Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Quote of the Day: My New Marine

 

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet” — General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, 2003

Let me start the reason I chose this quote for today with some personal background. I wasn’t raised in a military family, and other than a distant uncle who served four years in the Army and cousin who spent five years in the Air Force, I’ve never really known many people who served. But I’ve always loved and respected the military for the character, their discipline and most of all for their willingness to die for my freedom.

My wife and I have been blessed with two of the best boys anyone could ever dream of having (yes, my kids are better than yours). Our oldest turned 18 last month, a senior in high school. He’s always walked to the beat of a different drum, somehow becoming more conservative and even more patriotic than I am. At eight years old he would be watching Military History channel instead of whatever silly cartoons the other kids watched. He and his younger brother were, for a time, heavy into Airsoft. There’s a local facility that hosts pretty serious and intense Airsoft competitions, and at 12 and 13 he was out there leading groups that included older teens and a few adults. (To give you an idea of how serious, there’s former military and current police and SWAT officers that regularly attend.)

We’ve known for years of his intense interest in all things military. He’s fascinated by older military weapons. His first real gun (not including the .22 rifle) purchased when he was 14 years old was a 1943 Mosin-Nagant we picked up for $149. All he wanted for his 18th birthday was a Hungarian AK, which of course we purchased for him. When I asked him why not an AR, he said everyone has one.

Over the past couple of years, his talk of enlisting became more serious. He’s not the academic type, so college holds no interest to him. Earlier this year he was talking about enlisting in the Army with an Option 40 contract which gives him a shot at joining the 75th Ranger Regiment if he made it through Ranger Assessment and Selection Program. In our many conversations about his motivations for enlisting and his selection of branch and specialty, his desire has remained constant: he wants to be on the front line kicking in doors and shooting people.

As you can imagine, this was a tough fact for his Mom and me to process. And I’ve pushed him hard to make sure this desire isn’t born from some romantic notion of war while knowing he’s just not that kind of kid. He’s incredibly grounded and he’s always been more serious and mature than his friends. This is just the only thing he’s ever wanted to do; it’s his calling.

As the past six to nine months passed, he ruled out the 75th Rangers because he didn’t like the risk of something happening and being stuck in the “big Army.” He started working out with the Marines, and spent all summer, every morning five days a week, working out with a group hosted by the local Marine recruiting office. This has motivated me to learn a lot more about the Marines, to seek out and talk to Marines, and learn as much as I can to help guide him through this decision. I’ve talked with the recruiter, Sgt. Keating (who is all of 5’7” but could tear down a house with his bare hands) learning about the different MOS’s, basic training, and as much as I could pull from his brain. I’ve watched the videos of basic training, learned about the Crucible and all the while discussing and questioning my son to make sure this is really what he wants to do.

Last Thursday, the decision was made. He’s formally starting the process for delayed entry, and currently is scheduled to ship to MCRD San Diego next August. So we’re going through the medical background (have to have his elbow x-rayed again to show that the screw put in when he was seven doesn’t affect anything) and other initial paperwork. At the same time the reality of the decision is hitting my wife and me. This Thanksgiving and Christmas will likely be the last holidays we spend with him for a while. The next 10 months will go by quickly, and we need to make the most of this time.

All this being said, I’ve grown to appreciate Gen. Mattis in a way I never did before. My son thinks he’s a hero, and I agree. He’s a Marine’s Marine, an incredible leader of men who doesn’t sugar coat or use nice political speak when talking about fighting and defeating the enemy. And that quote, as much as many others, represents what our Marines are all about.

I’m still not sure about having a son who lives up to that quote, but I’m proud beyond words that he has chosen to.

Published in Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 19 comments.

  1. Member

    livingthehighlife: (yes, my kids are better than yours)

    Please thank him for us, at least once he gets out of boot camp. ;^D

    This is an entry in our Quote of the Day Series. If you would like to share some great news about your family and start it with a quotation, you can sign up here. You can also sign up there for any other conversation you might want to start with a quote.

    Thanks for sharing this, LTHL.

    • #1
    • October 5, 2017 at 6:58 am
    • 2 likes
  2. Member

    @simontemplar, who else do we have from the Marines?

    • #2
    • October 5, 2017 at 7:03 am
    • 2 likes
  3. Coolidge

    I just retired from the Marines last summer. I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1985 and did 8 years of active duty. I got out when they did the reduction in force in 1993 and completely left the inactive reserves in 1996. When the muslims attacked the nation, I wanted to come back in but it took a while. I was finally reappointed a major in the USMC Reserves in 2004, did a tour in Iraq with 3/25 and a tour in Afghanistan with 1/23.

    I never realized how much I missed the Marines until I came back in. It felt like coming home and being home. There’s not much that can replace the pride in belonging to one of the most prestigious military forces in the history of the world.

    If I weren’t so old, I’d have never quit. I was still faster at runs than a majority at the regimental headquarters when I retired, but it hurt a lot more and I’d be done for the day. The military is not for the old. My unit asked me to go to Morocco the and return home at the very last day I was allowed to still be not retired and I declined. At 53, I was done and no regrets.

    Do I miss it? Yes, in a way, but only in a wistful “I wish I were still young” way.

    Was it always enjoyable? No. It’s an organization made up of people and I don’t much like people. :) But I have life long friends from all ranks. The ones I never want to see again exist as well, but not that many.

    Being a Marine isn’t magic. You still have to do all the right things to be a good man. But being a Marine helps you focus and remember what that requires.

    Congratulations to your son. No matter what happens for the rest of his life after he finishes boot camp, he will always know that he is made of what it takes to be a good man.

    • #3
    • October 5, 2017 at 12:09 pm
    • 14 likes
  4. Member

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Congratulations to your son. No matter what happens for the rest of his life after he finishes boot camp, he will always know that he is made of what it takes to be a good man.

    Thanks, @skyler.

    Towards the end of spring we started noticing a change in him. Throughout the summer he was very disciplined about working out and eating good. He’s never been a good student (unfortunately he gets this from me, not his mother), but we’re seeing this school year a purpose that we’ve never seen. It also helps that he’s now accountable to SSgt. Keating, so he has to do well and not get behind on anything.

    I’m biased, but I think he’ll make a heck of a Marine.

    • #4
    • October 5, 2017 at 1:13 pm
    • 9 likes
  5. Member

    My father was a Marine, wounded in combat in Korea. He went on to be a foreign correspondent for the NYT and the WaPo when they were still, as Klavan would say, newspapers. But Dad was always, always a Marine. My darling boy joined the Marines in 2004 and served 8 years.

    You might like my book Anchor and Flares, about having your child become a man in this now-relatively-unusual way?

    • #5
    • October 5, 2017 at 3:49 pm
    • 6 likes
  6. Member

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    My father was a Marine, wounded in combat in Korea. He went on to be a foreign correspondent for the NYT and the WaPo when they were still, as Klavan would say, newspapers. But Dad was always, always a Marine. My darling boy joined the Marines in 2004 and served 8 years.

    You might like my book Anchor and Flares, about having your child become a man in this now-relatively-unusual way?

    Thanks, Kate. I’ll definitely order your book. I suspect my wife will enjoy it as well.

    • #6
    • October 5, 2017 at 4:02 pm
    • 3 likes
  7. Contributor

    As someone who went through this process a little over three years ago let me say, “Welcome to the family.” You will find out that moment that you show up to MEPS for the official departure to Boot it wasn’t just your son that joined the Marines it was your entire family.

    You will be proud and scared to death. The Corps will become prominent in your life. As Marines look at each other as brothers and sisters, you will look at these fine young people as your sons and daughters. When a Marine dies you may uncontrollably shed a tear as there but for the grace of God go you.

    There are not only quite a few Marines here but there are plenty of Marine parents who stand ready to answer your questions and offer support. (@annefy has two sons in. Her boys were “Hollywood” Marines, which is what Marines from “The Island” call Recruit Depot San Diego.)

    • #7
    • October 5, 2017 at 8:34 pm
    • 5 likes
  8. Member

    FYI, it was written pre-conversion.

    • #8
    • October 5, 2017 at 8:34 pm
    • 3 likes
  9. Member

    I thousand thanks to your boy. I wish you and your wife all the strength in the world.

    • #9
    • October 5, 2017 at 11:08 pm
    • 3 likes
  10. Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    As someone who went through this process a little over three years ago let me say, “Welcome to the family.” You will find out that moment that you show up to MEPS for the official departure to Boot it wasn’t just your son that joined the Marines it was your entire family.

    You will be proud and scared to death. The Corps will become prominent in your life. As Marines look at each other as brothers and sisters, you will look at these fine young people as your sons and daughters. When a Marine dies you may uncontrollably shed a tear as there but for the grace of God go you.

    There are not only quite a few Marines here but there are plenty of Marine parents who stand ready to answer your questions and offer support. (@annefy has two sons in. Her boys were “Hollywood” Marines, which is what Marines from “The Island” call Recruit Depot San Diego.)

    Well hell. And welcome to the family indeed. Got one at Camp Pendleton and another in Hawaii (heading to Okinawa soon – his second trip there).

    We’re not too far from San Diego and as mentioned son #1 is at Pendleton. Give me a shout if we can be of assistance; we’ve got good cooks here and we’ve fed many a Marine.

    God bless you and your boy and give your wife a hug. Trust me, she needs it.

    Regarding Mattis? When his appointment was but a rumor son #2 (the good looking guy in above picture) posted on Facebook: Please, baby Jesus, let it be true.

    When I asked son #1 his opinion he just smiled. Son #1 NEVER smiles.

    • #10
    • October 6, 2017 at 12:52 am
    • 5 likes
  11. Member

    From now on, November 10 (Marine Corps birthday) will be a special celebration in your family. Make sure to bake a cake and say a prayer for those who do a dangerous and often thankless job so the rest of us can rest easy.

    • #11
    • October 6, 2017 at 4:33 am
    • 2 likes
  12. Member

    God speed to your boy and Sempre Fi to all the leathernecks out there. And for what it’s worth I have a son in the Army and when asked how I feel about that I say “abundantly proud and terrified.”

    • #12
    • October 6, 2017 at 5:26 am
    • 5 likes
  13. Thatcher

    I’m so pleased for you. We’re a Navy family (thank you very much), but when Mr. CoolGuy was finished serving, his civilian job had him working for the Marines. He deployed to the first Gulf War with a company of them from Twenty-Nine Palms. (He was the tech that kept their surveillance devices working.) When I asked him, all worried, “But you won’t have a weapon? What will you do when there’s shooting?” He grinned and replied, “I have something better—I have 50 Marines.”

    He likes to tease them, pointing out that their checks are signed by the SecNav, but our Navy family (currently: youngest son is a sonar tech on a fast attack submarine) has high regard for the USMC. Hoo—ah!

    And, it’s true: the whole family is in, not matter what you might think.

    • #13
    • October 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm
    • 3 likes
  14. Coolidge

    Cow Girl (View Comment):
    has high regard for the USMC. Hoo—ah!

    Not to pick nits or anything, but “hoo-ah” is a sissy army thing. Marines bark, they don’t hoo-ah.

    • #14
    • October 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm
    • 2 likes
  15. Member

    Cow Girl (View Comment):
    He grinned and replied, “I have something better—I have 50 Marines.”

    This reminds of a joke I saw recently.

    A large group of Isis fighters in Iraq are moving down a road when they hear a voice call from behind a sand dune: “One Marine is better than ten Isis fighters”. The Isis commander quickly orders 10 of his best men over the dune where a gun-battle breaks out and continues for a few minutes, then silence.

    The voice once again calls out: “One Marine is better than one hundred Isis “S.O.B’s”. Furious, the Isis commander sends his next best 100 troops over the dune and instantly a huge gun fight commences. After 10 minutes of battle, again silence.

    The voice calls out again: “One Marine is better than a thousand Isis fighters.” The enraged Isis commander musters 1000 fighters and sends them to the other side of the dune.

    Rifle fire, machine guns, grenades, rockets and cannon fire ring out as a terrible battle is fought……Then silence.

    Eventually one badly wounded Isis fighter crawls back over the dune and with his dying words tells his commander, “Don’t send anymore men….it’s a trap. There’s two of them.

    • #15
    • October 6, 2017 at 12:59 pm
    • 5 likes
  16. Member

    livingthehighlife (View Comment):
    This reminds of a joke I saw recently.

    That’s a very old joke. I’ve always used the “Red Rory o’ the Glen” version, myself.

    • #16
    • October 6, 2017 at 3:11 pm
    • 1 like
  17. Thatcher

    @lthl, from a 2-year-old honorary Marine: SEMPER FI, to your son, to you, and your family! Count on my prayers.

    • #17
    • October 6, 2017 at 4:19 pm
    • 1 like
  18. Thatcher

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Cow Girl (View Comment):
    has high regard for the USMC. Hoo—ah!

    Not to pick nits or anything, but “hoo-ah” is a sissy army thing. Marines bark, they don’t hoo-ah.

    @skyler, is it okay to use “OOHRAH!” sometimes? :-)

    • #18
    • October 7, 2017 at 10:00 am
    • Like
  19. Coolidge

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Cow Girl (View Comment):
    has high regard for the USMC. Hoo—ah!

    Not to pick nits or anything, but “hoo-ah” is a sissy army thing. Marines bark, they don’t hoo-ah.

    @skyler, is it okay to use “OOHRAH!” sometimes? :-)

    Yes, that is how it is generally spelled for Marines. “Hoo-ah” sounds something for Oil Can Harry’s on sixth street rather than a war cry. But I’m biased.

    • #19
    • October 7, 2017 at 11:18 am
    • 1 like