• March 6, 2010
  • 12

Look Ma, no cape!

Every kid wants to be a hero. I spent my childhood sword fighting my way across the harsh landscape of our living room furniture, commanding sieges of Lincoln Log fortresses, and reading comic books on the roof of the house. Once in a while you actually get to fulfill that fantasy even when it may seem like the most mundane of gestures at the time.

Normally a weekend afternoon standing Post 1 at the American Embassy Madrid, Spain would be rather uneventful. Hardly anyone came in to work and most emergencies could be handled by the duty officer on call. On occasion there were situations which could only be handled by the World’s Finest United States Marines.

American citizens (AmCits in the embassy lingo) most frequently ran into trouble overseas when they were robbed or otherwise lost their passports, cash, and other important documents. On weekends we would field these types of calls and route them to duty officer who was a Department of State type with trained expertise in diplomacy and possessed other intergalactic powers. AmCits in these situations would inevitably come to the embassy to get everything straightened out.

In one particular incident an American woman lost everything to a purse snatcher. She was understandably shaken by the incident and was meeting the duty officer at the embassy. I received a call from the Guardia Civil manning the gate saying they had some kind of crazy woman on their hands asking to get in. Most of the Guardia spoke about as much English as I did Spanish so the impression was understandable. I spoke to the woman on the phone and decided I would walk out to escort her into the building.

Now I could have just let the Guardia usher her to the embassy door but, contrary to popular belief, chivalry is still alive and gentlemen should go the extra mile for ladies in distress. Now days I explain to my Marines that American citizens expect and deserve a certain kind of conduct out of us. To be any less would be a disservice to our nation and cheapen our legacy.

Striding across the parking lot I gave the Guardia the thumbs up to open the walk in gate. The distressed woman turned in my direction, saw me swaggering toward her with PR-24 baton, a .357 revolver, and most importantly, camouflage utilities with name tapes that read “U.S. MARINES“.

She visibly relaxed: “Oh, thank God!”

“Need some help ma’am?” I couldn’t resist, if I’d had a white horse I would have been riding it. I suppose in her version of the story I was ten feet tall and over 330lbs of war machine. She’d be about half right.

I escorted her to the lobby and kept her company until the Duty Officer arrived to handle business. No big deal, just another ho hum day holding back the tide of darkness.

America’s 1stSgt
Dragons Slain
Maidens Rescued
Villains Thwarted
/ / / /


  1. There are usually two universal comments when seeing a Marine in full battle dress striding towards them:

    1. “Oh, thank God!”


    2. “Oh, Sh!t.”

  2. “She’d be about half right”

    Thats funny : )

    When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time blasting barbie dolls sky-high with aerosol cans, wired and fire. Its a legacy that served me well.

    I once pulled into a job site(I’m a blaster) and saw the excavation crew looking distressed about a big outcrop of rock that was in the way of their trench digging, I said,” You look like you need a a Hero. I happen to be… a Hero”

    Sure, maybe I stole that line from an animated Hercules, but I got a laugh, and thats what counts.

  3. Mikey, I can confirm both responses. Ha!

    Janna, who do you think picked his outfit?

    Powdergirl, nice. I suppose you never really caught a lot of grief on the site while handling explosives eh?

  4. I was traveling alone through India, when Pakistan and India got into one of their famous verbal skirmishes threatening nuclear annihilation, the tossing of pork products and the shooting of sacred cows upon one another. This of course, brought out every single Indian soldier lining the streets of New Delhi. Most did not have weapons, rather they stood lining the major thoroughfares looking at traffic, filling sandbags, and marching around in formation. I had been told to get to the US Embassy to register as a tourist. I did, but only going through a maze of barricades, Indian soldiers, up and down streets with my putt putt driver who dropped me off and floored it away.
    The sweetest sight I ever saw that day, was a US Marine.
    And the coffee wasn’t bad either.

  5. awww! I love that you think chivalry is still alive, 1st Sgt! Maybe it is where you are. And I do agree with MikeyB’s comment 😀

  6. A1S, you restore my faith in man. Never let anyone say you are not a Hero. Truth is, to that woman that day you were a hero, and I bet she still remembers you fondly when she thinks of her experiences there (all 10 feet and 330 pounds of you).

  7. Kanani, we’re kind of like a warm blanket of security that way. 😉

    Powdergirl, you ever have to use the skills to keep your kids in line? “Keep acting up and I’ll blow up the tree house!”

    Red, think? It’s only dead if we let it die.

    Jenny, all in a days work.

  8. Am1stSgt

    Since I have found you, I have always thought that your had bright shinny armour but to most peoples eyes its invisible.

    A Knight following ways of old
    A Knight’s heart never cold
    To Damsels in distress
    I must confess
    this Knight is ever so bold

    In the last comment I posted in the previous post I stated that you looked to be 6’2″. Well, my “Knight in Shinning Armor” in my eyes you will ALWAYS be 6’2″ even if the Armor gets dented, scratched and slightly dull in “Time Honored” use..

    Miss Em
    Austell, Ga.

  9. A1S, bringing civility back to civilisation one country at a time…

    It’s a bit depressing that this sort of behaviour isn’t considered “normal” anymore. Wasn’t this considered to be basic good manners in days of yore?

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