I have spent the better part of my life involved in some type of mentoring of Marines. This has been some of the best time spent.. and I will continue to do it until they shoot me out of a gun (check out this blog post for an explanation of that statement). One of the greatest things about mentoring is the self satisfaction. I do not want to sound as if I do it for me, quite the contrary; however, it makes me feel good. Sure, I’ve received praise & recognition is the past; however, in truth that is NOT why I do it… I do it because I feel as if I am giving back to those that have given so much. Why Marines? Well, it’s not just Marines; however, they are the Lion’s share of my time….
I have met so many wonderful Marines, their wives, husbands, sons, daughters etc. and the list goes on. This has been such a gift and I will treasure each and every person that I have ever met and the time that we’ve spent together. One of the hardest things that I’ve had to go through is when they go…. many of my friends are Recruiters and they come for 3 years.. to some that may appear like a long time; however, in truth – it’s very short.
I have done a myriad of things from basic, welcome stuff.. here’s where the best Thai Restaurant is to more intense things. For others I help with their transition from the Marine Corps back to civilian life, for others I am a sounding board without a repeat function… I may be that Designated Driver when the party must go on… but, they must depart and in other cases, I am the photographer that catches a Promotion, an Event or a Home Coming… then there are times when I take a few pictures as we lay that hero to rest…. in truth, there’s nothing I won’t do for My Marines. I refer to them as that, not as an ownership, but more of a Mothering role. I love each and every one of them and in truth – I do not even have to know them.
I meet many people from all walks of life and each person has their own story. I enjoy the camaraderie that they include me in and I love to listen to the banter back and forth; however, most of all… I appreciate and realize how much they include me in things. This is a tight knit group, the Marines and I know that in many ways they are not necessarily the most open bunch on the block…but, they let me in.
I can remember back in 1989 filing papers at RSS Midway an office that is no longer there… the Sergeant Major at the time Bill Caroll I now see at The Marine Corps Coordinating Council meetings every now & then. I so enjoy seeing Bill and his wife, Mildred… they are lovely people and I value their friendship so much.
I had to say goodbye to many Sergeant Majors over the years as their time here was done and they were on to their next station. I remember each one and value the time that they were here… The same goes for Majors and so many others….
This year has been especially difficult as I have attended more funerals than I care to mention or think of; however, I feel so lucky that I was able to spend time with these fine gentlemen while they were here…. The world is losing heroes daily as those that fought WWII are coming to that age…. It’s hard to be 41, almost 42 and lose so many…. yet, they lived a life so full and everyone deserves time off.
I often wonder if I’ve made a difference or a positive impact solely because each one has made such an impression on me. I do not need to know; however, I think we all hope that we are doing something that matters. I would never seek praise for giving as then it would not be unconditional; however, there are moments where you cannot help but wonder.
A few years back I received an ‘award’ from many new Marines… it was the highest honor I had ever had bestowed upon me. They called me to the front of the room with the entire pool there to see.. it was read by one of my favorites (don’t tell him) Christopher Gustafson and it was beautiful. That award is in my house for all to see and in truth it covers up a letter from the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
I cannot tell you what it feels like to sit among true heroes and yet, they are as calm, kind & courteous.. it’s hard to believe at one time they were lean, mean, Killing Machines, but, they were and some still are today. There’s a real history in some of my friends and I love how they share their stories and tell of their experiences because one day…. the truth will be lost.
I meet so many Marines and yet each one leaves an impression…. some are short lived, not by choice, but just by how things work out… others through the grace of Facebook stay in touch here and there or at the very least I can stalk and see what they’re up to… some are much closer friends and we keep steady contact… in truth it really does not matter how we keep in touch or if we do… I still remember them and am always here should they ever call or need me.
When you volunteer… you do it without condition and without the seek of praise or recognition… Without sounding selfish I do hope that I make a difference.