You never forget your first…team leader. They’re the one who taught you how the fleet really works. They provide sage advice for the upcoming deployment and can be the difference between a good or bad first impression of military service. A team leader who provides a good example can set you up for a successful career and the knowledge may even save the life of others.
1. You train how you fight
Marine train how we fight….or we will correct that mistake. Every training evolution is a field of battle. What you do here will echo what you will do in combat. Marines are a different breed, on paper we will adhere to every black and white line. In actual training, we will work the hell out of you. This is how you will react when the bullets in country. High command may apologize but the squad leaders in charge of the lives of your sons will not. We will bring them home, dead or alive. One team, one fight, Marines do not fight as a person – we fight as a unit. Push harder, run faster, shoot better!
2. Ignorance can kill
Small unit leadership is the cornerstone of Marine Corps. Lessons learned from urban combat have transformed our Corps into the ‘it must be destroyed overnight’ reputation. A private and an officer must be able to call mortars when the need arises. Time and time again, across all wars, Marines are masters of combined arms. Our pilots in the skies, the lance corporal on the ground, and armored assaults are a testament to our resilience and heritage of those who came before us.
As a lowly private I could call fire missions. When Marines are called to do God’s work there is no excuse why one cannot call a casualty evacuation. On leave you met their mothers. In garrison we drank together. Complacency kills, so does ignorance. “I did not know how to do that’ is not an acceptable answer for a Marine to tell a mother, who entrusted you with her son, when you hand her a folded flag. Learn you knowledge, boots, we depend on you although seniors will never admit it.
3. You are an ambassador
“Everywhere go, you are an ambassador to our cause.” The man who said those words is no longer among us. I miss my team to a degree a cannot put into words. As an immigrant those words will forever echo in my heart. It was the first time I felt accepted as an American. “Make us proud.” Marines have a legacy and we must conduct ourselves in a manner that makes the warriors of the past proud.
4. A Marine POW is personal
To the enemies of the state, to the insurgents in the desert, to the communists infecting the pacific: we will not rest, we will not falter. We are coming. A Marine prisoner of war is not forgotten. We drank together, we bled together, we leave together. Marines bond with stories of home when they have down time. We know the trials and tribulations one has endured. Yes, we know all about the exes, the plagues that have onslaught our families, and we know every intimate detail of what went wrong that ends with us holding a loaded rifle. An assault on a Marine is an assault on the Marine Corps itself. Blood in, blood out. No one gets left behind.
5. Real Marines are forged in combat
This one is going to strike a cord with some but the truth hurts. The infantry is a fraternity of brothers with a pact made in blood. There are milestones that distinguish a person as a Marine, there are checks-in-a-box that make you an infantryman, but no ceremony on earth will separate you from the rest than firing your weapon in anger. There is no feeling on earth that can compare than in the fog of war, taking a breath, with a slow and steady squeeze and watching pink mist appear exactly where you wanted it to. In the end, that’s what we were trained to do, no, born to do. America needs you to stick your hand in the sh*t and walk it off, Marine. A good leader will teach you that.