23 December 2010


By Andy Weddington
Friday, 24 December 2010
Merry Christmas!

"Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it was some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts to ungentlemanly lengths, worshipping their Commandant almost as if he was a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They'll fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action, and are the cockiest SOB's I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond man's normal limits, but their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and, generally speaking, of the United States Marines I've come in contact with, are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have had the pleasure to meet."  Anonymous Canadian Citizen

Back in June while visiting U. S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, I befriended a Marine--and mountain of a man--who fought in Vietnam. He left the Corps and pursued a life in law enforcement--and after a long and successful career he retired. 

That gent's name is Bruce Hoffman who makes his home in a small town in Georgia. Shortly after retiring and settling down he penned a great little book titled, "And My Mother Danced with Chesty Puller". It's a terrific story of a young man's time on active duty in the Corps and struggles to get into the fight; which he did--eventually--manning a machine gun on helicopters. And, yes, his mother actually danced with the Corps' legend--Puller. And that's my tease for his dandy book which I highly recommend--pick up a copy.

With some regularity Bruce sends along Marine-flavored items of interest. He sent one on the evening of Monday, 13 December that I did not open until early Tuesday morning. As I'm an early riser, I was up before 0500 and had not been at the computer more than 10 minutes--still waiting for coffee to finish brewing--when I opened his email. I laughed out loud.

Bruce had sent along an email he'd received from a Marine friend. With his (Bruce's) nod of approval I pass along the short tale that describes the Marine brotherhood perfectly. And it's a taste of why Marines love Marines. 

There are abbreviations and one "rough" word but I decided to leave the story as written--except for cleaning up some punctuation--as it will be more meaningful to Marines and those who understand Marines--at least as much as is possible. For the unfamiliar there's a glossary in the Author's Endnote.

Here's the tale...

From my buddy Tom, we grew up and went into the Corps together.  He is mentioned several times in my book.

Sent: 12/13/2010 5:07:40 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: USMC Recruiting Office

I walked by a recruiting office today and for the hell of it went in. A Cpl and a Sgt in undressed blues were sitting on a couch reading magazines. Both quickly got to their feet - "May we help you, Sir?" I said, "I have a strange question to ask." The Sgt replied, "Well Sir, we probably have a strange answer." Right then I knew where my smart ass attitude had been well-honed.

I asked them if they had any openings for a 64 year-old former Marine. The Cpl asked me what MOS did I have in mind. I replied, "0321." He asked if I could carry a 60 pound backpack for 5 miles in under an hour. I replied, "Yes, given a wheelbarrow or small pickup truck." He suggested I pick a different MOS.

I have to believe being a wise ass is somehow injected into the food at PI. A SSgt comes out of an office and introduces himself. He asked when and where I had served. When I told him 64-68 he immediately replied, "Vietnam, Sir?" I said, "Yes, with 9th Marines for a month and 5th Marines for the rest."

You have got to love these guys - he tells me, "Thank you for serving and leading the way for the rest of us."

We BS'd for a few minutes. I scammed them out of a recruiting poster. Semper Fi's all around.

Not to be outdone I told the Cpl and Sgt to go back to what they had been doing - nothing- they were doing a fine job of it. The SSgt told me it was the only way they could keep from fucking something up.

40+ years later and all that has changed are the faces.


"Freedom is not free... but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share."
"Marine Sniper - You can run, but you'll just die tired!"

End of story.

Post Script

In the words of Chesty Puller, Lieutenant General, USMC (1898-1971)..."Old breed? New breed? There’s not a damn bit of difference so long as it’s the Marine breed."

Author's Endnote

Undressed Blues--Khaki shirt and Dress Blue trousers (usually referred to as: Dress Blue "Delta")
MOS--Military Occupational Speciality (four-digit designator)
PI--Parris Island (U. S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot, South Carolina)
SSgt--Staff Sergeant
BS'd--Universally understood!

No comments: