State Highway 80, Gonzales County, Texas, January 2005
As a proud wearer of the 56th Field Artillery patch and Pershing tab on my left shoulder during my term of service in the 1980s with the U.S. Army, I walk with a little swagger. Anyone who's ever served in an elite unit knows the pride that comes with having earned their way aboard.
Yet, there are two groups of people I will always stand before humbly: Combat veterans of any service branch (I have almost twenty years of service divided among the Regular Army, the Texas and Delaware National Guards, and the New York State Guard -- but I've never been sent into a combat theatre of operations) and United States Marines.
You'll know one if you've ever met one, whether in uniform, or out: Once a Marine, always a Marine. The toughest, baddest ass sons of bitches ever to make the other poor bastard die for his country. My godfather, rest his soul, is a Marine.
I say "is," not "was." Even in heaven, there's no such thing as a "former Marine."