I had the honor of serving in the United States Marine Corps. In the summer of 1986, I stood on the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Some of you may know that today is the Marine Corps birthday, and we Marines - even those of us long separated - make a general to-do over it. Personally, I had a part in the birthday to-do while I was in which is somewhat more than others.
My MOS school was in Quantico, Virginia, which is often called the "crossroads of the Marine Corps," and it is the location of the Marine Corps Museum. While I was at Quantico, a few days before the Marine Corps birthday, I received a call from the base headquarters informing me that I was the youngest Marine on base. That meant that I was to participate in the official cake-cutting ceremony. We had a rehearsal the day before where I met the oldest Marine on base, a leathery-looking groundskeeper.
So, on 10 November, 1986, I presented in my winter Alphas for the ceremony. The oldest Marine and I faced each other, received the command to march, then halt. Then we received the command "LEFT FACE," to turn towards the cake. Perhaps you can already see the problem. The oldest Marine and I were facing each other, so if we both turned left, one of us would be facing the cake and the other would be facing the General. Guess what happened? They gave me the command, and I followed it and got a good look at the disconcerted base Sergeant Major. I quickly did an about face and carried on with the rest of the ceremony.
Surprisingly, no one said a word after, but I carried this lesson with me for the rest of my life. You will make mistakes. Correct them and move on.
So, In honor of the Marine Corps birthday, here is my (very) truncated list of some of my favorite famous Marines.
Among the athletes, there are Billy Mills and Ted Williams, and a surprising number of professional wrestlers, including "Sgt Slaughter."
In the world of business, there is the taco bell creator, Glen Bell, and the founder of Domino's Pizza, Tom Monaghan. Not to mention,
Eugene Stoner, the inventor of the AR15.
There is THE astronaut, John Glenn. 'Nuff said.
There are the actors you just figured were Marines: Scott GLenn, Gene Hackman, Harvey Keitel, Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, and George C. Scott. There is the charismatic leader of the A-Team: George Peppard. There is the new guy, Adam Driver, of the Star Wars prequel fame. Among the unsurprising Hollywood folks, there is the director of the classic western movie the Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpah.
There are the entertainers that are surprising: Don Adams (from Get Smart), Drew Carey and Rob Riggle (comedians), and Bea Arthur (not only a Marine, a Marine truck driver!), both of the Everly Brothers, and - perhaps my favorite - both Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans!
Then there is the Rocky connection. Chuck Wepner (the boxer who inspired Sylvester Stallone to write Rocky), and Burt Young, who played Rocky's friend and Adrian's brother. Then, the film is set in Philadelphia, the little town in which Tunn Tavern, the bar that saw the birth of our beloved Corps, used to sit.
Every year, the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps issue a birthday message to their Marines. Each year, even those of us long separated listen to it. If you're interested, here is this year's:
Semper Fidelis, Marines, and happy birthday.
Written by Marine Corps Veteran & Attorney at Rawls Law Group, David A. Tierney