How we doing Hard-Chargers!!!
So we Marines, value the highly sought after combat action ribbon. Specifically infantryman Marines.
There are POG’S (Personnel Other Than Grunts) who also value this ribbon, however, infantryman take this to a completely different stratosphere.
There are people (Marines) of higher brass who are even ridiculed for not having a C.A.R. at times leadership positions are even questioned pertaining to infantry if this ribbon has not been earned.
But why though??????
There are instances where Marines, even infantryman just aren’t put into combat situations. Doesn’t mean they wouldn’t act if the opportunity presented itself, just means they didn’t get in contact with enemy forces.
The award issued by the sea services for active participation in ground or surface combat is troubling for some leaders.
The criticism shows an increasingly vocal perspective amongst Marines, specifically those in the combat community.
The perspective is basically saying a Marines worth and authenticity is connected to combat experience, and those lacking experience in this area get no respect amongst grunts.
Some in the military feel that it’s not about the Combat Action Ribbon, however, its about being a U.S. Marine, and representing the Eagle Globe and Anchor.
Would this be the ideals of those who have not seen combat???? and if they did have a C.A.R. would they have a different response and be in agreeance with the majority of infantryman.
When Marines, are promoted to a new position in infantry units other Marines, generally express interest in backgrounds as well as reputations that were built over time.
Lacking combat experience again is seen as not deserving of respect in regards to combat experience.
The Combat Action Ribbon didn’t even exist until 1969, the Navy and Marine Corps adopted the ribbon in the midst of the Vietnam War. From there It was retroactively applied to combat engagements dating back to 1961.
Once that took place it was extended to cover combat engagements dating from the December 7, 1941, the attack of Pearl Harbor which was the mark of the U.S. entering World War II.
So let me digress for a few sentences here…
When I was a boot in 2009, we had a few Marines, in our platoon who had deployed 2 to 3 times to combat zones. These men were revered and seen as leaders.
When they talk you listen, you do not talk back and you better reply with Sergeant Rathke, or Corporal Taber, Lance Corporal Nuttle as you do not rate to just call them by their last names. Yet…
You’re a boot until you deploy, first off let me explain the term boot.
A boot is a Marine, who is fresh out of boot camp (13 weeks) and S.O.I. (School Of Infantry, 8 Weeks)
From S.O.I. you’re introduced to your unit where you’ll be the next 4 years, 6 years whatever your contract states, which you signed with your recruiter.
So the C.A.R. was important but it was moreso about the deployment itself, see we weren’t worried about a C.A.R. we just didn’t wanna be called “Boots” anymore.
We didn’t wanna police call (pick up cigarette butts in front of the barracks) or do working parties (a group of 8-10 new Marines go help with building up or breaking down something or cleaning an area).
We just wanted to get respect from our seniors being that we were grunts just like them but newer to the corps. We did eventually get our C.A.R. June 2009 -The Summer Of Decision-
We were inserted into Garmser, the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, once we got off the CH-53’S and made a 360 in order to provide security. The CH-53 flew around for about 10 mikes.
From there it threw out a flare letting us know it was about to leave. Then it left and it got extremely quiet, I remember looking up at the clear sky, and seeing white birds fly around so peacefully as if a platoon of Marines hadn’t landed.
Then it happened… In the distance 1st shot, 2nd shot, 3rd shot then the burst of an AK-47, I said to myself “Ohh shit we’re in a combat zone” ( sorry for cursing 😉 )
After that deployment which I’ll explain in a later post, we came back to the states and we were still considered boots until the new Marines came to our platoon from S.O.I.
However, at the same time we were no longer boots, I even had an incident where I was walking on the catwalk, (balcony) of our barracks and the seniors who were a class ahead of me were drinking.
I was headed back to my room after the gym, and they said “Hall, come drink with us!!” boot no more, it was PFC with a deployment under his belt with a combat action ribbon.
**A Dissipating Award
Over a decade of war in two theaters, Combat Action Ribbons are less common than some believe them to be. Only about 20,855 of the 184,567 Marines currently on active duty actually have a C.A.R.
There is also a problem that we’re dealing with here. When deployed Marines will at times insert themselves into patrols they didn’t belong to, just so they could earn their C.A.R.
This is not only dangerous to the men around you but also makes the patrol ineffective.
A Marine who is not properly trained who joins a patrol just to have the chance to take contact from enemy fighters is absolutely ridiculous.
Those infantry Marines, train day in and day out to be combat effective literally in the rain, humid/dry heat, and snow, while hating their lives in order to be successful.
This to me is the ultimate form of disrespect and those who are not trained in this area need to consider the term staying in your lane.
If you take contact then you take contact if you don’t then you don’t, you still did your time and just think you’re a U.S. Marine… that in itself garners major respect amongst the public.
At the same time you cant talk down or think less of a Gunny, who has been in the corps for 23 years with a huge stack yet he does not have a C.A.R. within that stack. That also is a huge form of disrespect and you’re not representing the eagle globe and anchor very well.
However, at the end of the day these are just views from a grunt. Lets get some feedback guys, I‘d love to have discourse. 😉
Isaac J. Hall II