A MARINE’S JOURNAL
Since June 12, I have been activated in the Marine Corps Reserves. Since then I have been keeping a journal and felt it would interest Bernard’s readers if I submitted an excerpt from time to time. Currently, our unit is at 29 Palms, CA going through the training phases before we deploy in September. *Sensitive material changed
July 20, 2005 1107 PCT
There is a Staff Sergeant that works in * named SSGT Sadler. He doesn’t look very intimidating, doesn’t walk with a strut, doesn’t speak with a voice that commands attention, but if that man asked me to jump off a cliff, I would. He leads his Marines with character and understated charisma. He is highly proficient in his MOS, always puts his junior Marines before himself, and in fact goes out of his way to protect and accommodate Marines that aren’t under him as well. The brass and higher enlisted seek out and highly respect his opinion, and he carries himself nonchalantly; letting all this ridiculousness here roll off his back. He smiles when he sees you or adds a smartass, sarcastic comment and chuckles with you. His spirit and leadership motivates the men and everyone aspires to be like him. He does this naturally because of his character rooted leadership style. The men gravitate to him because they trust him. They believe that he looks out for them and would never ask them to do something simply to keep the uppers happy. SSgt Sadler looked out for me as well and even tried convincing me not to come out to Iraq with them, while the 1stSgt and Maj told me how valuable of an asset I would be if I came along with them. I trust this man with my life, because I know he cares for his Marines unlike many others who are in positions of authority and would never unnecessarily jeopardize the lives of his Marines.
I asked him to pin my chevrons on me when and if I ever got promoted to Sergeant. He chuckled because he never expects the respect and gratitude we give him. To him, he’s just doing his job. “Yeah Ahn, I’ll pin those bad boys on you. No problem.”
“Are you ready to die?”
“Well… I don’t want to die…” I responded.
“That’s not what I asked. I’m asking you, if you are seriously ready to die.”
Kang and I were driving to a local restaurant cause we missed evening chow today, and he asked me out of nowhere as I was lamenting on my problems with my girlfriend.
“No… I’m not”
“Well you have to be with where we’re going. If you’re so worried about staying alive, you’re not going to be able to react when the bullets are flying at you. What if someone gets hit, and you’re so worried about staying alive, you can’t save that Devil Dog cause you hesitated. That split second decision could save his life, but if your worried about living, and the bullets are whizzing by, you’re not going to be able to think clearly. We have to start forgetting about home, forgetting about girlfriends, everything. I know it’s hard, I can’t help stop thinking about my wife, but if we want to survive, we got to prepare ourselves, and stop letting shit like this boggle our mind. That’s not our reality, man. Our reality is being able to go to that shitbox and coming back alive, and the only way we can improve our chances, is to get ready and forget about coming back. You have to be able to tell that LCPL or PFC to run across the street when they’re shooting at us, and convey courage to them. If we’re too afraid to cross the street ourselves, how can we tell them to do it? If we freak out, the non-NCOs will freak out too, if the non-NCOs freak out, we have to shake them out of it. You know what I mean?”