We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome
9 January 2012, 18:49
Filed under: Marines, Veterans | Tags: , , , ,

Vester Elvin “Puci” Blevins passed away recently. He’d spent over 30 years serving as the Superintendent of the Oneida, Tennesseee, Water Department and on the local school board, but what struck me most was his determination. No, I’d not met Puci, but I did read his obituary in Leatherneck this month.

The Battle of Iwo Jima included some of the fiercest fighting in World War II. Some 21,000 Japanese soldiers stationed there fought ferociously, with only about 1,000 of them surrendering. Puci Blevins landed on the first day and fought there for all 38 days of the battle. He would have landed on either the Red or Green beaches and may have assaulted up Mount Suribachi – at the very least, he would later say that he “saw the first Iwo Jima flag raising from the foot of Mt. Suribachi.”

Blevins must have transferred from the 5th Marine Division, as he was in the 2nd Marine Division for the occupation of Japan, with his obituary noting Sasebo and Nagasaki.

The part that really caught me in his obituary in Leatherneck was that when Puci enlisted in 1943, it was his third attempt to enlist. He’d been rejected twice due to his poor eyesight. When he went in for the third time, Blevins followed a Marine mantra. Marines are often at the tail end when it comes to new equipment, so many units use “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” as their mantra.

  • Not being able to see the eye chart clearly, Puci improvised.
  • His adaptation was memorization of the eye chart.
  • A true leatherneck in his heart, he overcame the obstacle.

Semper Fi, Puci.

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