November 10, 2014 marks the US Marine Corps’ 239th birthday. It has many more years of history than the 40 I’ve spent as a Marine wife, but the events and my observation during the last 40 years are extremely telling in what makes up a Marine.
In the ‘70s, my husband at the time—an active duty Marine—was assigned to a USMC training facility for reserves in Phoenix. He was accosted and spat at by Vietnam war protesters while we shopped at a local mall.
In the ‘80s, I watched horrific news reports of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut. It was strongly suggested afterwards that all Marines (especially those overseas) not wear the traditional “high & tight” haircut because it made them too recognizable, even out of uniform, and possible/probable further targets for terrorists. The Marines I knew followed the guidelines, but privately voiced their objections.
In the ‘90s, I watched as my husband agonized over putting his Marine kids on planes bound for Kuwait. His own bag was packed and stashed by our front door, while he constantly wondered when his own orders would come through—and on the other hand, why the delay. Meanwhile, legal services worked overtime ensuring that every Marine had a current will and power-of-attorney “just in case.” Harvey ultimately was sent to El Paso instead—much to his dismay!
Also in the ‘90s, bases closed and personnel numbers diminished due to political maneuvering and government cuts. All the while, Marines were called on—time and time again—to fight for and protect our freedoms and safety throughout the world.
Harvey retired from active duty in late summer of 1991. His status changed to inactive reserve, meaning that he could be called back into active service should the need arise for a period of 10 years.
Just two weeks after he received his Certificate of Full Retirement, I saw the first news reports at work and called home to tell him to turn on the TV. The date was 9/11/2001. The first words out of his mouth were, “goddamned bastards!” Were it possible, he would’ve re-enlisted right then and there.
I am extremely proud of my husband, MSgt Harvey Stanbrough, USMC (Retired) and his fellow Marines for choosing duty and honor over personal safety. Happy birthday, Marines. Thank you! Semper fi.