The Daily Demarche
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Happy Birthday, USMC!
Every morning, as I make my way in to work, the first American I see is the Marine Security Guard on Post One (or "in the box"). These men, and increasingly, women who watch over our diplomatic missions abroad not only greet and protect me and my colleagues everyday- they also make a statement. Visitors to the Embassy are always visibly impressed by the sight of the Marine on duty. They clearly get the message (perhaps an unintentional one) that despite the polite diplomatic phrasing of whatever meeting is about to take place, there is an iron fist in the velvet glove. After all, there are not many people who do not know the storied history of the United States Marine Corps. The famous Marine Corps Hymn offers a glimpse of that history:

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli,
We fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom, and to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine.

Tomorrow marks the 230th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps. Perhaps most famous for the "island hopping" defeat of the Japanese Imperial Army , Marines have fought in every major conflict in the nation's history. They continue to serve with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan (I HIGHLY recommend reading 25 Lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan on this site), and they continue to protect our embassies.

Duty at an embassy is not all greeting striped pants diplo-wheenies like me and intimidating visitors, though. Earlier this year I detailed how the Marine Security Guards at the Consulate in Jeddah repelled a terrorist attack and saved countless American and Saudi lives. If you have not read it, you may find it here. Here is an excerpt:

Ambassador Oberwetter: ...the marines were performing heroically just as you would expect them to do. There are many other stories of heroism about the events of yesterday. Heroism by our locally employed staff. Heroism by the marines, and by other American citizens, and heroism by the Saudis who were guarding our gates and took casualties in doing so.

Another loud explosion occurred and over the radio in the Safehaven, we heard Post One say, "Three at the front!" The terrorists let out a spray of bullets against the glass doors, yet unable to get in, they tried to attach an explosive. Post One came back on the radio "terrorist are attaching device to the front door permission to GAS!" The RSO yelled, "GAS, GAS, GAS NOW!" over the radio. Post One activated the gas and the C/S fell right on top of the terrorists who then ran from the front doors. They ran around the chancery shooting into our office windows making it appear they were INSIDE and moving down the hall towards us! At that point, I was ordered to secure the vault door.

The acting commander of the small force of Marines that repelled the attack on our Consulate was awarded a Bronze Star:

Staff Sgt. Michael L. Young, an EA-6B Prowler mechanic staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge with Marine Electronic Warfare Squadron 1, was awarded the Bronze Star with combat distinguishing device, Nov. 1, at Al Asad, Iraq, for his actions Dec. 6, 2004, when he and the three Marines under his command defended the consulate and killed al-Qaeda terrorists.

So, as Marines around the world celebrate the birthday of the Corps tomorrow, please spare a moment to think of them. If you know a Marine, still serving today or long retired, please give him or her my thanks; and should you be so inclined, please include our men and women serving in the Marines (and all of our armed forces) in your prayers this evening.

If you are a Marine, thank you. We might not always acknowledge it, but I damn glad to have you "in the box" when I come in every morning.

Happy Birthday, USMC. Semper Fi.

(Note: I'll be away for the next few days, duty calls. Should be able to post over the weekend. Dr. D)

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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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