View Full Version : Speakers Bureau makes history come alive

11-20-03, 09:11 AM
Speakers Bureau makes history come alive
November 18,2003

The taped recording was of a bugle call sounding reveille. None of the Marines in the room could identify the unfamiliar sound.

As the next call started, Jack Murphy again gave the 18- to 24-year-olds a chance to name that tune.

One Marine raised his hand and, with more question than statement in his voice, tentatively offered "Charge." Close enough said Murphy about the Chow Call playing over the speakers.

Murphy, a retired sergeant major, joined four other Marines at Camp Geiger's School of Infantry as part of the Camp Lejeune Retiree Council's Speakers Bureau, which allows military veterans to share the benefit of their experience with some of the Corps' newest recruits. While members of the Speakers Bureau will visit local schools and other units, they have an ongoing speaking engagement with SOI.

"It ties a lot into the building-block training here," explained SOI's Capt. Giles Walger, Alpha Company commanding officer, of the importance of bringing the speakers to his men. "More than anything else, they get a sense of the vision of the Marine Corps."

Walger had invited the speakers to SOI before and hoped to continue the relationship in order to build an association between active-duty and retired military. He felt the formal classroom setting might increase informal interaction away from the military installation.

"It's the job of the active-duty Marine to seek the retirees out and get involved," said Walger.

Murphy used the bugle calls as a starting point for sharing stories from his Corps - but not, he emphatically insisted, the "Old Corps."

"We are one Corps, we follow one tradition," Murphy told the Marines gathered in the lecture hall. "If what we tell you makes you feel a little bit proud, that's good."

It's even better, he said, if they learn something.

"If you don't know where you've been, you sure as hell don't know where you're gonna go," said Murphy.

Cliff Hill, a retired sergeant major; Richard Ray, a retired gunnery sergeant; Les Boone, a retired master gunnery sergeant; and Master Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Black joined Murphy on behalf of the Speakers Bureau.

Hill, who retired in 1979, asked anyone in the room who was born before '79 to raise his hand. Three hands went up.

As the men spoke, "salty" language was tempered on behalf of the sole female, a reporter, in the room. The curses that slipped through were amended with an apology.

That changed when the topic turned deadly serious.

Boone, who served for 32 years, warned the Marines to pay attention not just to the men standing on the stage before them but to the instructors imparting daily advice that could save their lives.

"I've seen men get stupid in a combat situation and lose their legs or lose their eyes," said Boone, who added that in some instances, there was no excuse. "Ask me, and there are other Marines you can ask."

The Marines took him up on that advice. Following the formal presentation, the speakers stayed around for a question and answer session. A small crowd gathered around each.

Black, who is active duty and served in both desert wars, was surrounded.

Maybe it was easier for the students to relate to the Marine still in uniform, the one closer to their age. Or maybe it was because he had just come from the place they might be headed. But Black was ready with answers and advice.

"Pay attention here," he told them. "Life sucks over there … stay together, stay tight."

After asking those in the audience who planned on making a career in the Corps, Black said he'd be interested in seeing how many hands were raised after a tour in Iraq.

But if Black didn't know what the future would hold, Murphy was certain.

One day, said Murphy, each of those young men would be telling the story of "their Corps."