My Unnecessary Tribute to the Marine Corps

My Unnecessary Tribute to the Marine Corps

Why is this unnecessary?

This is unnecessary simply because the United States Marine Corps doesn’t need me to extend praise – the Marine Corps earns it’s praise on it’s own and most Americans as well as people all around the world are well aware of what a phenomenal organization the Marine Corps is.   To get a sense of what the Marine Corps is and the history, check out the “Marines” website – simply the best military website I’ve ever seen.  I have written a book entitled Marine Corps Leadership that outlines the 14 leadership traits that Marines are taught – if you’re interested in learning more about the Marine Corps mystique and their leadership capabilities, check out this book.

So why write this if it’s unnecessary?

Simply because I’d like to take the time to outline the reasons behind why I hold the time I served as a United States Marine as some of the most fun, most educational and meaningful times of my life.  I hope to impart to those that read this the benefit of Military service and the importance of the general population in understanding our Military and specifically my beloved Marine Corps.

When I was in High School, my college counselor (Mr. Barnes) happened to be a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and although he was obviously pro-college, he also had a strong bent towards seeing graduates enter into military service since most of the people from my High School didn’t have much of a college transition plan – there simply wasn’t a focus on that.  Most ended up going to a local Community College (God knows where after that), picking up local jobs and never progressing beyond that, or going into the Military. I chose the latter but first I had a conversation with Mr. Barnes – he asked me a lot of questions to figure out what I was looking for to determine the best fit.  Here’s an Air Force retiree telling me to go into the Marine Corps – “…you won’t find a better place for training, comradeship, motivation or travel”.  You can get that in the other services as well, but not as perfect of a package deal as you’ll find in the Marine Corps.  After my final summer fun, off I went.

Fast forward 16 years – Camp Pendleton, California — Alameda, California — 29 Palms California — Camp Fuji, Japan — Okinawa, Japan — 29 Palms, California (again) — Camp LeJuene, NC — Barcelona, Spain — Marseille, France — up and down the coast of Norway — Iceland — Virginia Beach, VA.  Then out of the Marine Corps and off to work for a company in Atlanta, Ga.

16 years later…

I was lured out of the Marine Corps by greed, plain and simple.  I had been trained to the point where I was being offered obscene amounts of money compared to what I was making in the Marine Corps. I came very close to tripling my income when I took off the uniform and put on a suit.  From that day to this, I’ve been going head to head with corporate MBA types on a daily basis and I attribute my success in this arena to what the Marine Corps taught me.  I remember a poster from my first duty station at NAS Alameda where I was standing Barracks Duty.  The poster simply read: “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”.

United States Marine Corps – If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere

Truer words were never spoken.  In the Marine Corps, you learn to be tough, observant and adaptable.  “Improvise, adapt and overcome”…a common phrase you hear from Marines.  It doesn’t take long for Marines to get to the point where they truly believe there is no obstacle they cannot overcome – this is taught in boot camp and reinforced continually.  The longer you spend in the Marine Corps, the more chances you get to actually experience this and the more you believe it. I spent 16 years in, so I guess I had more than my fair share of this kind of indoctrination.

A few points to take with you

I said earlier I’d like to outline the reasons why I place such a high value on the time I spent in the Marine Corps – in no particular order, I’ve included a few below:

  •  16 years of On the Job training.  Many young folks get out of college after 4, 6, 8 years and have little to no relevant experience.  I think the military does it just the opposite. You get out after a number of years with tons of experience but no college.  I’ve found this to be both a curse and a blessing. Fortunately I’ve been able to make my experience pay off.
  • No student loans.  I see the tragic story of many of those who are still trying to pay off student loans many, many years after their college tour is complete. The student loan is one of the very, very few types of debts that survive most debt reducing/elimination practices and, to a large extent, it also seems to survive regular payoff practices as well!  The best way to get rid of a student loan is to pay it off
  • Friends.  In the military, a certain type of friendships are formed that are different from a friendship forged in study halls and college parties.  The friendships I earned over 16 years in the Marine Corps are as strong today as they were when they were formed.
  • Cost.  This would fall under the “Duh” category.  Going to college costs money. Lots of it.  Going into the military costs nothing and, in fact they pay you for it.  Not well, but you do get paid.
  • Foot in the door.  There is a saying I’ve read that a college degree helps you advance while military experience gets your foot in the door.

College or Military?

This didn’t intend to start out that way, but it seems to be winding up like that.  A quick word on going into college or the military.  First of all, going in the military does not mean you can’t get a college degree. Most military careers make it perfectly acceptable and even expected for you to get a degree.  The problem is that many don’t take advantage of this and end up after a long career with no college (this is the plan I was on).  Shame on them/me for not taking advantage of a good thing.

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