We are just back from the Marine Base at Kaneohe Bay, about 15 miles outside Honolulu, where, as I reported a few days ago, we had the rare pleasure of participating in a welcoming ceremony for an advance team of about 100 Marines returning from Camp Fallujah in Iraq. I really think that more Americans should have the chance to witness this scene. The first ten Marines off the plane raced to embrace their newborn children for the first time. The Marine band played “Pretty Little Woman.” Handmade banners along the lines of “Welcome Home Staff Sargeant Bilko, a.k.a. our dad, We Love You.” Yells of delight, tears of joy, flags, balloons…unforgettable.
All of which prompts me to pass on this cool Valentine’s Day thought, sent to me by a friend who works at Marine HQ in Washington:
The wonderful love of a beautiful maid,
The love of a staunch true man,
The love of a baby, unafraid,
Have existed since time began.
But the greatest of loves, The quintessence of loves,
Even greater than that of a mother,
Is the tender, passionate, infinite love,
Of one drunken Marine for another.
Written by a great warrior: General Louis H. Wilson, who won the Medal of Honor for his heroics in the Second World War, and went on to become the Commandant of the Marine Corps in the second half of the 1970s.
Here’s the Medal of Honor citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
CAPTAIN LOUIS H. WILSON, JR.
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of Company F, Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Fonte Hill, Guam, Marianas Islands, 25 and 26 July 1944. Ordered to take that portion of the hill within his zone of action, Captain Wilson initiated his attack in midafternoon, pushed up the rugged, open terrain against terrific machine-gun and rifle fire for 300 yards and successfully captured the objective. Promptly assuming command of other disorganized units and motorized equipment in addition to his own company and one reinforcing platoon, he organized his night defenses in the face of continuous hostile fire and, although wounded three times during this five-hour period, completed his disposition of men and guns before retiring to the company command post for medical attention. Shortly thereafter, when the enemy launched the first of a series of savage counterattacks lasting all night, he voluntarily rejoined his besieged units and repeatedly exposed himself to the merciless hail of shrapnel and bullets, dashing fifty yards into the open on one occasion to rescue a wounded Marine lying helpless beyond the front lines. Fighting fiercely in hand-to-hand encounters, he led his men in furiously waged battle for approximately ten hours, tenaciously holding his line and repelling the fanatically renewed counterthrusts until he succeeded in crushing the last efforts of the hard-pressed Japanese early the following morning. Then, organizing a seventeen-man patrol, he immediately advanced upon a strategic slope essential to the security of his position and, boldly defying intense mortar, machine-gun and rifle fire which struck down thirteen of his men, drove relentlessly forward with the remnants of his patrol to seize the vital ground. By his indomitable leadership, daring combat tactics and dauntless valor in the face of overwhelming odds, Captain Wilson succeeded in capturing and holding the strategic high ground in his regimental sector, thereby contributing essentially to the success of his regimental mission and to the annihilation of 350 Japanese troops. His inspiring conduct throughout the critical periods of this decisive action enhanced and sustained the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
/S/ HARRY S. TRUMAN
He then was sent to a hospital where he spent several months recovering from his injuries. Wow.