Five Hundred Miles...

A Rogue Wanderer Traveling The River of Life.. Travel, Motorcycles, and Growing Old Against My Will

Saturday, November 10, 2007


You do us all proud.

For the uniformed, here's how and why

Adam Buckman Column, NYP, 2/21/07
February 21, 2007 -- THE people who volunteer for the Marine Corps are special people indeed.
Just consider what they're signing on for: A job whose chief requirements include fighting, killing and possibly dying on command.

And just to get to the point where they're allowed to do that, they have to endure several months of physical and psychological training so intense that it would cause most of us to run home to our mamas in about 10 minutes.

Fortunately for us wimps, though, enough men (and, increasingly, women) are interested in taking on the rigors and responsibilities of a career in the United States Marine Corps that we don't have to.

And after watching "The Marines," a new 90-minute documentary on the history and culture of the Corps, you still might not have any desire to hop on the next bus to Parris Island, but you will have a greater understanding of what the USMC stands for.

And that's an order!

Produced for public TV by the PBS station in Buffalo, WNED, "The Marines" takes you inside the USMC Recruit Depot (the official name of the Marines' famed basic-training facility at Parris Island, S.C.) where raw recruits arrive by bus in the middle of the night to begin 12 weeks of boot camp.

The documentary also takes you to the Marines' Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Va., where officers-in-training endure some of the same humiliations as the raw recruits, including crawling on their bellies through mud, marching day and night, and enduring loud harangues from omnipresent drill sergeants.

Of course, these training exercises have been seen before on TV documentaries, but what sets this documentary apart from the other ones is its consideration - in its final half-hour - of the nature of warfare and the Marine/warrior's place in it.

"Marines understand that what they do is a brutal business, but they never lose their humanity," says Col. Robert Chase Jr., commanding officer of the OCS, describing how the Marines train their personnel to kill, but to do so (hopefully) with honor.

This documentary is filled with such seeming paradoxes, including the statement of one officer, who says of the Corps, "There is no better friend and no worse enemy than a United States Marine."

Other interview subjects describe the Corps as "a cult that works" and "a gang that's lawful." In addition, much is made of the Marine credo to "run to the sound of the guns" rather than away, as instinct would direct most of us to do.

How does someone get to the point where they are willing to run in the direction of oncoming bullets?

Gen. Michael W. Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps, tries to explain the Marine mindset.

"Marines," he says, "believe in something larger than themselves."

Semper fi.


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