A MESSAGE TO MY TRIBE

There was a time many years ago when I was a civilian.

I had aspired to the military most of my childhood. Hell, all of my life what I loved most was running around the woods near my house, shooting, hiking up the tall hills that surrounded me, sneaking around the bush, assaulting imaginary objectives, saving the world and just being out in the wilderness.

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My mom had a large cowbell she hung by the front door of my house and would ring when it was time to eat, and home I would run, starving after the days activities. I had been out all day long and that was how she corralled me back to the house.

Of course that was a different time and place and a parent could let their child run amok in the outdoors and not fear the worst.

I would continually hound my father for war stories or pictures of him when he served. I think he had one photograph of himself in uniform which I treasured and that still to this day, hangs on the wall of my home. I think my Dad just didn’t care to talk much about his experiences for whatever reason. I would later learn after he passed away that he had been decorated for valor.

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From time to time I would go visit my Mom’s family in Michigan, and there I would sit in my Uncle Bill’s basement looking at all of the things he brought back with him from Guadalcanal and the Philippines, paging through his scrapbook, absolutely enamored.

My brothers would come to visit us once in a while and see me, a ten-year old kid, fully kitted up in whatever boots, cartridge belts, helmets and weapons I could find. They would look at me in disbelief and refer to me as the storm trooper. Even at that young age I may have frightened them.

I think I still do.

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Since I was a child, I have had the greatest respect for strength, heroics and selfless dedication, I am proud to say that I could sing the words to the Star Spangled Banner when I was still just a pup (my Mom made sure to teach me). I grew up saying the pledge of allegiance each day before the school day started, and I went to church and Sunday school for quite some time. My own mother taught summer vacation bible school when I was a kid and I had a fantastic time.

I learned tremendous respect for the greatest generation that brought the nation through World War 2, and admiration for the deep intestinal fortitude of the men who braved the brutal Korean winter and fought back the hordes of North Koreans and Chinese.  As a child I stared at the young men who were friends or family who went to Viet Nam or came back home … or didn’t. I knew exactly who FDR, Winston Churchill, Adolph Hitler and Hideki Tojo were even though they lived many years before I was even born.

I didn’t realize it at the time but my Mom and Dad quietly infused me with these values, and this may seem paradoxical in the political environment of today, but my folks were very liberal. There was much distrust and dissent toward the government when I was a child and my parents often voiced their opinions. Liberal yet still deeply patriotic. It’s the same bolt of cloth from which my existence was cut. Service is in my DNA.

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Years later, I was in college, working, and with a family, and a man named Saddam Hussein decided to invade Kuwait. The country was quite agitated over his decision to do so.

I spoke to my father on the phone about it soon after, and what he told me would change my life. He said the whole thing reminded him of a tyrant named Adolph Hitler. Here was my Dad, who, although he had fought and distinguished himself, who hated war, but suddenly sounded so serious  and with so much conviction and also a little sad.

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That was it for me. As much as I hated leaving my wife and babies, all of a sudden everything seemed to make sense. It was time to suit up, and that is exactly what I did.

I tested relatively high on my ASVAB and qualified for a lot of different programs the Corps offered, but there was only one thing I wanted and that was to be a rifleman in the United States Marine Corps and to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them.

This was not something I was prepared to discuss with anyone.  My wife still makes it a point to remind me of this quite often.

My career in the Marine Corps has taken me many places, not all of it pleasant or good. There have been many casualties and more than a few brothers KIA. But I regret none of it and I never will. It has absolutely defined who I am and ever wanted to be.

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The Marines I have had the grand fortune to come in contact with over the years, the crap talking, over bearing, I am right and you are wrong, judgmental, foul-mouthed, drunk more often than not, big-hearted, lovers of small animals, children, old folks, Christmas, cold beer and pretty girls, who would happily put you in the ground if you dare to threaten our country or even try to harm somebody unable to protect themselves, are by far the best humans I have come to know. if you find yourself injured, alone, surrounded, out of ammunition, water and food and staring your maker straight in the face, your brothers will kill everything they can see to get to your side and risk getting themselves killed getting you out of there.  I have seen it time and time again.

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A nineteen year old kid, who has barely been around long enough to know himself, will suddenly grow a set of cojones as big as church bells and demonstrate an act of courage in the face of certain death far beyond the comprehension of any mere mortal.

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And you know what? It’s always been that way, ever since 1775 when we first showed up.

To all of us out there, have a spectacular birthday. Enjoy time with family and friends.  Show up back to work, ready to train hard, PT like animals, take care of one another and get ready for the next fight because it’s coming and maybe sooner than you think.

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Get to the Ball, and for the love of God, stop complaining about it. It’s the one professional gathering we have in the course of a year. So put on those Blues and show the rest of the world what manhood is supposed to look like, and let all of those ladies out there feast their eyes on the buffet of masculinity that you all think you are.

Let your girl get herself all dolled up and take her out for a fancy night.  We all know you’d rather be at the beach in your board shorts and flip-flops with a cool Tecate in your hands.  Get to the ball because your woman, who tolerates your ass, deserves to be told that she is beautiful and deserves to be taken out and shown off once in awhile.

At the very least hoist a cool beverage with your brothers because you never know how things are going to play out.  They may not be there with you next time.  Live in the moment.

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Remember your country loves you and the ones that don’t love you, fear you and that’s OK.

Happy Birthday

MGunns sends

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Riding a motorcycle in Southern CA

Two things happened during my childhood that had a major impact on who I am today. (1) When I was about four years old (in Montessori school), I had an explicit dream about a very beautiful teacher I had at the time, and (2) when I was five, my Mom’s friend Ken Weaver picked me up and put me on his Harley. So since I was basically a little older than a toddler, I have been smitten by both women and motorcycles and I have behaved like a cretan ever since.

My weakness. My wife and her sportster.

Now make no mistake, I am highly capable, perhaps even likely to do some boneheaded shit from time to time. Historically, people have described me by saying things like “that boy could fuck up a ball bearing”, or “thank God he was born strong”. But now that I’ve reached middle age I am a little more calm and I don’t really have much in the way of vice except maybe motorcycles and good cigars. I don’t see that as being too terrible given the scope of things people tend to get themselves involved in, and mama always said you can’t trust a man with no vice.

I ride my bike to work almost everyday and in the process I contend with traffic on some of the most congested freeways in the state of CA, namely the 405 and the 91. Those two freeways are like magnets for idiotic behavior and you will witness the most bizarre shit imaginable, on the road, right there in front of you, nearly every day.

Time and experience have made it necessary for me to develop a mental formula that helps me stay safe when riding because let’s face it, you put yourself at risk by the simple act of swinging your leg over that machine, and heading off down the road.

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I follow an 80/10/10 formula when assessing the risk of traveling in California. That is to say that eighty percent of the people out there driving are felony stupid, plain and simple. They are doing things like texting while moving in congested traffic at a high rate of speed, or their faces are in the rear view mirror while doing eighty five miles per hour, applying makeup to cover bloodshot and hungover eyes and completely ignoring everything else around them or maybe they are on the move and trying to sneak in one last bong hit before getting to work. Who knows what else? These are the people that will get you killed.

Something else that baffles me, people will take it easy going home for the day but will absolutely haul ass getting to work. It occurred to me that a sane person might hurry home after the work day is over, and take their time getting to their place of employment. Maybe I’m just lazy.

Another ten percent are impaired, indifferent or bat shit crazy and probably medicated like the guy who jumped in his car and didn’t think an adverse reaction would result from a flexeril prescription and his morning coffee and tequila. These people can also kill you, rather quickly.

So far thats ninety percent of the traveling public that presents a daily hazard to your safety.

The last ten percent are for the most part, good conscientious drivers who care about what they are doing and the how that might effect the people around them. They are however, getting harder and harder to spot.

If you ride, if you drive or even if you walk on the sidewalk. Take care and think about 80/10/10 while you are out there. You may find yourself surprised how accurate it is.

Cheers and good luck.

My trip to Costa Rica

Here’s the data dump for my trip to Costa Rica.

We visited the Guanacaste province. It’s very rural, has plenty of places to stay. There are beaches, dense forests, access to rain and cloud forests, (about 2-3 hours away), rivers, ATV tours and zip lining.  We stayed a bit over (2) weeks.

You will fly into Liberia International Airport (LIR). You can lock on a ride to your resort/hotel of choice before you arrive. If you choose to stay where I did they can shuttle you back and forth, but only if you reserve directly through the hotel.  If you go through a third party like travelocity or something like that, you’re on your own for a ride to the hotel.  I reserved through travelocity and my ride was about 50 bucks one way.

You’ll land, go through immigration, get your passport stamped then head to customs where your gear will be x-rayed or inspected. Once done there, head through the double doors and go outside. If you’ve hired a driver ahead of time (which I recommend), he or she will be out there in a crowd with your name on a sign waiting for you. Lots of other people will approach you and offer a ride, just politely tell them no thanks and they’ll leave you alone.  In my experience people here aren’t pushy.

We stayed at the Riu Palace Guanacaste. It’s all inclusive and pretty fancy and also directly adjacent to its sister resort the Riu Guanacaste. Both share many of the same amenities. I think the Riu Guanacaste may be a bit cheaper but I honestly couldn’t tell why. Both are beautiful pieces of property and both are about 45 minutes away from the airport and out in the boonies.  You can get rooms that have a view of either the ocean or the tree line. There are (4) pools, (5) restaurants, a nice little gym, a wellness center (for massages, getting nails done, facials and that sort of thing), a large communal Jacuzzi, steam rooms, a couple of bars including a swim up bar and a cappuccino stand. All are inclusive.

Let me just go ahead and say that I am no photographer.  I lack any sort of talent or skill in such pursuits and I am usually armed only with an iPhone 6.  With that said I did take some pictures that in my humble opinion aren’t entirely awful.

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Bring plenty of sunblock. If you are at a resort and go to a concession stand to buy more they will charge you an obscene amount of money. You will likely pay it begrudgingly because the sun there is very strong.

There are a number of excursions I would recommend. Archeologically CR is a young place. Because of this there is plenty of volcanic activity, rainforests,  many different types of wildlife. Seriously, it’s God’s country especially up around Montverde, or Arenal.  I would say start slow with a local tour and gradually extend out away from the property. Here is what I did and would recommend:

  • Get a massage. There are lots of vendors on the beach selling a lot of different stuff. This also includes people offering massages. We met a lady named Ivania. She ran a business on the beach with her son Alex.  Her prices for a one-hour full body massage were a fraction of what they charged at the wellness center aboard the resort.  I was skeptical at first, but my wife insisted and I soon found myself under a canopy, in the shade, with a warm breeze blowing across my body. The quiet murmur of whiteface monkeys in the nearby trees and the sound of waves gently rolling in as we got a great massage.  It was at the at this point that my mind clicked and I knew I was on vacation.  If you wind up at the Riu, Ivania is on the beach. Her place has the blue roof.

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  • Do some horseback riding. Imagine yourself galloping across the beach in the early evening. If you’re not sure how to do it, don’t worry they have plenty of gentle ponies available and there will be someone with you.  I was taught to ride at a young age, however my life has gone in a direction that hasn’t permitted me to do so in many years.  Getting on horseback and taking off across Playa Matapalo was another point where my mind and heart began to relax and I mentally began my vacation.

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  • Do an ATV tour. Maybe you can pair it up with some zip lining. I went through a guy named Marco. I found him on Playa Matapalo. (the beach next to the Riu). His business is called Marco Polo Adventure CR. He’s a decent young man who loves his country and wants you to see all of the beauty it has to offer. Arrange the ATV tour to include a trip to the Congo Canopy for the zip line. It’s about 40 minutes and includes 10-11 zip lines. You’ll get some good pictures of prowler monkeys and maybe some nice big iguanas. They’ll make a DVD of your trip for about 30 dollars. They recommend you don’t use your phone on the line since its about 100 feet off of the ground and if you drop it usually its gone for good.  The ATV tour ran about 3 hours. You will get into a very rural area, ford about 8-9 stream crossings and get to a nice little waterfall where you can jump in and cool off. You will finish off the day at a makeshift place deep in the woods where a lady will serve you a cup of good strong Costa Rican Coffee, and feed you homemade tortillas and plantain chips. You leave them a tip and you’re off.   It is a blast!
  • If the rain forest is something that interests you, check out a place called Bijagua. You’ll see a lot of sloth up there in their natural habitat. It rains all of the time, even during the non-rainy season so be sure and bring some snivel gear if getting wet bothers you. We had a full day starting with Bijagua, then a quiet, peaceful rafting trip down the Rio Tenorio with plenty of wildlife.  We did run up on a pair of full size crocs, so swimming in the Rio Tenorio isn’t really an option. If you get hot, the raft driver usually has a cooler full of cold pineapple to share.  We had lunch at a nice little spot called the Coco bolo restaurant. We finished up with a quick trip to Catarata Falls for a nice refreshing swim. Marco set up the whole day for us.

Sloth.jpgNext we went through one of the tour agencies at the hotel itself. We used a company called Nexus. They are very professional and employ a tour guide on their bus that usually speaks two or three languages. They did a good job, albeit quite a bit more formal than Marco and his crew. I like them both, it just depends on what your preferences are for a tour. If you like a more structured business like approach, Nexus is good.  If you want to hang out with some locals, see Costa Rica on a very personal level and check out some really cool places then Marco Polo Adventure CR is a great choice.   We hit another rainforest near an active volcano called Rincon de la Vieja/Blue River. 

 

It’s a great little hike with some absolutely breathtaking falls.

  • Finally, we hit the Monteverde cloud forest. There are (2) such cloud forests on the planet. One in CR and the other is in Ecuador. It’s a drive but the landscape is unbelievable, and if different species of hummingbirds are your thing then that’s where you need to go.
  • There is a bunch of other stuff to do. You can fish for sailfish or dorado. You can rent wave runners, you can take a sunset cruise on a catamaran or you can get on a shuttle and hit some of the other beaches like Tamrindo, Playa Coco, Playa Hermosa, Playa Flamingo or Conchal.

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Generally we would do a trip then have a down day by the pool or the beach. The tours can be long and at the end of the day you’ll be tired.  But in my opinion, it’s totally worth it.

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The environment in Costa Rica is treated with great respect and priority.  The animals and many of the plants and trees are protected by law and because of this much of the wildlife are fairly comfortable around people.  If I were to use one word to describe everything about the country, the word would be gentle.  The weather is gentle, the people are gentle, friendly and very laid back and the entire atmosphere is very relaxing.  If you’re looking for a place to go and re-charge your batteries, Guanacaste Costa Rica is a great place to do it.  

Pura Vida.

Merry Christmas

As I sit in my living room with my family after a supper of homemade tamales and watch as Christmas unfolds in front of me, I consider my life.  I see my wife, my three daughters, their husbands and boyfriends and of course, my grandchildren.

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The men in the in my daughter’s lives. Each are strong, forward thinking, dedicated and well postured to address the contention that life sometimes offers and all are poised to provide the anchor of stability around which a family can flourish.  Good, solid young men. I am thankful for them.

I see my three girls, laughing, doting among their children, their mother and one another having grown into all that their mother is; our blanket that surrounds us each day with love, warmth, strength and tenderness.  Each possess a heart vastly full of kindness and love and I am proud.

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And of course, my two grandsons, two granddaughters and our girl still on her way to us, all engaged in a full assault on every wrapped package with their names on it. I think back to our recent vacation where I successfully photographed numerous hummingbirds while being completely devoid of talent or skill in such pursuits and armed only an iPhone 6. I have been told by photographers that hummingbirds are difficult to capture on film, yet I managed to do so fairly well.  In spite of this, I struggle to get a picture of my own family that isn’t a total blur of movement and flying wrapping paper.

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I am obliged to pause momentarily and realize my tremendous fortune in life, all that I have experienced and all of the great humans I have had the honor of knowing, each having helped to place me right here, in this sparkling moment.  I am humbled.

I am once again reassured that while life can be immensely difficult, sometimes appearing even insurmountable, that God is present and is fully detectable in the beauty and the people that surround us.

May God bless you and your loved ones.  May you all be forever surrounded in love and friendship and have the merriest and the most magical Christmas imaginable.

MGunn sends.

Nuntium fratribus et sororibus meis

A number of years ago, I wrote a short essay venerating Memorial Day then posted it on Word press.  I received some positive feedback and quite a few more people chose to read it than had been the case with other things I have written about (which is not to say that a lot of people usually read my stuff).

In that essay I pointed out how much of the American public celebrates Memorial Day without really having a full understanding of what the day means to so many people, particularly those who have served in the last decade and a half and more importantly their families.  I went on to say that this was OK.  We all know what went on while we were there and if the folks at home want to celebrate together and spend time with friends and family well that’s just fine. Some of them may be blind to the things we experienced, but that’s alright, we all made the commitment to make sure things remained exactly like that.

This year I seen a few posts, memes and so on that appear to caution those civilians who feel the need to thank a veteran on Memorial Day, smartly pointing out that Veterans Day is the day to thank a vet, not Memorial Day. To my community I say re-lax, yes two distinct syllables. Loosen up a little and be secure in knowing that your contributions were selfless and didn’t just make the country safer but made us stronger, better humans. Shared hardship has a way of shaping us like that.  Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to understand the conditions that brought about Veterans Day.  The eleventh hour and of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…1918. Google it, then learn it live it, love it, because it’s important. Read about things like the first battle of Ypres (the Massacre of the Innocents), Passchendaele, the Marne and the Marines at Belleau Wood. You will come to understand the global sigh of relief that took place when that obscenity was finally brought to a conclusion on 11 November of 1918.  If somebody wants to come up and say thanks for what you’ve done, let it happen. They may not understand the history behind it but they certainly feel the need to acknowledge the sacrifices that were made, yours included.  A simple “your welcome and it was truly my privilege,” are all you need to respond with.

I have been retired from active duty for almost three years, and I miss it. Every day I miss the people, the collective purpose, and the structure that demanded total commitment, complete candor, and the willingness to do things that your body and brain would say were utterly unreasonable.  As crazy as it sounds I miss that.  For the life of me I have no idea how we even managed to clear the wire without being paralyzed with fear but we did. Only now do I realize the insanity of some of the things we were asked to do. Many years and many close calls later, I ask myself why am I still here?  What made me so special that divine providence chose to spare me when so many others, men and women braver and more reverenced and better than  I fell in combat?  I imagine I’ll never know the answer, all I can do is humble myself and try to live up to the expectations of my brothers and sisters who have shown us what it means to be courageous, have been exalted and are now cradled in the arms of God.

Maybe that is what Memorial Day is about for those of us who are or who have been in the Profession of Arms.  Maybe it’s about honoring our cherished brothers and sisters with our love, our hearts and with our actions.  So, when that civilian comes up on Monday to give you a hearty slap on the back, shake your hand, bestow a sincere thank you and maybe even treat you to a cool beverage, look inward.  Smile and be proud of who you are and what you’ve done and be humbled by the sacrifices of those we had the great fortune and honor of serving with. Yes, that fellow American may be a little naïve to the things that we have faced but that’s alright, that’s how it was supposed to be and that’s why we signed up.   Ask yourself how your brothers and sisters would want you to respond.  Our brethren who selflessly gave themselves so others would not have to, how would they want us to act?   With kindness and humility I’m sure.

Not just a sore subject, but an act of negligence.

Some food for thought. The NRA has shriveled from the original intent of the organization, which was to educate rather than to engage in hard line politics, to nothing more than a lobbying mechanism for the gun manufacturing industry. The majority of politicians clamoring for the preservation of the 2nd amendment are doing nothing more than pandering for the sole purpose of lining their pockets, and really couldn’t give a damn for the original purpose of the amendment. A vile bunch to say the least.

We have a lot of angry people in this country, and boy can I understand it. I raised three daughters, have grandchildren now that I cherish far and above my own existence.   God bless those young teenagers standing up for themselves, demonstrating their anger and protesting, and damn the politicians and other people trying to discredit them. They are kids, still formative, you can’t discredit them.  Their emotion is pure and uncorrupted, their courage is praiseworthy and part of what makes this country great.

The first thing that must happen is that there must be a clear concise definition of what characterizes an assault weapon. What criteria must it meet to truly be termed an “assault weapon?” Does it have to do with magazine capacity?  Does it have to look really cool, kind of like a space gun?  Does it permit continual manipulation of the trigger as opposed to a bolt gun or single shot breech loader?   Do revolvers meet the criteria of an assault weapon, because you can pull the trigger all day until you run out of ammunition, then speed reload and do it all over again.   A lot of weapons can fall into the “assault weapon” category.  I own pistols and shotguns that meet that criteria.  What defines an assault weapon isn’t at the crux of the issue and in my opinion, this moots this entire end of the argument and basically costs progress in dealing with the matter at hand.

The second amendment was put in place to provide the common man the ability to resist the emergence of a government that has become tyrannical.  Yes, self defense was part of it because self preservation is probably the only right we have that is truly God given, and hunting was also part of the discussion because back then that’s what kept people fed.   But the intent behind the second amendment was to provide us the means to challenge despotism.

On one end of the political spectrum you have a group of people calling for strict gun control, perhaps eliminating the right to gun ownership all together. On the opposite side you have others that call for unobstructed access, no wait times, and nothing impeding their purchase of a weapon.  Both represent the fringe and neither offer a solution.

I’ll inject here that I am a gun owner with a number of weapons all legally purchased and locked and secured.

Bottom line, if owning a weapon is what you seek, and by this, I mean any weapon, not just an “assault weapon” that has been defined as such by some sycophantic politician that hasn’t spent a day on the range in their life, then there needs to be a comprehensive and meaningful background investigation.  It needs to be federally mandated, and apply to all states. In other words, you should not be able to head across a state line somewhere and buy a weapon because the laws there are more relaxed.  If you are selling a weapon either privately or at a show of some sort, these laws have to be enforced and complied with. If you fail to comply, you are guilty of a felony, and if that weapon you sold is used in a violent crime, then away you go for a very long time.

If gun ownership is what you seek, then you will have to face up to the fact that you are going to concede your medical privacy as well as your legal history. These databases must touch one another.  When you fill out the required paperwork to purchase your new weapon, that gets sent to the DOJ/BATF for review, this should also include the NSA for a review of the purchasing individual’s history on social media.  Yes, you will concede part of your 4th amendment rights to own a weapon, but that’s where we are today.  The law abiding shouldn’t have an issue with this.

This is where we need to go to get ahold of this issue.  Feeble ideas like making bump stocks illegal, or prohibiting an 18 year old from owning a weapon (I won’t even get into the hypocrisy behind this) are little more than rhetoric coming from people with no idea what to do next.  Decisive and intelligent action must be taken.

Life after II

     I’ve been retired from the Marine Corps for a little over two years now, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss it.  I’ve been fortunate enough to transition into a job that permits me to function in the service of my country and did so almost seamlessly.  But I certainly did experience some degree of culture shock, and am very much still work in progress.  Bottom line, it’s a kinder gentler world out there, and I don’t always feel as if I fit in very well.

     To look at me now you might guess I had a military background, perhaps from an odd mannerism here and there, or some vernacular that is difficult to let go of, but I don’t really make it a point to display my past, at least not deliberately.  But make no mistake, the pride I feel, and the connection to my brothers in arms and the nation runs very deep, and will accompany me to my grave.  In many ways I’m a bit of a fanatic.

     What is it that I miss most?  I miss the sense of unity.  The feeling that all of us are there for the same reason and with the same level of intensity. I miss the focus on the mission, and the training.  I miss the shared suffering where the only relief is continuous if not insane laughter.  The missed meals, sleep deprivation, the cold or the hot weather,  the discomfort and fatigue, the fear and the excitement.  I miss surviving a situation that most people would describe as harrowing, then once things return to some degree of normalcy,  relaxing and sharing the time and perhaps a good cigar with my brothers.   That is something I don’t think I’ll ever get to feel again.

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    I miss being well led, and leading.  I miss working intensively to prepare my brothers for the worst.  And though I don’t really miss this, I am thankful for the solemn honor of being there for the loved ones of one our own when things didn’t turn out as planned.

     They used to tell us that one of the things that energized a Marine to push through to the objective even in the most dire of circumstances was a sense of tradition.  I never really gave much credence to this. I always assumed it was because of the men on my left and right. And while the latter is certainly true, maybe a sense of tradition has a play here.  Maybe I see it now only because in retiring I have become a part of the tradition.   Who knows?

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     In 1775 a small group of type A pipe hitters stood up in a bar and started what we now call the United States Marine Corps, and we have been carrying the fight to the shit heads of the world ever since. May future generations view us in the same light.

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     I miss the Corps dearly.  I will pat myself on the back for the rest of my life for making the decision to put my feet into the proverbial fire.  I have sacrificed much, but the Marine Corps has given back much in my life, both tangible and intangible, and I will always be thankful.

     To my brothers, have a spectacular birthday. And like I have said in the past, quit whining and go turn your Blues into the cleaners. Take your woman and get your butt to the ball. Show her off like the beauty that she is, and in the process show the rest of these millennials what manhood is supposed to look like.

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     To my fellow veterans of the other three branches, (my cousins in the profession of arms), enjoy Veterans Day with your loved ones.  Know that your contribution to the greater good is immeasurable and that the rest of us sit here in comfort only because of your willingness to visit violence upon the despots of the world.

   If your country is in trouble, the Marine Corps will protect you, feed you,  provide medical care, make sure you have clean water to drink and make sure that you are safe.

    If your country is the cause of that trouble, the last thing you want to see is a man dressed in digital cammies, in full kit with a weapon and rounds coming toward you.

Happy Birthday Marines and have a great Veterans Day.

MGUNNS SENDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A belated Memorial Day message and life after the gun club

I wrote a short piece several years ago on Memorial Day and I wanted to write again, albeit a few days late.  I received some positive feedback from the post back then, I enjoyed writing and reading it from time to time and thought to repost it again a couple of years later.  Strangely enough I got a message from somebody shortly after accusing me of plagiarism, that brought a smile.

The 29th of this month marks two years since I went on terminal leave and began my new life as a civilian.  My transition was a seamless as it could be, though not without some degree of stress. I suppose that was to be expected.

Life outside of the big green gun club is kind of a scary place. It’s a kinder gentler world out here and I’m not entirely convinced that I fit in. People act strangely when you show up to work with your Warrior values on your sleeve, and they don’t react well when you instinctively apply your direct, common sense approach to framing then solving the problems at hand, or really even if you display much in the way of intensity toward your  daily tasking. At the very least I’m a work in progress… yeah right.

One of the greatest compliments anyone ever gave me was to call me a knuckle dragger, and I know I’m not alone here, at least not in the Marine Corps.

Sorry folks I’ll never change.  I was taught young that only two things really matter, your mission, and a microscopically close second to that is the safety and welfare of your people.  Keep those two things in your reticle and success will be yours.

Some things I guess I’ll just carry with me to my grave.

I miss the Corps every day. I miss the people, I miss the mission and I miss being the old Master Guns with ample opportunity to hopefully shape and look out for our young ones.  If it turns out that I may have a had a positive influence on even one Marine, I’ll consider myself fortunate and my 25 years well spent.

I came to understand toward the end of my career,  that my value to the Corps was more about what I knew and could teach others rather than whether I still could ruck run like I did in my twenties.

The young ones.

The population that will almost certainly be the ones to go in harms way if the proverbial balloon were to again go up. And if you follow the news, things are pretty damn precarious around the world these days.

You know every now and then I dream that I am still in the Corps.  I dream about lots of things, not always good dreams but often I see places I have been, the magnificent people I came to know, the ones still hanging around the Corps,  and those that left us much too soon.

I  will always remain humbled by the sacrifices made by our nation’s youth during our fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another thing I’ll take to my grave. I was tremendously fortunate and deeply honored to have worked along side and come to know many of these young heroes.

I am also humbled by those youngsters that choose to serve in spite of the uncertainty in the world today.  Say what you will about today’s generation, millennials, IPhones and social media, but its dangerous out there and those kids that chose to roger up have gravel in their bellies.  Warriors are honed from that gravel, and nations are saved by those Warriors.  They are Patriots.

Patriots are those who demonstrate moral responsibility toward an exceedingly large population of people, many more times than they could ever come to know.

For me Memorial Day is a sad day, but Spring is here, it’s usually beautiful outside (at least in Southern CA), and I am in the embrace of my family.  I would wish that for everyone, but I know it can’t be true.  This continues to be a sobering fact of life for me.

I can only imagine what it must be like for the families of each Son or Daughter, Mother or Father, Sister or Brother who demonstrated such selfless heroism for each other but also for a nation of people they would never know.

I would ask that each us, as we enjoy our day off, with the people we love. And as we break bread and even imbibe as many of us will,  stop what you are doing and take a moment, just a moment to consider those youngsters that gave each of us the greatest gift a young person can bestow to a nation.  The gifts of their hope and their courage.

God Bless and Semper Fidelis

MGunns