Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy Birthday Marines

Major Mike

Shortly after I retired and took a job as a maintenance manager in a foundry, one of my electricians was killed in a car accident…his name was Elwood “Al” Poff. I wrote a cathartic piece that was never delivered as a eulogy, and sadly, I never gave to his family to read. I shared it with the rest of my team, who were deeply moved by it, but mostly it sat unread and unpublished. I finally posted it last year on my old site, here.

How is it that I could be so drawn to a man, a full generation removed, that I had only known for 8 weeks? Simple reason…we had both been Marines. More importantly, in a State nearly devoid of Marine culture, he was the first Marine that I had met post-retirement.

Within days we had come to share a mutual respect; a respect formed between men who knowingly shared myriad of similar experiences and hardships. A respect that was earned by being a member of the most storied fighting force the world has ever known. A respect that we shared for Marines unknown to us, and sometimes, generations removed. A respect we held for Marines with a lineage of tenacious mettle, uncommon valor, and unselfish dedication to Corps and country. We respected each other’s standing in such a group.

Presley O’Bannon. Chesty Puller. Dan Daly. Smedley Butler. John Ripley. Henry Elrod. Hector Cafferata. Manfred Rietsch. Devel Colin (friend and DFC recipient). All made the reputation of the Corps…along with the hundreds of thousands of anonymous Marines who fought across this globe extending the reputation of the Corps, but more importantly defending this nation. Fighting, and dying in Europe, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, the Pacific Islands, South America, and literally…the rest of the globe.

Marines have served aboard ships, flown airplanes, defended shorelines, but by far, their reputation had been earned by their tenacity as amphibious warriors, and their ferociousness in ground combat. Devil Dogs…a breed of fighters revered amongst other hardened warriors.

The Corps is special amongst the world’s elite forces, and it is deserving of all of the accolades that it has earned, and continues to earn. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss being amongst Marines. I assure you, the rest of the world is less special. My best to all Marines on their 230th Birthday, I salute your members and your accomplishments. I admire your valor and your selfless dedication to our great country. I am simply honored to be in your ranks. Semper Fi. Major Mike

No comments: