For U.S. forces on the ground, the future of warfare isn’t a $250 billion fighter jet program, its a cheap, but devastating bundle of wires rigged to homemade explosives or Vietnam-era ordnance — the IED.
IEDs came to define the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wreacking havoc on Marines everywhere from Al Anbar to Helmand. But, with the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghansitan later this year, the IED threat will not evaporate, according to one of the Corps’ top IED experts.
“We have seen the future of warfare and it’s the IED,” Master Gunnery Sgt. Steven Williams, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Marine detachment at the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., told Marine Corps Times. “Why? Because it works, and everybody knows it works. IED’s alter the way we think, plan and execute. IEDs tie up money, resources and manpower,” he said.
Global enemies, terrorists, and non-state actors have taken note, and seasoned bomb technicians tell us the IED will remain a global threat even past the coalition exodus from Afghanistan. The Corps should expect to see IEDs even during the pivot to the the Pacific.
Read the full story, with quotes from battle hardened bomb techs, Monday in print in the The Marine Corps Times newspaper or online in Marine Corps Times Prime.
One of the Marine Corps’ most revered generals proved his mettle as a warrior poet recently, delivering a speech that summed up the Marine Corps ethos and experience–from bar fights to earth’s orbit. Gen. Jim Mattis, who retired last year from his post as head of U.S. Central Command after a 41-year career, gave this speech at the Marine Corps University Foundation’s 2014 Semper Fidelis Award Dinner on Feb. 22., where he accepted the award.
The speech is just too good to abbreviate, so here’s the whole thing. I’ve put my favorite lines in bold.
Long time since we served together in Brigade, cruised the West Pac
Or since I drank one of your Cokes on the March up to Baghdad.
General Gray, General Conway, General Pace, General Amos, General Paxton –
Marines whose very goodness put ambition out of context.
Sergeant Major Barrett – a Marine’s Marine. Colonel Harvey Barnum who for so many
years – your valor inspired us all to be better men.
Ladies – The wonderful ladies who exemplify grace & courage
Who represent our better angels and what we fight for.
Thank all of you for coming out tonight – A night that celebrates our Corps’ values, its legacy
and its mission.
A special note of appreciation for President of the Marine Corps University Foundation
Gen Tom Draude
Valiant combat leader who brought a Vietnam Vet’s reassurance to us as we filed into
our Desert Storm attack positions
And earned our everlasting respect & affection
We have Ambassadors present,
Whom Marines have stood beside in foreign lands
And members of Congress and staffers,
To whom we owe our survival when short –sighted bureaucratic efforts challenged our existence,
combined, they remind us our Corps carries more than our own hopes forward.
General Conway & General Amos spoke about this Foundation – I’ll add a few words.
Between Commandant’s Reading List and the Marine Corps University Foundation’s enriching
the education of our warrior leaders – I have never been bewildered for long in any fight with our
enemies – I was Armed with Insight. In the worst of surprises we found our training and
education had prepared us well.
I am a very average Marine- at this podium tonight because I repeatedly was at the right place, at
the right time to gain warfighting positions. I recall a Fleet Commander asking if I could bring
Marines from the Mediterranean together with a West Coast Marine Expeditionary Unit and
strike 350 Nautical Miles into Afghanistan. I could, thanks to the Marines who went before me
My immediate response was, “Yes”!
Thanks to our Corps’ legacy of audacity
Thanks to our Marines in 1950 who brought in KC 130 aircraft.
Thanks to our Amphibs, which our Navy-Marine-Corps Team funded.
Thanks to our Marines of the 1960 -1970s who put air refueling probes on Heavy Lift
Thanks to our Marines who brought in Light Armored Vehicles in 1980.
Thanks to our Recruiters who brought in High –Quality Marines.
Thanks to our Commandant who extended boot camp and toughened it.
None of this started with me – most of the thinking was done in Quantico. And for me – so often
in the right place at the right time I have an enormous sense of gratitude for a Corps that gave me
such capability when destiny called on our Corps to fight.
Images flash through my mind– and I speak from my heart: of an Eighth & “I” parade in honor
of John Glenn who remarked that night:
He had been a Marine for 23 years…but not long enough.
That was from a man fought in WWII & Korea and was the first American to orbit the
His wingman in Korea, baseball legend Ted Williams, put it well when asked which was best
team he ever played on. Without hesitation he said, “The U.S. Marine Corps.”
On evenings like this most of us will remember the tragedy of losing comrades
Beautiful Marines whose rambunctious spirits gave us what F. Scott Fitzgerald called
“Riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.”
And we remember them, everyone, who gave their lives so our experiment called America, could
And for us who live today…
We do so with a sense that each day is a bonus and a blessing.
To the Veterans who brought up the current generation of Marines who imbued in us the spirit
“such as Regiments hand down,”
You raised us well for our grim tasks!
During our apprenticeship you coached us and honed our skills with a sense of humor in
a tough school.
And when the time came for us to stand and deliver, we never feared the enemy. We only feared
we might somehow disappoint you.
But with good NCO’s the outcome was never in doubt,
And the NCO’s were superb, Sergeant Major Barrett
And all Marines, regardless of rank,
Stood shoulder –to-shoulder
Stood co-equal in our commitment to mission
Co-equal, from boot private to General
Smiling to one another, even as we entered Fallujah
Knowing the enemy could not stand against the Corps you Veterans honed.
Because every Marine, if he was in a tough spot – whether a bar fight, or tonight in Helmand
our fellow Marines would get to us, or die trying.
So long as our Corps fields such Marines, America has nothing to fear from tyrants, be they
Fascists, Communists or Tyrants with Medieval Ideology. For we serve in a Corps with no
institutional confusion about our purpose:
To fight well!
As we say out West where I grew up, “We ride for the brand”, and hold the line until our
country can again feel its unity.
From our first days at San Diego, Parris Island or Quantico, NCO’s bluntly explained to us that
the Corps would be:
Entirely satisfied if we gave 100%
And entirely dissatisfied if we gave 99%
And those NCOs taught us the great pleasure of doing what others thought impossible.
As General Amos summed it up so well in his Marine Birthday message: “The iron discipline &
combat excellence” of our Marines:
Marines who never let each other down, never let the Corps down, never let our country
Those are the Marines who define our Corps.
A Corps whose old-fashioned values protect a progressive country.
Marines who can do the necessary “rough work”, but without becoming evil by doing so, despite
an enemy who has opened apocalyptically the aperture for who they target, to include even
women and children.
It’s all the more important today that we hold to our precious legacy of ferocious, ethical combat
For in a world awash in change, Americans need to have confidence in the everlasting character
of our Marines
And to those Maniacs, the ones who thought that by hurting us on 9-11 that they could scare us,
we have proven that the descendants of Belleau Wood, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Chosin, Hue City &
We don’t scare
And we proved it in Fallujah & Ramadi and in the Helmand,
Where foes who had never reasoned their way into their medieval views and could not be
reasoned out – found that American Marines could fight like the dickens,
And for the enemy it proved to be their longest and worst day against us.
Now from a distance I look back on what the Corps taught me:
To think like men of action,
And to act like men of thought!
To live life with intensity,
And a passion for excellence,
Without losing compassion for mistakes made,
by hi-spirited young patriots who looked past hot political rhetoric and joined the Corps – which
taught me to be a “coach” in General LeJeune’s style,
Summoning the best from our troops
The Father to Son, Teacher to Scholar bond bringing out the vicious harmony when
together, we closed on the enemy.
We were taught that the strongest motivation we all have,
Whether an FA-18 pilot or a Huey door gunner
Whether a “cannon cocker” firing a mission or logistics Marine hurrying supplies
The motivation that binds us is our respect for and commitment to a 19 year old Lance Corporal
infantryman upon whose young shoulders our experiment called America ultimately rests….
Now this award can never be mine –
And because we are members of the same tribe,
every one of you knows what I will say next….
For I am grateful & humbled to be singled out with you tonight:
An average Marine who always had good fortune to repeatedly be in the right place at the right
A “limited duty officer” as Commandant of the Marine Corps Jim Jones put it – who only knew
what to do with me when there was a fight.
But this award is truly not made to a man, to an individual,
it is made through me
For my work with those who shouldered Rucksacks,
Work that was carried forward by our Grunts,
And I will hold it in trust for those lads whose unfailing loyalty we celebrate tonight, who chose
to live life fully – more than they wanted longevity. Even when I made mistakes they saved the
And I made plenty –
Like the time I got my Battalion surrounded in open dessert, with
My mortar Platoon spilling out and
Setting up 4 tubes pointing north, and 4 tubes pointing south and, they restored the
Yes, even in a jam of my own making –
The lads’ spirit, skill and good humor carried us through when danger loomed.
So on behalf of such lads
I hold this award in trust –
For the lads who prove Hemingway was right when he said, “There was no one better to have
beside you when the chips were down than a U.S. Marine.”
For to Marines, love of liberty is not an empty phrase… Rather it’s displayed by blood, sweat
and tears for the fallen. I was humbled that our Corps allowed me to serve over four decades,
Yet as Colonel John Glenn – a fighter pilot, astronaut and Senator put it –
It wasn’t long enough –
Semper Fidelis and May God hold our lads close.
The mother of fallen Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta is accusing a Washington Post reporter of “playing the race card” when interviewing her about accounts of her son’s heroic actions.
The accusation comes in the wake of a story by Ernesto Londono quoting Marines who say Peralta never covered a live grenade in Fallujah to save his comrades, as his Medal of Honor nomination attested. Two Marines in Peralta’s unit suggested the story of Peralta’s extraordinary heroism had been following his death, in light of the fact he was likely killed as a result of friendly fire, according to the story.
In the wake of that story, other Marines who served with Peralta have reaffirmed their account of events. One, Robert Reynolds, said he was in the grenade’s kill zone and owed his life to Peralta.
Peralta’s family is now firing back as well. Through family spokesman George Sabga, Rosa Peralta accused Londono of baiting her with questions about whether she believed Peralta was denied the medal because he was Hispanic, or Latino. Sabga also wrote that there was nothing new in accounts that Marines had been pressured to fabricate a story after Peralta’s death; this claim was made at the time of the 2005 command investigation, and the investigating officer found no evidence to support it.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., also penned a letter to the Post, challenging the story on a number of factual points.
“Each Marine in that room is entitled to their own truth,” he wrote in the letter, reviewed by Marine Corps Times. “That is something about combat that everyone must always respect–but the evidence does not lie. There is no protest that the eyewitness accounts have always differed, but to ignore the full body of evidence is unfortunate and fails to accurately describe the entire situation.”
A spokeswoman for the Washington Post told the Washington Times that the Post stands by its story.
Peralta was awarded the Navy Cross in 2008 for covering the a grenade to save fellow Marines, but he was recently denied the Medal of Honor for the third time. When Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced he would not reopen Peralta’s Medal of Honor case earlier this month, he said the higher award required “proof bey0nd a reasonable doubt.”
Questions about whether Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos illegally pressured subordinates to punish Marines shown urinating on Taliban corpses in a video may limit Amos’ ability to lead the Marine Corps for the remainder of his tenure, Foreign Policy is reporting.
Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, a respected general officer, has alleged that Amos made clear he wanted the Marines in the video thrown out of the Marine Corps — a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prevents a commander from interfering in legal proceedings, Foreign Policy reported in the Feb. 27 story. Amos recently recently told National Public Radio that he never said he wanted those Marines kicked out of the service, but one retired general officer defended Waldhauser.
“Tom Waldhauser does not lie,” retired Maj. Gen. Melvin Spiese told Foreign Policy. “I have found him an officer of character.”
The turmoil has some members of Congress questioning Amos’ ability to do his job, but lawmakers are unlikely to pursue the matter because Amos is set to retire in October, an unidentified Republican staffer told Foreign Policy.
“Amos runs the risk of being a lame duck, and that’s something that would be unique for a commandant,” Foreign Policy quoted the staffer as saying. “I think a lot of people look at this, and where they see smoke, there’s fire. At this point, a pattern has developed, and I think people wonder whether he can effectively lead the Marine Corps.”
The story was written by Dan Lamothe, a former Marine Corps Times reporter who recently joined Foreign Policy. Lamothe notes that Amos personally challenged him to attend infantry officer training at Quantico, Va., after Amos was angered by a Marine Corps Times story headline that read two female officers had “flunk[ed]” the training.
Amos still enjoys the support of current and retired general officers, Foreign Policy reported. His most prominent supporter is Medal of Honor recipient Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who wrote a personal blog on Feb. 13 defending Amos from what he feels are unfair attacks by the media.
Meyer has received some criticism for voicing his full support for Amos, but he told Foreign Policy that he could care less what those people think of him.
“If you’ve lost all respect for me for standing next to a man that I believe in with my whole heart and respect as a person and a leader, then I don’t want your respect anyways,” Meyer told Foreign Policy. “ I question whether you understand what the phrase ‘ Semper Fidelis’ really means.”
Meet the Ultra Heavy-lift Amphibious Connector, or UHAC, currently being developed by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab as a potential replacement for the Navy’s current ship-to-shore hovercraft. The photo above is just a half-scale model: a full-scale version will sit some 34 feet high and 84 feet long.
The secret behind this machine is foam tracks with captive air cells, which allow it to propel itself through the water at up to 20 knots, and then move onto land. Because it has a very low ground pressure footprint–about one pound per square inch–it can cross marsh land and mud flats easily. The tracks can also crawl up a sea wall up to ten feet high.
And the payload of the UHAC is huge: about three times that of the Marines’ current ship-to-shore craft, the Landing Craft Air Cushion.
We’ll have the whole story behind this high-tech watercraft in our next issue of Marine Corps Times on Monday. Stay tuned.
The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation has created a new scholarship to honor four explosive ordnance technicians killed during a November training accident at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and has pledged up to $30,000 for each of their seven children to help them pursue higher education.
Their children, now all under 10 years of age, will be eligible for aid to attend an accredited college or university as part of the foundation’s existing Heroes Tribute Scholarship Program for the Children of the Fallen, according to a foundation press release. The program provides dependents of those killed in the line of duty with money to deffer the cost of higher education.
To honor their fallen parents, however, the foundation has also created the the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marine Memorial Scholarship which will be awarded to one student beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year which typically kicks off in August. The foundation will officially announce the new scholarship Saturday at the annual Eagle, Globe and Anchor dinner in Pebble Beach, Calif.
The four Marine EOD technicians, Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Mullins, 31, of Bayou L’ourse, La., Staff Sgt. Eric Summers, 32, of Poplar Bluff, Mo., Staff Sgt. Mathew Marsh, 28, of Long Beach, Calif., and Sgt. Miguel Ortiz, 27, of Oceanside, Calif., were killed Nov. 13 during a range maintenance operation to dispose of unexploded ordnance. They were all decorated combat veterans with multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan under their belts. A Navy hospital corpsman and two other Marines standing nearby were treated at the scene and released, according a Marine news release.
The foundation is now accepting applications for the newly created EOD scholarship. All applications must be received by March 3, 2014. To be eligible, applicants must:
- Be the child of a Marine who received an honorable discharge or was killed while serving in the Corps.
- Be the child of Navy Corpsman who is serving or has served with a Marine unit and received an honorable discharge or was killed while serving in the Navy.
- Have a grade point average of at least 2.0.
- Meet income requirements.
- Plan to attend an accredited undergraduate college, university or vocational/technical institution in the upcoming academic year.
The scholarship foundation gives priority to children with a parent killed or wounded in action.
For additional details visit the foundation’s website.
Marine veteran Ricardo Peralta spoke out in defense of his brother’s legacy last night, saying Sgt. Rafael Peralta deserves the Medal of Honor regardless of the Defense Department decision.
Ricardo Peralta, who served a term in the Marine Corps after his brother was killed in Iraq in 2004, appeared on The Kelly File on Fox News in the wake of new accounts in a Washington Post story that allege Peralta never covered a live grenade with his body, as his Medal of Honor package claims. These reports came as Chuck Hagel became the third Secretary of Defense to turn Peralta down for the military’s highest award.
In the four-minute interview, Ricardo Peralta challenged the new accounts, which were made, he said, by three Marines who could not have seen what happened in his brother’s final moments. Two of them were outside the building; the other sustained shrapnel wounds to his backside.
“There was no was for him to have witnessed this himself when he was turned away,” Ricardo Peralta said.
The Peralta family has countered the Marines’ claims with letters questioning their veracity and challenging the integrity of the reporter who published them.
But at the end of the day, Ricardo Peralta told Kelly, Peralta’s legacy in the eyes of his family remains unchanged.
“We’ll always be proud to the fullest of him,” he said. “Whether they change their minds and give him the medal tomorrow, we’re proud to the fullest.”
Explosive new claims that challenge the truth of the accounts that made fallen Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta a candidate for the military’s highest honor are sending shock waves through the Marine Corps community, and some eyewitnesses are firing back.
The new accounts surfaced in a Washington Post report by Ernesto Londono, published as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday he would not be giving Peralta, who was killed during a house-clearing mission in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004, a third look for the Medal of Honor. In the report, two Marines who were with Peralta on his final mission say he did not sweep a live grenade under him, and that reports alleging that he did may have been intentionally fabricated after the fact.
Hannah Ferguson doesn’t just have two Marines as parents — her mom served as a drill instructor and her dad as a sniper.
Prospective dates asked her out at their own peril, according to Sports Illustrated.
Ferguson, 22, spent a lot of time hanging around her dad’s shop, and it was there where she was first exposed to a community she wanted to join. But that community didn’t involve dress blues or MARPAT. Ferguson wanted to show a bit more skin than that.
“My dad has Sports Illustrated calendars in his shop,” Ferguson told Reuters. “I would always flip through them and look at them and daydream about one day being able to do that. I never thought it would come true.”
This week, the Marines’ daughter from San Angelo, Texas, became one of a dozen women featured as the 2014 rookies in this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. It’s the magazine’s 50th anniversary edition of the iconic issue.
Ferguson, a model, now lives in New York with two of her sisters, according to Sports Illustrated. In her spare time, she likes to bake — and go to the gun range, Reuters reported.
Her parents, she said, have been really supportive.
“Some people have asked, ‘It is swimwear and you are showing a lot of skin. How do they feel about that?’ ” she told Reuters. “They are happy that I am chasing my dream.”
It’s not immediately clear, however, how they feel about Ferguson’s photos ending up in Marine Corps barracks or shops worldwide.
One of the Iraq War’s hardest hit units, which lost 22 Marines and a corpsman on a single deployment, is being commemorated by a temporary exhibit at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va.
The exhibit, which commemorates the dead of Columbus, Ohio-based Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines — known as “Lucky Lima” when it deployed to Iraq in 2005 — will be open to the public from Feb. 20 through March 3. It consists of oil paintings of each of the 23 casualties created by Columbus-based artist Anita Miller. Together they comprise a touring exhibit called The Eyes of Freedom. Each painting is accompanied by the Marines’ names, basic biographical information, a candle for each, boots and space for visitors to leave mementos, according to a museum press release.
The unit suffered a staggering string of deaths while operating near Haditha, Iraq. Its Marines went miraculously unscathed for the first few months of their deployment, but the unit suffered its first of many casualties when two Marines were killed on May 8 of that year by enemy fire. By the end of the month, seven more were dead. In July two more Marines and a Corpsman were killed in action. But the unit’s darkest day came on Aug. 3 when 11 Marines riding in an amphibious assault vehicle were killed in a roadside bomb attack.
When Lima returned to Ohio in October of 2005, the unit was greeted by a 20-mile parade route of cheering supporters.