33 Years Under The Green Blanket: Concerning Mental Toughness

A vignette featuring my father.

Marines tend to deny the need for medical science unless it is a near death event. Here is a typical conversation between me and my wife when she is concerned with my health.

Her:“Are you ok?”
Me: “Yeah, I’m alright.”
Her: “I call bullshit. You could be laying in a ditch somewhere with both legs missing and still say you were ‘alright.'”

It’s true. If we didn’t have Navy doctors and Corpsmen, Marines would prescribe themselves a vigorous physical training regimen to cure all our ills. We are the only group of people who, when they feel under the weather, consider going on a three mile run to clear everything up.

When I was around six or seven years old, I was outside with my dad. Somehow I’d scraped my knee. I began to cry as what I perceived to be a river of blood poured down my leg. To my utter shock my father’s reaction was: “Knock off that &*%#@ crying!” Ah, my first lesson in manly comportment.

I was raised by an expert in pain management. As a Recon Marine he once went out on a long swim with his team. As they were entering the water my dad noticed he had some chest pain. He figured he’d get with the Corpsman after the swim to get checked out. Upon arriving back at the beach the Corpsman announced my dad was having a heart attack and what the %#[email protected] was he thinking going on a swim in this condition?

This a man who’d been in so many fist fights that when he held his hands out each finger pointed in a different direction. Once a doctor was examining him and noted his nose had been so badly broken he wondered how in the world he was able to breath through it.

I can remember another time as a wee kid playing in the yard as my father was on a ladder trimming a hedge. There was a bee hive in it my dad hadn’t seen and when the inevitable happened hordes of angry bees erupted from the hedge.  He stayed at the top of the ladder letting the bees sting him as he shooed my mother and me away. Later, as my mom plucked bee stings out of his nose and shaven skull, I asked him why he hadn’t simply run like I would have. He gave me the look of a man who had never fled from North Korean and Chinese Communists or Viet Cong, he surely would not run in the face of mere insects.  He explained that if he had run the bees might have come after me or my mother so he had taken their wrath full in the face, quite literally.  Enduring the hazard so others would not, another lesson taught by example.

So ladies, when it appears your Marine is the most stubborn person on earth, brushing off bumps, bruises, and fractured limbs, remember what kind of creature you have on your hands. Besides, no man of valor passes up the opportunity to be nursed by a lovely lady.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

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  1. I remember someone called me their “lady” once and I really had to fight back the laughter. Even when I wore skirts I always slouched in chairs! I mean, I absolutely would’ve laughed in their face had they not been a client of the food cupboard I was volunteering at…

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