Saturday, July 29, 2017

General John Kelly: Marine Eulogy

I had a fascinating conversation where the subject stated a position of respect for someone he has not met, via his words, found here.  

With Statement Analysis' incessant focus upon deception, and the overwhelming statements of politicians and narrative media, a change is welcome. 

As we view a statement, we may also discern strength of character, within sentences, and even possibly draw inspiration from such. 

For readers:  what do you make of his sentence structure?  

I have a personal bias here. I believe that military leaders, in general, should be considered for offices of leadership in society.  This was once almost a prerequisite for us as leadership tested in extreme circumstances will have its production.  

Here is General John Kelly's address:  

“Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour.

Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.

The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda. Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle-class white kid from Long Island.

They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple Americas exist simultaneously depending on one’s race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” “You clear?” I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way—perhaps 60-70 yards in length—and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically.
Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.
Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.
When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different. Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat. We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different.
The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event—just Iraqi police. I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.
I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.
All survived. Many were injured … some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”
What he didn’t know until then, he said, and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal. Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.”
“No sane man.”
“They saved us all.”
What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.
You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “…let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”


Anonymous said...

He says "these two young infantrymen ... saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms". But he doesn't they stopped the truck; only that "the truck stopped just short of where the two were posted". But the final paragraph reveals this was for dramatic effect.

John mcgowan said...

Linguistically it flows of the page. I didn't get that uh oh feeling.
But, for me, the most important thing is that out of 993 words, he uses the pronoun "I" just 10 times and "myself" once. His focus is not on him, ("I") but the men he is eulogising.

John mcgowan said...


General P. Malaise said...

I have heard this story told before. It was presented slightly differently but had most of the same details.

I agree with Peter that there should be a military background in a good politician (good and politician shouldn't be used together).

There are still many bad politicians with military backgrounds. John Kerry and John McStain come to mind.

A large problem with military, especially the flag officer rank is that the system is politicized and the best often don't make it anywhere near the rank of General.

habundia said...

Is this man being honest?
He doesnt sound upset at all for a loving husband whos wife is disappeared for 4 months.
Only two suitcase are missing, she didnt take anything further (yeah money he says she took that was in the home), her keys were laying at the front door, no phone taken, no banking cards. Left her dogs behind.
She asked him to go get fish at market, he came back 2 hours later and she was gone. It sound suspicious to me.
He didnt call police for couple days. He works as a truck driver and went working after she was missing.

rob said...

Marines like these two are why are country is great. I teared up just reading this account. I knew that one of those two could have been my dad, husband, son.
God bless the USA

Peter Hyatt said...


I believe that leadership in military is a prerequisite for leadership in politics. Self sacrifice is not in our politicians' lexicon today.

There are always exceptions, but in a larger picture with more pols and more time, I think it speaks to leadership in so many ways.

Pols today use self interest in a magnitude that trades short term gain even for the destruction of their own country.


Peter Hyatt said...

Anonymous said...
He says "these two young infantrymen ... saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms". But he doesn't they stopped the truck; only that "the truck stopped just short of where the two were posted". But the final paragraph reveals this was for dramatic effect.
July 29, 2017 at 9:03 PM

consider context.


Anonymous said...

You counted WRONG.Its 994!!!!

habundia said...

Nice to see you take this blog serious and those that want to learn too.

Dave Jones said...

Does Donald Trump's time at NYMA count? I mean, it's a prep school, but it is a military school.

BTW, I concur. The military does build character and instill leadership.