As one may expect from my background, I have some rather strong opinions on this subject that are based on experience in combat, not some academic, institutional, gender biased, bigoted slant. So, unless you have been there, unless you have had to “locate, close with, and destroy an enemy by fire and maneuver or repel his assault by fire and close combat,” which by the way is the mission of the Marine Infantry, I’m sorry but I do not believe you have a voice in this matter. We are talking about killing human beings as a primary reason for existence.
Our inexperienced decision makers have opted to totally disregard the recommendations of some* of our senior military officers and enlisted. I have read so much from both sides of the aisle trying to ascertain why someone would be doing this to our military. There must be an underlying reason for such idiocy as, “this will make our military more effective due diversity. . . . . . .” What? You have to be an idiot to believe that.
Anyway, forgive me for going off on a tangent, this whole issue boggles my mind. I believe the move is meant to degrade our military to near ineffectiveness, to weaken us to the equivalent of a third world country.
The following link will take you to a very well written article on the subject of women in the infantry published by a prominent and respected national magazine. The author is certainly qualified to have an opinion since he has been there and lived it.
- I used the word “some” since there are generals, particularly in the Army and Air Force who seem to actually believe it to be a good move. In fact, the Army even cheated in Ranger School to bolster their agreement with the administration.
SPRINGFIELD, IL. – Many military memoirs can be inaccessible to civilians unfamiliar with the armed services. They can contain confusing acronyms, assume the reader already understands rank structures or can often be written in a self-flattering light; the book being a means to an end in a political race or similar motivations.
This is not so with retired Marine Col. Jim Bathurst’s new memoir titled “We’ll All Die as Marines.” Bathurst painstakingly re-wrote the initial draft after realizing that the military lingo can be very confusing to laymen. He did not write this for himself, but rather to try to instill the qualities of leadership that he has learned throughout his career from a troubled private who had just dropped out of high school all the way to a colonel with incredibly demanding assignments.
“I wrote this in the hopes of guiding young marines, both enlisted and officers, so that they can consider my advice about the demanding requirements of leadership and possibly to learn from the mistakes I made and the successes and opportunities I’ve worked toward,” Bathurst said. “I hope to continue guiding future leaders on any kind of career path.”
High-ranking officers are not well-known for their artistic endeavors, but Bathurst chose to write a more abstract memoir than is usually found in a military post exchange. He wrote about every rank with shifting perspective.
“The chapters are written from the perspective of my rank during the time I’m discussing,” Bathurst said. “I wanted each ‘me’ throughout my career to be able to speak for themselves. I tried to tell about my time as a private through the eyes of a private.”
“We’ll All Die as Marines” sounds like a morbid title, but it is not. It is about the Corps, not corpses. It is about the love and commitment to the organization and people to which Bathurst freely gave his time, blood and spirit. Filled with humor, advice, tragedy, frustration and all the triumph that Bathurst was able to experience in his nearly thirty-six-year career, he says he did not once think about retirement until the day, thirty-six years after boarding a bus for boot camp, he felt that he had done his duty.
We’ll All Die As Marines is one man’s memoir of Marine life from a lowly private to a full bull colonel. Colonel Jim Bathurst has written a memorable and compelling account of his life as a Marine of over thirty-five years.
A young native coming from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, young Jim Bathurst had a real problem trying to matriculate from high school. Lacking direction and absolutely hating going to school young Bathurst begged his parents for their signatures releasing him to of all places the United State Marine Corps. The author starts the long trip from basic training at Parris Island to the Infantry Training Regiment. Along the way he gives a full and descriptive view of life in the Marine Corps as a private in the late 1950’s.
Becoming accustomed to a Marine’s life the author thrives on a life which is full of tradition and discipline. We find him going up through the enlisted ranks becoming a Drill Instructor and a man not only accustomed to taking orders, but he learns how to lead men as he is schooled as a platoon leader.
While still an NCO, Bathurst has a tour of duty in Japan and later in 1966 he does a 13-month tour in The Republic of Vietnam. He relates his combat tour as lessons in leadership and shows the esprit de corps that takes on the Elan that is known as a combat Marine. With these hard lessons in his pocket Bathurst rotates back to the States and is assigned to the prestigious ceremonial command known to all as “8th & I.” The author relates all the hard training and scrupulous attention to detail within this famed unit.
During this time span Bathurst is commissioned a 2nd Lt and his career as an officer takes off as he skyrocketed through the officer ranks with assignments in Okinawa, the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, as an instructor with the Army at Ft. Bragg, Airborne training at Ft. Benning, Marine Barrack Lemoore, California, Armed Forces Staff College and the Recruiting Station in Chicago, Illinois. Quite a full career!
This is the basis of a full and enriching career with a tutorial of what is the true Marine Corps. This is an excellent memoir for all who want to truly learn the meaning of Semper Fi.
Reviewed by: Richard Geschke
BOOK REVIEW – We’ll All Die As Marines – One Marine’s Journey from Private to Colonel. By Jim Bathurst, Colonel, USMC (Ret)
Reviewed by Curt Marsh, Col USMCR (Ret)
This is a very engaging autobiography of one Marine’s career worth reading by fellow Marines as well as anyone interested in recent Marine Corps history. The book covers the period from his enlistment in 1958 after dropping out of High School through 1993 when he retired with the rank of Colonel. But this is more than a short history of the Marine Corps. Bathurst intended to share his experiences in learning the value of leadership and the rewards of being a leader of Marines. Although some of his methods of leadership were unique to leading Marines, the importance of quality leadership to the success of an organization applies to any group or business. He points out some of the great leaders he worked with, while also identifying several examples of poor leadership and their adverse impact. He also suggests that the demands of providing good leadership may come with both personal and professional challenges. Bathurst entered the Marines as a troubled high school dropout who learned to thrive under the quality leadership of his NCOs. Throughout the rest of his career, he focused on developing and empowering NCO leadership as the key to organizational success. His career followed a unique path that provides insight into some specialized organizations in the Corps. His early experience as a junior Marine at Marine Barracks, Yokosuka, Japan was a turning point for him in learning discipline and the rewards of applying himself to being the best he could be. His involvement as a drill instructor (DI) and his experiences with recruits at Parris Island and later at Officer Candidate School in Quantico provided a unique perspective for anyone who has gone through either program. During his service in Vietnam, he started as a sergeant. He was quickly moved up to positions of leadership in his infantry unit, often serving as the platoon commander, an officer’s billet. His stories from Vietnam are alone worth reading. He was later promoted to staff sergeant and was nominated for promotion to both gunnery sergeant (GySgt) and 2nd Lieutenant (2nd Lt). His meritorious promotion to GySgt came through just as he reported to the Washington Marine Barracks at 8th & I. He soon learned that his promotion to 2ndLt was also approved, so he ended up taking over the Special Ceremonial Platoon, which included the silent drill team, body bearer section, and color guard section. Seeing the “inside” of 8th & I is revealing to those who haven’t served there, and he includes some interesting stories of guarding Camp David for President Johnson. The 8th & I became his own personal Basic School in learning to be an Officer of Marines through the leadership of the other officers there. During a joint assignment at Fort Bragg, he was grateful for the special mentorship of an Army officer who ensured he started his college education. He served in numerous infantry officer positions, including Battalion and Regimental Command. One unique assignment was as the CO of a Marine Barracks that was having difficulties. He was able to turn it around to be recognized as the outstanding Marine Barracks of the Year. He also commanded the Recruiting Station in Chicago, a very different type of command focused on “selling” the Marine Corps. He dealt with a variety of leadership challenges with each of his assignments. “Sometimes you have to force a Marine to be successful,” he said. The other quote used for the title of the book actually came from his Recruiting Command Sergeant Major, “We’ll all die as Marines,” which alludes to the Marine custom of, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” He mentioned the outstanding leaders he worked with. He noted some weak leaders who mostly go unnamed. Toward the end of his career, he was in charge of Landing Force Training Command, Atlantic (LFTCLant) and led the introduction of riverine assault craft in the Marine Corps. His final position was as CO of the School of Infantry at Camp Lejeune. During this period, he faced both political and personal opposition from some other senior officers for often petty and unprofessional issues. He doesn’t hesitate to identify them by name, which is somewhat exceptional for a book of this nature. This book was interesting for me. This autobiography is slightly odd in that he never mentions his family life other than his parents and sister. Finally, he does reveal the cost of his style of leadership that resulted in two divorces and three marriages. The book does not have footnotes or references, though it does have a nice Appendix and Glossary of Marine Corps terminology and abbreviations. Overall, a worthwhile read.
The author of my book, retired Marine, and best friend lays it all out for anyone who has the desire to become an editor. A great read from an award-winning writer himself.