Born November 10, 1775*
To all who dared, thank you!
U.S. Marines at Iwo Jima, Japan, February 23, 1945
"No greater friends, no worse enemies."
During the bloody Battle for Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E
Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment of the 5th Division took the crest of
Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest peak and most strategic position, and
raised the U.S. flag. Joe Rosenthal, a photographer with the AP, met them
along the way and recorded the raising of a second flag. Rosenthal took
three photographs atop Suribachi. The first, which showed five Marines
and one Navy corpsman struggling to hoist the heavy flag pole, became
the most reproduced photograph in history and won him a Pulitzer Prize.
U.S. Marine Sergeant Frank Praytor, Korea, 1952
Marine Sergeant Frank Praytor holds a kitten he has named “Miss Hap.”
The kitten gets that name because Praytor says she was born at the wrong
place at the wrong time. The kitten was left an orphan after another marine
killed its mother for making too much noise. “Miss Hap” had a sister but
another marine who adopted it, rolled over in his sleep and killed it by
accident. Praytor’s kitten survived and eventually found its way home
to the U.S. with another marine after Praytor was shipped out.
Lest we forget.
Memorial Day Thunder of Thanks
Last Memorial Day, 3000 veterans on motorcycles
paraded down Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC.
A solitary Marine saluted them while at attention for 3 hours.
U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Tim Chambers saluted each veteran.
When a veteran walks into a diner and orders a cup of coffee, he didn’t expect
this to happen. A young boy asks for a picture but the man points out that there’s
another veteran in the diner…one that doesn’t gather as much attention but deserves
just as much praise. If you were around to remember the way our veterans were treated in
the 60s and 70s or know a Vietnam veteran yourself, this one will bring tears to your eyes.
To all who dared, thank you!
of us wonder if our lives made any difference. Marines don't have that problem." -- Ronald
*Birth of The Corps
birthday of the United States Marine Corps, November 10, 1775, occurred
when the Second Continental Congress decreed that, "two battalions of
Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels,
two Majors and other Officers, as usual in other Regiments; that they
consist of an equal number of Privates as with other Battalions, that
particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices,
or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or
so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve for and
during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies; unless
dismissed by Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of
the First and Second Battalions of Marines."
year I am hired to go to Washington, D.C., with the eighth grade class
from Clinton, WI, where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly
enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special
memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.
On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima Memorial.
This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts
one of the most famous photographs in history by Joseph Rosenthal
-- that of six Marines raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky
hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during World War II.
The Iwo Jima Memorial, Washington, D.C.
one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed
towards the Memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of
the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "Where are you guys
I told him that we were from Wisconsin. "Hey, I'm a cheese
head, too! Come gather around, cheese heads, and I will tell you
Note: James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, D.C., to
speak at the Memorial the following day. He was there that night
to say good night to his dad, who has since passed away. He was
just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped
him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what
he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible
monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C., but it is quite
another to get the kind of insight we received that night.
When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. Here
are his words from that night.
"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My
dad is on that statue, and I just wrote a book called "Flags
of Our Fathers", which is number 5 on the New York Times Best
Seller list, right now. It is the story of the six boys you see
"Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in
the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his
football team. They were off to play another type of game. A game
called "War." But it didn't turn out to be a game.
A war weary face on Iwo Jima.
at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't
say that to gross you out, I say that because there are people who
stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You
guys need to know that most of the boys on Iwo Jima were 17, 18,
and 19 years old.
He pointed to the statue. "You see this next guy? That's Rene
Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the
moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet,
you would find a photograph ... a photograph of his girlfriend.
Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared. He
was 18 years old. Boys won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old
"The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant
Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys.
They called him the "old man" because he was so old. He
was already 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp,
he didn't say, 'Let's go kill some Japanese' or 'Let's die for our
country.' He knew he was talking to boys. Instead he would say,
'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers.'
"The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima
Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima. He went into
the White House with my dad. President Truman told him, 'You're
a hero.' He told reporters, 'How can I feel like a hero when 250
of my buddies hit the island with me and only 27 of us walked off
alive?' So take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year
together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of
you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive.
That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes
died dead drunk, face down at the age of 32, ten years after this
picture was taken.
"The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley
from Hilltop, Kentucky. A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend,
who is now 70, told me, 'Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on
the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across
the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epsom
salts. Those cows crapped all night. Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly
boy. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When the telegram
came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop
General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's
farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the
morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.
"The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my
dad, John Bradley (see historical correction) from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My
dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter
Cronkite's producers, or the New York Times would call. We were
trained as little kids to say, 'No, I'm sorry, sir, my dad's not
here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir.
No, we don't know when he is coming back.'
dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was sitting
there right at the table eating his Campbell's soup. But we had
to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk
to the press.
the public first demanded this stamp commemorating the Flag
Raising on Iwo Jima, the U.S. Post Postal Service initially rejected
idea out of hand. "No living person(s) can appear on a U.S.
they replied. But the public demand was so great that the Congress
pushed for the stamp. It was issued just five months after the Flag
Raising. On the first day of issue, people stood patiently in lines
stretching for city blocks on a sweltering July day in 1945 for
a chance to buy their beloved stamp. For many years,
this was the biggest selling stamp in the history of the
U.S. Postal Service. Over 137 million were sold.
'The Sands of Iwo Jima' movie premiered in 1949.
From left, Ira Hayes, John Bradley, John Wayne and Rene Gagnon.
This photo was taken on November 10, 1954, the
178th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
From front left, John Bradley, Rene Gagnon,
Vice Pres. Richard Nixon, and Ira Hayes.
BTW: Ira Hayes died three months later.
see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these
guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and on a monument. My
dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was
a caregiver. In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they
died. And when boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed
"When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that
my dad was a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked
at me and said, 'I want you always to remember that the heroes of
Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. Did NOT come back.'"
"So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died
on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall, 7,000
boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the
Marine Corps. My voice is giving out now, so I will end here. Thank
you for your time." --
Jima is now known as Iwo
the original Japanese name of the island.
training starts on the drill
where group consciousness skills emerge;
where the individual me becomes the collective we;
where a leader learns to follow, obey, and command.
"One of the highest spiritual practices I ever did was close order drill at the 3HO Denver ashram. I learned so much about responding over reacting --
about authority over disrespect -- about the other over the self. Thank you,
Hari Singh Bird, the greatest spiritual teacher I ever had." -- Vince Melito
Hari Singh BIrd
Sat Nam. Reading the preceding comment is a humbling experience for me. Vince is the only person I'm aware of other than myself that experienced spiritual insights while participating in close order drill. Reading his account causes me to reflect on my training and experience with COD in the Marine Corps, and when Yogi Bhajan requested that I go to Phoenix, AZ and San Francisco, CA in the late '70s to lead COD as a part of their morning sadhana just as we were doing at the Denver ashram. I wonder if it's any part of today's 3HO ashram experience. BTW: Yogiji also invited me to teach COD to the women at KWTC. I've often wondered how many understand this technology and its role in teaching leadership skills.
aka Semper Fi
Semper Fidelis distinguishes the Marine Corps bond from any other.
It goes beyond teamwork—it is a brotherhood that can always be counted
on. Latin for "always faithful," Semper Fidelis became the Marine Corps motto
in 1883. It guides Marines to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other,
to the Corps and to country, no matter what. Becoming a Marine is a transformation
that cannot be undone, and Semper Fidelis is a permanent reminder of that. Once
made, a Marine will forever live by the ethics and values of the Corps. In addition to
Semper Fidelis, Marine Corps Officers also embrace the phrase Ductos Exemplo, "to
lead by example," the motto of Officer Candidates School (OCS). Marine instructors
look for candidates who display self-reliance, discipline and responsibility. Desire and
motivation to lead Marines are deciding factors in an officer's selection and success.
Officer's Dress Blues
Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston,
SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave
in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for two
to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom.