September 6, 2012

What have you done to help your Marines out lately?

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Staff

Marine’s stories usually involve a large amount of insane bravery or complete idiocy, but either way, they sure are entertaining. To be honest, a lot of them seem to have some similarity to fishing stories about the biggest fish ever caught.

I’ll tell you one that is not only true, but might make you think about what you can do to help your fellow Marines.

I’ve got a prime example of a retired Marine helping out one of my best friends on the East Coast, and it made me think; will I be like that Marine someday?

My friend, Cody, at the time a new private first class fresh out of the School of Infantry had just checked into his first duty station at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The holidays were approaching, and he was preparing to fly back to his hometown to see his family. He was able to leave earlier than planned, and worked it out with his dad to surprise his mom. Cody’s dad is a former Marine too, so he knew how much it would mean to the both of them.

Cody travelled to the airport in Havelock, N.C. to see if he could change his tickets for the earlier date. After the $100, hour-long taxi ride, he arrived at the airport only to find out it was about to close. “Apparently, some airports do that,” he told me. He told the ticket counter attendant he would sleep in the lobby, but he wasn’t allowed, the place actually locked its’ doors at night.

From behind him, Cody heard someone say, “Hey Marine, come over here for a minute.” He turned around to see an older gentlemen standing at the USO counter beckoning him over. The man had heard some of what Cody had told the ticket counter attendant, and wanted to see if he could help him out. After explaining his situation to the man, they both went back to the ticket counter. Together, they explained the situation and the lady not only put Cody on the first flight the next morning, but upgraded his tickets for the entire trip to California at no charge.

There was still one problem. Where was Cody going to stay that night?

The kindly old man gave him two options. First, he could drive Cody back to his barracks, then he’d pick him up in the morning to get him to his flight. When he learned Cody was stationed more than an hour away in Camp Lejeune, he quickly ruled option one out. Second, Cody could stay at his house, eat dinner with him and his wife, then bring him the much shorter distance to the airport in the morning.

Probably a little shocked, Cody attempted to politely refuse. “Thanks, but I couldn’t ask you to do that, sir,” he said. The man quickly retorted, “You’re not asking me, I’m telling you! You’re staying with me. Besides, it’s been a long time since the wife and I fed a PFC!”

I think Cody had already assumed this man was a former Marine, but that statement solidified his belief. Besides, the offer sounded more like an order than a suggestion, so Cody replied with a “Yes sir, thank you sir.”

When he got to the man’s car, it had the “Not as lean, not as mean, but still a Marine” bumper sticker on the back, and master sergeant chevrons on the front. This man was definitely a Marine.

With all that had gone on over the past few minutes, the two hadn’t even introduced themselves. “By the way master sergeant, my name’s Cody,” my friend told him. “You can call me Bob,” the man replied. “My given name is George, but everyone calls me Bob!”

On the way, Master Sgt. Bob told Cody he was only allowed to be a guest at his home once, after that, it was his home, too.

Bob came through on his promise and then some. Bob and his wife fed Cody a hot, home-cooked dinner, and a hearty Southern breakfast the next morning. He took Cody to the airport to catch his flight so he could surprise his mom, and picked him up when he returned to North Carolina. He even called Cody’s parents to let them know what a great time he’d had with their son, and tell them they’d done a fine job raising him. When Cody’s unit left for Afghanistan, Bob was there. While they were gone, Bob sent letters and packages to Cody, and kept in touch with his parents.

When 1/8 returned to North Carolina last month, Cody’s parents couldn’t be there. But Bob could, and he even left the golf course early to make sure Cody would see a familiar face when he got off the bus. Cody didn’t stay in the barracks that night, he stayed at his new home in Havelock.

It seems Bob not only sees Cody as a fellow Marine, but someone he can mentor, a chance for him to continue to lead Marines. Bob’s helped out quite a few Marines, both on active duty and in retirement. He’s an example of the close-knit Marine Corps family we all belong to. “I may not know you, but I know you’re a Marine and that’s good enough.”

It’s one of those stories you hear about, but rarely know anyone it’s actually happened to. I’ve never met Bob, yet I know that he would help me out in an instant if I needed it for two reasons: First and foremost, we’re both Marines, and second, he just seems like that kind of a guy. He volunteers his time at his local airports USO counter for travelling troops. It’s a perfect example of ‘Once a Marine, Always a Marine,’ consistently giving back to his fellow service members.

Neither Cody nor Bob know I’m telling this story. They won’t see it until it gets published, just like the rest of you. Bob doesn’t do what he does for recognition, he does it because it’s the right thing to do.

We take care of our own, and I hope that never changes. We should all aspire to be more like Master Sgt. Bob, helping out our fellow Marines in need, selflessly giving of ourselves to the greater good of our beloved Corps.

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