by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 15 November 2014
"Marines are: 1) Active; 2) Reserve; 3) Retired; 4) Not in a Duty Status; 5) Dead." Author
There is no such being as an "ex" or "former" Marine.
Typical Saturday morning around here - up early (a couple of hours BMNT [Before Morning Nautical Twilight]); rack made (first task); a couple cups of coffee over the news; a light bite for breakfast; rigorous PT to the point of a soaking sweat; cool down and then a shower.
I usually don't leave the house in a T-shirt to run errands. This morning I did - blue jeans and a black with 2 1/2 inch white block letters USMC tee - for a quick trip to the grocery store.
Maneuvering through the busy aisles an older gent, a stranger, in front of the seafood counter flagged me down. He was animated and pointing at my T-shirt.
I approached and asked, "Sir, are you a Marine?"
He reached for his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and withdrew two photos. Wow! Odd as it seems, my first thought was to ask if I could photograph them - he approved - so we laid them atop a box in his shopping cart.
Roscoe: l - after the war; r - recruit training graduate
I asked his name. With a glint in his eye he said, "My girlfriends call me Roscoe. But my name is..." (and he told me which I'll not publish).
Turns out Roscoe earned the title 'Marine' at Parris Island in early 1944 (70 years ago), was trained an infantryman, and assigned to the 2d Marine Division. He fought, 'With the Old Breed' (read E. B. Sledge's classic), on Saipan, Tinian, and was floating reserve for Okinawa. Miraculously, he was not wounded.
A corporal, his time in uniform ended after the war.
Roscoe, with clear blue eyes that sparkled, said Marines have not changed. He pointed to the photographs of his youth.
He told me a few stories - right in line with what I've read about those iconic battles (and am currently reading in 'Faithful Warriors: A Combat Marine Remembers The Pacific War' by LtCol Dean Ladd, USMCR(Ret) and Steven Weingartner - loaned to me by a Marine pal five days ago on 10 November as we rallied to celebrate 239; ironically, our first meeting goes back to Parris Island 31 years ago).
Roscoe talked. I listened. And Roscoe talked some more.
War memories aside, he's 88; hits 70 golf balls a day and retrieves them with his shag bag; and plays several rounds a week. Active he stays. And with his girlfriends, too - with that, he smiled.
Finally, he said "I've got to go and besides I've taken enough of your time." "No, Sir, not at all. You've made my day." We shook hands and parted ways.
You're right, Roscoe, Marines, they've not changed.
For those who are, how can you not love being a Marine?!
Geez, I'm glad I wore that T-shirt.
Between Saipan and Tinian American causalities were more than 3,700 KIA and some 12,000 WIA.