If you’re new to OMV, below is an interview I recently completed. Hopefully it will explain why I have the blog One Marine’s View. For those that have come before us, and those in the future,
Time for a Cgar!
Q. When did "One Marine's View" launch?
A. I began the actual One Marine’s View” site while completing my first deployment to Iraq in 2005. It was an exciting time in 2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The local populace was just beginning to turn for the better and there was a lot to experience and a lot to write about that America probably wasn’t going to hear about. Some situations were hilarious and some very tragic.
Q.What inspired or motivated you to create One Marine's View?
A.While conducting my first deployment to Afghanistan in 2004 I was introduced to a charity website called AnySoldier Inc. The website was initially designed to have deployed service members write a paragraph on the website where they could talk about what they were doing. With America learning about the war in Afghanistan these small tidbits gave readers back home a small glance into what their warriors were actually doing other than what the news was reporting. Readers were then provided the opportunity to send support care packages to deployed Army soldiers that they read about. I contacted the owner of the charity and asked “What about the Marine Corps?” The site was designed to support deployed soldiers, but Marines needed help as well. Being the first Marine to establish “AnyMarine” it gave me the opportunity while keeping OPSEC in consideration to post about what Marines were doing. This lead to literally hundreds of care packages to roll into our area of Afghanistan for my Marines. I served as the hub and would distribute packages to remote out posts in our area of operations. After doing a considerable amount of posts, the Marines in our area got a lot of attention and many people reading our posts then encouraged me to begin a blog. One Marine’s View was born.
Q. You were recently awarded the 5th Annual MilBlog Marine Blog of the Year. What went through your head when you were announced as the winner?
A. Along with excitement a big sense of gratitude was felt. One Marine’s View’s entire purpose is designed around educating the American people about what their Marines are doing. Many Americans know of Marines but proportionally, very few actually know what Marines do, the sacrifices they make, the pride and dedication they have for their Corps and for America. When the winners were announced I knew this meant more people were being exposed to what the junior Marines were doing for them.
Q. What are you favorite types of stories to write? Why?
A. My favorite stories to write are about personal experiences while deployed that the average American would not be exposed to if we didn’t share it with them. The hardship of deployments, the loss of a loved ones during deployment, the blood, sweat and tears shared among Marines during work ups and the challenges of military spouses and the challenges they face all from a grunts perspective. Its almost guaranteed that shortly after Marines deploy, their Spousal Unit (spouses) will endure the immediate frozen house pipe, flat tire on the car, sick kids, dogs, dying fish, misplaced keys that are in the deployed Marines bag and all of the other catastrophes that happen that make our spouses “battle hardened”. Along with the above, the unique situations Marines get themselves into and the leadership and maturity of our junior Marines making life-altering split second decisions in a blink of an eye are the real stories. These are the personable experiences large news agencies don’t report about. They can’t, because they aren’t living with the Marines and they aren’t Marines, so they generally miss the point on what America’s Marines are actually doing and feeling.
Q.If you could interview one person for One Marine's View, who would it be and why?
A. Within One Marine’s View there is a dedicated section called “Heroes Call”. It is dedicated to those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for America. If I could I would interview those heroes that make the greatest difference. Those warriors’ young and old that don’t come back from war, past and present deserve the best respect we can give them. It is all too frequent that we attend memorials of fallen Marines and then move on. It’s a sad occasion but a part of us ends there. For the families of lost Marines, the loss goes on forever. I look back at Marines I lost in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010 and I often wonder how those families I wrote condolence letters to are doing today. I would love to be able to interview those that have passed to tell their story but I don’t think I could do an interview that would do them justice. I’d rather they just stay alive.
Q.What other blogs and websites do you regularly read?
A. Blogs and especially Military Blogs (MilBlogs) have taken off throughout our fight against terrorism. There are thousands and more being started every day from all branches and from military spouses, parents, and veterans. A good nucleus of Milblogs is a one stop shopping center called Milblogging.com. It is the parent site that backed the 5th Annual Milblog Conference and serves as a foundation for both beginning and senior Milblogs of all services. Along with several news websites, this is a great place to get a wide range of information.
Q. What is your biggest goal for One Marine's View over the next year?
A. One Marine’s View’s biggest goal over the next year is to continue to push the story of the young Marine to the public and hopefully introduce the information to new readers so they too understand their Marine Corps. Many Milblogs will ask for donations to help run their site. One Marine’s View isn’t about making money, it’s about Marines. Who doesn’t like a great story? Who doesn’t love Marines (besides the enemy!) So hopefully overtime we will bring unique stories to those that haven’t been fully introduced to their Marine Corps.
Q.What do you think makes the milblogging community as strong as it is?
A. The MilBlog community is so strong because they all have a common elements they share throughout the unique life that the military brings them. Despair, stress, pride, and sometimes a warped sense of humor, allows the MilBlog community to not only be strong but it has developed into a community of support, pride and patriotism that brings the service members’ views to the front.
Q.How has milblogging and running One Marine's View affected your life? What is your favorite memory that happened while maintaining your blog?
A. Writing One Marine’s View has affected many Marines lives by sharing their story. For myself, it has served as a massive aid especially during combat deployments. Writing, sharing and venting your experiences can be very mentally healthy. The site isn’t used to spew negative opinions, it is a tool that allows you to try to share the fatigue experienced after a long patrol, the frustration of holding shura after shura (meeting with Afghan locals) only to gain very little ground and the other elements of combat and military related events. By establishing One Marine’s View, I have had the opportunity to meet some exceptional Marines and people that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so and share their story. The type of stories that make you sit down and ask yourself “Where do we get these kids, these heroes?” There are many memories I have from experiences of writing the blog. From the near death experiences during deployments to the challenges of wag bags to the occasion of learning a long time care package supporter’s son was in my company during deployment. One of the best experiences was when I received emails and care packages from a young warrior who was battling a rare disease. At her young age she loved Marines. She want to be a Marine but couldn’t because of here rare disease. Her mother sent me an email and asked if I was going to be in the area, if I or another Marine could stop in and see her. Being a Marine 24/7 is more than killing bad guys, it’s doing what’s right, it’s accomplishing the mission, standing up for those that are weak. It’s being a role model for those that are less fortunate and helping them be strong. Later, in the cold hospital, it was quiet, no one around and I could a hear a young girls voice talking to her mother about what she would wear the next day. I crept up to the door wearing my Service Alpha uniform and gave the door a big boy knock and asked,”Any Marines in here?” in a somewhat loud voice and walked in to see a young fragile child, with a face it up and a smile to match. “Maj Pain?” she asked. I said, “Of course, who else?”
Another event that ranks up there was in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan. We had established a road block and blocking position as we monitored the atmospherics of the local populace. As a small bus approached, as many vehicles did on that route, we could see it was packed with locals. I had security overwatch established as guardian angels to watch our flanks and as protection on the roadblock. As the vehicle was stopped and people unloaded, a small 1 year old girl fell off the lap of its mother into the flour like dirt. It was thick, nasty, flour-like dirt that quickly covered the now crying baby’s face. The mother couldn’t pick her up because so many people were coming out of the bus, they shoved her aside. I stood there as long as I could take it until I decide to move and scoop up the crying baby. I moved with a sense of urgency and when I did the radio came alive as my “guardian angels” thought something was wrong and watched my back. As I picked up the child and washed its mouth out with water from my camel back, a man from the bus began to beat the women it belonged to. We put a stop to that as well. Our corpsman checked both females for any injuries and I handed the baby back to her mother. It was a volatile situation because of the customs and the local females. Looking into the woman’s eyes as she wore her burkah, I knew I made the right decision as she quietly whispered what I later found out was a soft, “Thank you.” Being able to share those stories to Americans and show that Marines are truly “No better friend, no worse enemy” was priceless.
Q. How do you keep your content fresh? Where do you go for story ideas?
A. How do I keep my content fresh? I wish there was a secret formula I could tell you (we would both be rich) but you experience so many emotions during deployments interacting with those less fortunate and feeling that you are making a difference it just comes from your gut. Like my Blog disclaimer says: “I usually think about this stuff when I'm running or suffering from stress or lack of sleep. You can torture me, kill me, but just don't bore me.”
Q.. Do you know your daily/monthly views or your approximate readership?
A. If you are going to do a blog and want to get your word out, you can’t just do it half- hearted. You have to monitor you visitors, what they read and why they read it. There are many ways to track readers and if you pay attention to them, you can immediately tell if you’re missing your mark, then this allows you to adjust. When I began, One Marine’s View readers were in the dozens a month. Now we are in the high hundreds to low thousand a day.
Q.. You were recently awarded the 5th Annual MilBlog Marine Blog of the Year. What sets your blog apart from others to receive this award?
A.The thing that sets my blog apart from others is the spirit behind it. Anyone can do a blog about this or that. If you aren’t passionate about it, love it, you will have a hard time writing posts and your readers will dwindle. The key is actually very simple. You can have all the high tech blog servers, gadgets and ad-ons, but really all you need is a good blog post that you are passionate about. If you are doing it for the right reasons, it will happen. The best advice I give to new Milbloggers is to stay in your box and talk about what you know and within your pay grade. Adding a bit of humor is always a crowd pleaser but at the same time honesty, patriotism and point blank posts get it done.