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March 10, 2010

True Grit

Every time I'm tempted to despair, I read something like this and suddenly America seems a great nation to me once more:

Hanley was leading a squad of 11 Marines on foot patrol in Garmsir City when a tripwire detonated the IED, his mother said.

"He actually was unconscious for a little while. When he woke up, he did not want to be on the gurney when they took him to the bird (the casualty evacuation helicopter). He wanted to walk," Diane Hanley said from her son's bedside yesterday.

"I asked him: 'I heard you walked to the bird.' His eyes were closed but he shook his head yes. I said, 'I bet that was your way of giving your men the thumbs up and the Taliban the middle finger.' He whispered, 'I ran to the bird.' He wanted (Taliban forces) to see him walking away so they didn't think they got the best of him."

Posted by Cassandra at March 10, 2010 09:12 AM

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Has there ever been a UNITED STATES MARINE non-com who was not also an amazing *&^%$# stud?

Bravo Zulu, Sgt. Hanley. I will pray for your speedy recovery. You rock, son.

Posted by: spd rdr at March 10, 2010 11:46 AM

I tried to post this lovely video about medics removing a live RPG from a soldier's body over at Grim's place, but I screwed up the link:


Greater love hath no man.

Posted by: Texan99 at March 10, 2010 02:52 PM

And they all seem so ordinary most of the time--or at least they did to me, because they were the norm for the 28 years I spent in the Corps.

But for the life of me, I can't quite figure out why they seem to be getting younger every year.

Posted by: Rex at March 10, 2010 04:14 PM

I think that's the beauty of it - they *are* mostly ordinary, or ordinary most of the time.

I think it's the standard and the example the Corps sets that brings out the best in them. Yes, it was there all along as it is in most of us. It was just awaiting something to believe in, and the joy is that in believing in something larger than themselves these young men and women become something larger than they were.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2010 04:26 PM

...and the rest of us who read their stories become more than we thought we could be through their inspiring strength.

Speedy recovery and you are in our prayers.

Thank you!

Posted by: vet66 at March 10, 2010 04:56 PM


You are so right. We were ordinary until we went through boot camp and/or ("and" in my case) OCS, when we learned that we would fail in body before we failed in spirit. Eventually we would learn that the strength of the Corps was teamwork, which is why we always laughed at the Army of One commercials of the Army: our teamwork is what made us great, not any individual effort.

And discipline is one key to that teamwork, and contrary to many outsiders' belief, discipline is not someone somewhere yelling at you. It's something inside you; without self-discipline, there is no other meaningful discipline. We don't respond to someone's orders because discipline is imposed on us from outside; we respond to orders because we want to, because of our self-discipline.

And miracle of miracles, somehow our spouses and children learn that lesson too. You certainly have my respect for putting up with all the deployments of your Spousal Unit. I think my wife handled my deployments easier than I did, although it's hard to be sure, but I left active duty after 11 years (and joined the Reserves) because I had already had a 3.5 month cruise as a junior enlisted man (sea duty), a 12 month unaccompanied tour in Westpac, and a 6 month Med cruise, and I was slated for another 12 month unaccompanied tour on The Rock (Okinawa).

The 12 month tours are the worst--my daughter was 6 months old when I left and 18 months old when I saw her again. Some of us just can't handle that sort of separation. E-mail was not yet invented, and telephones for personal calls were not available on base/ship. Snail mail and the occasional waiting 2 hours in a civilian telephone exchange to make a long distance call was the only means of contact.

As I say, you have my respect.

Posted by: Rex at March 10, 2010 09:32 PM

One tough cookie. I'm glad he didn't crumble...

Posted by: camojack at March 11, 2010 01:37 AM

And miracle of miracles, somehow our spouses and children learn that lesson too.

You know, I've seen the same thing. There's something to be said for the constant reminder that there are more important things going on in the world than our little cares and day to day dramas.

I remember the days before email. Remember MARS radio? We tried that during the first 1 year unaccompanied tour (1983? can't recall) and it was AWFUL! After that we went back to writing long letters.

And that's nice in a way. I have a few boxes full of letters we wrote back and forth, and letters my husband's parents (especially his Dad, who's gone now) wrote to him. I was reading some of them a few months ago and really enjoyed revisiting memories of the kids that I'd forgotten. I can still recall how my oldest boy labored over the first postcard he sent to his Dad - reversed letters and all.

I think you're right about deployments being harder on the one who deploys. At least that has been my experience. We spouses have it easy, comparatively speaking.

In case I haven't said it before, thanks for your service. We owe our way of life (not to mention the fact that we take our security for granted) to people like you and Bill and Camo and Kbob and Foxfier and... well, I'd better stop b/c I'll leave too many folks out.

Thanks for everything you've done to keep us safe. We owe you all a very great debt that we can never repay.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2010 08:19 AM

You would have loved our conversation last night.
We were having a Jane Austen party (had to watch Pride and Prejudice) and a few of us in the room are military wives...different services.

We all agreed the Marine Corps did more and had fine, good men that we were glad to know and they were glad they married.

I love this story; it is more than pride. It is being undefeated and continuing the fight on his terms, not the enemy's.

Letters are slowly becoming a lost art, I think, as well as the anticipation of getting a missive and the joy of savoring it; pulling it out when needed and knowing your loved one is thinking of you.

Posted by: Cricket at March 11, 2010 10:29 AM