Semper Fi Do or Die

Happy birthday 10 November to the United States Marine Corps, proud possessors of a long tradition and a ferocious devotion to duty and to each other.

No Marines served in Khowst or Paktya, but I often crossed paths with them going in or out of country.  On this day three years ago, for example, I was bunking in a big but near-empty 200-person tent on Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan when it suddenly filled up with a Marine unit on its way to Kandahar.  My dominant impression was that the Marines appeared much younger than Army soldiers and were very healthy, fit, clean-cut, and energetic yet still orderly.

About three hours later, their leader, a young captain whom I had nodded to briefly on his arrival, woke me from a nap and invited me to dinner.  Not just a dinner, but a celebration of the Marine Corps birthday.  Somehow the captain had quickly arranged for the mess hall to bake a cake and set aside space for its ceremonial joint cutting by the oldest and youngest Marine present.

And I, as the highest ranking officer the Marine captain could find, was to be the honored guest, the only non-Marine in the room, without a thing to say or a part to play except that of invited dignitary and witness. The event was soon over, and within another day, we were once more on our separate paths to our Afghanistan fates.

I felt privileged to be part of the ceremony, like I had snuck an inside view at a culture more noble than my own.

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3 Responses to “Semper Fi Do or Die”

  1. Katrina Says:

    Oorah.

    You’re blog enlightens me.
    Thank you.
    Although early, Happy Veteran’s Day. You do what you do so I can do what I do.

  2. Katrina Says:

    Please forgive my grammar as well. My excitement over finally commenting caused me to forget how to write. Cheers. 🙂

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