One of Us: Officers of Marines : Their Training, Traditions, and Values

One of Us: Officers of Marines : Their Training, Traditions, and Values

One of Us: Officers of Marines : Their Training, Traditions, and Values

One of Us: Officers of Marines : Their Training, Traditions, and Values

Synopsis

This engaging book plunges readers into the culture shock of Marine Officer Candidates School, a ten-week physical, intellectual, and emotional testing ground so grueling that every fourth candidate fails to complete.

Excerpt

Outsiders sometimes view United States Marines as a rather strange breed of cat to be in anybody’s alley. To civilians we may appear intimidating, cultist, and even a tad abnormal. Other services often scoff that we are nonconformist, overly concerned about image, and paranoid about the possibility that the Corps may one day be declared irrelevant and therefore eliminated. While these may not be the most flattering of descriptions, there are few of us who would deny them. Nor should we. We are, in fact, a different breed from the vast majority of men and women who make up the Armed Forces of the United States. Indeed, in many respects, one can find more commonality between the U.S. Marines and several foreign military organizations than between the Marines and our sister services. The fact that a traditional Marine Birthday Cake Cutting Ceremony leads off with a drum and bugle corps playing “The Foreign Legion March,” for instance, is not just happenstance.

But even as Marines own up to these unmistakable differences, these should not be a cause for alarm to American citizens. Nor should Americans necessarily conclude that their Marines are out of step with the society they serve. Rather, it should be taken as a simple recognition that Marines are who they are because of their unique mission and history and because each succeeding generation has striven to preserve the Corps’ most cherished values and traditions, as inconsequential and outmoded as these may appear to others.

If there is a single underlying factor that distinguishes the Marine Corps from the nation’s other armed forces, I believe it is simply this: Marines do not have the luxury to rest on past laurels, or take themselves for granted. Five times in its 226-year history, the U.S. Marine Corps has been brought to the threshold of extinction. In its last battle for survival, during the aftermath of World War II, the Eighteenth Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alexander A. Vandegrift, appeared before the Senate Naval Affairs Committee and said, “We have pride in ourselves and in our past, but we do not rest our case on any presumed ground of gratitude owing us from the nation. The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. If the Marine as a fighting man has not made the case for himself after 170 years of service, he must go.”

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