I just finished reading Colonel Jim Bathurst’s: “We’ll All Die As Marines.” Loved the book! I believe it should be read by anyone thinking about enlisting, or accepting a commission in one of our uniformed/military services. As a former FMF Corpsman, I can attest that there is something unique about Marines, and Col Bathurst gives the reader an in-depth look into what it’s like to be an enlisted and an officer, and the trials and tribulations of choosing a life serving our country in both good times and bad. Thinking back on my career in the VA working with veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Panama, Haiti, Desert Storm, OIF, OEF, and peacetime there is timeliness in the Colonel’s message for current and future active duty Americans.
I was privileged to serve my first 3-4 months with “Sgt B” during his last 3-4 months in second platoon, Echo Company, 2/1 in Vietnam. As the platoon Corpsman, I was focused on the health of my Marines from passing out Malaria pills, checking feet, holding sick call, to treating the casualties of war, both physically and mentally. While most of my Marines were LCpls or below, I also spent time with the platoon commanders and platoon sergeants, and later as the company Corpsman I spent time with our “Skipper,” Captain Thomas Pratt. I saw first-hand what the enlisted Marines expected of their leaders, and I was able to witness the effect of the burdens those leaders carried on their shoulder’s 24/7. Colonel “B” will have you laughing, cheering, and yes, at times, crying as he sheds light onto how one goes about helping young Marines achieve greatness in both war and peace.
The period after Vietnam was a very dark period in our military’s history. For example, how does one motivate and train young infantrymen when Marines have shout “Bang, Bang, Bang” when training because there is no money for blank ammo as the author describes, and I once heard from a former enlisted Marine who chose to get out after telling me an identical story. Despite the racial tensions, fiscal deprivation, drug abuse, and a host of other morale degrading effects, Colonel Jim and his comrades brought the Marine Corps through it, and today the Corps and its current Marines are as good, if not better, than their forefathers.
As a former Fleet Marine Force Corpsman, I am proud to say: yes, “We’ll All Die As Marines”
John (Doc) Weed
NOTE: Doc is still to this day helping Marines (and other service members) through the VA deal with the effects war has on the human psyche. Thank you Doc for all you have done and still do! Semper Fi Sir! “Sgt B”