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"It sure wasn't FUN"

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  • "It sure wasn't FUN"

    I read this and can't imagine why anyone would disrespect anyone in the service or their families.

    These words were spoken "extemporaneously" and recorded at an informal retirement farewell for Marine Colonel Wayne Shaw who retired after more than 28 years of service.

    "In recent years I've heard many Marines on the occasion of retirements, farewells, promotions and changes of command refer to the "fun" they've had in the Marine Corps. "I loved every day of it and had a lot of fun" has been voiced far too often. Their definition of "fun" must be radically different than mine. Since first signing my name on the dotted line 28-1/2 years ago I have had very little fun. Devoting my entire physical and mental energies training to kill the young men of some other country was not fun. Worrying about how many of my own men might die or return home maimed was not fun. Knowing that we did not have the money or time to train as best we should have, was not fun either. It was no fun to be separated from my wife for months on end, nor was it fun to freeze at night in snow and rain and mud. It was not much fun to miss my father's funeral because my Battalion Commander was convinced our peacetime training deployment just couldn't succeed without me. Missing countless school and athletic events my sons very much wanted me to attend was not much fun either. Not being at my son's high school graduation wasn't fun.

    Somehow it didn't seem like fun when the movers showed up with day laborers from the street corner and the destroyed personal effects were predictable from folks who couldn't hold a job. The lost and damaged items, often irreplaceable family heirlooms, weren't much fun to try to "replace" for pennies on the dollar. There wasn't much fun for a Colonel with a family of four to live in a 1700 square foot apartment with one bathroom that no welfare family would have moved into. It was not much fun to watch the downsizing of the services after Desert Storm as we handed out pink slips to men who risked their lives just weeks before. It has not been much fun to watch mid grade officers and senior Staff NCO's, after living frugal lives and investing money where they could, realize that they cannot afford to send their sons and daughters to college. Nor do I consider it much fun to reflect on the fact that our medical system is simply broken. It is not much fun to watch my Marines board helicopters that are just too old and train with gear that just isn't what is should be anymore. It is not much fun to receive the advanced copies of promotion results and call those who have been passed over for promotion. It just wasn't much fun to watch the infrastructure at our bases and stations sink deeper into the abyss because funding wasn't provided for the latest "crisis." It just wasn't much fun to discharge good Marines for being a few pounds overweight and have to reenlist Marines who were HIV positive and not world wide deployable. It sure wasn't much fun to look at the dead Marines in the wake of the Beirut bombing and ask yourself what in the hell we were doing there. I could go on and on. There hasn't been much fun in a career that spans a quarter century of frustration, sacrifice and work.

    So, why did you serve you might ask? Let me answer that: I joined the service out of a profound sense of patriotism. As the son of a career Air Force Senior NCO I grew up on military bases often within minutes flying time from Soviet airfields in East Germany. I remember the Cuban Missile crisis, the construction of the Berlin Wall, the nuclear attack drills in school and was not many miles away when Soviet Tanks crushed the aspirations of citizens in Czechoslovakia. To me there was never any doubt that our great Republic and the last best hope of free people, needed to prevail in this ultimate contest. I knew I had to serve. When our nation was in turmoil over our involvement in Vietnam I knew that we were right in the macro strategic sense and in the moral sense, even if in the execution we may have been flawed. I still believe to this day that we did the right thing. Many of our elites in the nation today continue to justify their opposition in spite of all evidence that shows they were wrong and their motives either naive or worse. This nation needed to survive and I was going to join others like me to insure it did. We joined long before anyone had ever referred to service in the infantry units of the Marine Corps as an "opportunity." We knew the pay was lousy, the work hard and the rewards would be few. We had a cause, we knew we were right and we were willing when others were not. Even without a direct threat to our Nation many still join and serve for patriotic reasons.

    I joined the Marines out of a sense of adventure. I expected to go to foreign countries and do challenging things. I expected that, should I stick around, my responsibilities would grow, as would my rewards. It was exciting to be given missions and great Marines to be responsible for. Finally, I joined for the camaraderie. I expected to lead good men and be led by good men. Marines, who would speak frankly and freely, follow orders once the decision was made and who would place the good of the organization above all else - Marines who would be willing to sacrifice for this great nation. These were men I could trust with anything and they could trust me. It was the camaraderie that sustained me when the adventure had faded and the patriotism was tested.

    I was a Marine for all of these years because it was necessary, because it was rewarding, because our nation needed individuals like us and because I liked and admired the Marines I served with ----- but it sure wasn't fun.

    I can't promise you "fun," but I can promise you the reward and satisfaction of being able to look in the mirror for the rest of your life and say: "I gave more to America than I ever took from America...and I'm proud of that."

    Semper Fi and God Bless you all!"