I once saw a video on youtube that Oliver North gave to the National Rifle Association in 2009. Whatever you think of Lieutenant Colonel North is irrelevant. His words right true. I have decided to transcribe the text from his speech as best I could. His video is also embedded below. Enjoy! And let me know what you think!
The average age of the young American serving in uniform today is twenty and a half years of age making him about ten months older than his grandfather who would’ve served in my war. He’s a high-school graduate. He’s a volunteer. He is brighter, better educated, better trained, led, and equipped than any soldier, sailor, airman, guardsman, or Marine of any country in history. He goes to work wearing an eight pound Kevlar helmet, a forty five pound flak jacket, and today in Kandahar it was one-hundred and ten degrees, and he’ll hike up those hills and walk back down them without complaining. He’s been taught chemistry, and physics, and ballistics, avionics, and electronics to operate and maintain the most sophisticated weapons and equipment ever designed by the hand and mind of man. He can use his body like a weapon, and his weapon like a part of his body. And he can take a life or save one because he’s been so remarkably well trained. The images of young Marines and soldiers, and sailors, and airmen going to bible studies and religious services aren’t staged; they’re all real. They’re all spontaneous and nearly all of them are initiated by those young American in harm’s way. When they gather in prayer circles and huddle up before a mission, they’re not going out to play football; they’re going out into mortal kombat and they know that some of them are liable not to come back and they do it because they have faith.
Just for the [inaudible], how many of you raised a teenage boy? I used to do this when Betsy wasn’t here because she eventually told me, ‘I saw you raise your hand, and I did that.’ Think about getting a teenage boy to clean up his own room, do his own laundry, fix his own meals, clean up everything without a size ten in his backside, and yet that same youngster today washes and mends his own clothing, feeds himself, takes care of cleaning his weapon, cleaning himself. He’s totally self sufficient. The kid, who once wouldn’t share a candy bar with his little brother, now gives away his last drop of water to a wounded comrade, his only MRE to a hungry Afghan kid, and splits his ammo with a mate in a firefight.
I always save this one for last when I’m explaining it to young people about who they are because so few of them know the truth of these youngsters. This is a frame taken from my footage on the 6th of April, 2003. Baghdad is the smoke ball you see in the background. The Marine unit I’m with embedded is the ban, the lead element on the attack of the Eastern corridor. We’re about fifteen miles outside of Baghdad and the Republican Guard’s regiment ambushes this Marine rifle company. They spin their humvees around and there is a gunfight to the curbs with this regiment and this rifle company. And in the midst of the beaten zone; the area where the intersecting bullets are crossing, a United States Navy Corpsman I had first met in Kandahar in 2001, rushes in to the battlefield, right through the fire, drags two wounded Marines out, and carries them on his shoulder to a helicopter that’s landed in the roadway. And with this footage right here, I am standing on the ramp of that helicopter. And this Corpsman who’s rushed now twice before and brought these two wounded back, now has a third one. And off to the right-hand side as you look at the screen, a Reuters news crew sets up their tripod and they’re videotaping him going in and out. And as this guy staggers back into the gunfight, one of them shouts out, ‘Hey mate, what did you do that for? Didn’t you notice..’ ..in other words, you stupid American… ‘Didn’t you notice that wasn’t a Marine?’ If you look carefully at that photograph, you will see that the wounded warrior, who’s already been bandaged up by that United State Navy medical Corpsman, isn’t a Marine, it’s a wounded Iraqi soldier. And this U.S. Navy Corpsman rushed into the battlefield to save his life. And so, because it’s polite company Wayne, I can only put it this way. In response to the Reuters news crew, the Navy Corpsman gives them a gesture. You’re not supposed to…you’re not supposed to get that part. He gives them a gesture and says, ‘Didn’t you notice? He was wounded. That’s what we do. We’re Americans.’