This is an exchange between an Army Sergeant and me. I pray
that my words hit their mark.
Subject: Website, etc.
My name is (name withheld), US Army. I serve at Fort Knox,
KY as part of the 16th Cavalry Regiment, which is the US Army
Armor School. I joined the Army just as Clinton and his merry
men were getting their hooks into the Armed Forces, 7 years
ago. I don't know how things look from your side, but I don't
like where the Army is at. The whole world has become a game
of anti-military, non-patriotic, political correctness and I
hate it. I'm tired of the Equal Opportunity, Sexual Harassment,
Homosexuality, and Consideration of Others training. My belief
is that the country needs to be reminded that the primary objective
of the Armed Forces is to "kill people and break things", and
while not doing so need to endlessly practice the art of doing
so in order to maintain a razor sharp edge.
Not long ago, I lost my enchantment with my place in life
as an Artilleryman, and looked at getting out, only to realize
that I would re-enter the American workforce in no better position
that when I entered, save perhaps the GI Bill. I re-thought
leaving and am changing my MOS to 74B, with a focus in the IT
field. Now don't get me wrong, I am a better geek than I ever
was an artilleryman, but I would have liked to have felt a little
more useful as a true soldier. I have even pondered trading
in this goofy-ass beret for one of your covers. (I doubt that
I still have that option after 7 years with the Army.)
I just wanted to write to let you know that though you are
a Marine and probably look down your nose at those such as I,
that I applaud the heart within your site and the message that
you convey. I especially loved your Boot stories, as well as
your focus on R. Lee Embrey who I have idolized since I first
watched "Full Metal Jacket". Keep up the good work.
I received your email and I can understand some of
the disenchantment you convey and I have to admit that the Marine
Corps has sometimes fallen short in my eyes at certain points
in my career. Let me recount a story that might help you out
as it was a pivotal point in my career.
When I first joined in 1987, I was guaranteed an avionic
field due to my high grades and test scores. It was a technical
field and I was glad to get it, although I did not realize it
until later. You see, when I got to my duty station, I realized
that it was run by senior enlisted with no officers in the mix.
While that had its perks, I see now that there were problems.
You had senior enlisted that had grown up and gotten old and
comfortable in the field. Added in was the fact that it was
a technical MOS so there was less hardcore Marine Corps spirit
in exchange for technical work. We never did the things that
normal units did to build team spirit: PT, marching, leadership
training, etc. In my opinion, the organization was soft and
liked it that way.
As a young Marine, I was torn. On one hand, it was an easy
existence; basically a 9-5 job and sometimes not even that.
On the other hand, I felt like I was missing something. This
was not the hardcore organization I thought I was promised.
But being young and dumb, I just went along with it, pushing
back that little voice. Then one day it happened.
Sgt Shane Maxey checked in one day and my life would never
be the same. He had just come off the drill field and was still
just as intense. He showed up and was disgusted with what he
saw. He jumped knee deep in our ass from day one. At first,
I hated him. Who was he to come in our cushy set up and turn
things upside down?
But after awhile, he answered that little voice that was
telling me that this situation was not right. I realized this
was someone I needed to latch onto and learn how to be a real
Marine. He was the first one in the organization that showed
me that you can still make a difference.
Shane is the reason I am an Officer today. I learned so
much leadership from him and he put my faith back into the Corps
and made me realize what I hope I have conveyed. He taught me
my mantra when it comes to leadership: I cannot change the Marine
Corps as a whole but I can change the little piece it gives
I, too, get bothered by some of the things you mentioned.
I feel that my Corps is going down the tubes at times and that
the entire organization has lost its spirit. But then I realize
that if I feel that way, then others around me do too. I think
back to how Shane affected me and I realize that it is my responsibility
to reverse the disenchantment of those under me.
What is our warrior spirit but a collection of beliefs?
What is it made of? The sum of our attitudes. How do you change
in if you detect it is lacking? One person at a time starting
with you. If you do not like the way things are going, set yourself
on fire and then go around and start going around lighting others.
Do not think it is for personal gain or that you are only making
a dent in the problem. Shane lit me years ago and now I am a
Captain of Marines. Who knows who else he lit and, by extension,
how many I have lit as a result of his influence.
Lastly, I address your chosen field. If you fell that way,
do you think that others in the IT field might feel like they
got the short end of the stick, wanting to be more towards the
front of the spear? As a Sergeant, you have the ability to show
them that despite their current station, they can still be hardcore
Army. Some might be happy with it. Some might resist. But what
is the worst thing that can happen; a few will look back and
remember that asshole of a Sergeant who made them adhere to
Army standards. On the other hand, you might inspire someone
Bottom line is that in tough political times such as the
ones that infect our armed forces, we need heroes more than
ever. It is easy to be gung ho when there is fighting.
Lastly, I do not look down on Army. Both of my grandfathers
proudly served the Army in war and peace. Both of them were
also drill sergeants, I am proud to claim. My brother served
and some of the finest fighting men I have met have wore Army
green. (name withheld), they are out there. Find them, motivate
them, and for those who are trying to slide through and ruin
your Army...HURT 'em!!
Jason D. Grose
United States Marine Corps
"And of course you can't become if you only say what you
would have done..."
If You Steal My Sunshine Len
I'd like to thank you for the response to my email. While
it was written in a moment of frustration, I still feel that
they are still issues to me. Luckily, I will report in 2 weeks
to AIT, and will be immersed in a Basic Training environment.
I don't think that there can be a better time or place to begin
making an impression than my four months at Fort Gordon, GA.
IT soldiers, especially those who know their stuff and realize
how underpaid their field in particular is, tend to be less
soldiers than they ought to be. I think the time has come to
help steer my peers and subordinates back into the light. Thanks
for your guidance.