I joined the Marines in 1962 for 3 years in order to keep from being drafted into the Army. I never saw combat. I never shot at someone or had anyone shoot at me in combat. I was very lucky. Why did I join the Marines? It is hard to explain, but this
, Email from Dave - Nov 19, 04, does a pretty good job of giving a sense of how I felt about becoming a Marine at the time:
Cpl Mitchell is a squad leader. He was wounded as his squad was clearing a house when some enemy threw pineapple grenades down on top of them. As he was getting triaged, the doctor told him that he had been shot through the arm. Cpl Mitchell told the doctor that he had actually been shot "a couple of days ago" and had given himself self aide on the wound. When the doctor got on him about not coming off the line, he firmly told the doctor that he was a squad leader and did not have time to get treated as his men were still fighting. There are a number of Marines who have been wounded multiple times but refuse to leave their fellow Marines.
It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines delivered.
What I did in the Marines a long time ago was hard for me but nothing like what these guys in Iraq are going through. They deserve our love, thanks, and respect.