* 3 min read
I have a few thoughts about the Marines. What is it that you think of when you hear the words “Marine Corps” or “Semper Fi”. Do you think of a hard-core fighting force with high standards and a legacy of honor on and off the battlefield? I do. They are, in fact, an organization that truly lives up to the ideals of integrity, honor, selfless service and are dedicated to standing up to the bully and confronting evil. They embody the best in us.
As a proud soldier and a combat veteran, I have never been much for inter-service rivalries. It’s funny, the people who are most into these ridiculous chest-beating comparisons are usually the ones who have not deployed. For those of us who have, we know that “we all wear green and bleed red”. All branches have their good and bad, their mediocre and their elite. Ultimately, we all serve together and we all have something essential to offer the fight.
I say all this because you might wonder why I, an Army veteran, is writing an article about the Marines. Well, I can also sing praises about the Army as well and the unit I served with in Iraq, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, 1/23 “The Tomahawks”, but I will save that for another day.
I am currently working with some Marines in a theatre company I founded, Warriors For Peace Theatre. We are a collaboration of veterans and civilians and in our current production all four branches of the military are represented. Our company is currently producing a modernized version of Julius Caesar playing at the Hudson Theatres in Hollywood.
As expected, the Marines in our cast bring to the production what you would expect: dedication, professionalism, high standards, and are team players that have your back. Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Simpson and Master Gunnery Sergeant Jay Jee are both retired Marines with 48 years of service and six combat deployments between them!
Tough as nails and built like tanks, they humble themselves before the female director, Ann Nobel, who is 98 pounds wet.
And even though they are both great warriors and combat veterans, they walk among their civilian counterparts with open hearts and are completely absent of ego. These guys have lived a thousand lifetimes compared to the civilians in the group, but do not have the slightest chip on their shoulders. The are, like the many Marines I have worked with in the film and theatre world, as well as in my time in the military, a testament to the best character traits: Honor, Integrity, and Selflessness.
I am proud of the Marines and other veterans in my production. I am also impressed with some of the other Marines who have worked with Warriors For Peace Theatre – Tony Nevada and James Edward Bane. They embody all the best qualities of a Marine, an artist, and a human.
My experience with the “Devil Dogs” isn’t just from the time I’ve spent in Los Angeles as an actor/producer. Years ago I went to Airborne school with some Recon Marines and trained with them during my time as a Berkeley police officer in various firearms and tactical schools. One of the team leaders on our SWAT team, Katherine Smith, is a Marine. And yes, she smokes many of the men in every category – tactics, shooting, leadership and general bad assery. In fact, she was one of the team leaders when Berkeley won Urban Shield, an international SWAT competition.
However, my favorite experience is the time I spent with the Marines in Somalia. I was volunteering for a relief agency and we were escorted by the Marines to different villages. What was most impressive about them and the Army units deployed there, was how they were able to adapt to the mission and understand their job was to help save lives, not fight.
Marines are trained to close in and kill or capture enemy forces. To dominate the battlefield. Yet, this highly trained fighting force was on a humanitarian mission. And like the Army infantry unit I was assigned to support in Iraq, the Marines in Somalia were able to naturally adapt when it came time to help and heal, not kill.
Known for their ferocity in combat, the US Marines are seldom know for their passion and kindness, or what they bring to the arts community when done with their service. But as an observer, I can tell you that these warriors are so much more than just an elite fighting force.
Christopher Loverro is the founder of Warriors For Peace Theatre and lives in LA where he uses the arts to promote peace and help veterans with reintegration and healing after their service.