I am an active duty officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. All views expressed in this blog are my personal views as an individual and not those of the Marine Corps or the Department of Defense.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Goodbye Blue Sky

This morning I put on the uniform for the last time - at least for a while.  I thought it would feel bittersweet but I felt like I have every single morning since I got my first set of "bulletproofs" back at OCS.  It's not a feeling with a name, like "proud" or "confident" or "happy" though it has elements of all those and others.  If it had a name, it would be something like goodrightready.  We don't usually talk about it but I think every Marine knows the feeling.

Whatever you want to call it, it was no different this morning than any other.  Bittersweet came later, just a few minutes ago, when I realized I'd be taking it off for the last time (I haven't yet).  I used to think I would use an old pair of woodlands - sans name tapes - to go hunting.  Now I know I won't.  Don't get me wrong, the uniform itself isn't some kind of sacred object and I don't put it on a pedestal.  It's just that there are two types of people in the world - those who have the right to wear it and those who don't.  I will always be a Marine but for now I am turning over the everyday burdens and challenges of life in the service to my brethren who remain on active duty, and so I will only wear the uniform when I too am conducting Marine business, or when ceremonially appropriate. 

The uniform, of course, is a symbol - and what it symbolizes is sacred.  There is no way I will ever do anything in my professional life that will be as gratifying or fulfilling as the last four years.  So I will miss the sense of meaning.  Where the Marine Corps gave me purpose I will have to give myself purpose, especially in the near future when my plans are to travel and spend time with family in Israel and volunteer but not to get a "real" job.

Aside from that, what are some other things I will miss about the Marine Corps?
  • My friends, most of whom remain in CA for now but will soon enough scatter to the four corners.  Thank goodness for Facebook (and for my love of road trips).
  • The unique opportunities, whether it's deployment or a week on the rifle range or flying around in USMC helos or watching big things go boom and turn into little things.
  • Training and leading Marines, though I won't necessarily miss all the stupid stuff they get into
  • The fact that it is perfectly normal - not even noticed - to drop a steady stream of f-bombs in even a formal briefing or presentation
  • Three-poling
  • The PRC-117 
What will I not miss?
  • The stupid f$@#ing rules, and the idea that all rules are created equal.
  • The MST - though I will miss how its ingenuity and resourcefulness take my breath away
  • Being cold down to my marrow.  The heat never bothered me as much.
  • Shaving every morning
  • Duty.
  • Juuuust a few other things that I will skip in the interest of discretion
I realize that I owe you a much broader catching up on the last few months - getting back to the states from Afghanistan, the September road trip, the Presidential Traverse and camping out in the peaks of the White Mountains, the family's experience during the recent flare-up in Israel, the process of extricating myself from the Gordian knot of military red tape.  It's been busy!  Hopefully I'll at least find the time to post some pictures of the last four months.  But over the next six weeks I'll be seeing most of the people that I imagine ever read this blog, so we'll do our catching up in person!

Until then, Happy Holidays and...

Semper Fidelis

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