- May 1, 2009
The Impact of Words: Part II
In Kilo Company 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines I would refer to our operations and training as preparation to “Defeat Jihad”. When bringing the boys in for a little 1stSgt time, I would always talk about deploying to Iraq and how they were America’s finest and would defeat jihad six days a week and twice on Sunday. By the time we left Iraq, the enemy would know that U.S. Marines had been there and that our tribe didn’t take it lightly when others declared war on America, holy or otherwise. These speeches were always liberally laced with other motivational one – liners and comments designed get Marines focused on the mission. If you care to hear an excerpt, by all means, enlist at your local recruiting station now.
“You can’t defeat jihad with a rifle that filthy! Get this abomination fixed now!”
“How in the world can anyone be capable of defeating jihad when they can only do seven pull ups? Go get on the bar right now!”
This worked great in building unit cohesion and giving the Marines of the company a battle cry to rally on. Soon though the seeds I planted would bear fruit and I would begin to wonder what it was I had sown.
One day while using the head I noticed a Marine had taken a sharpie and scrawled DEFEAT JIHAD above the urinal. Great!
“Marines, I appreciate that you are picking up what I am putting dow,n but there is only one company in the battalion that says that. It kind of narrows it down when looking for the culprit, ya think? You brain surgeons need to use your heads for something besides a hat rack and stop writing on the walls!”
Personally, I took it as a sign that my ninjas were on board and was a little pleased with myself. Then I caught Marines with DEFEAT JIHAD written on their gear. The image of Marines patrolling through insurgent neighborhoods and goading them with DEFEAT JIHAD graffiti all over the place tightened my jaws some. Even I had no plans to sport my special name tape in country.
“Warrior, I love that you are drinking from the 1stSgt’s Kool-aid, but we are professional fighting men, not a street gang. We do not write trash all over our equipment. It would be unfortunate if I had to crush you to death.”
Crisis averted. Graffiti defeated. But the real body blow wasn’t to hit me until weeks later.
After Mojave Viper, the battalion flew back to Hawaii and the Marines were given two weeks of leave before we embarked for our deployment to Iraq. All was well. The men were a finely honed fighting force, toughened by weeks in the Mojave Desert and prepared to take on the challenges of Iraq.
When we got back from leave, Marines began asking me if I had seen LCpl Brown. I said I hadn’t and they would smirk and say that I should see him.
After company formation I had the Marines in a school circle and told LCpl Brown to get his butt over here and tell me what was going on. He took off his cammie blouse, lifted up his shirt and revealed a DEFEAT JIHAD tattoo written in three inch letters across his shoulders. Marines crowded around grinning in anticipation of my reaction.
Now at times I have had a particular facial expression my Aunt Sheila likes to call my “aneurysm face”. The going theory is that parts of my brain are shutting down during this in an attempt to protect itself from irreversible damage.
It was like I had been hit in the forehead with a sledge hammer and my eyeballs had shot out of their sockets only to end up dangling feebly at the end of their optic nerves. All I could think was, “Oh man, I did that.”
Make no mistake; a company of Marines armed to the teeth is a force of nature. We were about to step on a plane to Iraq and I had them in the palm of my hand. The forces of evil were in for a rude awakening. But that is topic for another day.
Tomorrow; part three.