View Full Version : An Open Letter to My Fellow Marines
07-18-02, 07:50 AM
Brothers and Sisters,
Over the past six months I have gotten to know many of you. Some I know better than others, but I do know that we are all brothers and sisters. Being Marines we work hard but we also play hard. When I come to this site, I enjoy the insight of GyLancaster, the Motivated Attitude of LadyLeatherneck, the humor of SparrowHawk and the dedication of TheDrifter and Shaffer. One thing I have noticed is that there are many Marines here with demons inside of them, myself included. Whether you served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf, Somalia or any of the other conflicts where Marines kicked a$$, we need to come together and if you need to talk to someone, you should feel comfortable in talking to someone here.
It wasn't until yesterday, after receiving a PM from one of my Brothers, that I realized there are still some issues deep down inside myself that I have to deal with. I know for a fact that some if not many of you here have these same issues. I respect the fact that some of you can openly talk about them, while there are others that choose to keep these memories buried deep inside.
After 6 years of marriage I finally sat down with my wife last night and explained to her why I wake up at night or why I talk in my sleep about things she knows I haven't seen/done since I have been with her. Hopefully she realizes what it meant for me to be able to talk to her and release a lot of built up emotions.
I pray that those of you that don't have someone you can talk to directly will seek out someone who is willing to listen. Maybe you can rid yourself of your demons as well.
Semper Fidelis Marines
07-18-02, 10:33 AM
Nice Post Sergeant of Marines and I just want to add
that although I may not understand it all I'm here
to listen. I also have made great friends here.
I never had an older brother and some of you guys
have become true older brothers to me and I've got
some new sisters too:) and it hurts to know that another
brother or sister is hurting. I sit and cry everytime
I read Sparrow's Vietnam Diary because it hurts to
know that someone so young would go through so
much crap and be robbed of their childhood like that,
because at 18 you're still a child full of innocence. So
I'll just reiterate what Sergeant of Marines said, we're
here for one another that's what the Corps is all about.
07-18-02, 12:52 PM
What happened?? I could of sworn I just read something
you posted on here and know it's gone. Am I reading/seeing
07-18-02, 01:03 PM
From the introduction to “Dreams of Glory”
<I>“I found my diary and sat down to write. I wrote for three months. I wrote what I remembered and what the pages of the book brought to remembrance. The loud angry sound of the Vietnamese language, the beauty of the country and the military slang unique to Viet Nam. The book revived the smell of hot blood which lingered in the air long after a fire fight. I recalled the days of pain, sorrows, glory, joy, laughter, jokes and friendship, it all returned, fresh and real. When I had finished writing the book, I read only the last page to my wife then broke down and cried.” </I>
I don’t cry, I don’t laugh, I don’t make friends, and I live alone in my world. This site is a place I come to rest and share my demons. Many of you think you know a little bit about me, but I am far from the individual you read about in my post. Or the individual you think you see revealed in my writings or post. Most of those that know me, in my world would never associate my life with what I post or share here.
When I realized I had some issues I needed to deal with, I wouldn’t believe it. I felt I had been successful. I had served an elected position on our local board of education. Lobbied before Congress and our state representatives for educational issues. Ran for state Assembly and Congress coming in 2nd twice. Over the past 10-15 years more than 300 articles have been written about me in the local press, most of them very favorable. Most dealing with community issues and my involvement in helping others.
I obtained my Master’s Degree, served as a Chaplain and pastor and have counseled hundreds of women and men, families for a number of issues for over twenty years. I have felt I have led a very successful life and career. Served for over 22 years as a Los Angeles Police Officer, Chaplain and Crime Analysis. I wrote many articles warning law enforcements agencies on the dangers that the multi-national and International terrorist posed for American long before our federal agencies realized that danger back in the mid 1980’s.
But when I retired, and began to have some time at hand, and most adult males do this in their early 50’s when we began to reflect upon life and what is important and what we have accomplished. I asked myself what had I done in life?
A father of five daughter’s and two sons from a previous marriage, my children turned out okay. Six of them have gone on to college and gotten their degrees. But, what was most important or what I felt was the most important contribution to life and this world was when I was 18-19 years of age, in the rice paddy fields of South East Asia, when I responded in the midst of fear and faced death for others as they were doing for me.
Ronald Moore, my guns squad leader had told me, “Cook, you don’t have time to be afraid as a gunner. If you do, you’ll freeze up and he platoon will suffer. Marines will be killed.”
I remembered those words and so I popped off caps at the enemy while the heat of their tracers and the explosions of their rockets struck the earth and the split the air all around me.
Today, I can describe for you many of those moments in minute details, what I felt, what I saw, what happened. I’ve written them down in my diary and in the book and they are there in my mind.
But I will tell you one thing, <b>I have never visited those moments, I have never dared to go back there. I’ve always been afraid I wouldn’t return to this life because I never came back. The kid that went to Nam, is still waiting there, hiding behind a rice paddy dike, next to a graveyard, pinned down by America’s shame who never allowed them to come home.</b>
I have gone to see a psychologist, six or seven of them because when I realized those demons were there, and I wanted an answer. I’ve lost count how many of them I have seen but their ideas on treatment are based on what draft dodging anti-war professors wrote in the books the VA and others have used to try and help Vietnam Veterans. The government is not prepared to deal with Marines that saw battles like we did in Vietnam and in the next 10 years as they began to retire much more will have to be written about the overall effects of war when the country that send us to battle failed to recognized it’s warriors.
<b>Countries have always honored their warriors; it’s always been that way. Win or lose the warrior was always honored by the country that send them to war. But it wasn’t so for the Vietnam warrior. Unlike other wars, before and afterwards and that is the main difference. </b>
The majority of Americans remained silent when we came home and that silence was harder to bear than the enemy’s vengeance. America was home, it was suppose to be safe for us, it was what we dreamed about, but those we trusted and loved, those we fought for, were not there for us.
I live today, for those that died at my side, and I am very grateful they did not have to endure the shame cast upon their sacrifice. They paid a price worthy of great honor. <b>today, I resent the phrase, “Welcome Home” because it has no meaning to me.</b>
07-18-02, 01:05 PM
Not sure if that was me that "kicked" those memories off but I'm here for ya. Like I said, we all have our own memories. Good and Bad.
As I asked yesterday; "Are those Marines that fought in Combat better than I"?
I don't believe so.
Did those Brothers and Sisters;
* Nightly fight Drunks, Robbery Suspects, Drugies, etc with the final outcome "Me or Them"?
* Attempt to save the life of a Brother or Sisters as they lay dieing after an accident on the Range or the HiWay or a Training Accident that went bad or Beat mostly to death by another that wanted to prove they were better?
* Hold a battered wife that didn't understand her Marines past and why his rage broke loose and try to explain that the blood on the foor and the walls were hers and that of her children?
* Hold a dieing baby, toddler or young person in his/her arms attempting to give mouth to mouth and CPR until the Medics arrived because the little thing was beat to unconsciousness because it was crying too long or loud, or just said the wrong thing or maybe stayed out a little too late?
* Or maybe the "focus" of 50 some odd Marines during a Marine Corps Birthday Party that got a little out of hand and ended up as one barracks against the other?
* Or been shot at while standing a post out in the middle of no-where by God knows who.
I could go on and on.
Am I better that they? Aww Hell No! Not better in the least. Just a different mission.
I too have met many here that allowed me to open my closet. Many that would take the time to talk with me when I lost a loved one or a close friend. I do not have that BrotherHood "out" here. Only a Marine can understand another Marines pain and heartache. And yet for many, all we "Non-Combat" veterans can do is just listen.
Thanks to: Roger, John, Brad, Mark, Laura, Mike, Marko, Warren,,,,Sparrowhawk, USMC0311, and others I can't think of right now. True Brothers and Sisters All.
Am I getting soft? . . . Maybe
Am I getting old? . . . Maybe that too.
Am I still a Marine? . . . I believe so.
I still have your wing S.O.M's.
The poem below is for you, Sparrowhawk, John, Roger, Mike, Warren and the rest.
I'm am one Marine that is glad you came home.
Great Freedom Bird, climbing so fast,
Leaving this war torn land at last.
With silver wings shining so bright,
Screaming up into the morning light.
Taking home the happy ones who fought,
And long this one last ride have sought..
But think again of those left behind,
Or those who sudden death will find.
For those you see, Great Freedom Bird,
The captain's voice will not be heard.
So tip your silver wings to either side,
For those who will never take this ride.
Then once more, before the clouds you meet,
Think of the poor souls, the enemy keep.
For they, lost men, know not when,
They'll ride yours wings into the wind.
So carry on your load of human life,
But, show pity for the weeping wife.
So Great Freedom Bird fading out of sight,
Seem not so proud in your long, long flight.
For every long mile that you shall fly,
Somewhere, a poor lonely G.I. will die.
And he, through no fault of his own,
Will never take your long flight home.
Maybe that's why I never cheered when the plane left the runway? My body returned, my youth & innocence remained on those mountain tops.
Ah heck Cook, Welcome Home Bro (with a big lip-lock planted on top of that bald head of yours). Find your cat yet?
07-18-02, 04:39 PM
Sgt Of Marines we all that have seen the beast of war know what you are talking about. I had the same problem here recently and it took being with my fellow Marines here at this site to help me through it. Drifter and Janine and Heather all helped me to cope with the feeling that all is lost. Talking it out with someone seems to help but, it really helps when you can talk to someone who has been there and seen the beast of war. We are all brother and sisters and we are all here to help one another in each and every way possible. Ross if you need a shoulder or a hand just give a call and this old Gunny will do all in his powers to help you through your problem or point you towards the direction that you need to go to get that heip. Our love ones knows from what we have told them that we have seen and experienced while in the Corps but their understanding of us Marines are limited but all help is welcomed. Semper Fi Bro Gunny Ray Lancaster
07-18-02, 04:58 PM
Cook has expressed what I believe a lot of us have gone through. These feeling that we keep bottled up inside of us and slowly eat away at us. We don't want to show our love ones what we have been through. We don't want them to see the pain we are in. We are afraid that they will not understand and feel our emotions.
We all have served at different times, different wars, and even in peace time. What we all have experienced has left something inside all of us. I haven't walked in your shoes and you haven't walked in mine, but we all are Marines, no more no less. We are here to help one another.
I was very lucky to have a very understanding wife, who made me talk to her and was able to releave some of the pain. I was causing her pain without knowing it.
Friends!! Who can you call true Friends???? I can say you all are, but can you call me a Friend??????
You all are my Brothers an Sisters and I love you all. There are some special ones, no need to mention you, as you know who you are.
read. Below are a few words I scribbled down late one sleepless night several years ago. I am not a poet, and I know it. The words are about my friend, Cpl Dana "Gag" Frost, Mike 3/4. Gag was short for Gag-a-Maggot, the nickname hung on him 'cause he looked like a surfer poster-boy. Gag was KIA in March '66 at Hill 385 near the Laotian border. I had the unpleasant task of "officially" identifying his body before shipment to DaNang. That haunts me to this day.
The last time I saw my friend "Gag"
He was all zipped up in a body bag.
He had less than 30 and a wake-up.
Now he will never wake up.
Semper Fi, Gag, and all my brothers on The Wall.
07-18-02, 06:50 PM
Just A small verse From across the big pond.
To all the Marines who have felt the dragon's Breath.
especially those who have fought in the various conflics
around the globe; To those who look into the Dragon's
mouth, and to the Marines of every Nation who Guard our
freedoms good luck to all.
"Per mare per Terram" "Semper Fidelis"
All you Devil Dogs, Jarheads, Leathernecks, Shocktroops, et al.....
0311, SOM, nam68, drifter, all of you guys...
Gentelmen (and Ladies), I've been reading the 'OPEN LETTER' post and (sighs and tears), all I know how to say is thanks.
Between 1975 and 1979, when I served, I never had to duck, hit the deck, or fire a shot in anger, or fear. YOU MADE THAT POSSIBLE... Thanks.
You made it possible, because YOU had already kept the Tradition of Corps and Country, for the rest of the world to see
You made it possible, because of ALL the things you post, dream (and scream), and live with everyday. Thanks !!!
No... I wasn't there, and don't know what it was like. But there was some rocky news going on, with the Iran hostages and all that ji-had BS brewing over there. But in my own way, I can only imagine the ordeals you lived, and I trained for. As an 0341, it was a distint posibility.
You all have (and have always had) my prayers. I do not know any of the names on 'The Wall', but that does not hold back the lump in my throat, the tears in my eys, or the Pride in my Heart, as I think of the prices that were paid, so that I would not have to face it.
More of a MARINE, or less of a MARINE...... I don't feel that is a fair statement. Maybe caliber, or tempered, or case hardened, ... you get my drift.
God Bless you all, now and forever. And when you get to Heaven, I know you'll have a GOOD SEAT, cause at the very least, I'd give you mine.
Semper Fidelis...... ALWAYS
07-19-02, 05:53 AM
SgtofMarines : I hear ya Lima Charlie.
I - being one helluva lot closer to MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS since I found this site, am doing my part for OUR Marine Corps.
Wed I stopped at I&I C Co 1/24 Reserve Unit - spoke with their 1Sgt - a fine Force Recon Marine. Kinda made my ..... well, you know the expression. 1Sgt had an interview of a young man who was on his way to MCRD this coming Sunday. Needless to say I was highly motivated by the experience.
I spent the better part of 2 hours with the 1Sgt and Gunny. Then my brain housing group began to work. I called my father 1Sgt Hankins - 1950-1955 Korea, USMC, asked if he 'would be interested in assisted the 1Sgt in motivating some young Marines'. I could feel the pride through the other end of the phone. Then I called Sgt MacDonald 1950-1952 - Korea, USMC - who fought in 'The Hook', asked him the same question. It was as if I had taken him to a candy store for the first time.
Now - This is MY Marine Corps, and I will do anything and everything I can do keep it that way. There is no way on God's green earth that I can say the Marine I am is even remotely close to the one my Father or Sgt MacDonald are. I feel it to be a slap in their respective faces to call myself that.
My wife is struggling with this transformation, and so is my daughter. Yet, they have not a clue as to the depth of the love and honor we have for our Brothers and Sisters.
I will until the day I die, for each and every good Marine - do everything I can to keep the honor, character and integrity of every Marine intact - if it is the last thing I do.
You can lock me away in prison, take everything I own, my house, my dog, my clothes, BUT I will always remain a
UNITED STATES MARINE.
07-19-02, 01:06 PM
Can't you just FEEL the PRIDE on this Post?
07-19-02, 04:19 PM
I hear ya Jammie. I can feel it alright. Not just
the pride but the love for one another.
Barndog great post, I loved your last paragraph....
Semper Fi Marine!