Veterans Day 2009 (Here’s To Brothers)

11 Nov
Cpl. Paul Flewwellin and Sgt. David Petersen
Cpl. Paul Flewwellin and Sgt. David Petersen

Yesterday was the Marine Corps 234th Birthday. As our custom, I called my bro’ Paul and wished him a Happy Birthday. We hadn’t talked for about a year but it was as if we were still onboard the USS Raleigh in the middle of the Persian Gulf talking about our dreams, goals and our wives. We didn’t know each other very well before that deployment but by the end of the deployment, we became brothers. It’s been about 16 years since I’ve seen him. When we talk, we speak about how fun it would be to get back together. Another year passes and we do it all over again. Our kids grow older, our hair gets grayer (or in Paul’s case – becomes non-existent). But one day a year, we are back on that ship. Laying on the deck staring up into the vast theater of stars provided by God, talking about life and solidifying our bond as brothers.

It is with this fond memory that I wish all who served a Happy Veterans Day. The bond we share is deep and only fully understood by those who have served. God Bless those who are standing in harms way today – forming the bonds that will last them for the rest of their lives.

Semper Fi. I Love Ya ‘Bro.

Happy 233rd Birthday Marines!

10 Nov

Wimbrown VII Crew 1988

Every November 10, Marines around the world celebrate their birthday. So today I want to wish my fellow Marines, Happy Birthday! Semper Fidelis. Below I have reproduced the Commadant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway’s message to Marines worldwide. I was fortunate to server under then Colonel Conway in 1988 in the Persian Gulf.


During the summer of 1982, in the wake of a Presidential Directive, Marines went ashore at Beirut, Lebanon. Fifteen months later, on 23 October 1983, extremists struck the first major blow against American Forces – starting this long war on terrorism. On that Sunday morning, a suicide bomber drove an
explosive-laden truck into the headquarters of Battalion Landing Team 1/8, destroying the building and killing 241 Marines and Corpsmen.

Extremists have attacked our nation, at home and abroad, numerous times since that fateful day in Beirut. Their aim has always been the same – to kill as many innocent Americans as possible. The attacks of 11 September 2001 changed our nation forever, and our President has resolved that this nation will not stand idle while murderous terrorists plot their next strike. Marines will continue to take the fight to the enemy – hitting them
on their own turf, crushing them when they show themselves, and finding them where they hide.

Only a few Americans choose the dangerous, but necessary, work of fighting our nation’s enemies. When our chapter of history is written, it will be a saga of a selfless generation of Marines who were willing to stand up and fight for our nation; to defend those who could not defend themselves; to thrive on the hardship and sacrifice expected of an elite warrior class; to march to the sound of the guns; and to ably shoulder the legacy of those Marines who have gone before.

On our 233rd birthday, first remember those who have served and those “angels” who have fallen – our reputation was built on their sacrifices. Remember our families; they are the unsung heroes whose support and dedication allow us to answer our nation’s call. Finally, to all Marines and Sailors, know that I am proud of you and what you do. Your successes on the battlefield have only added to our illustrious history. General Victor H. “Brute” Krulak said it best when he wrote, “… The United States does not need a Marine Corps … The United States wants a Marine Corps.” Your actions, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and across the globe, are at the core of why America loves her Marines.

Happy Birthday, Marines and Semper Fidelis!

General James T. Conway
Commandant of the Marine Corps

Warrior Tales: Sergeant Jeffrey L. Kirk

4 Jul

More than 1,000 members of Sergeant Jeffrey L. Kirk’s Marine Corp family gathered March 5 to honor the fallen Marine with the Silver Star.  Sgt Kirk’s wife and parents sat beneath a tent next to the lectern.  His fellow Marines stood in formation before the traditional rifle and helmet memorial.  He was “a true Marine, a true warrior, a loving husband and a loving son,” said the battalion chaplain.  Kirk’s widow, Carly, accepted her husband’s Silver Star from the battalion’s Commanding Officer.

On Nov. 10, 2004, Kirk led his Marines against a machine-gun position inside an Iraqi building in Fallujah, Iraq, during Operation Phantom Fury.  Insurgents manning the position repelled Kirk’s squad with heavy gunfire and grenade attacks.  Kirk replied by regrouping his men, and upon the second assault hurled a grenade into the room and eliminated the enemy machine-gunner with his rifle.

“I’m living proof of his heroism,” said Staff Sergeant Kenneth A. Distelhorst, a platoon sergeant for 3d Platoon, Company L.  “Without his quick reaction, I wouldn’t be here today.”

During his squad’s second attempt to take the enemy position, the Marines were again repelled.  This time, Kirk was wounded.

On the final assault, Kirk ignored his injuries and took the point position to lead his Marines against the insurgents.  This time, they cleared the building all the way to the roof.  His actions in the face of imminent danger destroyed a key defensive position and prevented serious casualties among his fellow Marines.

“Jeff will always be a role model and an inspiration,” said Sgt Dave H. Hawley, fire team leader.  “If I had to describe Sergeant Kirk in two words it would be ‘Semper Fidelis.'”

Sgt Kirk died in other combat action on Dec. 12, 2004.

-from Leatherneck, July 2007

Warrior Tales: LCpl Christopher S. Adlesperger

1 Jul

Lance Corporal Christopher S. “Sperge” Adlesperger, who was a Marine for less than a year, was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for valor in Iraq.  The Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest combat award, was presented to the 20-year-old Marine’s parents.  The award cites the valor of then-Private First Class Adlesperger as a rifleman in Company K, 3d Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, 1stMarDiv in Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004, during one of the largest and most intense battles of the war in Iraq.

The 30-minute gunfight started when a heavy burst of insurgent gunfire killed Adlesperger’s close friend Lance Corporal Erick Hodges and brought down LCpl Ryan Sunnerville and Hospitalman Alonso Rogero.

According to the citation: “With the majority of his platoon pinned down by insurgent positions, Private First Class Adlesperger single-handedly cleared stairs and a rooftop to move the injured to a rooftop where they could receive medical attention.”  The citation also states: “On his own initiative, while deliberately exposing himself to heavy enemy fire, he established a series of firing positions and attacked the enemy, forcing them to be destroyed in place or to move into an area where adjacent forces could engage them.”

Although wounded, he took the point for his platoon in a final assault on an enemy machine-gun position.  Adlesperger charged into a courtyard, firing at insurgents at close range with his rifle and grenade launcher.  He is credited with killing 11 insurgents.

Later, on Dec. 9 after he received a meritorious promotion to Lance Corporal, Adlesperger was killed in action while leading his fire team.

“He was the greatest Marine I ever met,” said Corporal Carlos Batista, who arrived in 3/5 with Adlesperger.

First Lieutenant Michael Cragholm, the platoon leader, now a series commander at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, told reporters that he makes sure every graduation series knows the name and story of LCpl Adlesperger.  “He is the warrior that the Marine Corps will remember.”

– Taken from the Leatherneck, July 2007.

Warrior Tales

1 Jul

Most of you know that I spent almost eight years in the United States Marine Corps.  A back injury received while deployed to the Persian Gulf during Desert Shield/Desert Storm ended my Marine Corps career. 

I look back fondly on my years in the Corps and often wish there were something I could do to support the men and women who currently wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

I receive a monthly magazine called Leatherneck.  It is the magazine of the Marines.   Besides the various stories about different units and the latest on what is happening in and around the Corps, there are stories of brave men who sometimes sacrificed themselves in order to save the life of others.  The dedication to the unit before self is a characteristic instilled in every Marine but the utter selflessness demonstrated by the Marines that gave their life takes my breath away.  When I read these stories, I keep saying to myself – others need to hear of this sacrifice.  Regardless of how you feel about this current war or other past wars, the very act of laying down ones own life to save others is exactly what Jesus taught.  I can’t witness to the spiritual lives of these Marines but from my own experience, in those quiet moments before going into battle, a man tends to look to God to make things right. 

So, every once in a while, as I find stories, I will post them here.  It is my hope that you are as inspired by these stores as I am.  I’ll begin with Lance Corporal Christopher S. “Sperge” Adlesperger.