From: Steve Dundas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for your getting out the message on what goes on in much of the military. I spent 17 1/2 years in the Army, becoming a Major in the reserves before giving it up to join the Navy and come in as a Chaplain LT.
I had served as a Plt Leader, Co. XO, Co. C.O., Bn and Bde staff officer and chaplain in the Army; I now have had the privilege of serving with the 2d Marine Division the past 2 years. Due to operational needs, I have been in three different battalions during my tour, including the 3d Battalion 8th Marines. They are the Battalion that in 1995 rescued Scott O'Grady, in 1996 kept the mission in Haiti from becoming a complete fiasco as they were willing to use force against the thugs -- unlike the Army who were literally pushed around.
In 1998, they were the first US troops into Kosovo, and many do not hesitate to say the truth about the nature of the Albanian thugs, having had firefights with them as well as the Serbs. Just before I joined them, they had the politically incorrect mission of clearing Vieques of protestors; and since I have joined them, we have just completed a less glamorous mission of being forward deployed to Okinawa, Japan and Korea, including some time at Warrior Base on the DMZ.
While in Korea we worked extensively with the ROK 1st Marine Division. Their officers, observing a bi-lateral Battalion on Battalion FEX were impressed with the way a Marine Corporal could take a squad on an independant operation at night, and how other junior NCOs and Marines took initiative in ways that they had a hard time imagining. The ROK Marines are a tough bunch, our boys impressed them. This is a proud battalion, led by motivated and competent leaders. As a Chaplain, it was refreshing to me to see Lance Corporals and Corporals serving as Rifle Team Leaders and Squad Leaders, showing leadership in a lot of outstanding ways that I seldom saw in the Army.
As Chaplains, we often see Marines, Sailors, Soldiers or Airmen as a last resort, after the chain of command has given up on them. At least that was the case most of my time in the Army. These young leaders often sought my help early, to get these kids back on track before they became discipline problems and ended up in the brig, or getting kicked out. It was nice to be able to preach (even in counseling) the virtues of taking responsibility for one's actions: being faithful, courageous, and a man of honor and integrity.
My tour with 3/8 was one of the best I have ever had. I seldom had to visit the brig, and didn't have to bury any of my Marines. From the Bn Commander and Sergeant Major down, I saw great leadership. Thank God for the Marines and God Bless the 3d Battalion 8th Marines. Our motto is "fortuna favet fortibus" or Fortune Favors the Strong. It is a true motto.
Used with permission of Colonel David H. Hackworth, USAR