This past week a US Marine Corps plane crashed. Our country lost sixteen Marines.
The crash happened in Mississippi. But, where it happened really doesn’t matter.
What matters is what happened to sixteen different families and one big family. Sixteen Marines are gone.
Someone is going to ask a million questions, get two million answers, and write three million reports.
What I know, is simple. We lost sixteen good men. Men who were not average, men who didn’t want to be “an average, run of the mill, Joe.” They were the best. They volunteered, driven by a desire to serve our country.
These sixteen Marines got up Monday morning with a purpose, a job to do.
At the end of the day, they wanted to make sure every American was safe. They volunteered to protect us against bad guys. That’s what our Marines do.
“Standing on the wall.” They say.
I have worked with a lot of Marines. They’re never “former Marines.” It’s a “once you’re in, you’re in” kind of thing they say.
Jerald is a friend. His grandson, Jason, is a Marine. Gerald was scared to death the day his grandson said “I’m joining the Marines.” Then again, Jerald said, “That’s all he’s wanted to do his whole life. He grew up, wanting to be a U.S. Marine.”
Jason, the boy went off to Paris Island, he came home a Marine, the top recruit in his platoon. And, that’s also what he wanted to do. The best he could be.
Today he is ramrod straight. He looks you dead in the eye. He is quick to say “Yes Ma’am” and “No Sir” when grownups talk to him. He is a Marine and that’s what they do.
His Grandfather is still fearful for his Marine Grandson.
I worked with a retired USMC Gunnery Sergeant. I’ve known him for awhile. He gave the United States Marines twenty years. He’s as tough as they come. You can feel it when you shake his hand. You can hear it when he laughs. You are glad to know him.
He’s as proud and as cocky as any US Marine you will ever meet
He was the Sergeant who met the boys when they got off the bus at Marine Boot Camp. He trained them, turning boys into Marines. Then he took his men into battle. It was a hard job.
At the end of every day, when the world slows down a bit, he grieves for every man he lost. They were his men, his brothers- in- arms.
I always try to thank him for his service to our country. I can’t thank him enough.
I thought about Gunny last night. I thought about how he carries some pains we never see.
And I know out there somewhere, another crusty, tough as nails US Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant is going to stop at the end of his day, bow his head and cry.
He’s lost sixteen membes of his family.
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