Carrying the Flag

Let the bodies hit the floor!

— Anthem of many pre-combat checks... song by Drowning Pool.

Radio Check-over?
The patrol has reached the line of departure. All PPIs and PCIs have been completed. The patrol order has been briefed and I have received the brief-back. All weapons have been function checked and test fired. The patrol plan has been filed with higher headquarters. Comm plan submitted and supported. Radio checks and crypto have been confirmed. Patrol has been briefed on all friendly and enemy positions in the AO. QRF is stood up and is on 5- minute strip alert. Casevac and close air support are pending. Wait out. Hold position. Push LD to the right until 08:00 tomorrow. Push LOD till then. Whiskey-6 Out.

Combat patrols serve many purposes, but are usually focused on finding the enemy and killing him. In preparation for his mission, each Marine has his religion, each one has a superstition- a special piece of lucky kit that has kept them alive. Marines facing grave danger don’t go internal. They do the opposite- they focus on leading those in their charge and setting the example. They put their teammates first. Selfishness is a four-letter word. Mission accomplishment and the welfare of their Marines are all that matter.

Today was spent in solemn preparation for what lies ahead of me. It’s not the mountains that give me pause, nor the competition, nor my serious lack of cycling ability. It is the American flag that I will be carrying on my back. It’s weight goes beyond any metric we have. I am riding in memory of my brothers and sisters. I will be suffering in the name of those deployed downrange. Am I strong enough? Can I endure enough? Tomorrow’s forecast calls for ten hours of rain, yet that does not concern me. I need to prove to myself that I am still worthy to carry this flag.

I no longer lead those in uniform, but I am still in the tribe. The leadership principles I lived by are still relevant. Mission accomplishment and the welfare of those I lead remain priorities. Perhaps it is the sudden transition into civilian life that disorients veterans- we lose our focus. We now live in a society that rewards selfishness- it is alien. Our fellow Marines continue into harms way without us. They patrol without us. Can we survive on our own? We were trained to fight together, to win together. I submit nothing has changed- we are still in the fight together. We need each other more than ever. A Marine never leaves another behind, not on the battlefield or in life. I carry the flag and patrol forward encouraged that others will do the same.

Whiskey-6

P.S. Patrol comms/updates will go dark as I enter the comm shadow of the mountains. Satellite communication windows are brief and sporadic. Expect future updates in SITREP format. Expect brutal honesty as I test my mettle. A leader doesn’t have to be the fastest or strongest- he only need never quit.

I decided to take on this challenge as a tribute and a memorial to those Marines and other service members I had known who were killed in action, wounded in action, died in training, or took their own lives following combat. I would carry a folded American Flag, along with dog tags identifying the fallen. I would carry the weight of their suffering while undergoing my own ordeal. This is that flag.

I decided to take on this challenge as a tribute and a memorial to those Marines and other service members I had known who were killed in action, wounded in action, died in training, or took their own lives following combat. I would carry a folded American Flag, along with dog tags identifying the fallen. I would carry the weight of their suffering while undergoing my own ordeal. This is that flag.