The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!

Eleanor Roosevelt

Today, the Marine Corps turns two hundred and forty four today. The Marine Corps has been one of the greatest accomplishments and moments in my personal history. The military gave me so much and educated me about myself. The experience has help define me as the man I am today. I am thankful for the circumstances that lead me to the Marine Corps.

My time in the Marines was a constant challenge that pushed my limits. I was weighed, measured, and in some instances found left wanting. Those moments pushed me when I didn’t believe I could push anymore. It forced me to grow mentally, spiritually, and physically when my back was against the wall. Those difficult moments forged me in a fire where I developed a steel resolve to take the next step and challenge in my life.

While I was in Marines I was a motivator. I loved the Corps. I ate, slept, and breathed the Corps. It was my passion. As, CT Fletcher says, “It was my magnificent obsession.” I strived to be the best at what I did. When the moment counted I wanted to be the team leader or squad leader they turned to get the job done. All my free time I took was in making sure I could be the best Marine I could be. To make sure I could lead Marines into the fires and perils of combat and bring them home safely. I loved every moment I could train, teach and council Marines. Forging young men into smart, critical thinking, warfighters was always my goal. I loved the hard work, the long hours, and the training.

The Marine Corps challenged me in ways I didn’t think possible. The Corps gives you one obstacle that you think is the hardest thing you have done in your life. You conquer that and move forward. Then, it slings another obstacle in your face and you question your resolve and skills. Then, you meet the challenge and conquer it. It becomes a cycle of challenges. Yet, what you find out at the end that it wasn’t that hard. That the last obstacle you tackled wasn’t the hardest challenge you had in your life. It is just the next one to be overcome. This cycle of challenge is one of the greatest builders of toughness, grit, courage, and accomplishment given to Marines.

That is why Marines believe we are slayers of men and souls. It is indoctrination of the fighting spirit of the Marine Corps. It is that warrior ethos that is embedded into the heart of the Marine Corps tradition. As, General “Mad Dog” Mattis famously told Marines in Iraq, “‘Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” That is the essence of the Corps a warrior culture and its ethos. It is a culture I am glad to be raised in and part of. That ethos is one that has built me into the man I am today. For that I am thankful to my beloved Corps.

The Marine Corps has a warrior culture and ethos that is built upon core values. Those core values are honor, courage, and commitment. A Marine honors their nation, family, and themselves by their actions. A Marines actions should be ethical, just, and thoughtful. Our actions should honor life and show off the best qualities of Marine Corps and the nation we serve. We have the courage to make the difficult choice in complex situations. To take a stand for what is right when no one else will. The courage to move forward against all odds. The commitment to your brothers on the left and right. To defend your brother and yourself to the end. We are committed to each other because in those perilous moments all we have is each other. Honor, courage, and commitment are the core values of this warrior institution.

The Marines has been a defining moment in my life. A moment that I am thankful for. I deeply miss the Marines. Even with all the bullshit that you have to face and endure. I miss it more everyday, to be quite honest. I miss the camaraderie, brotherhood, and training. I miss enjoying the suck in the field. I miss pushing my skill set and abilities. I miss running and gunning. I miss mentoring and training Marines. I miss my brothers. Damnit, I miss it all!

To marines young and old Happy Birthday. Today, our beloved Corps turns two hundred and forty four years old. Marines have been apart of every major conflict this country has faced. Many of us have died defending this nation freedoms and liberties. Their ultimate sacrifice in those wars is why we stand here today as free men and woman.

The history of the Marines is lustrous one. From its founding at Tum Tavern. Fighting for freedom of British rule in the American Revolution. To Fighting in the forest of Belleau Wood and the Argonne during World War I. To the beaches of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Iwo Jima against Imperial Japan. Many Marines laid their lives down on those beaches in the Pacific during World War II. While others fought in the harsh environment and soul chilling cold of Korea at Chosin and Inchon. To the jungles of Vietnam. To our war on terror when the Taliban ruthlessly attacked a pillar of American society the World Trade Center. Young men bravely answered the call and fought in the foothills, deserts, and mountains of Afghanistan. Taking down Saddam Hussain and his regime of terror in Iraqi. When this country has needed its warrior institution. We have always answered the call.

I don’t know how to properly close this retrospective on the Marine Corps birthday and my time in service to this wonderful and prosperous nation. I feel the words of GySgt. Hartman(R.I.P Gunny) from Full Metal Jacket will convey my sentiment the best. It’s from the scene from boot camp graduation ceremony and GySgt Hartman says, “ Today, you people are no longer maggots. Today, you are Marines. You’re part of a brotherhood. From now on until the day you die, wherever you are, every Marine is your brother. Most of you will go to Vietnam. Some of you will not come back. But always remember this: Marines die. That’s what we’re here for. But the Marine Corps lives forever. And that means YOU live forever.”

Happy Birthday Marines. Semper Fideils.

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