Skip to comments.A CULTURE OF VICTORY: LESSONS OF THE OLD CORPS
Posted on 08/16/2002 5:00:07 AM PDT by jslade
Friday, August 16, 2002
A culture of victory: Lessons of the Old Corps
Posted: August 16, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Richard Botkin
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Camp Pendleton is not quite hallowed or sacred ground. No real battles have been waged there, no blood other than in training accidents has been shed for freedom within its confines. Home to the First Marine Division and supporting elements, its 200,000 or so acres of coastal real estate allows for most facets of training which have become Marine Corps hallmarks: amphibious assaults, helicopter-borne raids, and good old-fashioned infantry combat.
Constrained on its northern, eastern and southern boundaries by urban sprawl, the regular civilian driving Interstate 5 between San Clemente and Oceanside is treated to a view of what much of California's coastline must have looked like prior to the state's meteoric growth after World War II.
For those Marines who have served there or processed through on the way to more serious destinations, Camp Pendleton will always conjure unique memories of training performed: forced marches in the coastal hills, rifle-range details on cool, fog-shrouded mornings, amphibious landings on those miles and miles of unspoiled beaches.
More important than the real estate though, are the Marines who constitute the Division. This is the unit that gave America its first ground combat victory in the Pacific at Guadalcanal in late 1942, followed by similar heroics in equally brutal battles on islands like Peleliu and Okinawa.
In 1950, it was the First Marine Division that landed at Inchon, recaptured Seoul, chased the North Koreans all the way to the Yalu River and then outnumbered at least six-to-one defeated Red Chinese Army units in its masterful retrograde from the Chosin Reservoir.
In Vietnam, the Division's three infantry regiments were engaged in almost every major battle fought by Marines and the thousands of other skirmishes without names. In Desert Storm and into Afghanistan, the men and women of the First Marine Division have played key roles in every success and victory.
Every Marine knows about the mythical Old Corps. In the Old Corps, things were just a little bit tougher, the drill instructors more demanding, and the Marines somehow a bit more magnificent. During World War II, Old Corps meant service with Chesty Puller chasing bandits in Nicaragua in the 1930s. To those new Leathernecks in June of 1950, Old Corps was service at Iwo Jima, Tarawa, Guam. In my time, the early 1980s, Old Corps were those guys who slugged it out with the NVA during the siege at Khe Sanh and those who retook the Citadel in the bloody street fighting in Hue in 1968. And on and on.
The lessons of the Old Corps
Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, in their pre-9/11 planning, committed errors similar to those made by the Japanese militarists before their attack on Pearl Harbor. In both 2001 and 1941, the plotters incorrectly focused on the notion of an America flabby and effete, a culture interested only in the pursuit of pleasure and ease.
Who can fault ObL for such an assessment today? During their pre-attack reconnaissance, the terrorists had only to turn on the television, visit the shopping malls and theaters, drive the freeways in major cities to observe the things we value. How can a culture that produces an abundance of dimwitted Hollywood heroes with celluloid spines fight the good fight? How can a nation so full of those content to experience life vicariously on the couch or behind a computer screen rise up and crush the beckoning evil?
The raw physical beauty that is Camp Pendleton grows more contrasting each year as its borders become increasingly concreted and the bustle of California quickens. For those who revere the Corps, as most former Marines do, trips there are always rich with nostalgia, as comforting as sitting with aging parents and life-long friends.
Returning recently to visit a brother Marine just back from Afghanistan, it finally hit me. It was not the fondness of happy memories that was so reassuring, it was looking into the future and seeing its promise that was so invigorating. There before me on a very crisp and early Friday morning as I drove through the various regimental camps, the sky already abuzz with helicopters, I could feel the throbbing pulse of this future Old Corps. There they all were, these young Marines: lean, tough, smart, hungry for action, certain of their cause, grounded in a culture that has only delivered victory. These are the warriors ready to write the new chapters in the history of the Old Corps.
Back at home and in my own life, away from things military, listening to news, reading the paper, I sometimes get discouraged and easily see why ObL and his ilk never learned the lesson of the Old Corps. In World War II, Jimmy Stewart joined the Air Force, went to England, and bombed the Germans. This year we sent Woody Harrelson over to destroy British taxis. In World War II and again in Korea Ted Williams quit baseball to fly fighters. This year, a sissified Tom Cruise pines for living in the relative safety of Australia. In the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are grown men and women whose commitment to victory is, at best, a distant second to their drive to gain personal power and advance a socialist agenda.
Made safe and kept free by far better men, these actors and politicians intuitively know the lessons of the Old Corps. They just hope that we do not remember. So I say "Go ahead, Maverick eject, eject, eject! Punch out!" We'll give you a call and let you know when it is safe to come back.
It is with humble respect that I stretch and paraphrase the Bible in saying that the fools, the cynics, the voluptuaries they will always be with us. It bothers me, but I can live with it so long as I know there are just a bit more than a few young men who think they are tough enough to be Rangers, young men who think they are smart enough to drive nuclear submarines, young men whose testosterone bubbles at the notion of landing high-performance aircraft during dark nights on the heaving decks of aircraft carriers.
The spirit of the Old Corps and the essence of American manhood, as described by Teddy Roosevelt, courses through the vitals of these young warriors destined to pay the bittersweet price that comes with and is demanded by freedom. They are best honored by TR's own words, penned nearly a century ago but never more true than today: "There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of the great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder "z
Richard Botkin is a former United States Marine Corps infantry officer and a board member of WorldNetDaily.com.
With all due respect.
Places like Pendleton, Lackland, Great Lakes, Ft. Leonard Wood are places where battles great and small are waged everyday. Turning snot-nosed little kids into soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines.
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