Friday, June 12, 2015

Once a Marine, Always a Marine

Sara walked off Quantico moments ago in her civvies with a piece of paper in her hand and a new smile on her face.  She is now headed home for a visit, behind the wheel of her new truck.

Much of the journey from DEP Poolee to E-6 is logged on this blog and now enters the phase of hindsight and memory.  With better than 13,500 visits by the time I was asked to make it private for security reasons, three years ago, this blog has been a great therapeutic experience.  Now it is public again with the hope that some parent, or friend, or aspiring Marine will find the information, though dated, of some help and perhaps even insightful.

"Goodnight 'Chesty!'  Wherever you are."

The end of the "Adventure"

Five years? Really!? We were surprised a while back by Sgt Sara that she had made the decision to EAS or End her Active Service.  For many reasons, we were convinced she was to be a career Marine.

When I asked her why, she replied, "Dad, with the MSG program and this past year [as a first female MSG MSAU], I have done everything I got into the Marines to do. It's time to move on."  Well,  good!

So, on the day she says 'good-bye' to her life of the past 5 years, it will be with great pride and honor that I will "lower" and put away the USMC flag that I have displayed in my yard 24/7/365 since the day she became a United States Marine that August morning after the Crucible back in 2010.

Words cannot describe the journey this has been. I have been emotional. I have been anxious. I have been proud. I have been honored. I have been glad. This "little" adventure took me across the country three times... to Parris Island, to Cherry Point, and to Quantico. I have proudly stood several times a year at concerts and ball games, being recognized as the parent of a Marine, and I always stand during the playing of the Marine Hymn.

This "adventure" took our Marine to Parris Island, Havelock, New River, Quantico, Baghdad, T'Blisi, Arbil Governate, the Ukraine, the Bahamas, West Virginia, as well as Paris, Istanbul, and Kuwait City (and probably other places I just don't know about yet, ha!). She had to be med-evac'd by chopper, went horseback riding in the Caucusus mountains, walked the coast of the Black Sea, and other adventures which are left unwritten. She personally met and worked with Ambassadors, the VPOTUS, and our Secretary of State.

 The Red Cross along with her FRO (Family Readiness Officer Ms Amy Watson), helped get her home from the other side of the planet within 48 hours of initial contact so she could say good-bye to her dying Grand-dad. Her "Pop Pop" prayed for her day and night. Her choice to give these years in service caused her to miss a lot of our lives and for us to miss a lot of hers. I would say that that has been the biggest challenge ... missing the events that make family a family. She is still Sara, but what I see is so radically different. She left our home a nervous, if not a smidgen rebellious, DEP Poolee. She became one of the Honor Graduates from Boot Camp, was meritoriously promoted twice, was selected as a first female into the post Bengazi MSG Augmentation Unit. While overseas she was Assistant Det Cmdr of her unit. She picked up some new scars and significant necessary tattoos. (Memories of a schoolhouse brown recluse encounter while sleeping remain visible due to emergency surgeryas well as a Spider tat next to the scar.)

She now walks with an air of confidence and accomplishment.  She has friends for life and a second national family that will never abandon her.  She loves guns, the outdoors, and her independence.

All in all, she is a better person, a stronger person, and has become my good friend.

So, Sgt Sara, to you I again say, publicly, thank you.  Thank you for staying true to your purpose, for excelling, for never EVER "dropping your pack,"  for having the backs of the Marines you worked alongside, the Marines you led, and those Marines who led you.

I believe it is safe to say, you have been a credit to the Corps.

Good job Marine.

I will always take great pride that one of my own served her country for better than 5 years, and in particular, as a twice meritoriously promoted, distinguished graduate, company high shooter, range coach, Assistant Det Cmdr female in the United States Marine Corps.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My "Tulasi" Her Tbilisi

It was about the year 1828 that the Lochapoka clan of the Muscogee tribe established a settlement they called "Tulasi" under the oak tree near what is now the corner of Cheyenne and 18th Street.  The tree is still there. Tulasi town, now called Tulsa, actually means "Old Town" in the Creek language.  I am proud of the history and 185 year old heritage of the town I call home.  That's a long time!

Today I became more aware that age is relative.

After poking around on YouTube this afternoon, looking at clips of TBilisi, I was impressed... again... at how little I know of this grand world of ours... and how easy it is to project a personal world view onto others of whom I know nothing.  

In one clip, I listened to a smiling girl, back home in Georgia on holiday, speak proudly of her city, the monuments and history (the language is beautiful ...I was glad for the subtitles, ha!).  She mentioned the many church buildings (owing to the fact that Christianity was adopted by the city before 400AD) and how religious Georgians are. 

I let myself be consumed.  I listened to the music, I looked into faces, and I saw people doing life, loving, hurting, living, laughing, crying ... all of which I am completely oblivious to.  My small corner of the universe consumes me, as theirs does them.   I wondered what they hoped in and for.  And I was hungry, so I wondered about their food... which on the clips looks like it needs to be evaluated in person... yes?

Later, as I drove down the street coming home from church... on MY side of the planet...  I was still marveling at the differences.  Just look at the ancient Tbilisi architecture and heritage vs. the rapid recent growth in my neighborhood.  For example, in just the last five years, fields that were filled with rambling cows and the occasional dilapidated fireworks stand have been replaced with bustling shopping centers, restaurants, elaborate gyms, new car lots and hotels.

Though I may be conditioned to like and appreciate this kind of progress and transition, it is interesting how much enjoyment, and maybe even comfort, I find in the permanent, like the tree that dominates our front yard.  It is probably one of the most majestic Oak trees I have ever seen.  I would guess that it surely dates back way more than 100 years.  I sat one time watching the squirrels do their spiral chase up and down and imagined the world of that young tree many generations of squirrels ago.   To think that I have in my own front yard something that represents such great endurance, stability, and longevity.

And then, I look at a city, where my daughter walks, works, and plays whose written history dates back to 364AD and where there is archeological evidence of being inhabited by humans as early as the 4th millenium BC.  Really?  Well, at least I have an old tree!  Goodness!

I just wonder... and want to visit her and that place... to hear, see, smell, and feel the heart of the culture. Oh yeah, and to taste and enjoy...of course!

Matthew 28:19-20

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Everyone but my Marine - Someone had to leave for work!

Georgia Ambassador Norland and new Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili along with Sara's "Boys" and the Det Commander (SSgt on right)
This was taken during the Marine Ball recently. These are Sara's peeps. (Except for the two guys in the middle, ha!) Nice pic. Would have been better with a feminine touch with 3 stripes.!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Then and Now

Day One
Day 1265 with guest at Marine Ball 11/9/13

The Sergeant and her Corporals

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Developments - MSAU vs Mustang

Now that the blog is no longer public and can be read by members only, I am happy to be able to share news in a different way.

Today, Sunday, we were surprised with a phone call from Sara.  It is always such a treat when she is able to get through to us and we get to hear her voice.

Sara introduced me to a new development for MSG's.  I did some reading and this is what I found.

After we chatted, I found in the Marine Times that this past June, 1000 additional Marine Security Guards were authorized boosting the MSG force to 2200 worldwide.  Probably as many as 50 new diplomatic sites over the next three years will receive a MSG detachment.  This will impact Sara directly as she will be receiving 2 additional MSG's to her detachment in January.  The standard detachment size has been increased from 5 to 7 and many will be increased to full squad size of 13.

Next, and of particular interest, is the newly formed MSAU (em-saw) or Marine Security Augmentation Unit which will be made up of 120 MSG's composing 9 or 10 squad sized units.   This is a new elite group within the MSG program.  Initially, it was to be open only to MSG's with combat operational specialties.  Since many MSG's do not come from infantry MOS's and service for at least a year in the MSG program is a prerequisite, others, including females are open for consideration.

After picking up Sergeant, Sara received word from her command at the "schoolhouse" in Quantico that there was interest in nominating her for one of the 120 slots.

This in and of itself is a testament to the confidence her command has in Sara, and quite frankly, Sara's confidence in herself and her work ethic.

The purpose of the MSAU will be to provide immediate crisis response embassy security reinforcement.  Should this materialize for Sara, she will be based out of Quantico, VA, possibly for the final year of her enlistment.  MSAU participants participate in additional training in communications, weapons, advanced room entry procedures and how to escape from a collapsed building.

The purpose of developing this new asset, according to my research, is to provide an overlap of existing resources available to the Ambassador beyond the FAST teams and MEU's that may be in the area in the event security needs to be beefed up.  It also provides a standing team that understands the Embassy mission and is more of an extension of what they are doing already.

Sara says she has 3 options in her mind at this time:  One would be to finish her five year active duty enlistment and not "re-up" (this is not under consideration as Sara loves what she is doing); a second option would be to pursue another period of time as active duty enlisted; and the third, as mentioned in a previous post, is to pursue the MECEP, finish a college degree and be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant making a career as an officer (with a desire to fly).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy 238th Birthday and Happy Veterans Day.

Thank you for your commitment, your honor, and your courage.  Mostly, I would thank you for your hard work.

It has been 1,267 days since we walked out of MEPS and left you waving in your DEP Poolee shirt. It amazes me to consider that you have gone from Yellow Footprints to E-5 in 1257 of those days... particularly for a 2nd Airwing Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron Cryogenics Equipment specialist. (that's a mouthful) where rank advancement is contingent on attrition.  Yes, as you have stated, MSG work has been good to you ... but then, your achievements and potential has been recognized and your abilities refined.

The only downside?  Your last Marine Ball in Baghdad, you were a Lance Corporal (and the youngest Marine in the detachment) so you never got to wear your Corporal stripes to a Ball!... Oh well.

Not that I would prognosticate, but it makes one wonder how long it will be before you are wearing the "Gold Bar" collar device.  If you made it your goal for a career choice, I would say... umm ... within the next 36 months, considering college and all.  It could happen!  But that is a decision that will require another signature sometime in March or April 2014 I would guess as you wind down your fourth year.  That is surely something to think about.  I won't say it can't be done, because I know you too well.

As always, we pray for you and your choices and will always support whatever you feel led to be and do.

So .. you are missed!  Imagine that!  :)

Happy Veterans Day and Happy Birthday Marine.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Three Stripes Up and A/Det Cmdr

Sara got "pinned" this morning so now her attire reflects her rank.  We are so proud of your hard work, not only making it through the meritorious board process, but for being singled out through that process as the only nominee to be awarded the advancement.  You will wear those stripes with great pride and great responsibility as the "A slash" (Assistant Detachment Commander).  We are all sitting back home just grinning and enjoying the blessing of God in your life through your hard work and perseverance.

"Ask and you shall receive!!"
"What you think about, you bring about!"

Of course you ordered your Sergeant rank pins ahead of time so you would have them on hand!  Why not?!

"If the mind can think it, and believe it, it can achieve it!"
"Show me your five best friends [who you spend your time with], and I will show you your future!"

Singing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow..."

"In whatever your hand finds to do, do it heartily as unto the Lord!" ... that you have done.

Well done, Sara.  Well done, daughter!  Well done, Marine!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lt Col to Sara ... "Well done, Marine."

From: C[], J[] E
Sent: Saturday, November 02, 2013 6:29 PM
To: S[], Sara E
Cc: R[], Francisco; W[], Larry C; R[], Brandon D
Subject: Congratulations

Sgt S[],

    Congratulations on your well deserved meritorious promotion to Sergeant.  You were selected #1 out of group of nominated Corporals that represent the very best of within this program and embody what it is to be emulated as an NCO.  With this promotion, comes the enormous responsibility of serving as a leader in the NCO ranks.  I know that you more than ready to step up and accept the challenge.  Well done, Marine.  

Semper Fi!
   LtCol J[] E. C[]
   Commanding Officer
   MCESG - Region 1

VIA FACETIME:   I am soo excited... this is awesome!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Embassy Marine Corps Ball 2013 Foto Op

#offtherecord     #justabitofattitude    #lookinsassy    #semperfi

Monday, October 28, 2013

Navy and Marine Overseas Ribbon awarded.

Uniforms really looking snappy with all the bling! Ha!  Niiiice!!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Trim and Fit, Ready and Mean ... Gameface ... the real deal!

This was the foto included in Sara's Meritorious Promotion package which her command nominated her for.

All business.  Thanks for sharing, Sara.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

MSG Year Two Post

Founded in the 5th century in the heart of the Caucasus mountains by Vakhtang Gorgasali Tbilisi has served as Georgia's capital for nearly 1500 years, and its proximity to east-west trade routes made the city a point of contention between various rival empires. Located on the both banks of the Kura River and dominated by Mount Mtatsminda, Narikala fortress and the Kartlis Deda monument, Tbilisi historic district is the center of Old Tbilisi.

United States Embassy

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

300 CFT... again!

When calls come in like one just did from the other side of the planet, it just makes your day.

Sara is learning all the in's and outs of the new Post One and feeling good.  I would think so.

Her arrival went like this... pull a 24 the day before travel wrapping things up and good-byes.  Three international airports and 18 hours later, her flight arrived on time at 3am from Istanbul.  Then off to report in and straight to the range.  After spending time on the range in Baghdad weekly, speed and accuracy netted her a perfect score... or "all money" in her words.  Good introduction to her new detachment and Commander since they did not do as well.  (big smile).

Then, word comes today that during an inspection by the Regional Officer out of Frankfurt, Sara expressed interest in the MECEP.  He mentioned that he had not had a MECEP in a while and could be interested in helping.

What ensued onsite there at her new post was very fun for her.  The guy spoke to her Det Commander and had her and another "dude" run a CFT (Combat Fitness Test).  For those that may understand the value, she did her best times... the obstacle course in 2:06 and the movement to contact (880 Meters) in 2:35 and 60 ammo can lifts in under 1:30.  (she wished she had done 90 to score a 300 on the male CFT)  With that she scored a perfect 300 CFT for the third time running (or an equivalent 279 on the male scale).

I would think she made a good impression.

She just finished her college algebra course with a final grade of better than 93%.

Now she will focus on meeting requirements for the next meritorious board and if she meets the requirements in time, she may have a shot at adding a stripe... three stripes in just over 3 years... and then the potential for the MECEP.

"One of the most common programs Enlisted Marines use to transition from enlisted to officer is the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP). MECEP offers qualified Marines the chance to go to a four-year college full-time, while maintaining active duty status and pay.  Selection is based on an individual's potential for commissioned service as demonstrated by their service record, previous academic record, and evidence of career and academic self-improvement.

MECEP is for exceptional Marines who have not yet completed their bachelor's degree. Selected marines will attend a 10-week Officer Candidates School (OCS) course and upon completing will attend a university or college offering an NROTC program.  Upon completion of their degree, they will be commissioned as second lieutenants."

She says she loves her job.  Sounds like it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In every place, in every circumstance!

Sometimes it's hard to get your head around this. That's OK. Your heart "knows" it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Three years

Corporal Sara... I must say, time and hard work has turned you into a responsible Marine.  The change is evident.  The pride I feel is greater.

It is hard to imagine it has already been three years since you literally marched out of our lives.  In some ways, it has been a long three years.  In others, time has seemed to pass quickly.  For example, three years ago, your younger brother was just finishing the 9th grade.  While you and your fellow NCO's kept vigil at the embassy half way around the world, we saw him proudly graduate last evening.  You know he, like you and his other sisters, was a real stand out.  He was selected by audition to perform for the graduation.  How fitting it is that he sang a song of home, and the love and affection that we find in being a family.  During our last time together, surely you sensed the deep deep love and commitment we have for you and for each other.  It goes without saying that you have that same commitment to each of the family.

So, in your absence, it is only fitting that this song of "Home" be dedicated to you and to your faithful Marine family, both in your part of the world and across the globe.

You are missed, loved, and prayed over daily.  Enjoy the video.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sadness in the passing of a Marine friend

In memory of Todd North.

It is with a heavy heart we received the word from our Marine that Todd North, a close friend, and part of our Marine's extended Marine family, had his life taken from him at Flyer's in Havelock last week.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Alyssa, his son Asa, daughter Anna and his parents.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wobble Wobble Cha Cha Cha

So comes the time for the CO visit... all the way from UAE to check on the Det and "Footloose" who by the way is back in her normal boot and pushing herself to the max.  Today as Vehicle NCO, after an all-night post, the Corporal is taking her vehicles to the shop to be washed and cleaned for the guest soon to arrive.

She is told her healing is four to five weeks ahead of schedule.  She says it is because of a pill she takes called Protandim and cream called True Science.  I just think she is impressive!

Get your groove on Marine...

The Wobble at the Marine Ball 2012 as a LCpl

Monday, February 4, 2013

"Footloose" gets "blood stripe"

Congrats to new NCO Sara for achieving E-4 on February 1, 2013.  She will now proudly wear the red stripe on her dress blues and add a stripe to all her uniforms.

Proud of our Sara as she continues her adventure "footloose" and fancy free.... right?  And nice deal on the gear you wore today, headset and all....especially the exec "limo" transportation and the personal armed guard en route to Camp Sather.....  I know right?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

YAY!!!! Goodies from far away!!!

WOW!  Goodies from Turkey and Egypt via her neighborhood "convenient store".... YUMMM!
Even Taco Flavored Sunflower seeds.... all the packaging has 12 languages describing the contents... go figure... fortunately English is one of them... but you have to look for it, ha!  Sugar, chocolate, caramel, sugar, cookies, fruit, and sugar.... NICE!!!  Thank you for your taste of culture from this spot on the planet.  Way cool.

But best of all, are the FANTASTIC tee shirts and Polo shirts and medallions that came... What about this olive drab tee design... AWESOME

And check out the back side of this Eagle Globe and Anchor... solid Brass and 8.5cm x 8.5cm.  Christmas in January!!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Toe Rates MedEvac Ride

Thanks love for the gruesome pics and the call from the surgery across town!  You must have done yourself real proud.  "Slash Alpha" won that round, right?  We are glad you are doing well and recovering.

What is it with you and your feet? Ha!

The story.  Marines grapple.  It's a fact of life.  Getting thrown over a shoulder and landing on a hard tile floor definitely tested the great toe's ability to stay attached to the foot.  But you damaged company property.  Not good!  Fortunately for you both there was no EtOH abuse or misuse.  Did you forget what your mom used to say?  (Repeat in high pitch voice) "That's enough of that!  It's all fun until someone gets their eye poked out!"... or in your case, gets their toe almost pulled off.

So now it is as repaired and back together as possible and sports a nice pin to keep things immobile for these 9 to 12 weeks.

We are thankful that you were able to somehow stay on post and that your immediate command spoke well and wrote creatively enough to manage that.  You will heal quickly in your big boot.  You have earned your new handle... "footloose."

Be strong, try to let it heal, and don't overdo it!  (wasting my words, I know).

It's looking SO much better!!!  Just showing the side damage here with the cute pin. Swelling is looking much better too.  Glad you had a Camp Sather close by and that they could put you back together.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"... if only in my dreams!"

I had to post this precious blessing sent to us by our Marine far from home!
It was read by younger brother to the group as we (24 of us that could be together) sat down to Christmas dinner.  Maybe later today we will somehow skype or facetime or something technological to actually see her smiling face.

This morning, she made our Christmas so special thanks to Amazon and the ability to purchase things from the internet.  HOLY COW!  I can't wait to put the video together from the day and send it to her.

Here is her Christmas blessing:

My Dearest Family,
I wish with all my heart that I could be together with y’all this special day. The temperature is mild and the dust is blowing but our hearts out here are cheerful and thankful for mail from home and the reminders of how much we are missed. I hope everything goes smoothly and I know the dinner was to die for! The Christmas lights sent to me ...are brightening up the mirror in the bathroom [and] around the window in my room next to [your] Christmas card. Y’all are amazing and I miss you. Oh! And my TV is wearing my pink camouflage Santa hat while it babbles Christmas movies ... with English subtitles.. It’s muted though.. I opted to listen to KennyG.. much more relaxing :] The Embassy staff has done quite a fantastic job with making the compound as Christmassy as possible. Christmas lights and giant light up snowflakes twinkle around the Chancery and the Ambassador’s quarters. We handed out toys to [local] orphans on the 22nd after completing our toys for tots drive, as well as sent warm clothes to refugees at [a neighboring country] border. Quite an experience, it seems not many people here have seen a female Marine before! I will most likely be getting ready for work while this is being read, but I want each and every one of you to know you are constantly in my prayers and I love y’all very much. I think what I will miss most is the singing. Such beautiful songs and voices! As well as hugs and smiles and telling Pop Pop how “S’GOOD” my meal was!! It makes my heart happy to know you will all be together this Christmas Day. I love my wonderfully, huge, loving family so very VERY much and I thank you all for the opportunity to share from my little home.... Have some egg nog for me!!! I miss that stuff :D

Your Marine

Sunday, December 23, 2012

One more time HBD2U

Ok, Marine. Happy Birthday one more time on this your day.

We have sung to you constantly. We have talked about you all day.  Our eyes have leaked many times.  We heard the professionalism in your voice when you called.  We miss you.

I know you enjoyed the music and fire on the helipad.  That's cool.  Never would have guessed that would have happened.

We all love you.  Thank you for this adventure in all our lives and for how all of us are becoming better people ... on account of you.  xoxoxoxo 143 Sara.... 143!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Twenty One Candles

(my apologies to Chris Young for the personal adaptation)

Always will be momma's baby
She always will be daddy's girl
Right now she's drivin' them crazy
Little Red Riding hood... big bad world.

Why wait on twenty-one candles?
She ain't missin' not a minute of "fun"
She ain't worried about one day older
Pretty little "rebel"... on the run.

She ain't tryin' to be hard to handle.
A girls gonna do what she's got to do
She ain't waitin' on twenty-one candles
To fly away ... and test her youth!

Her folks wanna lead her on
but they don't know how.
She wants it all and she wants it right now...
Get it all before the sun goes down.

She ain't waitin', she ain't missin'
She ain't worryin', that girl needs kissin'

She ain't tryin' to be hard to handle.
A girl's gonna do what she's got to do
She'll soon have her 21 candles
Preserve her God ... her life, for You.

She ain't waitin' on twenty-one candles
She ain't missin' not a minute of "fun"
She ain't worried about one day older
Pretty little "rebel"... on the run.

Yeah, them 21 candles.


Friday, December 21, 2012

525,600 minutes 21 times

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights ... In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in your life?

How about love?
Measure in love. 

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes!
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried?
In bridges she burned,
Or the way that he died?

Remember the love!
Seasons of love!
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love, spread love 

Measure your life in love. .

I love you ... and miss you.  HBD princess.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My prayer.... your prayer... our prayer

Me: I pray that the Lord will listen when you are in trouble, and that the God of Abraham will keep you safe.  May the Lord send help and come to your rescue from His holy place. 

May He remember your gifts and be pleased with what you bring to Him.

May God do what you want most... and let all go well for you.
Then... you will win victories... large and small... and we will celebrate... while raising our flag and banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord answer all your prayers!

You: "I am certain, Lord, that you will help me, your chosen one.  You will answer my prayers from your holy place in heaven, and you will save me with your mighty arm." 

Us: Some people trust the power of military might or political influence, but we trust you, Lord God.  Others will stumble and fall, but we will be strong and stand firm.

(adapted from Holy scripture)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Post One at Three Months In

"WHAT??? Did someone say SARA?  Where? .... Where is she?"  "Buddy.... get OFF the couch!!!"

"Awwww!....Well, I'll just wait here at my Post One and guard my AC vent!!!"
Heidi and Cody said "Wait... did someone say Sara... ?  Really?"
Heidi... wipe that cheesy smile off your face!!
Well, these first three months of the first post have been kind of different I know.   A lot has happened since that June 29 day.  I am sure that you enjoyed the weekends during the wait for your visa and perhaps the daily trips to the Pentagon and the Embassies in DC... probably the Starbucks trips most... right?  But you made it to your first post on this 36 month gig.

Seems to me to be a solitary kind of assignment.  At least that is what I get from the DOS FSO's on sight.  They have been known to blog that 12 months there could possibly do one of four things to the individual:
  1. Turn you into a chunk (eating too much)
  2. Turn you into a hunk (spending all your free time in the gym)
  3. Turn you into a drunk (partying all the time with the same people you work with)
  4. Put you in a funk (spending all time alone, reading, writing or on the computer studying online).
So it seems balance is the key.  Moderation and balance, right?

Congrats on testing out on your GREEN Belt with MCMAP.  I know it was tough when it was your turn to be the dummy.  I hated that you were in such pain.

I sent off a box of Arthromend and Immuforte (with some other goodies) today.  It was fun to send you a little care package.

Sara I am glad you are safe during these days of unrest.  Goodness, what a crazy world we live in.  I bet you and the others there (colleagues) would be happy to go to any Embassy and let people know that the diplomatic missions are NOT to be toyed with.  People have a right to their opinions, but when destruction and death result, action seems to be the only understandable response.  Apologies and gestures fall pitifully short.

So, I get weekendly updates from our neighbor across the street.  He tells me everything he has learned and is doing, the gear he is using, the details behind all the equipment, weaponry, procedures, etc.  I am amazed at his ability to retain information that he is so interested in.  I told him I thought he would be a good teacher.  He has changed significantly since he left here on May 8 as you may imagine.  I think the change has been more dramatic since he began SOI.  He will be finishing that up in the next couple of weeks and then it's off to who knows where.  We pray for his safety too.

Comrades pushing through SOI in the mountains of California.  I get updates each weekend.  Not very pretty training... digging in... and all related ... nasty tough job.  PFC Sams is RFI with his gear.
Find your strength in the Word of God.  Take care of my Bible please.  God will speak to you if you listen.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Compound Amenities

Chow hall entrance.... nice waterfall!
   Never know who you will see in the chow hall -- from foreign dignitaries to high level politicians from the U.S.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Interim Stop prior to Helo trip on the Airport

Overnight Qtrs @ Camp Sully

Friday, August 31, 2012

On the way... the next chapter

Enjoyed tracking the flight live with AirNav position reports.
Here is the flight descending over the Tigris/Euphrates delta.

Friday, June 29, 2012

MSG Battallion adds 89

Of the 132 that started, 89 were able to complete.  Congrats on being 3rd in your class!!!

Best time ever at Panera Bread at Stafford Marketplace with these three.

Tim's Rivershore Restaurant and CrabHouse on the Potomac

Way cool to pick up and drop off bikes at different locations using iPhone app.  Made touring the mall, the monuments, the capital building, the Smithsonian and Arlington National Cemetery a snap!  Very fun.

Gaylord National Harbor Resort for dinner at the Old Hickory Steakhouse.... very very upscale and fun... "ahem.... would the gentleman and the young lady like some after dinner reading material?" Interpretation into Texan- "Hey, did y'all leave any room for desert?"  We did and it was grand as was the fireworks over the Potomac for an early July 4th celebration.

My lovely date -- sweet time saying so long for perhaps 36 months.  We all hope not.
Made plans, just in case, to meet back in DC for another meal.
I gave Sara my study Bible to take care of.  I could think of nothing more precious to me to loan to her.  I look forward to  her giving it back to me, in person.
The Hotel and Restaurant honored her for her service by giving her the meal.  Nice!  Biggest tip I ever gave.  Phenomenal service.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Good job with all your qual tests. Congrats on getting past the board. I know you are pumped. Gas chamber and OC behind you I hope. Rest, recover. You have endured so much.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"OC Distressed"

Friday - Oleoresin Capsicum Qual to Carry training

Five minutes of hell -- a waterhose in the eyes -- and an hour of stinging pain.

Self discipline, self control, extreme discomfort.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Seven Weeks of Intensity

◦ Security
◦ Antiterrorism
◦ Protection of classified materials
◦ Defensive tactics
◦ Chemical munitions
◦ Handcuffing
◦ First Aid
◦ Emergency response
◦ Expandable baton
◦ M9 Beretta service pistol
◦ Remington M870   12-guage shotgun
◦ M4 rifle
◦ Social etiquette
◦ Administrative procedures

     The close relationship between the Department of State and the United States Marine Corps is almost as old as the Corps itself.  For over 200 years Marines have served “In every clime and place” at the request of various Secretaries of State.
     Detachments are involved in every facet of life within the American community they serve.  Whether hosting social events, sponsoring local community activities, or just generally adding to the rich experience of living overseas, our Marine Security Guards are indeed "Ambassadors in Blue."  Recent events, however, have clearly highlighted the true benefit and mission of the detachments.
      The unexpected attack of the consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (December 2004), as well as the unplanned and unexpected evacuation of the embassies in Freetown, Sierra Leone (May 1997), Brazzaville, Congo (June 1997), N’Djamena, Chad (2008), and Conakry, Guinea (2009) were greatly facilitated by the actions of the Marine detachments.   Whether organizing convoys to the airport, destroying classified equipment, or providing protection to embassy personnel, the MSGs of these detachments were uniformly praised for their actions.  Most recently, Marine Security Guards maintained embassy security and assisted with the crisis management during the immediate aftermath of earthquakes in Port au Prince, Haiti and Santiago, Chile.
     Qualified volunteers for this special duty continue to be recommended by their Commanding Officers and ordered to Marine Security Guard School for seven weeks of extensive training, screening, and processing.  Today, over 1,100 Marine Security Guards serve at 149 posts in 135 different countries throughout the world.  The distinguished reputation enjoyed  by all Marine Security Guards has been earned by their outstanding performance of duty while accomplishing an important mission for the United States of America.  The constant reference of many American Ambassadors to "My Marines" is a source of great pride to the Corps.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Military knowledge and competence are not enough; Professionalism means demonstrating courage, subordination of self to the greater whole, and most importantly, moral integrity. I will:

  • Be technically and tactically proficient in my duties through continuous training and education.
  • Be reliable in my duties, dependable in my actions, and exercise initiative whenever possible. 
  • Deal with all individuals with tact, bearing, and fairness in all matters. 
  • Maintain standards in personal appearance and physical fitness. 
  • Constantly seek to improve myself both personally and professionally. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Discipline is not merely compliance with a set of rules and regulations drawn up for the purpose of preserving order in an organization.  It may be defined as the habit of instantaneous and instinctive obedience under any and all circumstances. I will:

  • Have the moral courage to do what is right, regardless if someone is watching. 
  • Be an Ambassador in Blue and a diplomat at all times, projecting a positive image of the United States and the Marine Corps both on and off duty. 
  • Be ready to respond to emergency situations and fulfill my duties 24 hours a day,  seven days a week.
  • Adhere to the Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


To keep watch, stay awake, alertly watchful especially to avoid danger. I will:

  • Never become complacent in my duties, especially if I am alone. 
  • Bear full responsibility for the security of my post and mission. 
  • Maintain a high level of personal security and situational awareness. 
  • Be constantly aware of all possible threats due to terrorism, criminal activity, or unsafe acts and to guard my well being and the safety of my fellow detachment members and embassy personnel at all times.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Come home. I will leave the light on for you.

Memorial Day 2012

It’s been better than two years now.  Actually two years and three days.

In those 733 days, I have been able to look into your eyes only 31.  For some dads, I suppose, that would be luxury.  For this Dad’s eyes, too few.  Yet, my heart is thankful that I still can do that…and that we text and talk.  Memories you have given me and mom during the 4% of life we have shared face to face in the past 24 months include:

Travel to graduation at Parris Island 2010
The brown recluse surprise surgery trip 2010 while at the school house.
Your most incredible surprise visit to DFW, Thanksgiving 2010.
Christmas in San Antonio 2010
New Years in San Antonio 2011
Your recent home visit April 2012 on the front end of this new venture.

But I am thankful.  You have brought other Marines into our lives.  Our home is filled with USMC awards, plaques, accomplishments, flags, hats, etc. etc.  No less than three USMC flags are displayed at any time.  I have been back to MEPS in the last month, and relived your experience, with a neighbor and his Mom.  Feelings haven’t changed since the last time I stood for the swearing in Ceremony and said good-bye’s.  Of course, he headed to San Diego… his loss… ha!

And your adventure continues. 
Another 300 (perfect score) on your Combat Fitness Test this past week.
Another near perfect score on your most recent Physical Fitness Test the week before that. Expert Pistol. Expert Rifle. Range Coach. A new MCMAP belt, and a cutting score that rocks.

We, your family, your loved ones, salute you Sara.

We commend you for your willingness to sacrifice months and years of your life… and if this is to be the future you choose for yourself… your sacrifice of a lifetime in service to us… doing your part in the puzzle of liberty and justice for all. 

In spite of the adventure, I suppose what touches me the most about you, is your sacrifice of time with family, as your 2 sisters and hubbies, your brother and your mother and I (not to mention your friends and extended family) stand on the sidelines and watch.  It’s hard to imagine that holidays without you will become the norm in the years ahead, as we both know you will be called on to serve during those days.

Both of us will make do, won’t we.  You will be tough as nails and I will attempt to be.  However, the next time you come home, promise me I will get a batch of home-made oatmeal raisin cookies made for me by you.  I will be waiting for them.

Fight for right and freedom. Keep our honor clean. Stand tall. Be uncompromising.
Remember most of all --- who you are...whose you are...and your heritage!

I am here for you, Dad
Job 28:28 (remember this)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Just SHUT UP, would you?

It's still a free country.  We guard our right to speak freely.  However, it pains me that a vocal minority express on public blogs how much they hate their jobs with the all volunteer Marine Corps.  Some go out of their way to poison those around them with negative and childish talk.  Buck up boys and girls. Welcome to life.  You are not living in a world free from having to be responsible for your attitudes and actions.  That's right...!  It amazes me that there is incessant whining.

In a screwed up world run by screwed up people what do you expect?

Choose how you respond.  Choose to bring life to the after day... a positive outlook... in the face of the crap that surrounds you... or an MOS that you have grown to dislike... or being stuck in some god-forsaken corner of the planet.

Look for the good.  IT'S THERE!  Acknowledge the bad when absolutely necessary but SEE the good and stay motivated.  Be positive and quit being so stinking self-centered... and do NOT tolerate such conversation in others.  It demoralizes and is an energy vortex sucking the life out of those who listen and participate.

Yes ideals wither and fade.  So?  Don't leave your training in Honor, Courage, and Commitment back at boot where it was force fed.  You choose to be the stand out.  Set new ideals.  You be the standard.  You choose to be the light in a world of dark, unfair, political garbage.  Don't give in to the "Crab in the bucket" syndrome allowing others to pull you back down with their small stinking thinking. Remember what your mom said... "if you don't have anything good to say, shut up!"(my paraphrase).  Be an example to those around you.  Lead!  Stand tall.  Make a difference in the corner where you are planted... wherever that may be according to the "needs of the Marine's".

And for goodness sakes, work hard.  Go the extra mile... and leave the complaining off the public blogs or other public venues.  Just my 2 cents.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


LCpl Sara is now formally detached from her unit. After two weeks of "checking out," the cumbersome culminated with a flurry of activity. "Kindly" compelling the cooperative effort of medical, dental, and administrative staff to push clearance and obtain the always necessary signatures, today, it's official.

So of course, it's off to Havelock and Cherry Point to share the joy of 30 days liberation with friends. Sara's career as a wrench with Cryogenics and MALS26 is behind her. A newer adventure lies ahead. Perhaps after her upcoming school and training she will earn enough points in her cutting score to pick up Corporal... but, with an MOS change, so does the cutting score, so who knows. I would think that two stripes in two years would be a significant honor to achieve.

So it's off to visit friends and family for as long as Sara can feel comfortable being away from this life of hers that we experience from a distance. She walks forward with a new belt level in MCMAP, training and experience as a range coach, 14 months experience in a Marine shop work , and perhaps miraculously... No NJP's... lol!

Her Ram "made for mud" pick-up has been sold... As has been her GSXR600 black rocket of a bike!
Freedom from debt, freedom from work for 30 days... What a concept!

Good job Sara! Make a difference for good on the world around you. Pursue excellence and hate mediocrity! No... Loathe it entirely.

As you were.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What is Quantico?

Quantico is the site of one of the largest U.S. Marine Corps bases in the world, (MCB Quantico). The base is the site of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and HMX-1 (the presidential helicopter squadron). The United States Drug Enforcement Administration's training academy, the FBI Academy, the FBI Laboratory, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service headquarters are on the base.

Marine Corps Base Quantico is comprised of more than 6,700 military personnel, 6,900 civilians, and 2,500 family members.

Since its inception in 1917, Marine Corps Base, Quantico, has been the "frontline of innovation." Marine concepts, doctrine, training, and equipment of the future are initiated aboard the Base. The techniques of amphibious warfare, for which the Corps is renowned, were conceived and perfected here. The tactics of close-air support and vertical envelopment using helicopters were also developed within its borders. As attention is focused on future battlefields, the Marine Corps and other branches of Service are looking to Quantico to lead the way with technological advances as well as creative and innovative thinking.

Quantico also serves as the focal point for professional military education. The Marine Corps University provides the academic platform the Corps uses to shape and hone leaders at every milestone of their professional lives. Officers in the Marine Corps begin their careers at the Officer Candidates School and The Basic School. Enlisted marines receive additional leadership training at the University's Staff Non-Commissioned Officers Academy. The Marine Corps War College, School of Advanced Warfighting and Amphibious Warfighting School are also part of the University, training officers in the U.S. Armed Forces and international officers from designated foreign countries in the art of war.

Whether assigned to Quantico as a student or as a permanent personnel, the Marine will become part of a community that reflects professional character while enjoying an off-duty environment with many social, civic, and professional opportunities.

Seven weeks in this professional environment sounds pretty cool.