Thursday, February 14, 2008
Shortly after my return from South America, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines out of Columbus, Ohio was activated in support of the war on terrorism. By this time, I was made a team leader, in charge of three junior Marines. We trained hard and long at 29 Palms, California in probably the worst living environment of my career. We learned to operate a firm base, house clearing techniques, and convoy operations; we grew together as warriors, as one unit, and more importantly as brothers. By March 2005, we were at Haditha Dam, Iraq conducting combat operations. The first 90 days was met with one major operation after another. In all, we had spent just nine days at our base in those first three months. This was also a difficult time in my life trying to adapt myself as a leader with my Marines and the others. I prayed during these times, that God will grant me the abilities to do my job and do it with honor. I still lacked confidence in my ability to do my job and protecting my Marines. It wasn’t until our first major firefight in New Ubaydi, during Operation Matador, that I was finally able to start my journey of leading Marines into combat with decisiveness and confidence.
Now being shot at by heavy machine gun fire was the scariest moment of my life, I looked past that and still maintained my head about things. Even was able to joke about it with the other Marines while being shot at and that is when my call sign of Bonesaw came about. After a long day of dodging bullets and shooting at the enemy, I found myself suffering heat exhaustion and throwing up in a front yard when all of the sudden, right behind this house, men from my platoon were being shot. My training allowed me to pick myself up and continue the fight by running up to the roof to see the demise of two bad guys. This was just the beginning of many hours of fighting more guys in the house while still taking casualties. I was called upon to watch the body of our platoon sergeant and eventually making the call that he was dead with a feeling of helplessness because I could not, nor anyone else, was able retrieve his body before we had to call in the tanks to start firing. That was the longest night of my life and I still think about it everyday. Days later, I found myself within feet of being blown up in our vehicle. I laughed at this occasion as a mockery to the guys who tried to kill me, but not realizing that the bomb hit the vehicle behind ours. Moments later, I was watching the burning vehicle and seeing Marines scramble to rescue everyone, but that was not possible; I witnessed the death of five other Marines in my platoon. Yet this was just the beginning of many more to come and my perception of life was/is forever changed from that moment. In the coming months, we were used as the main working horse in the region conducting twelve major operations in just six short months. This came with a high price tag of being the hardest hit company in the war with over a third of the company either killed or wounded and even the war’s largest death toll from a single improvised explosive device…14 died in just a few seconds.
I could never fully describe the violence, destruction, or death seen in war and I do not expect anyone else to unless you have experienced it first hand. Nor the psychological damage that can be done to the young men who was willing to sacrifice everything in the pursuit of freedom that we all enjoy today.
Another great memory of my time in the Corps is the welcome home parade we received in Columbus, Ohio on October 7th, 2005. There were tens of thousands lined along the twenty mile route from the Columbus airport to our drill center. I was taken back with sheer shock and gratitude that so many people would come out and welcome us home. A lot of Marines, including myself, had tears in their eyes. This amazing feeling was short lived once I returned home and tried to readjust back to civilian life. With long nights of sleeping in just one hour increments, haunting dreams of combat, and no other Marines around to talk to, I, like many others, sought after some kind of relief from this pain. So alcohol became a coming ritual, before I went to bed, to get rid of my memories as well helping me sleep. I tried to get reestablished with my family and friends only to feel totally lonely and out of place among the people I love. It took me many months before I sought help at the VA for my sleeping problems and such and it has helped out tremendously.
I would say that it took a while for the unit to get back in the swing of training after our combat tour. There were a number of Marines who had problems readjusting as well. During this time, I was promoted to Sergeant and had the honor of becoming a squad leader in charge of 12 junior Marines. This has been my greatest pleasure in the Marine Corps; developing and training the future leaders of my platoon. Unfortunately, I really just did not care what we were doing and near the end of my 6 years, I made the mistake of totally not caring about much of what we did because I was out of there in a few short months.
Last Tuesday, I dropped to the Inactive Ready Reserve which basically means I no longer have to drill or do much of anything. My 6 years can be summed up with this: I have never been so cold or so hot in my entire life than in the Corps. I have never been so tired both physically or mentally, and at times emotionally, in my entire life than in the Corps. I have never feared so much for my life or another’s life than in the Corps. I have traveled to 7 countries, 3 continents, and 3 deserts.
With that, I have never felt more pride in my life than the day I received my Eagle, Globe, and Anchor from my drill instructor before I graduated boot camp. I have experience tremendous growth in my personal character in the areas of pride, confidence, leadership, professionalism, and team work. All of these qualities have made me the man I am today with a strong desire to continue serving people and to help develop them into leaders.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Recently someone has talked to me about blogging some more and with that I have been thinking about writing about my 6 long and fruitful years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
Before I left for boot camp, I felt that I had a good idea about my life and the things of the world; I was wrong. I went to boot camp a young and skinny boy. It was a life changing experience in that I experienced pain and loneliness. Being yelled at and corrected in ways that made you reach deep down into yourself to realize that you are nothing. You come together with the other recruits, in this experience, to fully understand what it means to work together and become warriors. This was only the beginning of my transformation into someone who is confident, strong, and one badass killing machine that every Marine strives to be at the end. That is what was expected and that is what we all became at the end of boot camp.
Further training in the way of weapons and tactics further enhanced every Marine’s ability to wage war against the enemies of the United States. With many long nights of road marches, live fire ranges, and bonding together has helped to forge me into my desire to serve even more even if that means my death for another. Infantry school is brutally tough at times so that has allowed me to understand that I can always perform under any pressure or problem thrown at me in combat and life.
Serving just one weekend a month and 2 weeks a year was fun and interesting at first. That feeling last a short time before I would dread those drill weekends. I was still developing myself into a Marine and more importantly, a man. I did not feel any real connections with the other Marines in my unit until I volunteered for my first deployment called UNITAS.
My first deployment was to Central and South America, but before I could debark on the USS Tortuga, there were four months of training that needed to be done at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. During these times, I was able to start bonding with several members of my home unit, who also volunteered with me. We further enhanced our knowledge of weapons, tactics, and leadership. Training such as riot control, radio operation, and physical training, though at that time I did not realize it, has all helped me complete my combat tour to Iraq. When we finally got on the ship and sailed down South and across the equator, the training with nine other countries became some of my fondest memories with the Corps. From fast roping out of a helicopter fifty feet to the ground, conducting large scale beach assaults from the ocean, and even some trigger time on several machine guns all made the deployment a success. Our interaction with the other militaries, even though they spoke Spanish, was another great memory of mine. We all had the same desire to serve our country and fellow man. Times such as introducing smokeless tobacco to Soldiers for the first time to teaching them our tactics allowed me to understand other people, from other cultures, has allowed me to be able to work with anyone.
To be continued in my next post.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Marines come in all shapes, shades, weights, sizes, and states of sobriety, misery, and confusion. He is sly as a fox, has the nerve of a dope addict, the stories of an old sailor, the sincerity of a politician, and the subtlety of Mt. Saint Helen. He is extremely irresistible, totally irrational and completely indestructible.
A Marine is a Marine all his life. He is a magical creature. You can kick him out of your house but not out of your heart. You can take him off your mailing list but not off your mind. They are found everywhere... in love...in battle... in lust... in trouble...in debt...in bars and ... behind them. No one can write so seldom and yet think so much of you. No one else can get so much enjoyment out of a letter or clean clothes or a six pack.
A Marine is a genius with a deck of cards. A millionaire without a cent and brave without a grain of sense. He is the PROTECTOR OF AMERICA, with the latest copy of playboy in his back pocket. When he wants something it's usually 30 days leave, music that hurts the ears, a five dollar bill...or a woman he can count on.
Girls love them, mothers tolerate them, fathers brag about them, the government pays them, the police watch out for them and somehow they all work together. You can beat their bodies but not their minds.
You can tame their hearts but not their souls. He likes girls, females, women, ladies, and the opposite sex. He dislikes small checks, working weekends, answering letters, missing chow, waking up, maintaining a uniform, and the day before payday.
You may as well give in. He is your long distance lover...he is your steel eyed, warm smiling, blank minded, hyperactive, over reacting, curious, passive, talented, spontaneous, physically fit, good for nothing bundle of worry.
And will always be there for you regardless of how long it’s been since you've last talked.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Well, in recent months, I have really thought about it and would like to get a Marine Corps tattoo. I think I will get some form of the eagle, globe, and anchor on one of my arms. So with that, if you have any suggestions to give me or have some good tattoo designs to send my way, please do because there are so many.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
With that being said, I am really looking forward to spending some good quality time training my squad of Marines and just really spending time with some very close friends that I have in the Marine Corps. I also look forward to spending some quality time out of the United States because it has been too long since I have visited an overseas country (2 years!). I will be able to just relax a bit from my life here at home and just enjoy the company of some really great men of our time. So with that, I have 3 gigs of memory cards for my digital camera as well as 3 battery packs for it! Needless to say, I will be doing what I do best; taking pictures when I should probably be shooting or dodging bullets (no dodging of bullets will be happening during this deployment).
For those that will be missing my company, I will be back home around July 6th. Until the meantime, I will be cut off from the civilized world and enjoying some of God’s beautiful creation in the outback.
Monday, June 04, 2007
So if you haven’t taken a glance at my mad skills, then head over to www.flickr.com/photos/nukeit1 and maybe leave a comment or two!
Australia in less than 2 weeks; they better be ready for the US Marines!
Saturday, June 02, 2007
The sun beat like a hammer, not a cloud was in the sky.
The mid-day air ran thick with dust; my throat was parched and dry.
With microphone clutched tight in hand and cameraman in tow,
I ducked beneath a fallen roof, surprised to hear "stay low."
My eyes blinked several times before in shadow I could see,
the figure stretched across the rubble, steps away from me.
He wore a cloak of burlap strips, all shades of grey and brown,
that hung in tatters till he seemed to melt into the ground.
He never turned his head or took his eye from off the scope,
but pointed through the broken wall and down the rocky slope.
"About eight hundred yards," he said, his whispered words concise,
"beneath the baggy jacket he is wearing a device."
A chill ran up my spine despite the swelter of the heat,
"You think he's gonna set it off along the crowded street?"
The sniper gave a weary sigh and said "I wouldn't doubt it,"
"unless there's something this old gun and I can do about it."
A thunderclap, a tongue of flame, the still abruptly shattered;
while citizens that walked the street were just as quickly scattered.
Till only one remained, a body crumpled on the ground,
The threat to oh so many ended by a single round.
And yet the sniper had no cheer, no hint of any gloat,
instead he pulled a logbook out and quietly he wrote.
"Hey, I could put you on TV; that shot was quite a story!"
But he surprised me once again -- "I got no wish for glory."
"Are you for real?" I asked in awe, "You don't want fame or credit?"
He looked at me with saddened eyes and said "you just don't get it."
"You see that shot-up length of wall, the one without a door?
before a mortar hit, it used to be a grocery store."
"But don't go thinking that to bomb a store is all that cruel,
the rubble just across the street -- it used to be a school.
The little kids played soccer in the field out by the road,"
His head hung low, "They never thought a car would just explode."
"As bad as all this is though, it could be a whole lot worse,"
He swallowed hard; the words came from his mouth just like a curse.
"Today the fight's on foreign land, on streets that aren't my own,"
"I'm here today 'cause if I fail, the next fight's back at home."
"And I won't let my Safeway burn, my neighbors dead inside,
don't wanna get a call from school that says my daughter died;
I pray that not a one of them will know the things I see,
nor have the work of terrorists etched in their memory."
"So you can keep your trophies and your fleeting bit of fame,
I don't care if I make the news, or if they speak my name."
He glanced toward the camera and his brow began to knot,
"If you're looking for a story, why not give this one a shot."
"Just tell the truth of what you see, without the slant or spin;
that most of us are OK and we're coming home again.
And why not tell our folks back home about the good we've done,
how when they see Americans, the kids come at a run."
You tell 'em what it means to folks here just to speak their mind,
without the fear that tyranny is just a step behind;
Describe the desert miles they walk in their first chance to vote,
or ask a soldier if he's proud, I'm sure you'll get a quote."
He turned and slid the rifle in a drag bag thickly padded,
then looked again with eyes of steel as quietly he added;
"And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
that we are all that stands between the monsters and the weak."
Monday, May 28, 2007
Memorial Day never really meant much for me until about 2 years ago when I first experience the result of war; seeing many of my friends die in combat. Since then, I have always tried to remind people what Memorial Day really means and more recently, I am trying to visit all the graves of the fallen warriors of Lima Company. I still feel the pain from our combat tour now almost 2 years past.
Also with this past weekend, our company had a monument dedicated to all the Marines and Sailors who served with Lima Company during our deployment. It has a lot more meaning than just our company; it also represents why we went with symbolisms for the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Check out the story here.
May we never forget the sacrifices being made by all men and women who have fought and died for this country.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
It’s great to be green!
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I think I am in need of a major change in my life and I’m not quite sure how I am going to go about doing this because recently I have been living a very stale life. I have done a number of things with my college experience that I love, but I believe that God has something a lot more in store for me if I would only step up to the plate. I need to talk to someone and I don’t know how I am going to do that.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Last quarter I was dealing with a number of issues and a lot of stress and sickness. Yet after skipping at least half my classes, I still managed a 3.33 GPA for that quarter (this is why I call it Wright High and not Wright State). This quarter, I have decided to go only half-time since I was anticipated another active duty stint in the Corps, but since they don’t want me, I guess I will have to stick it out around here for a bit longer.
In the meantime, I try to fill a lot of my free time with road trips to wherever I feel like going. In December, I drove to Niagara Falls, Canada and Quantico, Virginia. I mostly went to the Falls just to get out of the country for a bit, even if it is Canada and Quantico was for a visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. I strongly recommend that trip to anyone interested in military history. In addition, last month I made a trip out to Atlantic City just to check it out; it is nowhere near as nice as Las Vegas. Here are just a few photos of my recent travels (you must go to my flickr page to see them all):
So this is just a brief on the surface update of what I’ve been up to lately.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
For meritorious achievement as fire team leader, 1st Platoon, Company L, 3D Battalion, 25th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, 2D Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (forward) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 03-05 and 04-06 from 11 March to 20 September 2005 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. On 20 April 2005 during a civil affairs mission in Barwana, Corporal McCauley participated in a raid on a high value target which captured the individual, his substantial weapons cache, and stopped his distribution of harmful anti-coalition propaganda. Later in the same day, Corporal McCauley and his team provided overwatch as his platoon reacted to an enemy ambush. His team’s actions allowed the platoon to force the insurgents to break contact and flee the battlefield. On 8 May 2005 during Operation Matador in the town of New Ubaydi, Corporal McCauley directed his team under heavy enemy fire to a rooftop position to provide effective suppression on an insurgent machine gun position. Corporal McCauley’s initiative, perseverance, and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Unfortunately, I am also unable to volunteer to serve another tour because my battalion will not let anyone go. I am not very pleased with this at all but will have 4 weeks in Australia this summer for our annual training to look forward to.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Now I am taking these good antibiotics for the next week to hopefully kill whatever is in me and I can go on with a peaceful life that I once had a couple months ago. Oh wait, there will probably be no peaceful life because the Republicans screwed up and now I have a Democrat governor and Nancy Pelosi will soon be the House Majority Leader.
On another note, I was able to get a photo of Cpl. Michael Lasky. Lasky was killed in Iraq on November 2nd in a town that I operated out of last year.
He volunteered to go back.
Cpl. Lasky left behind his wife Jessica and 1 year old daughter Liberty.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Cpl. Michael H. Lasky, 22, of Sterling, Alaska, died Nov. 2 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Lasky was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.
I did not know that he was already sent back to Iraq. I am just in disbelief that another Marine I knew and worked with, died in Iraq.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
When the War Comes Home
My favorite part is the lovely comments people leave at the end of the article. So, make sure to check that out also check out the photos with audio commentary. The link is a paragraph or two down and on the right. Or you can click this.
In other news of this lovely world of politics and my opinion...
Senator John Kerry spent most of the day refusing to apologize for comments made to a student rally in California on Monday night when he told them this about education: "That if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
My opinion in the matter, if you care, he's a jackass.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Some good news to report, I guess having a lot of stress and being sick helps you lose weight. For almost the past month, I just have had no appetite and now I weigh 14 pounds less than last month. Not the way I wanted to go about losing my post deployment weight gain, but it will work I guess. And classes, well I had to miss several the last couple of weeks because I was sick and now I am trying to play catch up so that I can still bust out some good grades.