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Archive for the ‘Marines’ Category

A weekend non-fiction book review!  Because sometimes even Pastors need a break from heavy theological reading!

Jim Proser. No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.  New York, NY: HarperLuxe, August 7th 2018. 416 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This is the first book on James Mattis.  Mattis is probably our generation’s best combat general.  A career Marine who served in uniform for forty four years he also went on to become the Secretary of Defense and one who received nearly unanimous bipartisan support for his nomination which is quite impressive in a day and age of much political division and partisanship in the United States.  For years I have been amazed at how low profile General Mattis have been compared to how much public attention the US media has given other Army generals.  It seem overnight a few years ago Mattis started to finally receive a lot of attention and praise and usually through the medium of social media making jokes about his exploits and strength. Yet people’s hunger to know more about this tough talking and private general has only increased when news broke that Trump wanted him to be Secretary of Defense.  Personally as a Marine who served under General Mattis’ 1st Marine Division in Iraq I am glad that the author wrote this book.  I actually think it has been long overdue.

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I know for many summer vacation is around the corner so here’s my review of two military books for your summer travel…and also because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!

For other suggestions check out also our previous post “2017 Memorial Day Weekend Lists of Recommended Readings.”

Robert O’Neill.  The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior. New York, NY: Scribner, April 3rd 2018. 368 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This is a book by the Navy SEAL who shot Osama Bin Laden.  This book not only tell the story of the mission to go after Bin Laden but also Robert O’Neill’s upbringing in Montana, how he joined the Navy and made it into the SEALs.  A fascinating book of a fascinating individual.

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I’m going to post this ahead of the Memorial Day weekend as a book I immensely enjoyed that is very appropriate for the weekend as part of my nonfiction leisure reading review…why?  Because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading…and also to appreciate the generations of people who have served in the past in the military and have given so much.

Chester Nez.  Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII. New York, NY: Berkley Caliber, September 6th 2011. 310 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This is an incredible book on the legendary Navajo Native American who served in the United States Marines during World War Two.  Apparently this is the only memoir of the original first group of Navajo “Code talkers.”  The book is about the life and service of “Code Talker” Chester Nez who co-authored it along with Judith Avila, a historian of these incredible Marines.  In the beginning of the book Avila noted that at first Chester Nez was reluctant to write this book since he felt that others also have done their duty and also because he feared people would not find his life interesting.  Avila disagreed and encouraged him to tell his story.  I’m in agreement with Avila; Chester Nez and other “Code Talkers” lived an interesting life both in the Marine Corps and outside the Marine Corps.  I’m really glad this book was written.

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Some of you know that I’m a former Marine.  Since today is the Marine Corps Birthday I thought it is appropriate to share my weekend review of a story involving an incredible Marine that is part of the Marine Corps cherished heritage.

John Grider Miller. The Bridge At Dong Ha.  Annapolis, Maryland: U.S. Naval Institute Press, March 15th 1989. 224 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book tells the story of the Marine legend John W. Ripley.  I have heard the name “Ripley” before as a Marine, and some vague summary of him blowing up a bridge to stop invading North Vietnamese communist forces during the last years of the Vietnam War.  Recently I saw something on facebook about Ripley that sparked my interests to read more about Ripley and this book was what I picked up to learn more about Ripley and the famous incident with the bridge at Dong Ha.  It was a treat for me to read this book.  I was blown away (pun intended) with what Ripley accomplished against overwhelming odds.  His story is one of courage, commitment and mission above self.

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I’m not trying to promote nationalism and I have a spiritual point towards the end of this post.  I am not going to lie as a Marine veteran I am biased.  I think the United States Marine Corps make amazing commercials.  Even after all these years after seeing my first Marine commercial on TV as a kid every time I stumble upon a Marine ads it still manages to stop me and grab my full attention.

Here’s the latest Marines’ commercial that they have released:

I watched it several times.  Did you?

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Mattis Nomination

When I was a young Marine at the age of 19 General Mattis was in charge of the Marines on the ground in Iraq.  I definitely felt he was our generation’s Patton back then.  Now he’s Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Defense.

There’s many stories circulating about General Mattis.  One that stood out the last few days is the story of when Mattis was a one star general taking the place of another Marine’s much dreaded holiday “duty.”  Here’s the account as given by someone in 2010:

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The last few weeks has been heavy for me in the ministry front.  Here’s a light reading review for the weekend.

The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan

Bryan Doerries.  The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan.  New York, NY: Pantheon Books, April 5th, 2016.  160 pp.

This graphic novel is a retelling of the Greek classic The Odyssey but with a modern twist.  The author is a big advocate of using classical literature as a tool help military service members cope and heal with the aftermath of war.  Bryan Doerries founded a project called Theater of War that presents readings of Greek plays to service members and veterans.  The book itself takes that same concept but uses the medium of graphic novel.  It tells the story of an infantry squad of Marines heading home from Afghanistan and their sergeant Jack Brennan telling the story of the Odyssey to help his junior Marines transition back home from war.  A few pages into the book I was already thinking, “Man, this might be good for some fellow veterans I know…”

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GO TO PART 34

Marines body armor

Point: Many people today think it is wrong for Christians to correct wrong beliefs and worldview of others.  Sure Christians must do so with love but pointing out what is wrong and especially pointing out the wrong gospel that doesn’t save isn’t wrong.  Similarly some people need to understand that after hearing the true and biblical Gospel they need to trust in the Gospel (and that means trusting in Christ’s person and work).  Is there any helpful illustration to convey this?

Picture: When I was younger I was in the Marines and went to Iraq.  This is a tale of two Marines and their body Armor.

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No True Glory A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah by Bing West

Bing West. No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah.  New York, NY: Bantam Book, December 7th, 2011. 378 pp.

This book is about the US military’s operation in Fallujah from the time the first troops were on the ground in that city and leading up to the Marines’ assault towards the end of 2004.  There is so much that people don’t understand about the US military’s approach towards Fallujah and so many mistaken assumptions and factually incorrect claims of what the US military did.  I think this book makes an important contribution towards understanding what happened.

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This is a timely review in light of the 240th Marine Corps birthday tommorow (November 10th).

Voices of the Pacific Untold Stories from the Marine Heroes of World War II

Adam Makos. Voices of the Pacific.  New York, NY: The Berkley Publishing Group, April 2nd, 2013. 416 pp.

My hats off to the Marine veterans of World War Two.  This book reminds me why that generation was the greatest generation America has ever known.  And also why they are one of the best generation of Marines we’ve ever had.  This book tells the account of fifteen Marines who fought in the Pacific in their own words.  As the author stated in the beginning, these are the last words of men who are in their nineties and some of the stories of what happened in World War two have never been told by these survivors before.  The book is simply incredible.

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My heart goes out to the loved ones of the four Marines who were killed yesterday during the Chattanooga Shooting.  I imagine Liberals and Democrats would want to take advantage of this unfortunate incident to cry for more gun control such as restriction on more weapons that could be purchased and also more areas that are legally gun free zone.

While I do think most gun-control activists are sincere I think many are mistaken at a fundamental level of understanding human nature.  One wonders if they understand the extent of man’s depravity.  I think “Gun Free Zone” that is not enforced with people who are armed is quite a naive concept; in fact it is dangerous and irresponsible on the part of lawmakers and bureaucrats who come up with such a thing.  The biggest problem I think is that it neglect to account for the reality of human depravity, that those who are wicked and sinful and want to carry out sinful terrorist acts are not going to stop when you merely have a sticker that says “No guns.”

Sadly yesterday’s shooting is a case in point:

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Original picture SOURCE

Having a picture and a sign that says no guns is just as persuasive to a depraved gunman as an “Obama ’08” bumper sticker is for a Republican in 2015.  It’s “irrelevant” to a simple criminal let alone a committed Muslim extremist.  Actually it is relevant for such gunman: it allows them to face lesser resistance to their wicked schemes.

 

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Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War

This is the story of the first living Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor in the post September 11th era of conflict.  Dakota Meyer gives us a first hand account of the battle of Ganjigal that led to his award.  It is one of the more tragic battle from the war in Afghanistan.  Then Corporal Meyer was a Marine sniper that was assigned to a unit that was involved with training the Afghan army.  Like what people expect of Marines, Meyer wanted to be in combat and was always willing to go into danger but that caused some of the higher ups who were not of infantry background to be cautious around Meyer.  In the unfortunate battle that led to the death of his team mates, the commanding officer overseeing the operation to train the Afghan forces put him in the back of the movement babysitting some humvees while his team led from the front into a valley that eventually became the site of a huge firefight.  Meyers tells it as it is and does not hide the ugly reality of those who failed to perform in combat.  Readers will be angry to read of the Army’s tactical operation center’s decision not to allow artillery to be employed when Meyer’s forces were being hit by intensive enemy fire.  Readers will also be upset when the promise of air support arriving in fifteen minutes was never relayed to proper channel—and when the personnel on the ground called on the radio to check up on the help they were lied to that the air support would arrive in another fifteen minutes.  Political correctness was the driving force of those who were higher up in the chain of command refusing the help that Corporal Meyer and those with him so desperately needed.  Meyers does not run away from telling the truth and even identifies specific officers for their failure in leadership.  This failure also included a certain Army platoon commander who was suppose to be the Quick Reaction Force but gave excuses from going in to help support those under attack.  Yet the battle also brought out the best side of the American military as well.  Meyers’ account of the Marine sergeant who drove his humvee into harm’s way to find Meyer’s loss team deserves recognition.  Then there is the Army captain Sweeney who took command of the situation on the ground and went back into harms way again and again.  Corporal Meyer himself put himself at risk multiple times with his driving motivation of finding his loss team mates.  This is an incredible story of a Marine who sticks to the line, “Never leave a man behind.”  The crushing part of the story is when he found his team members—all killed by the enemy and whom never got to have the opportunity to even fire back.  This is an intense read not only for the action but also for Meyer’s account of coming back home and feeling like a failure for letting his team members die.  I totally enjoyed this book and I even read this work all in one day.  I recommend this work to everyone in order to appreciate what warriors like Dakota Meyer went through in serving the United States and the Afghan Army in the war on Terror.

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Marine Graduation

Went to a Marine graduation the last few days, hence I’ve been slow in posting on here.  Some of you may know that I served in the Marines and I’ve been out for a few years now.

The trip was sentimental but it also made me think tangent to the Christian faith and specifically with discipleship.  Here were some thoughts I found it stirred within me to continue being biblical in discipleship of believers:

1. Don’t compromise the faith and teaching the hard things of the Christian faith.  If our goal is make disciples and teach them all things that Christ want us to teach from His Word, we best not compromise.  Compromise will definitely lower the quality of the disciples we forge within the church.

2. The Goal of discipling Christians ought not be to get rid of suffering in their lives but to explain and make sense of it biblically.  If we don’t teach them to expect suffering, we should probably expect them to suffer seriously in their Christian walk.

3. We must not forget our spiritual roots and also ensure that we past them on to the next generation.  We must show them that each one of us have an obligation to not just subscribe to what we believe but pass it on to the next generation while realizing the world around us would slowly reflect values different than our own.

4. 2 Timothy 2:3-4 in the ESV is an imperative for all of us: “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

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As someone who finished his time with the Marines, I can’t help but to note that today is the Marine Corps Birthday.

238 Years of a Service fighting for this country.

Marine Burn Victim Marriage

 

This is a short story of a Marine’s wife who stayed beside him.

You can read it HERE.

The Marine’s motto is SEMPER FIDELES–“Always Faithful.”

I think with the 10 plus years of war, some of the servicemembers’ wives are the unsung heroes, who have been faithfully there with all the injuries, wounds and scars from their husband’s service.

It emulate what it means when one say “in sickness and in health.”

It is a picture of sacrificial love.

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220px-Sands_of_Iwo_Jima_poster

I just recently watched this movie for the first time about a year ago.

As a Marine the theme of sacrifice and combat loss made me think about how the human condition of the Marines had some similiarities then with the conditions today.  That’s not to say that everything is the same–obviously the Old Corps faced much more difficulties.  But I appreciated the film capturing the times.

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