Any man or woman who raises their right hand and takes an oath to the Constitution of the United States of America is special. They and their families are the ones who keep this country safe. Those that choose to join the military in a time of war, like the ones we have been fighting for over a decade, are put into an even higher class. Enlisting in an organization like the United States Marine Corps, and then asking to be put into infantry, is a sense of duty and bravery that I will never understand. You are volunteering to go straight to the hell that is Helmand Province, and have no idea what could be waiting there for you. As if this sense of duty isn’t enough, there is one more class of families that take patriotism above and beyond. They don’t even know they are doing it until someone points it out to them, they don’t consider themselves special in any way and they don’t think twice about their safety or comfort, they simply do what’s right. They answer the call. My own family, at one time, had all three males deployed into combat zones at once. From the years 2003-2008 there was almost always two deployed at the same time. My Father is a grunt, my oldest brother is an officer, and my other older brother was an 0351 assault-man with a college degree turned infantry officer. We know what it’s like to sacrifice, and we sadly have experienced the ultimate sacrifice. But, we are not alone. We do not walk this path of sorrow alone, there are many other families out there that I have never met who are sacrificing themselves for the safety of a nation who, many times, doesn’t seem to blink an eye.
In May of 2012 I began dating a Marine from 1st Battalion 6th Marines, Bravo Company, 2d Platoon, the very same unit my father had served with decades before. He and I had been friends for quite some time and I had already learned so much about his platoon mates. I learned who the assholes were, who the stand up platoon Sergeant’s were, and who treated him with respect despite his junior standing. When you’re a Private First Class in a Marine infantry unit you learn very quickly who the nice guys are, who can teach you things, and who you should avoid at all costs. One of the Marines that he has always, and will always, speak fondly of is Cpl. Philip McGeath. I’ll never have a chance to meet this Marine for he was killed in action on January 18, 2012 in this disgusting and cowardly attack in Kajaki, Afghanistan. But, in the sorrow of losing what I know to have been a wonderful man, he has many people who will live on and honor him in all they do.
In World War II there were the Sullivan Brothers. These “Fighting Sullivan’s” will forever be a staple in the eyes of Americans from that time period and those that know their story. In Afghanistan, I will never forget the service of the McGeath family and all that they have, and continue, to sacrifice for us. Cpl. McGeath’s Mother, Phyllis, wrote a fantastic article that taught me even more about this Marine and his family. After Philip enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2008, his two younger brother’s soon followed in his line of service. His Father was in the Air Force and they grew up as military children much like myself. That’s 3 active duty Marines, 1 retired Airman, and 1 Gold Star.
I’ve never met anyone from the McGeath family, and I may never meet them. Cpl. McGeath was married to a beautiful young woman who I will pray for just as I pray for my own widowed sister in law. When I think of my family’s sacrifices in these wars I always think of the sacrifices of American families like the McGeath’s as well. Every January 18th I will remember them. I will live my life for Philip, and pray for the safety of his family. His mother setup a Facebook page that I encourage you to support, and please remember that there are families like the Kelly’s and the McGeath’s that not only work through their grief and sorrow everyday, but they also support the active duty Marines they still have to pray for in their families. One day my own brother will deploy again, and that is a hurdle I am dreading. I know I’ll be able to handle it, I’m a Marine daughter/sister/girlfriend after all. God only gives us as much as we can handle, and I know that I am strong and I can handle anything that he gives to me. But, I also pray that things settle for families like us, for I think we’ve given enough.
Photo from “In Memoriam of Marine Cpl. Philip Daine McGeath.”