USMC

Happy Birthday, Marine Corps – 2010 (belated)

Eagle, Globe and Anchor

One of the things I’ve done here at Stone and Sea for the last couple of years is to include the birthday message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps that’s distributed each November. As my Corps’ birthday is actually 10 November I’m a little late, but I imagine he won’t mind. Ooh-rah, Jarheads…

 

Sixty years ago, the United States Marine Corps—as it has throughout our history—demonstrated its vital role as America’s Expeditionary Force in Readiness. Just weeks after North Korean Communist forces crossed the 38th Parallel, the First Marine Provisional Brigade landed in South Korea, forming the backbone of the perimeter around the city of Pusan. The efforts of the “Fire Brigade” at Pusan allowed for the daring amphibious landing at Inchon and set the stage for one of the most savage campaigns in our Corps’ history—the Chosin Reservoir. As we pause to celebrate our 235th Birthday, we pay special tribute to the Marines of the Korean War and recognize their contributions to our enduring legacy.

This past year marked the end of Marine Corps combat operations in Iraq. Beginning with the invasion in March 2003 and through the next seven years of fighting, our Corps acquitted itself valiantly in the Anbar province and throughout the country. Locations such as Fallujah and Ramadi have taken their place in the illustrious battle history of our Corps. Our efforts in defeating the insurgency helped to build a brighter future for all Iraqis.

For 235 years, at sea and ashore, Marines have succeeded in every clime and place . . . where hardship and adversity have often been the common thread. Today, in the rugged mountains and valleys of Afghanistan—and recently in earthquake-damaged Haiti . . . in flood-ravaged Pakistan . . . or off the coast of Africa—we continue to protect our Nation, just as we did 60 years ago in Korea.

To the Marines and Sailors deployed overseas, to those training and preparing for their next deployment and to the warriors who no longer wear our uniform . . . we honor your selfless service to the Nation. To our loved ones who endure the many difficulties that come with being part of the Marine Family, I want to extend my sincerest thanks for all you have done and all you continue to do.

Happy 235th Birthday, Marines!

Semper Fidelis,

James F. Amos
General, U.S. Marine Corps

 

Happy Birthday, Marine Corps – 2009

Eagle, Globe, and Anchor

It’s 10 November, and today marks the 234th birthday of my Corps! My, does the time fly. For your reading pleasure, the Commandant’s message is below. Happy birthday, Devil Dogs… 

UNCLASSIFIED//
ALMAR 033/09
MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC DMCS//
SUBJ/UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS BIRTHDAY MESSAGE – 10 NOVEMBER 2009//

GENTEXT/REMARKS/

1.  UNITED STATES MARINES REPRESENT THE BEST YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN OUR NATION HAS TO OFFER.  TO BE A MARINE IS TO BE A MEMBER OF AMERICA’S WARRIOR CLASS – TO BE ONE OF THE FEW WHO STEPS FORWARD WITH THE COURAGE AND CONVICTION TO FACE WHATEVER DANGERS AWAIT.  OUR NATION EXPECTS HER MARINES TO BE READY WHEN THE NATION CALLS; TO LEAVE FAMILY AND THE COMFORTS OF HOME BEHIND; TO MARCH INTO BATTLE AND THRIVE UNDER AUSTERITY; AND TO COME HOME UNDER A VICTORY PENNANT.

2.  FROM AL ANBAR IN THE WEST OF IRAQ, TO HELMAND PROVINCE IN THE SOUTH OF AFGHANISTAN, OUR CORPS OF MARINES CAN ALWAYS EXPECT TO BE FOUND WHERE THE FIGHT IS TOUGHEST.  SUCH IS OUR HISTORY.  TODAY, AS WE WRITE THE FINAL CHAPTER ON OUR VICTORY IN IRAQ, WE WILL INCREASINGLY TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE ENEMY IN AFGHANISTAN AND ADD NEW PAGES TO OUR LEGACY IN PLACES CALLED DELARAM, NOW ZAD, AND GARMSIR. ONE DAY, WE WILL RETURN TO OUR NAVAL HERITAGE AND PATROL THE HIGH SEAS WITH OUR NAVY BROTHERS.  SUCH IS OUR FUTURE.

3.  AS WE CELEBRATE OUR CORPS’ 234TH BIRTHDAY, WE FIRST PAUSE TO REFLECT AND PAY TRIBUTE TO THOSE MARINES WHO HAVE GIVEN THE LAST FULL MEASURE IN DEFENSE OF FREEDOM.  WE EXTEND OUR DEEPEST GRATITUDE TO OUR MARINE CORPS FAMILIES – THE UNSUNG HEROES WHO ENDURE HARDSHIP AND SACRIFICE SO THAT WE ARE ABLE TO GO FORWARD AND ACCOMPLISH ANY MISSION.  WE EXTEND OUR APPRECIATION TO OUR COUNTRYMEN WHO HAVE ANSWERED OUR EVERY NEED.  AND WE CELEBRATE THE MAGNIFICENT MEN AND WOMEN WHO WILLINGLY AND SELFLESSLY CONTINUE TO GO INTO HARM’S WAY TO PROTECT THIS GREAT NATION.

4.  TO ALL WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE, TO THOSE WHO WEAR THE UNIFORM TODAY, AND TO THE FAMILIES THAT GIVE US THE STRENGTH TO FORGE AHEAD – I WISH YOU ALL A HEARTFELT HAPPY 234TH BIRTHDAY!

5.  SEMPER FIDELIS!  JAMES T. CONWAY, GENERAL, U.S. MARINE CORPS, COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS//

Kenna, month one

In just a few days Kenna will be one month old and, not surprisingly, the last four weeks have absolutely flown by. During that time there’s been a lot of playing, a lot of snuggling, and a lot of thinking about both of my lovely daughters and what’s to come. And thinking, too, about the past.

Things are different now – think Iraq or Afghanistan – but when I first joined the Marine Corps (many moons ago) there was really only one thing on my mind: What would Boot Camp be like?  

It was always there; huge, slightly out of focus, and in many ways something I had difficulty even defining what answers I was looking for, let alone the actual questions. But it was also something I’d chew on at some point, every day, for more than a year and a half.  

Like most guys who planned to join the Corps directly after HS graduation, I actually got the paperwork rolling my junior year. A combination of the recruiting office working like hell to hit their numbers and an angst-ridden teen looking for any clear path into a new reality; signing up early was a win-win for both. The down-side was it gave me plenty, and I mean p-lenty, of time to think about what was going to happen just days after I threw my cap into the air.

Were the Drill Instructors as vile as they seemed? Would I even make it through? Could my body handle the punishment that would come? Keep in mind, in those years a solid breakfast consisted of a package of Twinkis, a can of Jolt Cola, and Marlboro. Would I make it to the top of the legendary Mount Mother-Fucker? Finally, would I, could I, become a Marine?

I’d lie awake at night, taking bits and pieces of information from things I’d been told or read in the literature, random images from brochures, posters, or propaganda recruiting videos I’d seen, and weave them together in my mind in an attempt to understand what the experience would offer.

The reality of Boot Camp is something I’m happy to write about at a later date if anyone is interested (let me know in the comments), but the important thing is this: it just didn’t matter.

You see, I was focused on the wrong thing entirely. What I (and most other new recruits) couldn’t wrap my mind around was that Boot Camp was only three months long. Just three short months out of a four year commitment, and after those brief moments I’d have miles to go in a land just as unfamiliar and challenging as Boot Camp, with no roadmap or guideposts to help me along.

All that to say, it wasn’t entirely dissimilar from having children.

When Ellie was born Sarah and I (like most expectant parents, I imagine) had a thousand questions about the birth process. We had every kind of book imaginable. We toured the hospital. We had endless Q&As with our OBGYN. Sarah had list after list of things to do and even had all of our bags packed months before Ellie’s due date.

And then, a few days after her birth, we found ourselves at home with a new baby, looking like deer in headlights. Us, not the baby. I can’t speak for Sarah, but I can say with absolute certainty I didn’t give that little aspect of pregnancy due consideration.

Me: Um, babe?
Sarah: (sleepily) Yes?
Me: Is your mom taking her when she leaves?
Sarah: …
Me: Babe?
Sarah: shakes a finger at me and mouths, “go away…”

Like Boot Camp, birth and the hospital are only the beginning. And with this situation it’s quite a bit more than four years – it’s the rest of our lives. Clearly, there’s less freaking out wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do when the baby does this or that. But those situations are far less important than the many quiet moments I look into Kenna’s face as she sleeps in my arms and wonder what she’ll be like in 3 months, or three years, or even 30.  

More important still is that both Sarah and I are looking ahead to those moments, smiling, and I can not only see those questions, I’m ready to ask them.

Dealing with change, addendum

friendship

After going back and reading yesterday’s entry I’ve come to the conclusion that writing a post and monitoring a Webinar at the same time makes for some fairly odd leaps in thinking. My apologies. It’s almost like those times when you’ve had too much to drink, too much to smoke, or just far too much time between some decent shut-eye and you write what you’re sure is a brilliant idea, only to look at it later after you’ve slept or come down and ask yourself, “What the hell does ‘blovey-driven-pernaphadits’ mean?”

 At any rate, what was really on my mind was this:

First, the family-kind of relationships you develop in the military are, by the nature of your oath, many times long-term. In fact, I talk with one of my buddies from that time just about every week. Second, those types of long-term relationship are something that I’m comfortable with. Next, relationships in Corporate America are, well, different. But, in spite of those differences, I’ve made friendships I truly value. Finally, layoffs and downsizing, while a basic reality in business, screw with my “family.”

And it blows. 

So, my questions: what kind of relationships do you develop at work, and how has our economy impacted them? 

photo by tinou bao

LinkedIn, the Whopper, and an angry man in shiny black boots

When I went through Marine Corps Boot Camp (I still can’t help but capitalize it), in what sometimes seems another life altogether, my Drill Instructors had a rich supply of curses they would shout at of us. My platoon consisted of around 80 guys from all over the country and we all shared one thing when we started – we were terrified.

In thinking about it, I guess that’s not quite true. At first, the first five days or so, we were still the same guys that stepped off the bus, shuffled across the sidewalk, and put our feet on painted yellow footprints. We’d come from the airport, a trip that lasted somewhere around twenty minutes, and during those moments each of us spoke only in tight whispers – and that sparingly – but it wasn’t fear. More the kind of feeling you get when you step into a somber place you’re unfamiliar with. After we arrived at MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) and filed off the bus each of us stood on those footprints, row after row, and formed our platoon for the first time. All this happened as a guy in a flat-brimmed “hat” threw curses, spittle flying this way and that, and yelled for us to hurry. But still, we weren’t afraid. It wasn’t quite denial. More like ignorance, I think. We just didn’t get it. But that’s another story altogether.

The point here is that about a week later, when we were terrified, one of our D.I.’s trademark shouts was calling us, “the Burger King Generation.” And while it wasn’t exactly elegant, I got what he was saying – we wanted it our way. Or, more fundamentally, each of came to the Marines with self at the center. It was all about us.

Which, finally, brings me to my true point: LinkedIn profiles.  First, if you don’t have a profile, you should probably think about it. If you do, I offer you this piece of wisdom (clearly, not mine): your profile is, in more ways than most of us can grasp, your public face. It’s your resume; online for everyone to see. Why on Earth wouldn’t you have it dialed-out to present “you” exactly as you would want contacts, potential employers, or even old friends to see? I ask this because, at present, my profile basically blows. Think of this post as a symbolic V-8 slap to myself. But, hopefully, all two readers of this blog might benefit from it, as well.

What does this have to do with Boot Camp, you ask? Just this – it’s not all about you, or me, or him. Your profile, while personal and about you, is also a social platform. If someone asks you for a recommendation, take the 15 minutes and write a good one. You’re helping them improve their public face, and who knows where that can take them? Take the time to make an introduction when you can. In other words, don’t be the guy that only reaches out when they’re looking for a new gig. Be engaged. Be thoughtful. Give as good as you get.

Ooh-rah.