Monday, August 8, 2011

Leatherneck Magazine August 2011

Summer 1953 was a different time in Marine Corps history. It was "old Corps," really old Corps. Old Corps in ways even today's toughest, most grizzled veterans would accept as old Corps. It was almost "other worldly" and indescribably more magnificent. Dan Daly and Smedley Butler were gone, but in the summer of 1953 a peppering of gents in the ranks had known and served with them. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller remained on active duty. Others, thousands really, had campaigned at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and again in Korea at Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir. There were so many of them on active duty that they were almost common in an uncommon way. By 1953, they were still young by most measures�except for those experiences. And that was and is the draw of the Corps: to be a part of something meaningful and manly and dignified. The Marine Corps always has been a sublimating force for young men who might have gone astray and who might have used their youthful exuberance and energy in socially unacceptable ways. They were the ones who might have turned left when told to go right. There is something mystical, something not quite definable that draws someone to the ways of the Corps. Like a narcotic, once injected it can control the soul, absorbing a person in ways that never can be fully understood or appreciated from the outside. For most, once the eagle, globe and anchor has been earned, there is no divorce, no full recovery. The Corps is all-consuming, and most go willingly, like a moth to a flame, like sheep to slaughter.