FLANAGAN: The poem and the old grunt


He did his part in Vietnam, where he served with the Marines, and came home to Attleboro in 1970 with a chest full of medals - the Cross of Gallantry, the Bronze Star and seven others.

He came home to fight more. "I didn't like being called a baby-killer. I fought everybody that came my way."

Over the 37 years since his discharge, the drive to fight at the drop of a hat has left him, but there's a poem he brought home from Vietnam. And that just won't leave him.

They take a man and put him alone

They give him a rifle, send him far from home

That makes his heart empty and yields emotion to forget.

They teach him to kill and never to regret

He lives in a world of sweat and mud

A world filled with hate, killing, and blood.

The death count gets higher

While you sit at home and complain of the war

He'll remember you till the day he dies

Because you made him hear his buddies' cries.

He saw an arm, a bloody shred

He heard them say, "this Marine is dead."

He buys you life by losing his

But who gives a damn what a Marine gives

There is a price to pay for freedom and our privileges

And our country has paid the price.

The verse was put together by two young Marines with whom he served on a "killer team" in the middle of Vietnam. He'd rather not give their names. "They didn't make it home," he explains, and he didn't really know them all that well. "By the time I served with them, I had already been with the 5th Marines and the 7th Marines. I had seen quite a bit. I didn't get too friendly. I had learned not to get too close to anybody. It hurt too much when they got killed."


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General information

The riflemen employ the M16A4 service rifle, the M4 carbine, the M203 grenade launcher, M249 squad automatic weapon (SAW), as well as the IAR "Infantry Automatic Rifle" and the AT-4 rocket and LAW rocket. Riflemen are the primary scouts, assault troops, and close combat forces available to the MAGTF. They are the foundation of the Marine infantry organization, and as such are the nucleus of the fire team in the rifle squad, the scout team in the LAR squad, scout-snipers in the infantry battalion, and reconnaissance or assault team in the reconnaissance units. Noncommissioned officers are assigned as fire team leaders, scout team leaders, rifle squad leaders, or rifle platoon guides. The mission of the Marine Corps rifle squad is to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver and/ or repel enemy assault by fire and close combat.

In the Marine Corps, rifleman (and other Marines in the 03 occupational field) are commonly referred to as "Grunts," which is generally not considered a pejorative term. In contrast, Marines in all other occupational fields are often referred to as POG's (or Personnel Other than Grunts) which is more often considered to be pejorative in nature.

Training

Training for this MOS is conducted at the United States Marine Corps School of Infantry. The training period is 59 days.