Make no mistake, the Corps is a brotherhood, and sisterhood. But is there more?
Do we feel a similar bond with other branches of the military? Sure, there’s always going to be that healthy inter-service rivalry between us, but does the fact we all put on a uniform and defend our nation count for something?
I, for one, believe it does. Sure, I give my cousin who’s in the Army a hard time, and I joke about the Navy guys down the hall from time to time, but when it comes down to it, we all serve the same basic service, defending the people and the Constitution of the United States, from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
One of my favorite things to do is chat with veterans of our nation’s past conflicts. The World War II vets are getting harder and harder to come by as they age, our forgotten war vets, who nearly froze to death in Korea, don’t get near the recognition I feel they deserve, and the men and women who patrolled the rice patties and jungles of Vietnam are finally getting the thanks they didn’t get when they came home from an unpopular war.
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with some Vietnam vets who take part in a program called “Feed the Dawgs.” While many of them were Air Force sentry dog handlers in Vietnam, today, they travel to any base with a K-9 kennel that will have them, providing a great bar-b-que meal for their modern-day counterparts.
One of the men really tugged at my heart-strings. John Ashley’s son was a Marine K-9 handler killed in Afghanistan. He, more than most, recognizes the dangers, the trials and tribulations today’s servicemen face in combat. His son, Sgt. Joshua Ashley, laid down his life to protect his fellow Marines from an improvised explosive device, July 19, 2012. His dog, Sirius, miraculously survived the blast.
It’s a shining example of those who have gone before helping those who walk the path now, regardless of what camouflage pattern they put on for work. One day, that torch will be passed on to us, when we’re the old dogs who will help the younger generations.
Regardless of how you feel about what the other services do or how they accomplish their mission, take a minute to realize that they’re here for a reason, the same as us Marines are. If there was no use for them, they wouldn’t exist. So, Marine up and thank them for their service, regardless of their branch. I guarantee, no matter what branch of service a war veteran was in, they’re grateful for your service today.