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A Humbling Review


A very humbling review by a friend and fellow Marine for which I always held in high regard. Alastair and I served in the 7th Marines together at  Camp Pendleton, CA in the tumultuous early 70’s. Both of us were company commanders fighting the Camp San Mateo wars. Thank you very much kind sir!


Upon receipt I immediately read your book, but have now had time to re-read at my leisure, and it’s a wonderful tribute to a great career, written by a most erudite and talented author. What memories it has brought back…and on almost every page a friend or past comrade pops up..names upon names, locations all well remembered. I hadn’t realized for example, that both Wayne Rollins and John McGinty had been on the Drill Field with you. And, it’s funny how Boot Camp is so much clearer in my mind than TBS.

Your dedication is all the more dear and meaningful to me now. You do me great honour, as it should be you in whom I stand in awe !

Do keep in touch. All the best.



From The Leatherneck Magazine

scan0004We’ll All Die As Marines: One Marine’s Journey From Private to Colonel

Reviewed By: Robert B. Loring

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 south 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 “Sergeant 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 win, 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, Jim Bathurst 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 treks to warmer climes where he has ample opportunity to reflect on his time as a Marine.

In summarizing his life and career, Jim Bathurst says it best: “The 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.

From D. B. Wright

Posted this Review on Amazon and Good Reads on your great book Col Jim. Semper Fi DB Wright

GunnyThis Author is a very close personal friend, I first met Gunnery Sergeant Jim Bathurst when he reported into the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. as the new Company Gunny of Ceremonial Guard Company.

Within two weeks, a combat commission recommendation caught 2dLtup with him, and he was directly appointed a second lieutenant and commander of the Color Guard of the Corps, Body Bearers and the Silent Drill Team.

As a member of the US Marine Drum & Bugle Corps we marched behind Jim in parades and ceremonies around our nation and in Canada. Every Marine who ever served with, or under, Jim throughout his great career in our Corps had an intense pride in doing so to the very best of their ability.

This book, a true labor of love, relates the journey though life and service until retirement from the Marine Corps as a Colonel of Marines! It starts as a high school drop out enlists as a private and follows his career until retirement. Jim served in the thick of combat in Vietnam as a Platoon Leader (2ndLt’s & 1stLt’s position) while only a Sergeant. During that time his actions resulted in being awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star with “V” (for valor) and Purple Heart.

Any reader will learn many of the secrets of successful leadership. That personal drive, integrity, respect, and honor can come from anyone and along with that the reader will learn a ton of small ways to become a successful leader. The Author’s story of that journey from Private to Colonel as a “Mustang” (Marine’s term for any officer who had previously served as an enlisted Marine and one of great honor and distinction) is inspiring to all, but most especially to the young Marines of today! His description of his time as a Drill Instructor on Parris Island is a peek inside of one of the hardest and elite assignment any Marine can obtain. The title “DI” is one of the hardest to obtain, and once obtained is a brand worn for the rest of a Marine’s life. It is recognized via their professional bearing, command voice (strained horse for live) and their ability to teach.

Am I biased? Absolutely! Any Marine who ever served around, or under, Jim Bathurst, was branded for life by his personal leadership and uncompromising drive to succeed. This is a must have book for the library of any who read about the military and especially those who claim the title of United States Marine! As a retired law enforcement officer this is the kind of book I would use to inspire troubled kids, give them a road map to follow and become a successful and contributing citizen! Semper Fidelis!


NOTE: Holy Cow DB, you sure know how to make an old man tear up! Thank you for such kind words, you are too gracious my friend. God bless you and thank you so much. You have no idea how much I loved (and still love) all you guys in the D&B. I have the old albums of the music you guys played back then e.g., “What Now My Love,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” and of course my favorite “Born Free!” I sometimes play them at full volume when I am in my shop and the neighbors just stare at me as though I’m crazy — I am — about you guys! Once again, thank you DB, and Semper Fi my brother, Jim

From the “US Veterans’ Magazine”

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.


Military Writers Society of America

MWSA1We’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