I served in Iraq with some of the most incredible men and women of our Armed Forces. The members of our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are truly worthy of our unswerving support.
Although I’m sure the Army and Air Force have more than their fair share of outstanding soldiers and airmen, the adoration for my fellow troops comes from my time serving with Marines and Sailors. I will forever, jealously guard that time in my life when I stood side by side with the grunts and docs. I personally know now why we hold fast to the decree of “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.” We do so because of those we serve with.
Even when you are one of “The Few, The Proud” it is still an incredible experience to serve alongside others who belong to that fraternity. I continue to be amazed at the level of maturity, professionalism, and courage they possess. These are smart kids with intestinal fortitude, with character.
So many times you would simply give them your intent and desired end state, and they would deliver. If you’ve never led or had the privilege of observing a group that gets it right almost every single time the first time, believe me, it’s truly an honor.
It’s an unforgettable experience to accompany an infantry unit that has every Marine, without specific command or direction melt into exactly the right place. Each one, knowing his job, from the time they dismount the vehicles or walk into an area, is either posted or patrolling precisely where he should be.
I stand in awe of the corpsmen that run into the middle of a firefight to retrieve or give aid to a fallen Marine.
I am encouraged when I remember the Forward Air Controller being shot at by RPG’s who simply peeked back around the corner at the rest of the platoon, in a humorous, cartoon-like way and kept talking to the medevac helo and close air support gunships.
To know that young men like Corporal Stephen Flannery exist should reassure all of us. Every time I stepped into a group of Iraqi’s I knew he had my back. I knew he wouldn’t be gawking at something around him. I knew, without looking, that he was doing his job and that he would act swiftly and decisively when the time came.
They were inspiring to work with, and they taught me how to be a better Marine. From them I learned lessons which I apply today and will for the rest of my life. Like the time an older Marine taught me to “Never argue with a pig. You’ll only get dirty and you’ll make the pig look smarter than the pig that he is.” As tough as Marines are though, there was always compassion, because another would say “feel sorry for the pig, his lot in life is to be a sausage.”
These fine young men and women deserve all the support we can give. We observed Iraqi Liberation Week last week and did so with relatively little fanfare. With news cycles stuck on immigration issues and disgruntled generals who haven’t gotten over Secretary Rumsfeld urinating on their fire hydrants, the hard work of the troops was again overlooked. This, during the very week our focus should have been on them.
The young Marines and Corpsmen I served with, those still there, and their counterparts in the Army and Air Force have given and are giving their blood, sweat, tears, and lives so the Iraqi people could taste just a little bit of what we have. They do it without complaint. They do it without asking for the recognition of their endeavors.
With each passing day, more and more call this group “The Next Greatest Generation.” Knowing those I do from both groups, I would say this is not only a fair title, but also a humbling one. Both groups have had the courage to stand against the evils of their time. The first faced the fascism of empirical Japan and the evils of Hitler’s Germany; this group faces the evil of Islamic terror, and they do so voluntarily.
Unlike so many liberals here, these fine young men and women have the insight, the vision to see the world around them and all that is both good and bad about it. They see how their actions can make the world a safer place. Unlike the anti-war groups and liberal cynics, they know that change only happens through hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance.
But, they have to follow the orders of our civilian leaders in Washington D.C. So, they deserve to have leaders there with character, courage of moral convictions, perseverance, compassion, a vision, and a hope for the future. As I surveyed the political landscape last fall, specifically with an eye on the need for civilian leadership worthy of our young troops, one person stood out to me, whom I now support. Pete Ricketts, from the onset of his Senatorial campaign, whether personally or publicly has consistently demonstrated the qualities our troops deserve to have in a civilian leader making decisions on their behalf.