They’re called “The Few. The Proud;” does that mean the many Americans who admire the U.S. Marines never hope to become more like them? Eric Wentz, a highly decorated military intelligence specialist who served his country for 26 years, says yes.
“For many, the Marines embody all that the men and women of the United States military stand for, which includes a principled lifestyle that ultimately serves to defend the democratic values espoused in our constitution, and our love for freedom,” says Wentz, a former intelligence officer and author of a new Readers Choice Award-winning novel based on his experiences, “Killing Sharks: De Profundis,” (www.ericwentz.com).
“There really are bad actors throughout the world who want nothing more than to see the destruction of our civilization – all that was built by our founding fathers and continued throughout the generations – to be replaced by a foreign ideology. The Marines are often the first to prevent that from happening.”
Wentz explores four defining characteristics of Marines that any American can emulate:
• An adherence to honor and integrity – Semper Fidelis: The translation of the famous Latin phrase is “always faithful” – faithful to the present mission, to fellow Marines and to the United States, no matter what. Recruits who enter into basic training undergo a transformation that lasts a lifetime. Once a Marine, always a Marine, expected to forever live by the ethics and values of the Corps: an aversion to lying, cheating and stealing; an uncompromising code of personal integrity; a love for accountability, self-reliance and discipline. Honor, courage and commitment are the bedrock of a Marine’s values. Similar codes can be found throughout history, including the chivalry of Medieval knighthood and codes found among other fabled warriors, including the Spartans and Trojans.
• A commitment to physical fitness: Part and parcel to a code of values is the commitment to physical fitness. Marines are warriors who must be able to overcome all manner of physical obstacles. Sadly, for many Americans, a serious physical challenge is fitting into an airplane coach-class seat. With such a small percentage of Americans making up our military, less than 1 percent, compared to a high percentage of overweight citizens, it’s easier to see why Marines are viewed with high esteem. Physical fitness is the outward reflection of the inner character demanded of these warriors.
• Willingness to sacrifice: Military members fighting in wars are routinely asked to make the ultimate sacrifice by putting one’s life on the line to complete a mission. If a life isn’t lost, a Marine’s limbs or mental and emotional well-being may be. Sacrifice also means doing several tours in a war zone, half a world away from family, to exist in a hostile environment. Many individuals forgo a comfortable and profitable life at home in order to fight for the greater good of all Americans.
• Fear of commitment is not an option: A Marine recruit simply cannot pussy-foot his or her commitments; you cannot be a runaway bride or an uncertain, hand-wringing groom. Marines must be gung ho in the face of adversity. They are individuals of action and consequence, and there can be no debate with a superior when asked to risk one’s life for the good of the mission. Luckily, civilians rarely face such demands. However, as Wentz points out, if they demonstrate such commitment to integrity in finances, health, business, civic and personal obligations, they’ll also do their part in contributing to the strength and defense of the nation.
Eric Wentz is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, having served as an intelligence officer, interrogator and linguist. His novel, “Killing Sharks: De Profundis,” has won the Readers Choice Book Reviews Bronze Award.