Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Heroes All - Saturday, February 12, 2005

I found this piece on 'Roscoesblog'. Roscoe documents his sources.
I find that his stuff is quite reliable.This one makes me cry. You can appreciate it more if you have seen and/or worn the '1000 yard stare'.

1/8 Marines Coming Home

Jay has an e-mail from a Navy medical type, who saw First Battalion, Eight Marines rolling back from Fallujah. It is a must read. (Jay got the link from the Marine Corps Moms).

They are so damn young...

When 1/8 Marines arrived back in Kuwait prior to returning home after their second deployment in Iraq, USN CDR Kurt Storey, son of a former VietNam POW USAF LTC Thomas G. Storey, was there. Here's his e-mail relating that experience:

I was going to the gym tonight ( really just a huge tent with weights and treadmills), and we had heard that one of the MEUs (Marine Exp Units) that had come out of service in the "triangle" was reploying (leaving country). We saw their convoy roll in to the Kuwait Naval Base as the desert sun was setting. I have never seen anything like this. Trucks and humvees that looked like they had just come through a shredder. Their equipment was full of shrapnel blast holes, and missing entire major pieces that you could tell had been blasted by IEDs.

These kids looked bad too! I mean, sunken eyes, thin as rails, and that 1000 yd stare they talk about after direct combat. Made me pretty damn embarrassed to be a "rear area warrior". All people could do was stop in their tracks and stare... and feel like I wanted to bow my head in reverence.

A Marine Captain stationed with me, was standing next to me also headed to the gym. He said, "part of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 8th Marines sir. Took the heaviest losses of any single unit up north as part of Task Force Danger, sir."

As the convoy rolled up, all of us watching just slowly crept toward these kids as they dismounted the hummers and 5 tons. Of course, we were all shiny and clean compared to these warriors. This kids looked like they had just crawled from Iraq. I had my security badge and id around my neck, and started to help them unload some of their duffle bags.

A crusty Gunny came up to me and said "sir, you don’t have to do that..."

"Gunny... yes I do..."

They all looked like they were in high school, or younger!! All held themselves sharply and confident, despite the extreme fatigue you could tell they had endured. "You guys out of the triangle?" I asked.

"Yes, sir. 14 months, and twice into the grinder sir" (both fights for Fallujah).

All I could do was throw my arm around their shoulders and say "thanks Marine, for taking the fight to the bad guys...we love you man". I looked at these young kids, not one of them complaining or showing signs of anything but focus, and good humor.

"Sir, they got ice cream at the DFAC sir?" "I haven't had real ice cream since we got here..."

They continued to unload... and after I had done my hand shakes and shoulder hugs, the Captain and I looked at each other... They want ice cream, we'll get them ice cream. You see a squid O-5 and a focused Marine O-3 can get just about anything, even if the mess is closed.Needless to say, we raided the closed DFAC (mess tent), much to the chagrin of one very pissed off Mess SGT. and grabbed boxes of ice cream sandwiches (as many as we could carry), and hustled back to the convoy. I felt like Santa Claus.

"Thank you sir.." again and again from each troop as we tossed up the bars to the guys in the trucks.

"Son, what the hell are you thanking me for...? I can't thank you enough..."

and they are so damn young....

I will sleep well knowing they are watching my back tonight....

1/8 is now back at Camp LeJeune.

My exwife and I spent my last night before I left for the Nam with my Cousin Bill and his wife Lynn. At that time, I didn't understand why that evening of hospitality was important for Bill.You see, Bill was a young Marine Lieutenant in the 1 Mar Div at the Inchon Landing. He was severely wounded at Chosin Resevoir. But, he managed to shepherd what was left of his command back to the evacuation from Hungnam during the Korean 'Police Action'.

When Billy came back, the 'spit on' reception had yet to be invented. That particular treat was reserved for my generation, the ones that went to the Nam. He was met by the 'no reception at all, business as usual and here's what we did while you were away on vacation' reception. This was just as devestating to him as the 'spit on' reception was to me. At least somebody knew that I was gone, even if they believed that all I did was slaughter women and children.

Billy was the only person that I could talk to about the Nam experience. After his years of silence and self imposed isolation, I was the only one that he could talk to about Korea. We both divorced, but he never remarried. I haven't talked to Bill for a very long time. In fact, I have neither his phone number nor his mailing address. Billy is tucked away in a pricey and private 'rest home' now, where he can't embarrass the family. His isolation is complete. I doubt that I would even be notified by family if he has died.

I like to think that I got past PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) but there are days that the dividing line with insanity is very blurred. These are the after effects of seeing 'what it is' that leaves you with a thousand yard stare.

Last Thanksgiving I flew from here to Nashville and back to visit my kids and my grandkids. It was a really tough trip. The planes were loaded with 'Space Available' GI's. Some going home on Holiday leave before shipping out, some were going to meet there units and ship out, some were just getting home from the Middle East. And they are ' damned young '. I felt like really close to the dividing line with insanity. And all I could do was shake their hands and say thanks...

The guys in the above eMail and all the troopers did and are doing what has to be done. They deserve more than Billy or I got. Let's knock off the political bullcrap at least long enough to welcome them home. And to say...




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