Tag Archives: Marine Corps

POTUS scars sacred ground

The president of the United States has zero political instincts when it comes to the decorum of his high office.

Consider what he’s now doing to politicize the deaths of fallen American warriors. Donald John Trump has declared falsely that previous presidents haven’t bothered to send letters to Gold Star families, or to call them, or offer a nation’s gratitude.

His latest epic lie has drawn strong responses from the three men who preceded him immediately in the office: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Aides for all three men have condemned the president’s specious claim that their bosses didn’t do what Trump has said he has done.

Good grief! Can this man ever find a way to conduct himself with a semblance of dignity? Can he ever learn how decorum matters as it involves the presidency of the United States of America?

Trump dishonors military

To make matters worse, if that’s possible, he decided to drag the memory of White House chief of staff John Kelly into this atrocious dispute. The president wondered on Fox News Rado if President Obama ever called Kelly when his son died in battle. According to The Associated Press:

Then Trump stirred things further Tuesday on Fox News Radio, saying, “You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?”
John Kelly, a Marine general under Obama, is Trump’s chief of staff. His son, Marine 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. John Kelly was not seen at Trump’s public events Tuesday.

John Kelly reportedly sought to keep his son’s memory out of the current political dispute. The president, of course, demonstrated his tin ear and blabbed out loud about Lt. Kelly’s death anyway.


Great start, Gen. Kelly!

Donald John Trump Sr. welcomed new White House chief of staff John Kelly to his post this morning.

The president predicted that Kelly would do a “spectacular job” in the West Wing. I’m going to presume a bit here, but it looks as though the new chief of staff is off to a rip-roarin’ start.

Within hours of being sworn in, Kelly got the president to give White House communications director Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci the heave-ho — 10 days after Trump hired him!

There’s no nice way to say this, but Mooch conducted himself like a maniac in his White House job. He has no comparable experience that would have commended him for the job and, oh brother, it showed.

Kelly brings an entirely different skill set to his chief of staff job, which he assumed after Reince Priebus got the axe this past week. Kelly is a retired Marine Corps general; he has 45 years of service in the military; he is a combat veteran — and a Gold Star father, having suffered the terrible tragedy of losing a son in combat in Afghanistan.

The president’s prediction of a “spectacular” performance by his new chief of staff was delivered quickly by the new guy.

Gen. Kelly has a long, steep mountain to climb before completing the task of converting the White House from an Animal House into a “fine-tuned” center of government operations.

His first full day at his new post suggests he is up to the task.

Then again, it’s only been a day. Gen. Kelly still has yet another wildfire to control. That would be the president of the United States.

Hoping for the next true American hero


Dale Butland has written a truly depressing essay about the death of John Glenn.

Writing for the New York Times, Butland — who once worked for the one-time Ohio U.S. senator — seems to think Glenn is the “last American hero” … ever!

I wince at the thought. I shudder to think that there won’t be someone who can capture Americans’ hearts the way Glenn did in 1962.

The essay itself isn’t depressing. Its premise, though, surely is.


Do I have any clue, any idea where the next hero will appear?

Of course not!

However, I am going to remain the eternal optimist that we haven’t yet traipsed through the portal that takes us all into some parallel universe where no heroes can ever exist.

Sure, Glenn was an exceptional American. A Marine Corps fighter pilot who saw combat in World War II and Korea. The astronaut who became the first American to orbit the planet. A successful business executive. A close friend of John and Robert Kennedy and their families. A four-term U.S. senator. A man who got the call once again, at age 77, to fly into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

He became “an American legend.”

That, dear reader, is a full life.

Is he the final legendary figure ever to walk among us?

Oh, man … I pray that someone will emerge.

They fought for ‘the duration’


Seventy-five years ago today, Japanese navy pilots swooped in over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and — perhaps without knowing it at the moment — changed the world forever.

That act dragged the United States of America into the greatest global conflict the world has ever witnessed.

The young men who answered the call from that day forward did so under terms that no longer apply in this day.

Many of them volunteered to get into the fight; others of them were drafted by the government. They all took an oath to defend the nation. Then they signed a paper that committed them to fighting for their nation for as long as it took to finish the fight.

They signed up for “the duration” of the conflict. The war would end in August 1945, but no one who signed up for that battle had a clue as to how long it would last.

Think about that for a moment. As the smoke billowed from the wreckage in Hawaii, did anyone know how long this war would last? It could last for a year, two, three. It could go on for decades.

The young Americans who donned their country’s uniform did so without knowing how long they would be ordered to sacrifice.

My father was one of those young men. He was 20 years and seven months old when we entered World War II. He waited just a few weeks before deciding one day to go to the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, Ore., and enlist in the armed services. His first choice was the Marine Corps. The office was closed. He then walked across the hall and enlisted in the Navy.

He didn’t know when he’d be finished. He didn’t know if he’d ever come home. Dad wanted to fight the enemy.

And he did.

We don’t ask such things of our young men and women these days. We send them off to war for a length of time. They serve and return. Of late — since 9/11 to be exact — we’ve been sending them back into harm’s way repeatedly. That, too, is creating tremendous emotional stress on our young warriors and I wouldn’t for a moment wish to be wearing their boots.

Many of us today, though, will recall the sacrifice made by the young Americans who answered their nation’s call to arms against tyranny.

When we do, think of how they might have felt knowing they might be going into a battle with no end.

That’s what I call “sacrifice.”

Indeed, women should register for the draft


This almost seems like an oversight on the part of the Pentagon brass.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter declared a year ago that women should be able to serve in the combat arms of all military services.

But wait! They don’t yet have to register for the draft the way their male colleagues have to do.

The Marine Corps commandant and the Army chief of staff have testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that, yes, women should be required to register with Selective Service.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a member of the panel, agreed.

Generals testify

So, didn’t they think of this earlier, when they were deliberating in the Pentagon about allowing women to serve in direct combat? Women now are able to serve in the infantry, armor and artillery branches — the three combat arms — of the armed forces.

However, if we’re going to extend full equality to both genders, then we need to go all the way.

We don’t have a draft any longer. It ended in the early 1970s during the last years of the Vietnam War. Despite having an all-volunteer military force, young men have had to register for Selective Service in case there would be a need to call them into military duty.

With women now joining men on the battlefield as soldiers and Marines, it’s time to sign them up, too.


Has a Hillary alternative arrived … finally?

Count me as one who welcomes the entry of Jim Webb into the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

It might be his military experience, although as an Army veteran myself, I cringe — good naturedly, of course — at the idea of a Marine running for president of the United States.

Perhaps it is the fact that he has executive experience running the Department of the Navy.

Maybe it’s his understanding — gained through his experience serving in Vietnam — of the trials and fears of the young men and women we send into combat.

Hey, it might even be that he served in a Republican administration, which gives him an appreciation of the need to reach across to those on the other side of the political aisle.

Webb jumped into the race today. He’s now the fifth Democrat to declare.


Yes, he frontrunner remains Hillary Rodham Clinton, who’s no slouch herself in the realm of government experience.

The other three are running to the left of HRC, led by avowed “Democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders. Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee are seeking to join Sanders on the fringe left edge of their party.

Meanwhile, Webb — a former U.S. senator from Virginia — is camped out squarely in the middle.

Still, it well might be that Webb’s own military experience in combat during the Vietnam War has prepared him to avoid future blunders abroad. “I warned in writing five months before that (Iraq)  invasion that we do not belong as an occupying power in that part of the world, and that this invasion would be a strategic blunder of historic proportions, empowering Iran and in the long run China, unleashing sectarian violence inside Iraq and turning our troops into terrorist targets,” he said in announcing his presidential campaign.

Does he have a chance of derailing the HRC express? Maybe, to borrow a phrase, a puncher’s chance.

But I’m glad he’s in.


Kyle's killer gets life without parole

This is likely the least-surprising jury verdict to come down in most folks’ memory.

Eddie Ray Routh was found guilty of murdering Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range south of Fort Worth in 2013.

The case has drawn international attention, as Kyle’s exploits have been portrayed in the acclaimed film “American Sniper.” Kyle was the Navy SEAL sharpshooter who served four tours in Iraq and is credited with 160 confirmed kills, believed to be a U.S. military record.


Routh sought acquittal on the grounds of insanity. The jury, which deliberated in a Stephenville court building for two hours, didn’t buy it.

The verdict and the sentence bring to a close a most dramatic case.

Kyle’s devotion to doing his duty for his country has been honored across the nation. “American Sniper” tells a gripping story of a young man torn by the terrible deeds he did on the battlefield.

The terrible, tragic irony, of course, is that Kyle survived those four harrowing tours of the Iraq War, only to die at the hands of a former Marine who committed an act of brutality against Kyle and Littlefield. He shot them multiple times in the back.

Routh now will be put away for the rest of his life.

The families of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield have been delivered the justice they deserve.


The tank is elsewhere

Social media can be quite a boon to finding answers to nagging questions in a hurry.

The other day I posed a question on Facebook about the whereabouts of a battle tank that once “guarded” one of the doors to the Potter County Courthouse in downtown Amarillo.

I got my answer … quickly. It’s been moved to Pampa, about 60 miles northeast in Gray County.

The tank is now sitting proudly with some other war relics.

I mistakenly referred to the tank as an M-48. It’s actually newer than that; it’s an M-60.

Potter County Judge Arthur Ware put the tank out there after then-Justice of the Peace Jim Tipton — a fellow Marine — procured the vehicle from someone, whose identity escapes me at the moment.

Ware, who is leaving office at the end of the year, told me several times over the years how proud he was to have the tank out there. He said it symbolized some memorial to veterans who had served their country. Ware, a Marine reservist, was called up during the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91 and went into battle with his fellow Marines against the allegedly vaunted Iraqi Republican Guard.

The tank stood there for many years. Then the county sought some historical preservation grant money to restore the courthouse. The rules from the Texas Historical Commission are quite restrictive, as they should be. The county sought to return the courthouse to its original pristine state, which in 1930 did not include the tank on the grounds.

The tank had to go. Period.

So the county found a suitable home for it.

I’m glad it hasn’t been scrapped. I also am glad the state historical preservationists stuck to their guns — so to speak — by ordering the county removed from the courthouse grounds.

The county did a good job of restoring the grand old building — while obeying the rules that took an old weapon of war to another location.

End of a life puts it all in perspective

We’ve all done it.

We awake from a fitful sleep. We’re out of sorts. We’re a bit crabby over this little thing or that. We struggle through our morning. Get ready for work. We arrive at our place of employment still a bit under the emotional weather.

We start working at our job. Then a jolt of reality strikes you right in the gut, as it happened to me this afternoon. A colleague asked me, “Did you hear the news?” I responded, “About what, or whom?”

Then it came. A young service technician at the Amarillo auto dealership where I work was on his lunch break. He had been riding his motorcycle en route back to work — or so I understand. He was hit by a motorist, apparently very hard.

This young man died today. He was 18 years of age. Eighteen.

I was shaken in a way I wouldn’t have expected.

I didn’t know the young man all that well. We spoke often as our paths crossed at work. He once had intended to enlist in the Marine Corps. In fact, my very first conversation was an ice-breaker as I introduced myself to him. He told me of his plans to become a Marine.

This young man was quite fit. He told me when we met he enjoyed “working out and being a bad ass.” I chuckled and told the young man, “Let me give you just this bit of advice: Lose the ‘bad ass’ attitude. The Marines have a way of dealing with that and you won’t like the way they disabuse you of that notion.”

We both laughed and went about the rest of our work that day.

His sudden death today served to remind me — it should remind everyone — about how precious life is and how quickly it can be snatched away.

My young colleague had his whole life ahead of him — or so he thought when he fired up his motorcycle today.

Tonight the young’s man life on Earth has ended.

And that niggling stuff that had me so out of sorts this morning? It doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Female Marines fail physical. Now what?

I was afraid this could happen.

The Marine Corps joined the other military branches in requiring women to compete with men in physical fitness tests to determine their ability to perform the sometimes-arduous tasks the military requires of them.

Then half of the women Marines failed the exam.


The failure rate has prompted the Marine Corps to delay its fitness plan to determine what its next step should be.

What we have here is a serious conundrum for the Marine Corps, not to mention all the services that include women in their ranks.

Count me as someone who has been skeptical of the decision to allow women into the combat arms, which is what is happening. The combat arms are the infantry, artillery and armor branches of the military, primarily in the Army and the Marine Corps.

I have no doubt that some women can perform as well as their male colleagues. I’ve known many women over the years with whom I would not want to encounter in a fistfight.

But … the issue here is whether all the females who serve in the combat arms are able to carry their share of the load in combat situations. I mean “carry their share” quite literally.

The Marine Corps has said it wouldn’t reduce its physical requirements for women who have enlisted for duty. They would be required to do all the tasks required of men. However, half of them have been unable to make the grade.

What now?

Am I wrong to have these doubts?