The Right Coast

March 11, 2004
The Corps
By Tom Smith

This is San Diego, so I've known quite a few Marines over the years. Some random impressions.

My dad, who missed all of WWII except for the Battle of Okinawa, had mixed feeling about Marines. He thought they cut through Japanese (they didn't use that term) so fast that they left too many behind who still had to be fought. Yet my father's outfit, the 77th Infantry Division, US Army, gladly accepted the ulitmate compliment paid to them by the Marines, who called them "the 77th Marines."

In combat situations in which other fighting organizations would use armor or artillery, the Marines often seem to wade in, preferring rifles and bayonettes and pappy's bowie knife pulled from a boot. They did this on the outskirts of Baghdad, to which they got with impressive speed. Marines seem to enjoy their work.

Their training seems to emphasize the blunt fact that war is about fighting and killing people. It's good to know that.

People don't realize how small the Marine Corp is compared to the Army, Navy or Air Force. I agree with general Smith (no relation except of admiration), I think it's useful to keep them around, just to scare our enemies. I want the response to "the Marines have landed" to be however you say "Oh Shit" in Arabic.