Then there's David Goldich, a University of Virginia grad who enlisted in the Corps, fought in Iraq, and wrote the concluding piece in our special essay section as he prepared to sew on his sergeant's chevrons. Again, we have clean, crisp economy of phrasing, as when David pays homage to the sergeants under whom he served,
"I would have learned how to be a proper rifleman in just about any unit in the Marine Corps. But I might not have learned how to be a better person."
A new feature debuts in this issue, "On Further Review," a column in which we take a second look at what we'll loosely call "classics" of military literature. We start off with a contemporary masterwork, First to Fight: The Inside Story of the U.S. Marine Corps , by retired Lieutenant General Victor Krulak. Reviewing it is the book's highest ranking admirer, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Conway. But don't be surprised when less weighty volumes like Mister Roberts and Battle Cry turn up in the column.
Kirk Ross, along with Andrew Lubin, is one of a small band of crusty freelancers who keep returning to the combat zone to find stories for us that no one else can. This time Kirk went to Afghanistan for "Where Marines Can Be Marines," his painstaking and colorful recreation of this past spring's shoot-out to reclaim a battlement called Jugroom Fort from the Taliban.
Going against the grain of the Marine Corps hierarchy, Craig Hooper, an instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, sharply questions the value of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle in "A Poster Child for Next-War-Itis." His suggestion? The Marines should play to their strengths with a deft redesign optimized for the littorals.
There's more. Freelance writer and photographer Ed Darack, in "An Entirely Different Battlefield," uses the words of Marines who have fought in the mountains of Afghanistan—buttressed by some of his excellent photography—to define the significance of the Mountain Warfare Training Center in California's Sierra Nevadas and to argue for expansion of its facilities.
Appropriately, Marines look to their past each November. In "Vietnam, Revisited," retired Brigadier General Tom Draude returns to Southeast Asia 38 years after he last departed and decides that in a curious way the United States may have won the war after all. Going back even further, historian Merrill "Skip" Bartlett chronicles the final bloody days of World War I for the Marine Brigade.
Our cover deserves special mention. Life combat artist-journalist Tom Lea landed on Peleliu with the assault waves of the 7th Marines on 15 September 1944 and the next afternoon came across a "tattered Marine standing too quietly by a corpsman, staring at nothing." His working title for the painting was "Down from Bloody Nose—Too Late." (Bloody Nose Ridge was what the Marines called the nightmarish, cave-dotted, coral high ground rising behind the shattered rifleman.) For the final version, Lea changed the title to "The Two Thousand Yard Stare." Easy to understand why.
To the Corps, Happy Birthday. We salute 233 years of valor, toughness, and sacrifice. Semper Fidelis.