World War II veteran reflects on life dedicated to the Marine Corps
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    World War II veteran reflects on life dedicated to the Marine Corps


    According to the U.S. Department of VeteransAffairs, of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, only twopercent are still alive today. Retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. MarionCarcirieri is among them.

    Not only did Carcirieri, or “Cass” as he isknown, serve with the 6th Marine Division in the Pacific during World War II,but he also fought in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
    He was wounded just once.
    “It’s a miracle I made it through all ofthem,” Carcirieri said, who joined the Marine Corps when he was not yet even 17years old.
    When reflecting on his 31 years in theMarine Corps ahead of his 95th birthday on Dec. 31, Carcirieri remembered whatit was like to be a Marine back in the 1940s.
    “I was just so young that I was brought upby all the old time Marines,” Carcirieri said. “They taught me all the good andbad things about the world and so forth, and we made it through the Battle ofOkinawa.”
    As the real voices of World War IIinevitably wane with each passing year, Carcirieri wants people to remember thesacrifices made by the brave warriors of his generation.
    “My platoon sergeant made four campaigns -Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Tarawa and then the Battle of Okinawa - so you were outthe whole time,” Carcirieri recalled. “If you were married, as a lot of thoseguys were, you stayed out from your family for years at a time, not like today(when) you go out for a skirmish and then you’re back in. They sacrificed alot, really. People will never understand that stuff. They never understandwhat combat is about.”
    Carcirieri learned firsthand what combat,struggle and perseverance were all about from a young age. As a boy growing up inMaryland, he was a farm laborer doing the best he and his family could tosurvive in the hardship days of the Great Depression.
    Carcirieri got out of the Marine Corps in1974 and two years later began working for Marine Corps Community Services(MCCS), who is his employer still to this day. He manages the Marine CorpsExchange at Camp Geiger, home of the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry-East, andworks four days a week, 10 hour days.
    He says his drive must have come from hisItalian ancestors, who immigrated to America not knowing a bit of English.Though similar to his forefathers’ hard-nosed work ethic, Carcirieri’s doggeddetermination came out of plain necessity to survive.
    “My dad had to work day and night in laborin them days,” Carcirieri said. “I grew up the hard way, so I’m used to it. Iwake up about 0300, four o'clock in the morning. I get up, get dressed, come inand go to work.”
    Carcirieri says productivity has no correlationto age, but rather a person’s will power.
    “If you got the will to do something, you’lldo it, but if you make excuses for yourself, you’ll just sit back on your hunchand not do nothing.”
    When Carcirieri looks at today’s Marines,especially the younger ones he sees entrenched in technology, he urges them todo things the right way and to remember what the Marine Corps has meant to himand to so many other veterans.
    “They don’t seem like they have thediscipline that we had,” Carcirieri said. “But what I would tell them is by Godif you are going to be a Marine, be a Marine and don’t be a half-ass Marine andjust give it a little but not give it all, because without the Marine Corps Iprobably wouldn’t be here today, because that’s where I started (and) got myfirst clothes, my first shoes, first gosh-darn good meal, and they’ve takencare of me outstanding.”
    One highlight from Carcirieri’s time in theMarine Corps was after the Battle of Okinawa when he reunited with his brotherwho had been fighting on the other end of the island. Another thing he won’tforget is an old tradition he and his fellow Marines used to do when they wereliving in quonset huts after the war that just “tickled the tar” out of him -Marines challenging Marines’ manhood through the form of tap dancing followinga day’s work, and maybe a beer or two.
    “It’s the funniest thing in the world to seea whole room full of Marines tap dancing,” Carcirieri said. “It went on allthrough the night. I guess you could say that’s one of the highlights I enjoyedseeing. That’s the kind of Marines we were. You fought real hard and you playedreal hard.”
    Retired U.S. Marine Corps Master GunnerySgt. Harry Weatherly first met Carcirieri in the early 1990s at a breakfast forthe Regiment of Retired Marines.
    “[Carcirieri] is a very reserved person,”Weatherly said. “He is very calm, (but) everybody listens to him and everybodylooks up to him. He is absolutely a great person.”
    Allen Carter, retail manager for MCCSLejeune-New River, calls Carcirieri a motivator.
    “He is a tremendous leader,” Carter said.“His staff really enjoy working for him. They respect him a lot and they workhard for him. He’s just been a tremendous asset for us and we are glad to havehim.”
    If there is one main piece of advice that isfirst and foremost for Carcirieri, it is his embodiment of the mentality to beproactive and adamant in the pursuit of whatever it is you are doing.
    “Get up in the morning and don’t makeexcuses,” Carcirieri said. “Everybody can make excuses. Get up and go forit.”



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  2. #2
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  3. #3
    Billy, as you know many of us here had the privilege during our time in the Corps to be mentored and trained by many of the WWII and Korea combat vets that we served with. They were hard core all the way.

    At Hue, my Gunny (a WWII vet 1MarDiv) taught me how to lose any fear I might have,"keep the inside of my mouth wet and breath through my nose." Worked like a charm. A week into Hue my Gunny gave me the compliment of my life, he said; "Looks like we found something you're good at." Since I never could shoot like a sniper, the Gods always put all my targets up real close to make me look good.


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