by Andy Weddington
Friday, 27 February 2015
"If I charge, follow me. If I retreat, kill me. If I die, revenge me." (Marine author unknown)
Last evening while scrolling through Facebook a Marine friend's short post about his girlfriend's acceptance to medical school caught my attention. That post led to another recent post, with brief comment, of my friend pictured with a 92 years-old Marine who fought on Iwo Jima (his ball cap indicated). The praiseworthy comment about all who serve in uniform included mention the old Marine had jumped on a grenade during the fighting on Iwo but that such selfless acts of courage were not decorated in those days. Knowing that to be wrong and to preserve history I posted a corrective note that included link to PFC Jacklyn H. Lucas, USMC - who, all of 17 years-old (14 when he enlisted), covered two grenades (one exploded) during the fighting on Iwo Jima and was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Moments later another Marine's post caused me to pause.
And for the next 93 compelling minutes I watched Marines, young battle-hardened men, look directly into the camera and talk about (recalling) their combat experiences - clearing houses during the second battle for Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004.
They're in their late 20s and early 30s now. They're different. Battle is with them. Battle is a part of them, forever.
And a few family members spoke, too.
What to say?
I don't know.
If a Marine, this documentary will resonate - it sparks memories about every aspect of life as a Marine, of being a Marine.
If not a Marine, this documentary gives a good, quite good, sense of what being a Marine is about. And a bit of insight as to the type of person, rare person, who decides they are going to be a Marine.
The film - The November War - is made by a Marine, Garrett Anderson, who fought alongside the Marines in front of the camera. It shows.
The talk is straight, sometimes colorfully laced (as Marines tend to speak), about fighting and killing and being wounded and death and surviving in battle and not leaving Marines behind. And revenge.
To say more would ruin screening.
So in closing, like all infantrymen I was trained, among other skills, to assault beaches and clear houses. Neither mission in the face of an enemy was I ordered to carry out. Thus only can I imagine while completely understanding there's nothing glamorous about war. Nothing.
It's been only a few days more than 70 years since brother Marines raised our colors (23 February 1945) atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. For those who fought and survived, memories clear; haunting. It'll be the same for brother Marines who stormed Fallujah (and other hell holes, too). As it is for all battle-tested Marines. And Sailors who tend(ed) to wounded Marines.
Finally, consider - while watching these Marines prepare for battle and listening to what they say - women in ground combat?
Watch it: www.thenovemberwar.com
From 2002-2006 I was assigned to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, 29 Palms, California. The largest live-fire training base in the Marine Corps, our mission was to help hone the warfighting skills of forward deploying forces - a training program as realistic as possible integrating the enemy's latest tactics, techniques, and procedures.
The November War focuses on Marines from 1st Battalion/3rd Marines (1/3) - an infantry battalion. Though I do not know exactly when 1/3 would have gone through pre-deployment training aboard the Combat Center certainly they did so (likely Spring or Summer 2004).
As I recall, when retiring in the Spring of 2006, some 56 Marines assigned to I MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) tenant units aboard the Combat Center had been killed in combat. And hundreds wounded. Many more wounded and killed in action would follow - throughout both wars. And still. (Note: 1/3 was not and is not a Combat Center tenant unit.)
PFC Jacklyn H. Lucas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacklyn_H._Lucas