In January of 1966, I entered the United States Navy. I joined to become a Hospital Corpsman, thinking that I would be working medical duties either in a Naval Hospital or aboard a ship eventually. I had no idea that, as a Navy Hospital Corpsman, I could be transferred to service with the United States Marine Corps. Somehow, the Navy recruiter neglected to include that information when I signed my induction papers.
Long story short, after Hospital Corps School, I would spend about six months assigned to medical duties at Newport Naval Hospital, Newport, RI, before receiving orders to Camp Lejuene, NC, to attend Field Medical Service School. The transition was powerful. I had left one military culture and entered another. We essentially went through a kind of abbreviated Marine Corps boot camp, along with very intense combat medical training. After that school, I would spend a year at Camp Lejuene, serving in a Battalion Sick Bay with what was then called the 2nd Force Service Regiment.
In December of 1967, I received orders for the Fleet Marine Force in Vietnam. I would arrive in Vietnam in January of 1968, and it was then that I was assigned to Bravo Co. 3rd Recon Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. The 120 men of Bravo Co. were serving alongside the reinforced, 26th Marine Regiment at a forward Marine Air base called Khe Sanh. I arrived just in time to be flown into the base at the beginning of the Tet Offensive siege that would last for the next 77 days.
It was not until we were relieved from the siege that I began doing patrols with my squad and others, doing what those Marines had been trained to do. We Corpsmen were trained on the job by our Recon brothers, learning the ropes and skills as we went. Our job, of course, was to be there if we got into a combat situation, to attend to wounds or to otherwise take care of other medical issues that might arise, and to fight side by side with our Marine brothers when necessary.
Recon Marines are trained to go out and beyond, to go behind enemy lines to recon large swaths of territory over a few days, or up to a week or more, carrying all of their food, water, weapons, and ammunition supplies on their backs. It was when we started to go on those patrols in six-man to 10-man teams that we Corpsmen began to become, if not Recon Marines by way of “adoption,” Recon Corpsmen. Our Marines were both our teachers and our protectors; just as we were their supporters and medical caretakers. The bond of brotherhood between us that formed on those patrols was deep and life-long.
This video is about what Recon Marines are trained to do. As you will see, they are a breed of their own, trained in a wide variety of specialties and skills. Their main role is to be the “eyes and ears” of the larger Marine Corps units they serve alongside. They are “out there” alone, beyond the wires, looking for the enemy, estimating their numbers, tracking their movements, and radioing those details to the rear, or calling in artillery or air support, and many more things.
The motto of Recon Marines is: “Celer, Silens, Mortalis,” or, “Swift, Silent, Deadly.” And those three words define not only what they do, but how they do it. Though I was a Navy Corpsman, it was my remarkable fortune to have served with such men. The men of Bravo Co. 3rd Recon Bn. 3rd Mar. Div. are still my brothers today. We see each other at our annual reunions and talk to each other regularly by phone. We are brothers in a way that is beyond our ability to express. It was an honor to serve with such men as these.
Below, you will see the text of the Recon Creed. This is who they are. These are the men with whom I was privileged to serve. They are “the fewer and the prouder.” OoRah!
THE RECON CREED
Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone
to be a Reconnaissance Marine,
I accept all challenges involved with this profession.
Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation
of those who went before me.
Exceeding beyond the limitations
set down by others shall be my goal.
Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself
to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life.
Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics —
The title of Recon Marine is my honor.
Conquering all obstacles, both large and small,
I shall never quit.
To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail.
To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure;
To overcome, to adapt, and to do whatever it takes
to complete the mission.
On the battlefield, as in all areas of life,
I shall stand tall above the competition.
Through professional pride, integrity, and teamwork,
I shall be the example
for all Marines to emulate.
Never shall I forget the principles
I accepted to become a Recon Marine.
Honor, Perseverance, Spirit, and Heart.
A Recon Marine can speak without saying a word
and achieve what others can only imagine.