All posts by Jim

Leatherneck Magazine May 2013

We’ve got a whale of a book to recommend to all you gung-ho leathernecks. Colonel Jim Bathurst’s huge memoir is truly a treat to read and consider. In fact, I enjoyed reading every page of this fully packed professional, yet very personal narrative. Bathurst rose from a high school dropout and Marine boot to the exalted rank of gunnery sergeant before gaining his commission as an officer of Marines. His story will speak strongly to each and every Marine.

Marine General Peter Pace, the 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted in a dust-jacket comment, “Reading Jim’s book is like coming home!” And Gen Pace, I fully agree!

Initially, this wide-eyed boot set his cover on becoming a first-class Marine “gunny,” the early role models he admired most. Joining in 1958, he quickly adapted to the ways and ethos of his beloved Corps.

To young Bathurst, the Corps was not only a career, but a way of life. Starting off as a communicator, he continually sought assignment to the infantry field. His first overseas duty assignment was at Marine Barracks Yokosuka, Japan, where he spent his tour in a picture-perfect guard section. This formative experience would serve him well throughout his career. By 1962, the young corporal donned our Corps’ distinctive campaign hat and took to the field at Parris Island as a Marine drill instructor.

In early 1966, he arrived in Vietnam. Now an 0311 “grunt,” he joined Company E, 2d Battalion, First Marine Regiment north of Da Nang. Active patrolling, avoiding booby traps, and ducking Viet Cong snipers were the names of the deadly game in “Indian Country.” For most of his combat tour, Sgt Bathurst, or “Sgt B,” as the troops called him, in effect, served as their platoon leader. His stalwart actions in I Corps earned him a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with combat “V,” and the award he did not wish to earn, the Purple Heart. There, his actions and instincts fully demonstrated he was a capable leader of Marines in combat.

Upon returning to “the world,” he was tapped to join the leathernecks at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., the “oldest post of the Corps,” steeped in the Corps’ time-honored history and tradition. It was there that Jim was promoted to his long-sought grade of gunnery sergeant. But soon, his previously hard-won field combat commission came through. The newly promoted Mustang was awarded his gold bar and commenced a new and exciting part of his storied career.

Wise beyond his years, he excelled in each of his new and challenging assignments. Over the years as he gained promotions, he became known as an expert problem solver.

As a major, he turned around the sagging reputation of the Marine Barracks located at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. The turnaround was so successful that the base was written up in a “Post of the Corps” article in the August 1981 Leatherneck magazine. By the end of his three-year tour, the IG inspection of the base, now considered unnecessary, was canceled. Maj Bathurst proudly wrote: “They were actually going to skip us, something I had never heard of happening throughout my career.”

Before being promoted to lieutenant colonel, Bathurst was assigned to square away the drooping morale and production in Recruiting Station Chicago in the 9th Marine Corps District. Using long-tested leadership experience, RS Chicago was transformed into a star recruiting area and rated as the top RS in the district for 19 straight months.

Rewarded with top-level school at the Naval War College, LtCol Bathurst received his master’s degree in national defense and strategic studies. Then he achieved the dream of any hard-charging Marine officer – battalion command. LtCol Bathurst took command of 2d Bn, 6th Marines. The battalion was special with a reputation rooted in World War II, when it was known as “Huxley’s Harlots,” and highlighted in the Leon Uris novel, “Battle Cry,” and the movie, “Battle Cry.”

Promoted to colonel, he was sent to Landing Force Training Command Atlantic in Norfolk, Va. There, he developed a riverine fast-attack assault boat capability for the Corps. As you might expect, this caused nervousness within the local East Coast SEAL command, and Bathurst pulls no punches in his descriptive dialog about the assignment.

Upon retirement in 1993, Col Jim Bathurst settled in Montana. During the winter months, he trekked to warmer cl mes where he had ample opportunity to reflect on his time as a Marine.

In summarizing his life and career. Jim Bathurst says it best: “[T]he Corps was not a job, a career, or even a profession; it was – and still is – a way of life.”

This grand tome is a sparkling tribute to the life and times of an “Always Faithful” Marine’s Marine, it’s jam-packed with significant lessons for leaders. The book keeps the leatherneck book lover focused on our Corps’ values, history, and traditions.

When finished, I simply hated putting this electrically charged book down. Indeed, it was the best military memoir I’ve ever read. Thank you, sir. For a brief moment in time, I felt young again.

Robert B. Loring

“Red Bob” Loring, a Marine veteran and frequent Leatherneck reviewer, is a prolific reader of Marine-related books. He is a deeply committed Toys for Tots volunteer.

From Amazon

I chose the book for one reason only, being a former Marine myself it was only appropriate I choose this book since I served during the time periods depicted in the book.
I found the book so intriguing I couldn’t put it down, the colorful way Col. Bathurst documented each assignment and the sometime cruel comedy of it all.
What a great story of a very great man

Note from the Author: Thank you very much James; I am truly humbled by your comments. JB

Thank you Richard

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 Bathurst had a real problem trying to matriculate from high school. Lacking direction and absolutely hating going to school he 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 life which is full of tradition and discipline. We find him going up through the enlisted ranks becoming a drill instructor and becoming a man not only accustomed to taking orders, but he learns how to lead men from some great mentors along the way.
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 he rotates back to the States and is assigned to the prestigious ceremonial platoon known to all as “8th & I.” The author relates all the hard training and scrupulous attention to detail with this famed unit.
During this time span Bathurst is commissioned a 2nd Lt and his career as an officer takes off as he skyrockets through the officer ranks with assignments in Okinawa, the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, training with the Army at Ft. Bragg, Airborne training at Ft. Benning, Marine Barracks at 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.

Colonel Andy, USMC (Ret)

This book was terrific. As a Marine veteran, I found Jim Bathurst’s descriptions of life as a Marine both entertaining and instructive. His depiction of the life of a young Marine in the period before the outbreak of the Vietnam War was spot on. On almost every page, he has a personal story with a valuable lesson for any young military officer or NCO. Any student of leadership would be well-served to read this book since it contains numerous examples of both good and bad leadership – and Bathurst pulls no punches when he evaluates the men he served with over his long and illustrious career. I must admit that I was privileged to have served in the Marine Corps with Jim on several occasions and I consider him one of the best examples of professionalism and effective leadership I have ever met. The book tells the story of his rise from private to colonel during a time when the Marine Corps had to deal with sparse resources, the Vietnam War, drug abuse, and a host of other leadership challenges. Bathurst takes on these challenges head-on and provides insights and lessons learned that will benefit any military professional and enlighten any student of the military and its culture. I highly recommend it.