Marines.Together We Served

Monday, October 24, 2016

Up With Life

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
24 October 2016

Up With Life

The election for the next president of the United States is in two weeks. The outcome is being announced already in the mainstream media. They are gushing over a Hillary victory. The polls are supposedly providing the necessary support for such an expected outcome. Hogwash!

In our nation’s history, we have had a number of surprise or unexpected results. A classic is the 1948 Thomas Dewey/Harry Truman election night results. The Chicago Daily Tribune (later changed to the Chicago Tribune) made an egregious faux-pas by prematurely announcing that New York governor Thomas Dewey, a republican, had won the election. The words, “Dewey Defeats Truman” were emblazoned across the top fold of the paper’s early edition. Why was this mistake made? Two reasons: 1. The early results of the race seemed to favor a clear victory for Dewey, and 2. The Tribune had recently begun to use a new form of newspaper type which required that they beginning the process of printing the first edition a few hours earlier than had been required previously. Some 150,000 copies were distributed before the actual results were confirmed with Truman the clear runaway winner.

It was no secret at the time that the Chicago paper was Republican-leaning in its handling of political news. They had referred to Truman as a “nincompoop” and Truman was no fan of the paper either. When Truman saw the paper the day after the election he was elated, holding up the erroneous headline for the press corps that was following him. The now famous picture of a smilingly victorious Truman with paper in hand is part of American history. Adding insult to injury, the Chicago Daily Tribune had also announced that the Republicans would hold onto the seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Neither turned out to be true.

So, pardon me if I don’t get too worked up over polls, papers, politicos and pundits ballyhooing election results before the election has even taken place. This is especially true since the Democrats seem to have control over a political machine that can dictate what it desires. Fair and balanced, they are not.

Let’s remember something at this point. Because the political system is broken beyond repair, at least within the DC Beltway, Americans have become increasingly distrusting of anything coming out of our nation’s capitol. Consider the rapid rise and popularity of the Republican-leaning FOX News network. Many Americans are conservative in their outlook both politically and socially. Because of the apparent bias in the rest of the media, many Americans who care very much about the state of affairs in our country feel they no longer have a voice. Many of those have dropped out of being involved to the point of no longer believing that it matters. The game is rigged.

Yet along comes a person who is not part of the political system, and who is not a politician, and is saying many of the things that the disenfranchised electorate has been feeling for a very long time. Are they factored into the polls? I don’t know. What I do know is this: It ain’t over till it’s over.

A segment in the third and final presidential debate last week crystalized my position as to who I would vote for on November 8th. The question of abortion came up in which Hillary Clinton stated clearly that she was all about protecting women’s rights, going so far as to say it was okay to abort a baby as late as the third trimester, even during the ninth month. Donald Trump came out strongly against this heinous, dreadful, inhumane practice that has plagued our nation for the last 43 years. Even in the 1973 Roe v Wade landmark decision made by the United States Supreme Court didn’t go as far as Hillary would like to go, legalizing the aborting of a baby only in the first two trimesters.

Some may cry that I am setting up a litmus test for who I would vote for in the presidential election. And you know what? That would be exactly right.

You see, for us as a nation to wantonly destroy the life of a baby in the womb of its mother is still, for me, after all these decades, too horrific an injustice to ever become acceptable. In the last nine years my wife and I have been blessed with three precious grandchildren. We were present for the birth of all of them. I look into their faces and I see the face of God. Each one is a miracle, handcrafted by a loving Creator. My heart thrills at them being alive and part of our family. To think that they would no longer be a part of our lives brings such a heaviness in my soul that I am reduced to the depths of sorrow.

I have said it many times during my years of counseling, and simply sharing with people, that if a woman is contemplating an abortion, I would plead with them to carry this baby to full term at which point I would assume full responsibility for the child regardless of the baby’s health, and absolving the mother (and father) of any and all responsibilities. I still hold this position. As a Christian, I can do nothing less than this.

Donald Trump is for protecting the unborn and giving them a chance at life. Hillary is not. That makes my presidential decision very simple.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Political Folderol

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
17 October 2016

Political Folderol

Every election cycle brings out the same old hackneyed accusations and “gotcha!” revelations by each candidate about their opponent. And now that we’re in the final few weeks of the 2016 presidential election, each candidate and their nudniks are using the most broad-brushed black paint in characterizing their political opponent.

I’m sure looking forward to this childish nonsense to end. Then maybe my email Inbox can return to some semblance of normality. Can I get an “Amen”?

So then, what are we the American people to do with two candidates that have the lowest approval level in history (or so it is reported)? One simple answer: VOTE! Set aside the personal quirks, oddities, blunders and foolishness of both Clinton and Trump, and engage in some due diligence by studying the pressing issues that confront our nation right now. Who is most likely to handle these challenges?

1.   National Debt – Our nation is rocketing toward an indebtedness that is unthinkable. We are nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt, doubling in the past eight years. It is clear to “We the People” that Congress and the President do not know how to properly use the monies obtained from us, the American taxpayers. So, which of the two candidates is most likely to stop the hemorrhaging of out-of-control spending by our elected representatives?

2.   Military Readiness – It is reported that our military has been weakened to the point that we are as unprepared to handle the exigencies of world-wide threats today as we were in the late 1930s leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor which, ready-or-not (and we were definitely NOT), launched us into World War Two. Just this week missiles have been wantonly launched numerous times against our Navy warships off the coast of Somalia. Benghazi and Syria also come to mind. There’s a robust Communist China and a bellicose Russia, to boot. So, which candidate will have the steely resolve to stand against the world’s bullies?

3.   Loss of Jobs – Over the past number of years the unemployment rate has been toyed with by the current administration to make it appear as though the unemployment rate has gone down. The truth is voodoo economics. Whole categories of people are used or ignored to “fudge” the numbers. Large companies and corporations are either moving to “business-friendly” states, or relocating outside of the United States in an attempt to reduce the costs of doing business. Which candidate is more likely to turn this behemoth problem around by creating an environment where businesses can once again thrive?

4.   National Security – The alarming rate of people from around the world who are crossing our borders illegally is appalling. Americans who live along the Rio Grande River are watching people simply walk across into the United States. Many of these Americans are assaulted and terrorized by these illegals. Our Border patrol is woefully undermanned and incapable of putting a stop to this abuse of our national borders. Again, which candidate is most likely to take the necessary steps to stem this flow of illegals into our country?

5.   Threat of ISIS – Any number of Islamic groups, ISIS being the “threat du jour”, are targeting our country for take-over. It is the intent of Islam to subjugate all peoples under the banner of Islam. So if they can neutralize America and its power against them, the rest of the world should be much easier to conquer. Even a cursory study of Islam will enlighten you as to the projected goals of world dominance by this far from benign religion. Islam has been attacking the United States aggressively since 1968 with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan. Which of the two presidential hopefuls will have the courage to go against the conventional thinking that wants to believe that Islam is a religion of peace and take aggressive action against this murderous threat to our nation?

6.   Constitutional Anemia – The very core of our nation, and the basis upon which all laws and policies derive is the Constitution. This singular document, lovingly crafted by men who had never before experienced the freedoms they hoped for the rest of us, and under the guiding hand of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, is now under serious threat of being weakened by those who have chosen to give variant interpretations to its meaning and purpose, specifically the first, second and fourth amendments. Which of the candidates is most likely to honor the Constitution and uphold its rightful place in governing our nation?

It would be easy to list many more issues that we Americans must face
under a new administration, but you get the idea.

          The beauty of our country and its laws and form of governance is that “We the People” get to choose by election in the ballot box the person we want to lead us into the future. Study the issues. Get to know more about your candidate. And then cast your vote.

          The Bible declares, “What is impossible with man, is possible with God.” This is why we can still pray and expect God to bless America.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Who Will Win?

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
10 October 2016

Who Will Win?

So here we are – down to the last four weeks before election day. The second of the three presidential debates is mercifully over. Who will win the election? Who knows?

Right after the debate last night between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump my email inbox received a rush from various politicos and pundits asking the question: Who won the debate? Then the follow-up TV news analysts had a field-day critiquing each candidate and their performance. Sycophants from both parties loudly and unabashedly proclaimed that their candidate won. It’s at this point in the evening when I feel like it’s time for a cookie and a glass of milk before the slumbering embrace of my bed enfolds me.

So who won the debate? Actually, the American people won. The Constitution of the United States won. And freedom and liberty are still intact in America.

I was bemused by some of the news commentators who said there were angry exchanges between the candidates. I looked at my wife and said, “Did you see any angry exchanges between Hillary and Donald?” She said no, and was as befuddled as I was, especially after they replayed one of the supposed “angry” exchanges. It was truly laughable. It wasn’t exactly Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but angry it was not!

As I have written in this column before, I am not and never would be a supporter of Hillary Clinton. My reasons for this are too many to recount in this column. But the most damning reason for not even considering her is summed up in one word for me: Benghazi. She and President Obama made the unconscionable choice four years ago to leave our ambassador, his aide, and two former Navy SEALs to die unnecessarily at the hands of Muslim fanatics. Then she lied about it to the families and the American people, claiming that some movie about Islam inflamed these nut-jobs to seek vengeance on Americans. Furthermore, Hillary stated a number of years ago that she was named for the great New Zealand adventurer, Sir Edmund Hillary, famous for having climbed Mount Everest in 1953. Before that he was unknown. And when was Hillary born? 1947! If she lies about her given name, what won’t she lie about?

When it comes to Donald Trump, I find him to be obnoxious in a number of ways. First, he’s a bully in the manner in which he addresses those he disagrees with. The debates between the Republican presidential hopefuls last year are a good example of this bullying tactic on display. Second, “The Donald” is often boorish in his manner, voicing his thoughts without a check system in place before he blurts out something offensive and ill-advised. He also belittles others for no other reason than he can. Third, he is a cad, meaning he has been accused of behaving in dishonorable or irresponsible ways toward women. Of the 17 Republicans in the race for the nomination, Trump was near the bottom, if not the bottom, of my list. His attacks on Senator John McCain’s war record, declaring that he is not a hero, were over the top.

So, where does all this leave me as a voter? Frustrated, mostly.

Some might not vote at all because they do not like either one. This would be foolish because one of these two candidates will be the next president of the United States. Yes, I know there are some other candidates, but let’s be honest – they have no chance of being elected. Not voting is not an option for me.

I will vote for the next president of the United States. I have never missed an opportunity to vote, beginning with my first presidential election when I voted absentee while serving as a Marine in Vietnam in 1972.

Because I am a Christian I would not be able to vote for any Democrat. Why? Because I remember in the last election cycle that the Democrats ruled God out of their platform. It was breathtaking to watch the vote as the chair asked for a voice vote on whether to keep the name of God in their platform. The Nays totally overwhelmed the Yeas. On top of that, the Democrats have embraced socialism which is antithetical to the Constitution and our freedoms.

The bottom line for me is this – I will vote for Donald Trump for several reasons. First, the Republican Party stated beliefs most closely align with my own. Second, the next president will be selecting several Supreme Court Justices which will have a significant impact as to whether the Constitution is upheld as the Law of the Land, or will be diluted with a mixture of socialism and Sharia Law. Third, Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with quality people whom I respect. It is my fervent prayer that he will act on their counsel. Last, though he is “rough around the edges”, I can live with that. He has never professed to be a Sunday school teacher. Nor is that what I’m looking for in someone who is to lead our nation into the future.

Above all of this, I have a firm belief that God is going to see his plans accomplished. A cursory view of the Bible reveals that God is always at work in the affairs of man, especially in our darkest hours. Moses had a real problem with his temper, to such an extent that he was denied the privilege of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. David lusted after another man’s wife, committing adultery, and then murder. Because of this he and his family were denied rule over Israel, plunging the country into a succession of despicable characters as their rulers. The list could go on, but you get the idea. God even used rulers of other nations who frequently spurned the Jewish beliefs, yet God worked through them anyway.

This election may not turn out to my liking, but I rest in the assurance that God knows exactly what is going on. In the final analysis, I will stand with God. You see, I’ve read to the end of the Bible. And God wins!

Monday, October 03, 2016

America - Land of Opportunity

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
03 October 2016

America – Land of Opportunity

At first it all seemed to be much ado about nothing. But it seems to have gained a life of its own.

The Kaepernick kerfuffle has developed a following of sorts in the wake of this particular football player’s choice to not honor the American flag during the playing of the national anthem a few weeks back at the start of an NFL game.

Since then other NFL players have decided to join in this protest against the injustices within the American system of governance. It has now trickled down to colleges and high schools where entire teams kneel in silent protest against a country that gives them the right to protest at all. Try that in Saudi Arabia. Or Iran. Or anywhere else. You’ll either be laughed at or killed. Only in America is such a protest not only allowed, but it is taken seriously because we are a freedom loving people.

There has been much ink used and words dithered on the airwaves in attacking or defending this protest, with the focus often citing the disrespect this protest has shown toward those who have fought for our freedoms. It’s true that many Americans have laid down their lives for this nation. For that fact alone should cause every American to be thankful. But it is also true that only about two percent of today’s Americans have served in the military. And I would dare say that those same Americans who volunteered to serve in our military would be quick to defend anyone’s right to protest, even if they disagreed.

To me there is a much bigger picture that is troubling. If you will, allow me to build my argument by stating the obvious so as to be better understood. First of all, I am an American. Being an American has nothing to do with race, creed, religion, gender, ethnicity or any other term used to identify a person. To be an American does not mean you were born in the United States. Nor does it mean one or both of your parents are American. Being an American is about dreams, opportunity, hope, freedom. Being an American means I embody all these concepts in me. In my many travels around this world I have experienced the best and the worst from people as an American. Most people are very excited to have the opportunity to speak with an American. Why? Because of our freedoms and liberties. Few nations in the world’s history can even point to a time when such an experience existed in their nation. It is a truly a far-off concept.

Secondly, I have an alarming concern for what is taught, and not taught, through our educational system today. When school children do not have a clear understanding of our nation’s history, I’m concerned. How much is taught about George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? Benjamin Franklin? Abraham Lincoln? What do these young people know about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution (and its Preamble), the Declaration of Independence, the Mayflower Compact?

You see, when I hear about protests such as Mr. Kaepernick has engaged in, or any other group that has a beef against this country, then it tells me there is a missing piece, a component of their education that that is lacking that has done them a disservice. Or else, they simply have chosen not to embrace the concept of what it means to be an American.

The book, The Ugly American, came out in 1958. My family and I moved to Europe in the summer of 1960. So as a twelve-year-old I was very much aware of this book and its ramifications. Living in the outskirts of Paris, I found myself attending a French school for international students. I remember making a clear decision that I was going to be the best reflection of America and its values and beliefs as was possible. The following year we moved to Oslo, Norway where I continued my goal of being the best American that I could be. Later on while in the Marine Corps, and later in the Navy, I still maintained this focus of representing myself as an ambassador for the ideals of America.

Lastly, when the flag is flown and the national anthem is sung, I stand proudly because the stars and stripes represent the best of America. During our 240-year history, people from all over the world have attempted to come to America because of our freedoms, liberties, and individual opportunities. Many have experienced this for themselves. Many others have died in the process of coming to America.

The Miami Marlins baseball team experienced a tragic loss recently. Their 24-year-old pitcher and rising star, Jose Fernandez, was tragically killed in a boating accident. He and his family apparently made three attempts to leave Cuba for the United States. Each time they failed, Jose was jailed by Cuban authorities. He finally succeeded on the fourth try in 2008. In that last attempt, Jose’s mother fell overboard in rough water, whereupon Jose dove in, rescuing his mother from drowning. Here in the United States of America in 2011 he signed a $2 million signing bonus with the Marlins when he was 19-years old.

My wife was born and raised on the island of San Miguel, the Azores, Portugal. She and her parents and four siblings immigrated to the U.S. in 1966. From the outset, Isaura loved America. It took her several years to gain her citizenship, but in her heart she was an American from the moment she set foot in this great land of opportunity.

For the entirety of our nation’s history we have been chipping away at those troublesome concerns that plague our nation, and we will continue to do so. But there is no other country on earth that allows the individual to excel and succeed as does the United States.

I love this land! And I’m proud to be an American! God bless America!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Echoes of Boot Camp - Random Experiences

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
26 September 2016

Echoes of Boot Camp Random Experiences

This will be my final article for this series on my experiences in Marine Corps boot camp, nearly fifty years ago.

With the presidential election only a few weeks away, I will have a few things I want to share on that four-year event in the next several articles.

Since I began these boot camp stories, I've had a number of fellow Marines, both those I have served with and some I've come to know in later years, tell me that I make boot camp sound like fun. That certainly was not my intent, nor is the experience "fun" in the sense that makes a person say, "Wow! That was fun! Let's do it again!" like a ride at an amusement park. I think I speak for most Marines when I say that I'm proud to have endured boot camp, earning the title of United States Marine. But, I would never want to go through that training again!

Last week's article was focused on our two weeks at the rifle range. One of the stories that emerges from my memory bank was when the drill instructors informed us that we were going to have a "Hog Contest". Any recruit who wished to do so could place a picture of his girlfriend/wife on the board to see if she might be selected as the best looking “hog”. I don't know just how many pictures were submitted, but it was a lot. As our time at the range drew to a close, we were allowed to pick our favorite "hog". This was certainly not a very complimentary term, but the idea was for all of us to decide who of the fair damsels was the most attractive. As it turned out, my girlfriend was chosen, although I'm not sure I ever revealed that to her. And, no, it was not Isaura. I would not meet Isaura for another five years or so. I will say this: that had it been Isaura, she would have won, hands down.

One of the recruits in our platoon had to have been one of the homeliest guys around. So when he put his girlfriend's picture up on the board everyone was curious to see what she looked like. It was frightening, really. We didn't know whether to laugh or cry. We just figured they were cousins.

Well, as the time on the range was running out, some of us (Joe Harden and Larry McEntire come to mind) took this girl's picture off the board, and snuck it down to the rifle range. Since part of our time learning to shoot included "manning the butts", we took our turn hidden below the targets, running up scores and changing target sheets. When our buddy's turn to fire came up we taped his girlfriend's picture in the center of the target. We're firing from several hundred yards away, so you can't see a wallet-sized photo. We waited in anticipation to see if he'd make a direct hit on his girlfriend's image. Then, "Pop!" Sure enough - dead center on the picture. We found this to be hilariously funny, although I will admit it was mean and unkind. When he found out later what had happened, he was, shall we say, none too pleased.

During our final physical fitness test, three of us from the entire series (four platoons - better than 200 men) scored a perfect 400 points on the first four events going into the fifth and final event. Now, this was going to be a problem for me because I've never been a fast runner, and this event was a sprint. The three of us were all from the same platoon, so our drill instructors were really excited about our chances of at least one of us possibly scoring a perfect 500 points. So they took the three of us aside to give us a pep talk, or at least the equivalent of one as much as a drill instructor could give. I don't remember the distance of the sprint, but I think it was 220 yards. To score 100 points meant you ran under 30 seconds. I knew there was no way on God's green earth I could run that fast. The other guys mumbled the same sentiments. When we lined up I was determined to run as hard as I could. When the gun went off I started pumping my knees, feeling as though I was flying on the track. Then I realized I was pushing so hard that I might fall flat on my face. I even wobbled a bit, which scared me just a little. None of this mattered because I came in at 41 seconds, well off the 100 points needed for a perfect score. The other two guys came in at 35 and 37 seconds, as I recall. I was just glad I didn't wind up face-first sprawled on the dirt track!

Our platoon was highest in scoring on everything throughout boot camp. When we marched toward the drill deck for graduation, our guidon was festooned with streamers. It was a proud moment for us all. Family and friends had come to San Diego to witness this transformation of boys to men and we sure puffed out our chests. However, I almost didn’t get to march with the platoon. During boot camp the drill instructors are allowed to meritoriously promote 10 percent of the recruits. That worked out to five or six of us, of which I was one. I was a squad leader, had scored very high in physical fitness and was high shooter for the platoon. So I had to turn my uniform in to have PFC (Private First Class) stripes sown on in time for graduation. Unfortunately, mine did not get done in time. The drill instructors deliberated over my being allowed to march with the platoon. My green blouse jacket for the Class A uniform did not have the stripes, but my long-sleeved shirt that goes with the jacket did. Eventually, the drill instructors agreed to allow me to march with the platoon wearing just the shirt. I stood out, marching at the front of the platoon leading my squad with my light, khaki-colored shirt while everyone else was in the dark green blouse jacket.

It was great to have my sister Joy, and my folks and grandmother come from L.A. for the graduation. But in a few days we would begin Infantry Training at Camp Pendleton. And that’s another set of stories for another time!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Echoes of Boot Camp - Rifle Range

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
19 September 2016

Echoes of Boot Camp Rifle Range

The rifle is the pièce de résistance for every Marine recruit. This two-week training evolution, which occurs at about the half-way point of boot camp, is critical. Why is it critical, you ask? Because Marines are known for their rifle marksmanship. To fall short at this point leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those who fail to make the grade, or what we call, qualify.
Every Marine memorizes The Rifleman’s Creed which was first implemented in World War II by Major General William H. Rupertus. It is also known as My Rifle, or The Creed of the United States Marine. This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.” It goes on like this for several more paragraphs, concluding with this final sentence: “So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!”
Prior to my platoon’s time on the rifle range, we were taught how the rifle basically works, which includes knowing every part of the weapon. In 1969 the rifle used by the Marine Corps was the M14. Prior to the M14 rifle, the M1 Garand was used. In 1965 when the Marines changed to the M14. In 1970, the M14 was replaced by the M16 which is still in use today but with updated versions and variations. Today, the M4 Carbine seems to be gaining in prominence over the M16. Regardless of the type of rifle, Marines are expected to learn to shoot the rifle and hit their target.
Along with knowing everything about your rifle, you must take exquisite care of it. Cleaning your rifle is akin to a religious experience. In a combat situation dirt and other foul stuff can interfere with the performance of your weapon. If your rifle jams or for some reason fails to operate properly you will need to correct the problem at that moment. Your life and the lives of those around you may depend on it. This is why every recruit must learn to completely disassemble and reassemble his rifle. Once he has shown his ability to take his rifle apart to the drill instructor’s satisfaction, the room is darkened and we are blind-folded. This is the crucial test. We must once again disassemble the rifle and reassemble it satisfactorily. Why is this necessary? Because in a combat situation you may be slugging it out with the enemy in the darkness of night, or when rockets and mortars are kicking up large clouds of dirt and debris and smoke. If your rifle jams you’d better be able to clear it and get back in the fight in a hurry. You do not have the luxury of calling “time out” while you fix your rifle!
The rifle range for recruits at MCRD San Diego is located at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Known as Edson Range, our platoon made the 35-mile drive to the range where we would spend the next two weeks. Merritt Austin Edson, known as “Red Mike”, joined the Marine Corps in 1917 and retired in 1947. During WWII he was assigned as the commanding officer of the vaunted Marine Raiders. Edson was awarded the Medal of Honor, along with numerous other medals throughout his illustrious career.
Our first day at Edson Range basically consisted of settling into our new barracks and receiving a “welcoming talk” from our drill instructors. The barracks area is located close to Highway 5 which leads north to Los Angeles. The drill instructors informed us of this, suggesting that even though we could scale the fence and be in LA fairly quickly, we are half-way through boot camp, so why quit now? Though we were anxious to be done, and we longed to be free from the rigors of training, no one made the attempt.
The first week there is called “snapping in”. We would spend hours encircled around large cylinders painted with target figures that we would later see once we began live shooting on the range. Lying prone, sitting, or standing were all positions we had to learn in the process of shooting our rifle. We would aim at the diminutive targets on the cylinders and become familiar with holding our position. After a week of this we were very anxious to actually get to fire live rounds on the range!
Physical training did not stop while we were at the range. Three-mile runs were part of our daily regimen. Also, climbing the 30-foot rope was a favorite, along with push-ups, pull-ups, bend-and-thrusts, and a wide variety of exercises the drill instructors had in store for us.
When our second week began, known as “qual week”, meaning we were going to fire live rounds all week with a final day where we would be shooting to qualify. The center of the bull’s eye was ten points, with concentric rings moving out from the center in decreasing value (9, 8, 7, etc.). There are four categories within which a recruit can attempt to qualify: Expert, Sharpshooter, Marksman, and Unq. Everyone wants to shoot expert, but it’s not as easy as it appears. The range is very near the Pacific Ocean so we have winds blowing at times where the shooter must adjust his windage device on the rifle to counter the turbulence of the wind. You’re shooting from three positions: Standing position from the 200-yard line; Sitting from the 300-yard line; and Prone from the 500-yard line. All three positions are added up for your final score. A score of 220-250 points is expert. 210-219 is sharpshooter. And 200-209 is Marksman. To fail to score 200 or better means you acquired the dubious distinction of Unq, which means you failed to qualify, or as we would say, “you went unq”. A few always do, but it’s hard on any Marine who does so. Shooting badges are issued to those who scored between Marksman and Expert. They are proudly worn on the uniform.
Though I had not been shooting particularly well all week, on qual day I managed to get a good score. I fired expert, and was the high shooter for my platoon. Later in my career I would qualify expert with the 9mm pistol.
Next week I’ll share some final stories, mostly about Christmas in boot camp!

Psalm for the Day