20 April 2015


by Andy Weddington
Monday, 20 April 2015

"Solitude is independence." Hermann Hesse

Yesterday morning the desert roads lonely. 

I spoke to only one; a Marine - a corporal - sentry.

Solitude otherwise.

But for wind and road noise and creaks and moans of my firetruck red '68 VW Karmann Ghia, quiet time. My Dad drove a '69 that was sunset orange. I wrecked it when I was 16; licensed for less than three months. That was some 15,334 days ago. I paid for it. And payed for it. And Dad and Mom taught me an enduring lesson. 

For the 463rd consecutive day I thought about Dad. Still. 

For the 11,524th consecutive day a thought and prayer for Recruit Jerry Hurst and his family. "Recruit" is a true word. 

Then the thought of life if not for being a Marine. Perplexing. Conclusion: Unimaginable. A waste of time. 

And then back to enjoying the solitude of driving desert roads, and thinking.

Friday I posted comment in a 'post card' about a Marine - a Marine who fought and earned decorations only possible through battle; Purple Hearts and combat Vs and a Silver Star 43 years late in presentation. I thought about him, too.

And I thought about our Marines (and Sailors) who fought and were wounded and killed in Ramadi, Iraq, and the absurd comment by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, that Ramadi "is not symbolic in any way..." as it's fallen into enemy hands. There's outrage and demands for apology, as there should be, but will such rectify the feeble mind behind the words? No. 

And then this morning I read a post on Twitter that someone's grandfather had joined the Marines and fought in World War II. But that's not quite right. The language is imprecise. 

Shortly after that Twitter moment a retired Marine friend sent a link - a short film about Marines in battle. He said it was worth my time. I watched without interruption - other than ongoing thoughts about Marines.  

What do all these Marines, all Marines, have in common?

They "enlisted" - they did not join. 

And then they were tagged with the moniker "Recruit" or "Officer Candidate" - not "Joinee."  

No one joins the Marines.

Drill Instructors and Platoon Sergeants and Sergeant Instructors, only after leading rigorous training and sizing up their charges, recommend whom among their recruits and officer candidates gets to "join" the Marines. Officers duly approve and certify.

No one joins the Marines. 

First enlistees then recruits and officer candidates, once earning the title 'Marine' - eternity it's for.  

A Marine in the short film said he enlisted. Marines know. Precision. In everything. Even language. 

"Marines are different," something another retired Marine friend said yesterday on the phone. Yes, Marines are different. And "different" defies explanation. 

My other friend was right. The short film is worth the time. No one is so busy not to spend 48 worthwhile minutes listening to men of the character necessary to voluntarily enlist in the Marine Corps. And fight. 

Some die. Twenty-five did die. 



America will ever produce such citizens. But if they ever stop coming forward, it's over. 

Pull up a chair and pour a cup of coffee or grab a beer...


In closing...

Recommended reading:

Pride and Discipline - The Hallmarks of a United States Marine by Colonel Donald J. Myers, USMC

One Million Steps - A Platoon at War by Bing West (About 3/5 - the unit featured in the short film)

Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre

Redeployment by Phil Klay

And if looking for a coffee table book that gets to the core, the guts, of Marine Corps Recruit Training in line and word - 
Making Marines (by the author): http://www.weddingtonartgallery.com/Books.html

Post Script

Aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, Recruit Jerry Hurst died, of natural causes, at reveille on the last day of First Phase Training - Saturday, 01 October 1983. I was his series commander - the first officer in his chain of command. 

Friday's post card:

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