At Saturday’s luncheon, General James Mattis spoke to the veterans of Iwo Jima, their families, and a number of active duty Marines and their families. I was lucky enough to attend the event and have since joined the Iwo Jima Alumni Association as an associate member.
The General, needless to say, gave an excellent speech. He talked about the pride that Marines have in the example set by the veterans of Iwo. In particular, he mentioned that when he was outside Fallujah before the assault companies stormed the town, he listened to a nervous young Marine who told his Corporal he was worried and the Corporal responded, “We took Iwo Jima. Fallujah won’t be nothin’.”
Marines maintain a sense of humor, even when the going gets tough. General Mattis didn’t shy away from a little self-deprecating humor. He related a story about Ramadi, saying he asked a Corporal one of the most inane questions ever asked in a firefight. The Corporal was exchanging fire with the enemy and the General asked, “What’s going on, Corporal?” The young man turned over his shoulder and lowered his rifle. “Sir, we’re takin’ the fun outta fundamentalism.”
When I got to the front of the line for photos with the General, I was completely disarmed when he called me by name. As a Navy Chief once told a just-graduated Navy ensign at the Academy, “Refer to your sailors by name, they’ll love it and they’ll forget it’s written on their chests.” Nonetheless, it was quite an honor for me.
The banquet on Saturday evening was also wonderful, with Commandant of the Marine Corps General James Amos as the guest of honor. The additional treat of having Radio King Orchestra play after dinner. Melissa and I love swing dancing and RKO had played at our wedding, so it was a reunion of sorts for us as well.
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