It’s amazing that you can point the finger at those that are asked to give all if required and sacrifice everything that is important to them while they do it. Some people have the mentality of “Break glass only in the case of war” towards our military and especially towards Marines. 

 We train young brave warriors to be the best and most physically fit and teach them the very latest tactical skills, make them invincible and their actions speak louder than words when we ask them to go to the worst places with the shortest notice and produce the greatest results.
 There have been mentions of reducing or discontinuing the Marine Corps. However, they main reason America has a Marine Corps is because the American people demand we have the Marine Corps. You cannot expect these disciplined warriors to go to the biggest crap holes in the world, win hearts and minds and continue to keep the wolf at bay and not think they will have residual affects. They are surprisingly still human despite what they do.
 There is no organization out there that is harder on their own than the Marine Corps. I have to sit back and reflect when one of our warriors happens to do something wrong and many point their finger at them and criticize them like a dog that just peed on the carpet. Are you shitting me? If they actually did something wrong, we will take care of them however the punishment has to fit the crime. I don’t know how many times I have seen young servicemembers hammered over something that hadn’t been kept in perspective.
  I was asked to be the senior member of an admin separation some years ago. The charges were low but it involved a drug charge as well. The Marine Corps has no tolerance for drug users and he was going to depart the Marines but the hearing was to determine under what type of discharge. There are three types of military discharges, honorable, General (under honourable conditions) and under other than honourable conditions. He had served in multiple combat deployments and was still a young Marine. Neither the prosecutor or defence attorney had combat time. The board consisted of myself, a Lt who was a Gunnery Sergeant and an active duty Gunny who made up the third member. The young warrior did some dumb stuff as young men do but crossed the line when he did drugs and for that our hands were tied. He did some additional things and those needed to be kept in perspective. The prosecutor wanted to hammer him. The defence disagreed. My board was spit. The Lt (former Gy) recommended he receive a “General discharge” and the GySgt recommended a “other than honourable discharge.” The decision came down to me. They both asked after everyone was excused what I thought. I replied I will tell you when the Marine comes back in.
 The Marine came back in and I read my decision and granted him a “General discharge” as I couldn’t give him an honourable due to the positive drug evidence.
I decided to give him the better of the two.
 The Marine was dismissed and both lawyers approached me. The prosecutor asked why I didn’t hammer him as they thought it was a slam dunk case. I simply asked the Lt prosecutor if they had ever been to combat. Knowing the answer by the ribbons displayed the answer was of course “no”. Nor had the defence. I continued to explain that it is our responsibility to return warriors back to society better than we received them. This warrior received two medals for bravery while in Ramadi Iraq during the peak of the fighting of OIF. I happen to be in the same area of this warrior during the same time and knew exactly what he had been through and what he had to do to be awarded the medals he had. I had the two attorneys read his citations and tell me what it meant to them. They hadn’t read his citations but simply based this Marine on the current charges. Although he had probably suffered from PTSD if I gave him a
“other than honourable” he would not get the medical assistance he needed and for a Marine that went to war for his country, twice, I thought that was the least he deserved.
 I hope those attorneys remember what they learned that day as they face new cases in their future. Not being a combat arms Marine can make it a bit difficult to understand a 21 year old who conducts the hardest training, likes to sleep in the rain, copes with long separations from their family, doesn’t know the word fail, is dealt the toughest life  but simply smiles back at it and continues to look shit hot in their dress blues without missing a beat. How I love them.
 It’s amazing that you can point the finger at those that are asked to give all if required and sacrifice everything that is important to them while they do it. I recommend we don’t put them in glass to start with. I think these are the Marines this country needs the most.
 Time for a Cgar!


  1. Great perspective MP. You delivered true justice. Why do you think the GySgt came to a different conclusion in this case?

  2. Amazing how some “Rear Echelon Pogue” types, that don’t have a clue what it’s like to be there when the shit-hits-the fan, can be so judgemental. I understand your feelings to the drug charges, that doesn’t change what he had been through, seen and done. In my experience, the “Mustang” officers were usually the hardest on the men, when they had to be, yet looked after them the best, when the chips were down. You did the right thing, Major, and I thank you for that. Does the Corps still have the BCD, aka “Big Chicken Dinner”? Just wondering… Semper Fi.

  3. God bless you, Major. You are a good man.
    A young Marine, awarded for bravery, with multiple combat deployments in a bit of trouble and self medicating? The first thought that comes to my mind? “Soldiers Heart” the civil war term now replaced by the cold clinical Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

  4. Thank you, Arrow, for making me aware of the term, “Soldier’s Heart.” I worry society is too clinical and cold. Would this trauma be seen in a different light if the “Soldier’s Heart” term appeared on his/her med record?
    Major, you are a good man. I cannot believe some want to dissolve the Marine Corp? Textbooks are great with theory…in practice, well that is “the rest of the story.”

  5. Sir,
    While I have little respect for lawyers, Marine Corps or otherwise, one fact is omitted from yoru commentary. You would not have had the option of a discharge under other than honorable conditions unless the Marine’s commander (one who should have better known the man than you) recommended the OTH in the first place. My experience, over 27 years of enlisted and commissioned service to include two combat tours, is that the Marine’s CO is the first in line to give him a break if deserved.

  6. I’m not a Marine, but retired Army (my late brother was a Marine, A/1/4 in Vietnam). In 1970, after returning from Vietnam,I was again a company commander of mostly Vietnam returnees like me, trying to last out their final months in the Army. I had a young, gung-ho sergeant E-5 who had finished one tour, and volunteered for another. Gr eat guy, he helped to keep things together in the unit. After he left to go back to Vietnam, I often wondered what happened to him. 10 years later I found out when the telephone rang at my desk in Washington. “Major Harris this is Sergeant Brocksmith”. Instantly I was catapaulted back in time, pleased beyond words to hear from him. It’s a long story, but he had come back from his 2nd tour, been assigned to Fort C ampbell, packed up his family and drove down. The reception at Campbell was poor, to say the least, so he loaded his family into the car and drove home. A few months later the MP’s picked him up, and after it was all over he got a BCD. Now, sick and unable to work, and encouraged by his wife, (who also remembered me) he was going to try to get an upgrade to his discharge so that he would be eligible for VA hospitalization. Would I write him a letter? I told him I’d do better than that, and would appear before the Army Board for Correction of Military Records in Boston, our home town. A few weeks later I flew up tp Boston and mey him and his wife at the Board, and appeared before three crusty old colonels who asked if I knew about his transgressions. I replied that I did, that I had been a company commander in Vietnam (and the US, and twice in Germany) and reminded them that Sergeant Brocksmith had been a good, maybe great, soldier when few were, and that he had showed up twice when a lot ran, and that we, the USA, owed him something, and that something was, at least, some help when he now needed it. End result was his dischrge was upgraded to General Under Honorable, and he got VA help. Thanks for your story, it made me remember this. Ned Harris, Major, USA, ex-Airborne-Ranger, retired.

  7. The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
    God bless you Major
    God bless the United States Marine Corps

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