Happy Birthday MARINES.

marine-emblem-292x300Jesus its November already. More importantly it’t 10 November. I know my birthday. I know my fathers. I think my mothers is tomorrow. I know my brothers are in March. I think valentines day is in February, and my parents anniversary is  some time in June. I can’t tell you my nieces birthdays but I can tell you one thing for sure.

Its the Goddamn MARINE CORPS birthday today. Happy 238 years MARINES. SEMPER FIDELIS! I miss my friends.

I am 43 years old this year. I finally joined my local Marine Corps League. I am, I believe the youngest in the group. I now belong to the Jack Ivy Detachment 666 of the Marine Corps League. Satan’s own! We meet once a month at some Elks lodge and shoot the shit, raise money for charitable causes and basically enjoy each others camaraderie.

I am in a room with mostly Korean war and Vietnam era Marine Corps veterans. I am still figuring out where I will fit in with the group as far as my participation, but one thing is for sure, and what still fascinates me to this very day. I can walk in sit down with a bunch of men I have never met in my life or know and be at home without saying a word.

You can look around the room at the faces and theres an unspoken understanding of stories and experiences unknown. You are part of a group that will never be taken from you. A family you will always have.

This past week there was an old guy in the room. Navy veteran. Served in WWII. He was made an honorary member of the detachment for some of his past participation. He gets up and accepts his little plaque and relates a simple story.

I was at Iwo Jima on a battleship. I saw the flag go up on Mt Suribachi. All the ships around Iwo started blasting their horns. We had 80 Marines on the ship and what I saw and knew what was going on ashore, those Marines were incredible. I haven’t admired anyone as much since then.

The air in the room was still. There is no words to describe how you feel. You simply sit there. You think about good times, faces of the past whom have left us and how even in the worst of times how much you wish you could go back there even if just for a moment to re-live that experience.

On this veterans day weekend, think about what you have in terms of freedoms. In the simplest of terms there are fewer and fewer men and woman of a generation who went forward and fought tyranny in ways that are indescribable to this day. You probably do not even know what they have done. They willfully chose to go forward, without political affiliation or whether the cause was just, but simply because each felt it was right and had to be done.

If you look even deeper into some of these men and their acts of heroism and valor they displayed you will find it had in most cases shit all to do with you our America. It was very simply more to do with a buddy to his left or right.  The Marines I know are like this. Marines have stopped and beaten anyone thats ever taken a shot at us. Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cubans, Panamanians, Iraqis, Taliban. Historically speaking the US Marines have never left a battlefield beaten. The ultimate outcome of a war may not have been categorized as a win or lose, but one thing is for sure, the Marine Corps have never lost a battle.

There is good reason the Marines are called the finest fighting force the world has ever seen.

Its easy to thank a veteran. Its easy for TGI Fridays to give away a meal. Its easy to let an old man with a Marines Corps baseball hat go in front of you while in the grocery store line.  Its easy to take a day out of the year and go see a parade and raise a flag in their honor. Those are the easy things.

You want to make a difference? You want to truly thank a veteran? Educate yourselves and go fucking VOTE. Do not listen to NBC or FOX. Educate yourselves on the issues that have made this country great. Educate yourselves on what this country needs in leadership. Then Vote. When you go and vote and pull the hammer or punch the chad, ask yourself, a very simple question. How do my actions today in this little voting booth best pay tribute to the millions of men and women who have gone forward for this country for the simplest of reasons if only that we are all free in the pursuit of happiness? You vote.

Semper Fidelis Marines and Happy Birthday.

Let ‘er rip tater chips.

Eyeballs! Snap Sir!

Today is Memorial Day. While most enjoy the long weekend, sales, family, BBQ I too enjoy those things, but I also think back to my time as a US Marine in service to the country. I often wonder about where some of my old military buddies are now in life and those that never came home.

You see when I was deployed in the early nineties during the first Gulf War and some other small tactical operations around the world protecting American assets in Liberia or Israel most of the men around me physically came home. Its just in some cases that their minds never did.

I had a buddy named Benjamin Antaran. Big Filipino and Samoan from San Francisco. Good guy good sense of humor. We both got out about the same time in 1993. We’d catch up on the phone every few months. His dad was a cop. Ben became a cop and worked in the courthouse. From time to time when talking to Ben on the phone he would ask me about things we saw “over there” and as Marines we’d talk about those things we saw or did which in general we never really could explain or open up to civilians. At the time I wouldn’t classify Ben as being troubled about what happened but the more I talked to him I knew he was going through his own battles reconciling things in his mind. At the time pretty normal I thought.

We all settle and come to terms with extreme things whether its scenes of combat, hurt buddies, highway car accident trauma in our own ways. My father was a Marine in Vietnam. I grew up periodically being woken up in the middle of the night by my father moaning or yelling in his sleep and my mother waking him from nightmares. The only time I ever knew what my father did in Vietnam was when I was a late teen when his buddy and best man at his wedding who he was in the Marines with him came to visit and they rehashed some old times. No one talked about combat stress, PTSD, etc. Shell-shock was just a grainy old picture of WWI soldiers with thousand mile stare eyes.

I lost touch with Ben. He stopped calling. A year turned to three. I finally decided to try and track him down. I knew he worked for the San Francisco Sheriffs department. I knew he was married. I started searching the internet. Shit.

He blew his brains out with his pistol in front of his wife and father in-law. Accusations of infidelity, shoved his wife to get away from her during an argument, she calls cops, boom. It’s not the worst.

RochefordMeet my priest. Father Dennis Rocheford. LCMDR USN

I first met Father Rocheford sometime around 1990 when I was with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment attached to the 26th MEU. He was the battalion chaplain. In order to become a chaplain in the USMC you have to be a naval officer. You see Father Rocheford back in the day was a Marine. He was with the 1st Marines during TET in 1968. Fought in Hue City, Hill 881 at Khe sanh, was a radio operator for the famous MajGen Ray “e-tool” Smith. Of one hundred men in Father Rocheford’s company in Vietnam he was one of six that survived. Father Rocheford during Vietnam promised God if he survived he would not waste his life. He made it home, joined the seminary and became a priest. Went back into the service around 1987 and for the most part preached the Catholic faith to Marines who need it the most.

Father Rocheford was a hell of a Marine. Even though he was actually a Navy LtCMDR as far as any Marine I ever knew that knew him he was a Marine. Whenever we needed to get dressed up and put on Alpha’s with ribbons and awards there wasn’t anyone the Battalion Commander included who had more awards or prouder then Father Rocheford. Numerous purple hearts, bronze stars, combat action, unit citations. I think he had a ziplock bag of the ones he couldn’t fit on the uniform in his pocket, so that at least he had them on his person as to not be considered out of uniform. Chesty Puller himself would have given Father Rocheford a pass.

I can barely tell you what I had for dinner Friday night. I can tell you however before going ashore around a rather hostile embassy in civil war torn Liberia, in a mass with Father Rockeford a quote in the homily was “Greater love hath no man than this, than a man that lays down his life for his friends”. That stays with me and will for the rest of my life.

Father Rocheford went with the Marines as a chaplain to Iraq in 2007 during some pretty fierce fighting around Ramadi. I can’t tell you how many Marines this guy may have brought comfort to during those times.

Unfortunately in 2009, it was too much for Father Rocheford. For the Marine priest who prayed for and gave comfort to thousands of Marines heading into combat for over 20 years, whom only he himself knew what real combat looked like, took his own life by jumping off a bridge in Rhode Island. Who would pray and give comfort for he who gave the rest of us peace?

I have stopped looking up old buddies I served with. I can’t take playing the what if and why games in my head for months at a time when I find out they couldn’t deal with life afterward.

I don’t recount these men, or tell you these stories to somehow illustrate that we should be doing something special for them on Memorial Day, or Veterans day. Pretty much everyone I went in to the service with would agree, we do and or did it so others we love could stay home in freedom and do the good things in life without seeing the “shit” of war. Partly that and boys of a certain age and immortal sense of romantic adventure choose it. I say enjoy your long weekends on these holidays with loved ones but know someone gave the ultimate price. Some mother or father paid the highest price with a son or daughter.

Those that make it home but suffer in private about what they saw or did, are just paying rent on the ultimate price. You’re not going to fix them and in most cases you’re not going to help them. More times then not they don’t ask for your pity or help, but you can respect them. A simple wave, handshake, a nod. Mostly enjoy your weekend with your family and loved ones. Eat, drink, be merry. Shop and get a good deal on a TV. Do it all. As long as you know in the back of your head what was given and someone went forward and didn’t come back, and now more then ever someone went forward, came back, but they may not really be back.

People may thank me or people like me for my service. I generally keep my mouth shut and attempt to be gracious. It aint me. I aint no fortunate son. Much bigger and much better men need to be thanked, but they’re not here now.


2CEB 2 MARDIV Somewhere in Turkey about 1992 Antaran 2nd from right kneeling

I’m in this picture can you guess where? Ben Antaran is too. This was how we rolled as Combat Engineers back in the day.

So enjoy the rest of your long holiday weekend. I know I will.

Let ‘er rip tater chips.
Semper Fidelis.

Gonna Rise Up

Find my direction magnetically lightspeed
Gonna rise up
Throw down my ace in the hole

Whew! Where did the week go? It was like one minute it was Monday and uploading a blog and then it seems as if I turned around and now its Saturday evening. That was a fast week and I honestly have no earthly idea why.

There’s been lots of talk the last few weeks about how George Lucas sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney. Disney has announced that JJ Abrams will direct the next Star Wars movie slated to come out 2015. For those of you not sure JJ Abrams redid the last Star Trek movie that came out a couple of years back chronicling a young James Tiberius Kirk and how he got into the star fleet academy. I actually like Abrams version of Star Trek and thought it was well done. I know and realize a lot of the purists of both Star Trek and Wars probably wont agree but I think Abrams taking on the new Star Wars movie is a move in the right direction. We’ll soon see, I am sure. Don’t get me wrong. I would consider myself a Trekkie and I grew up watching all the Star Wars films, but I’m not some cos playing douche who dresses up as Lord Vader to go see my favorite science fiction movie at midnight on the day of release. However I am excited. Sorry, not sorry.

Last week I made some pork tenderloin with apricot mustard reduction. It came out pretty good. Usually whenever I get my swine on its strictly low and slow BBQ with either ribs, butts, or hams. I don’t eat a lot of pork chops, or loins nor cook them inside but this time I gave it a try and it came out well. Roasted red potatoes and squash rounds out a healthful meal.

I’ll close this up and hope everyone has a great rest of the weekend.

Be good to each other.

Let ‘er rip, tater chips!

I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.
—Marine Corps General James Mattis