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marine72 09-16-2015 09:29 AM

The Medal and the Man
The Medal and the Man

Back in 1984-1985 when I attended the Basic School, where the Marine Corps spends six months preparing newly-minted Second Lieutenants for service in the "Fleet Marine Force," there was a premium placed on trying to create a connection in the minds of my fellow Lieutenants and myself between the tactics we were being trained to employ in the wooded hills of northern Virginia -- single envelopment, double envelopment, frontal assault, etc. -- and the reality of combat. On several occasions we were afforded the opportunity to speak with decorated veterans of the Vietnam War, and get their take of what it was like to implement theory under fire. We were shown extremely graphic videos of Marines being killed and wounded so that we would acclimate ourselves to the reality of war. And while we took these lessons to heart, at the end of the day we were all convinced that our training would see us through any situation. We thought we were invincible, and that combat was the ultimate purpose in the life of a Marine. We punctuated this "lesson" with walking tours of various Civil War battlefields, and somber visits to the Arlington National Cemetery, where the remains of so many who had fallen in battle were interned.

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