I have known Col. Jim Bathurst since we served together at 8th & I during 1968–69. After reading his book, I better understand who he is and why he did the things the way he did. I know him far better now than I ever did before. The book is about a young kid, a dropout from high school, and his journey through life. It is more than a simple chronology but a lesson about how blessed we are in this country that someone with Jim’s background can end up accomplishing as much as he did. The harder he worked the luckier he got.
I have read many accounts from authors who have paid painstaking attention to detail in writing about their life experience. So much so that one has to question as to how much is made up and how much is fact. One does not gain that feeling while reading this book. It is a story about life and how hard work can pay dividends.
In one chapter, Jim speaks of the moment when he came to the realization that he was not “dumb” but possessed a high level of intelligence and common sense. That comes in the later part of his book. As I read the passages, I felt his concern that he was not formally educated and considered it a draw back to his possibility for advancement. Yet my interpretation based on his writing was that he was always very intelligent displaying the ability to analyze a situation and arrive at a logical solution, one that worked. His demonstrated ability to train and motivate Marines is testimony to his innate leadership ability.
He does not dwell on success as much as he does how he got there. He gives credit not to what he did but what he was able to get his Marines to do. He uses plain language that even a civilian can understand. One cannot write a book about nearly 36 years with the Marine Corps and not use some of the jargon that accompanies one through active duty. Yet he provides an explanation at every turn so that the reader does not lose interest.
As I read passage after passage, I reflected on my career as an officer of Marines and found myself transported back to some wonderful memories. For example, when Jim explained his “ass chewing” from Col. Paul G. Graham I was right there with him as I had the same experience. Well, maybe some not so wonderful memories.
I believe that the one enduring message I took with me was his unbridled love for the Corps and of Marines. It is something that those of us who were fortunate enough to experience do not have to explain to each other, and it is something that you can never explain to someone who never shared the experience. Men do not talk about loving other men, but in the final analysis Jim, and all of us so fortunate enough to have experienced it, loved more men than women. We all loved our Marines. I consider myself most fortunate to be able to call him a friend and that at least some small part of his story is also mine.
Ronald S. Neubauer
LtCol USMC (Ret)
Chief of Police St. Peters, MO (Ret)
Executive Director, Eastern Missouri Police Academy