By Dale R. Suiter STAFF WRITER
Burke Davis writing in “Marine,” a biography of Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty Puller,” quotes the general as saying: “Our country won’t go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won’t be any America because some foreign soldiery will invade us and take our women and breed a hardier race.” (General Puller was awarded five (5) Navy Crosses during his service to the United States of America.)
General Puller is quoted as saying too: “…in battle you can’t will the enemy to do anything” and “you can’t hurt em if you don’t hit em.” Mr. Davis’ biography of Gen. Puller is an excellent description of a Marine Officer from 2Lt. to flag rank. At the opposite end, Robert Leckie’s “Helmet for My Pillow” describes the Marine Rifleman at the squad level. General Puller believed in Officers being on the line with their men. Robert Leckie learned that the enemy must be killed, destroyed, not allowed to live. Our military still has men like Gen. Puller and Robert Leckie.
Readers take a (film) look into the life of the line grunt. The film Outpost Restrepo gives an excellent description of how the infantry lives and exists in an exposed position. Few Americans ever experience the life of the line grunt. Outpost Restrepo gives civlians and REMF’s the opportunity to view grunts from a safe, confortable location. The men of this infantry platoon have a few high tech pieces of equipement. They function in an exposed poistion like grunts always have – on the edge. The billions of dollars in our defense budget – in the end comes down to a few men with rifles and machine guns facing other men with rifles and machine guns. Men that conquer and control their fear. They are ordinary men. Everyday guys fight wars – not the hero types of Hollywood. They are not the politically correct types found in confortable and safe headquaters. They are riflemen – a breed apart.
As long as America has men like those deplicted in Outpost Restrepo we will survive and General Puller’s caution about a foreign soldiery will not come to pass. Unmanned aircraft, aircraft carriers, missles, high tech aircraft, speeches are part of an overall defense posture. Closing with and killing the enemy is – in the final anayalisis of military life and operations – all the really counts. Want to look into the life of the grunt without having to really experience it, read Marine by Burke and Helmet for My Pillow by Leckie. Fire in Streets by Hammel gives an excellent description of the grunts life in Vietnam during Tet 68. Of course, “We were Soldiers Once and Young” is a must read to for the civilian wanting a look into our life.
Had General Puller made his comment noted above today – well, imagine the political firestorm this distinguised Officer would be subjected to. Remember folks: “In battle you can’t will the enemy to do anything.” Check out Outpost Restrepo. It is an excellent production.
Dale R. Suiter
Dale R. Suiter served in the United States Marine Corps June 1966 – February – 1970. He served with Ammo Company First FSR, 2nd CAG Q-6 and Q-3, H&S 81’s 3/9 and 1/3. His service “On the Rock” was with Ordanance Schools, Camp Hansen. Following the Marine Corp, he completed a career in public service – prison and jail operations. In addition, he completed a career as a reserve officer with the Michigan Army National Guard. His two sons and two sons-in-law are veterans of the war on terror. The family continues in service to the United States of America.