I have had the privilege of developing a relationship with them over the past 4 years and they have really taken me under their wing. I love working with warriors; it doesn't matter the branch of service, but Marines are special to me. This group of old warriors taught me the customs and traditions of the Corps. They taught me their values and their legacy. Most importantly, they trusted me with their stories.
These are the stories I hold dear to my heart. One man fought in the naval campaigns around Guam in WWII. He said that he is getting to the age where he worries that no one will remember what they did there. I told him he could tell me his story, and I would remember. He has, and I do.
The group of Vets that I spent the Birthday with are individually remarkable. Together, they tell the collective history of the Corps. From D, who is a veteran of the Pacific island-hopping campaign of World War II, to C, my personal hero and one of the Chosin Few- who had a bullet graze the top of his head on his 17th birthday- and who later served 3 tours in Vietnam as a Recon Marine, to B, a Vietnam vet with more than a few pages in his service record that remain blacked out, to L, who served in the Desert Storm, and our new, young vets of the GWOT...
Each one of these men are heroes. They will resist the label if you try to attach it to them, but it is the truth. Despite their accomplishments, they are humble. They are the kindest, most compassionate, most loyal, most honorable, most decent group of men I have ever met.
I am proud to call them friends. I am proud to receive their hugs and listen to their stories.
I am thankful that such men live.