Sunday, March 08, 2009

Farewell to the Corps

Today I retired after 27 years as a Marine. The following was part of my farewell comments and I've been asked to re-print it here.

One More Day

The last bugle call has sounded the colors have been struck. It is my time to leave the ranks of my beloved Corps. As I bid farewell and remove this uniform for perhaps the last time I find myself wishing more day.

One more day to hear the sounds of the Corps
The crack of the American flag in the wind in a foreign land
The NCOs singing jodies and getting things done
The not so subtle rantings of the Sergeant Major
Trucks rumbling to the range, weapons being cleaned, the pounding of boots on the grinder; the purposeful clattering of field day
Helicopters beating the air so hard your chest hurts
The stacatto of machine gunnery and the booming of artillery raining death on the enemies of America

One more day to inhale the smells of the Corps
Brasso, CLP, clean linen, horse blankets and pine cleaner; fresh paint
Sweat, mud, dirty cammies and canvas
The sting of cordite in the nostrils, the sweatness of C4 and oily fumes of JP8
Cigarettes and beer, stale farts in a sleeping bag
The unique never to be forgotten smell of a burn-out

One more day to put on the uniform
For the sharpness of creases
The way the cover cuts across your line of sight
The way the alpha blouse falls on the thigh
The snugness of well-tied boots
The jingle of dogtags
The Eagle Globe & Anchor on my chest

One more day for the absurdities of the Corps
Hurry up and wait, bum scoop you got from the third shitter on the left
Sea lawyers
Screwed up orders
7 hours on a tarmac waiting for a C130 that will never come
Raking dirt and painting rocks
Picking up cigarette butts you didn't smoke

One last day to stand among you
To receive a crisp salute from a young Marine and return it with mutual respect and admiration
To see NCOs lead as only Marines know how
To share a meal in the field
To listen to the profane chatter of things that would make others blush
To witness the pride that is born in shared hardship and danger
To see that look of intense purpose as you prepare for battle
To stand amidst great Americans

But I know this is in fact my last day. It is my time to join that long unbroken line of Marines who have gone before me. So here in this simple ceremony amongst Marines, family and friends I say "farewell and semper fidelis".


Anonymous said...

Awesome words. Thanks for your service Uncle Chris.

Carol said...

Indeed awesome words.
"One more day" tell me how my husband felt when he left service more then he could tell me, or I could have grasped. He made few comments but the uniform was kept pressed and honored until his final day to wear it to his grave.
Thank you for those 27 years and for telling me what he never could.

Chris said...

You are very welcome. As I told a young man who will be seeking his commission this summer, "I firmly believe in God and his salvation even if I cannot be certain there is a God. But, I can die knowing absolutely there is a United States Marine Corps".