Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Patience, the Marine Way…

March 13th, 2007 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Dear Gang,
I’m going to start a series on different Marine Corps leadership traits and principles. The Corps has many traditions and edicts that are taught to you as a young Marine in Boot Camp or OCS. I would like to think that there are many levels to “Honor, Courage, and Commitment” and the different traits like “Dependability, Bearing, Courage, Endurance” to name a few. So the next couple of posts will describe some of the “Other” Virtues that are more learned then taught.


As a child, my Father always stressed, “Patience is a virtue.” It helped temper some of my erratic impulse urges over the years. The Marines also calmed me in that area (actually my wife more so), and when I think of a way to help someone understand patience, the following story comes to mind.

While stationed on Okinawa, I had a boss whose father was in WWII and Korea. He would tell us stories about his dad being a Marine in those days, and let me tell you, they were one helluva bunch. One episode that sticks in my mind happened in 1952, during his time in Korea with Second Battalion, Fifth Marines. He was a young Platoon Sergeant, fighting the Chinese, a lot of it, in hand-to-hand combat. The Marines were positioned on a hill overlooking a small valley. Each night the Chinese dropped mortars on top of our Devil Dogs with devastating accuracy and lethal effect. The Marines moved around, but the mortars seemed to find their positions each night. Finally, they figured out that during the day, the local farmer, plowing on the field below, marked the Marine emplacements and relayed this info to the enemy.

The order came down that morning for this farmer to be taken out. Sgt. Winter had a sniper group attached to his platoon, and he passed this order on to a young Marine to kill the farmer. The young Marine nodded to his Platoon Sergeant and gave him an “Aye Aye Sarge.” So he found a position on the hill, and watched his prey. The farmer would plow up towards their position, pretend to rest and scout out the area, and then plow back the other direction. This went on all morning and into the hot afternoon. Sergeant Winter came back around 1500 to check on the sniper. The farmer was still plowing away with the Marine keeping him in his sights. He didn’t bother the sniper, thinking that maybe he was waiting for the right shot.

Before dark, he made it back to where this young Marine was still positioned. He watched the farmer at the plow but moving slowly after a long hard day of work and spying. “Hey, I thought I told you to shoot that bastard? Why is he still alive? What sight picture are you looking for?” The Marine just took the safety off of his M-1 Garand and fired a single bullet, dropping the farmer. The Marine sniper turned to his Platoon Sergeant with a small smile on his face and replied, “Hell Sarge, I just wanted him to die tired, that’s all.”

Now that’s what I call “Marine Corps Patience”

Semper Fi,