November 10 - the 231st birthday of the United States Marine Corps. I gave the Corps 9 years when I was a bit younger (okay - a lot younger). I did 4 years on Active duty and 5 years as a Reservist. When I was on Active duty, I did a few different things, but the best job I had was as a Marine musician. I was a trumpeter (MOS 5541), and I liked it very much. Probably the best time of my life; I had no responsibilities, except to myself and the Marines I was with, I was doing a job that really didn't seem like it was all work, and I was (I think) pretty good at it. I made some good friends, a few of which I still have contact with to this day.
The Reserve was different - I was part of a Rifle Company back then. It was interesting, coming from a military specialty that some would say was "easy" and going to a unit that's job is to train for war, and fight if called. In some ways, I thought it was easier; Marine musicians that are in field bands are no different than any other Marine as they also have to be ready to go if the balloon goes up. In addition to being a trumpet player, I was also trained as a machine gunner (MOS 0331, unless the numbers have changed), and any of the FMF-based bands also had the job of providing perimeter security for field commanders, and in some cases, acting as personal protective details for them if they went out. But that was then; my understanding is that in today's environment anyone can go anywhere.
But back to the infantry. In so many ways, as I said, I thought it was easier, mainly because the job of an infantry unit is well-defined: "The mission of the Marine Corps rifle squad is to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and manuver, and to repel the enemy's assault by fire and close combat." Regardless of whether you think of Active duty of Reserve Marines, the job is the same. My experiences told me that they both do it quite well, and I felt privileged to be part of that community during my time in.
The unit I was with in those days recently returned from deployment in Iraq. God Bless those Marines, as they had a difficult job to do while they were there. Our military personnel have a tough row to hoe these days, regardless of which branch of service they are members of. It doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree about our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan; we have people over there that need to know that they have our support. They deserve no less.
Thank you all who serve. Your dedication and commitment are deeply appreciated.