For this Marine Corps birthday piece, I want to tell you all a story. A story from early in my Marine Corps life. The cool thing about this story is that this shit didn’t even happen in November, nope, it was like April or May of 2006…I can’t remember the exact day, but it was a cool moment.
See, I’d just gotten back from the shitshow that was Ramadi and my girlfriend at the time was obsessed with Disney. Disney this, Disney that, we spent a ton of weekends at Downtown Disney and went to the park in Anaheim more than a few times a year.
While on this particular jaunt, my boot ways got the best of me when I saw this older man with his equally older wife, hobbling through the park. He needed a cane to walk. He obviously wasn’t the fastest guy around. However, he was wearing a hat. One of those older hats that WW2, Korea, and Vietnam vets were, you know the type, black with the campaign or war, or whatever on the front.
“WW2 Veteran” across the top with “Iwo Jima” underneath…
As Marines, you all know how our lore is, and I, having just returned from my deployment felt this insatiable motard urge go talk with this man, I approached him and apologized for interrupting his day, that I just wanted to talk with a fellow Marine, a fellow “combat Marine” as it were.
When he realized that I was a Marine and I wanted to hang out with him for just a few minutes, as brothers, and shoot the shit…his back straightened and he stood taller. We started shooting the shit and dropping “fuck” every other word, much to the surprise of my girlfriend and his wife…
In that moment, he was not the 90-year-old man suffering from the ravages of aging…rather he was an 18 to 22-year-old Marine who’d just lived through the scariest shit in his life, with men he considered family. He was proud, he was smiling the biggest shit-eating grin I’d ever seen.
I shook his hand and we parted ways, letting him get on with his day. I couldn’t help but beam with pride. In that moment, a man who’d probably smoked more dudes than I’d had hot meals, considered me equal, a brother. There was no age difference, there was no dick measuring, no one-upmanship. Although, I would have definitely lost. We were just two Marines, shooting the shit and laughing.
As I left, I told him “Semper Fi!” He gave me one back with gusto and that was that. He hobbled off to continue his day and I mine…
More than a half-century of age between us. Yet, there we stood at fucking Disneyland, of all places, as long lost brothers.