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Marines - Why they decide to go back
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I am at two with nature
 
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Join Date: September 20, 2005
Location: Bunny Ranch with my MOM
Marines - Why they decide to go back - May 11, 2007, 08:22 AM

Robert C. Wood Jr. looks like a candidate for a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting poster.
The set jaw. The no-nonsense, "don't even think about it" look in the eyes.
Wood, 26, is 12 hours shy of a finance degree at the University of Texas at Arlington. But instead of studying for his spring finals, he's back in Iraq. For his second mission. A mission he volunteered for.


The letter printed below was e-mailed on March 28 to friends and family across the states as Wood prepared to ship out on April 2. I got it in one of those surreptitious ways -- a friend who has a work colleague who is a good friend of Wood's father. It's quite possible that some of you reading now received it directly from Wood. I secured permission from his family to share it with the rest of the world. It was sparingly edited.

Today we finished packing out, storing our gear and readying our packs for our flight out of country next Monday. It feels incredibly odd to be here, to know that in a week we'll be back in the thick of it -- the heat, the war, the intense boredom interrupted by short flurries of rocket and mortar fire.

I remember the first time I left Camp Pendleton; at that time having no clue and no idea what to expect. I remember the bus ride to March air base, the hot tarmac underfoot as we waited for what seemed like lifetimes for the plane that would take us to the other side of the world. I remember the hand-drawn cards from the middle and lower schools from across California that were taped to the walls of the hangars we waited in. The feeling I had in my gut, while reading the words of all these innocent boys and girls, is a feeling I'll never forget.

In returning, everything feels much different. Instead of ignorance, I remember exactly what it's like to take a CH-46 helo over enemy terrain at nightfall. I can still tell the caliber of everything from a 9mm pistol to a 155mm howitzer by sound. I know what passing bullets sound like, the way they snap when they miss. I can visualize what everything looks like -- the cities, the chowhalls, the pxs, etc.

Gone is the fear of the unknown; present is the insuperable feeling of deja vu.
Partly because we are reduced to the primal desires of life (quest for safety, food, shelter) and partly because we are no longer in control (to any degree whatsoever) of our own fate, I honestly believe that each of us, in the quiet hours we have and keep to ourselves, consider who we are and what we are about. This self-reflection is not limited to penitency per se, but rather the knowledge of going into personal danger makes one come to terms with himself as a man.

Those that don't know combat, those that don't understand this war think that we are fighting for the Iraqi people, for oil, or for freedom in the Middle East. Personally I've lost most of my conviction for this war. I think many of us have.

Why is it then that we have American men and women returning for multiple tours of duty? Simply put, we fight for the man to the left and to the right of us. Sure, freedom from tyranny and peace in the Middle East are noble reasons to pick up arms, but not why we come back for more. I would venture that although patriotism (jingoism?) can persuade a man or a woman to sign up for the military, maybe even enough to get them to volunteer for Iraq, it's always for his fellow Marines that he chooses to return.
In my quiet hours I try to picture my life 10 or 20 years from now.

I try to envision what it would be like to have a family of my own, to have a nice quiet house, to drive to work knowing that I have a coffeemaker in my office. (Or maybe I can send my smoking-hot secretary in the mini-skirt and stilettos to get a latte for me ...) More than anything I look forward to the day I can mount my ribbons and medals in a shadowbox, case my sword and never speak too loud of the places I've been and the things I've seen.

Many of my family and friends know that one of the things I'm most proud of is my combat action ribbon. For those who don't know, it is colloquially known as the "been there, done that" ribbon. It is only awarded to those that have been in direct combat.
What nearly everyone fails to understand is that I'm not proud of it because I earned it, nor am I proud because it qualifies me as a man, or for any other personal reason. I'm proud to wear it because it means that (hopefully) my son or daughter will never have to.
Semper Fidelis.

Take a moment to think about the men and women who guarantee our rights to say what we please, worship as we please and live as free people.
Say hallelujah for Robert C. Wood Jr. And then say a prayer for him


Jeff
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singin sweet home alabama
 
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May 11, 2007, 09:52 AM

Excellent and non-political.


"No race has ever been won in the first corner, but plenty have been lost there."
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The guy with the cooler
 
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Join Date: September 11, 2005
Location: Front Royal, VA
May 11, 2007, 10:14 AM

Wow, I hope he comes back from this tour safely. That is a guy to be respected. He's definately going for all the right reasons and that line at the end about so his kids don't have to .. moving.


Warning: My friends call me

Now sporting the look thanks to one sissy ..

Damn sissy
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GP Racer
 
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Join Date: April 22, 2006
Location: Okinawa, Japan
May 11, 2007, 10:51 AM

Good read. From one Marine to another. I wish him the best of luck and pray that he makes it home safe.
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