believing in their own code of honor. Striving to carry on when they lose a Brother Marine. Striving to carry on when their own elected leaders call them cold blooded murderers and use them as political pawns. Through it all they uphold their Honor and believe in themselves and their Country!

My son is now an IRR Marine. Four years of fighting ended Nov06. Still trying to come to grips with loss and combat. The hardest thing he had to do was say goodbye to his BN as they deployed this weekend. For the first time in years he sent his brothers off without him. But knowing that his old Company is in good hands. Knowing those young Pvts and PFCs that are now LCpls and Cpls will take the reins and accomplish the mission. I KNOW what these young Marines are. I KNOW the Honor they live by. We've buried 23 of them along the way. Not to mention the hundreds that were WIA and are dealing daily with their new lot in life. Facing that life as they faced combat; with Courage, Integrity, and Perseverence. Young men with fire in their eye and intestinal fortitude not seen in the general populace. Clear eyed bright young men that do what they do for each other. Were it the pantywaists in office had the Courage shown by these young men. The Dedication to Country. The Integrity to stand where others fail. The Strength to carry on under such adverse conditions. God Bless 'Em All!

Thanks for showing what these young Marines are really all about! Were it the people at the Pentagon took their duty and oath as seriously and honorably! They could learn a thing or two from young Marines barely out of high school!

Fair Winds 2/8. See y'all when you hit the deck onboard Cherry Point!

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger the artist's wife said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! It is wonderful to hear first hand truth about the situation over there. I will pass along today's blog entry to others.

God bless!

 
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