[I was honored again this year to give the address at the Marine Raider Memorial Service. Here’s the text of it, which I changed a bit as I spoke. Normally I speak off an outline but for this event I write out what I’m going to say to keep it pithy. I wasn’t totally happy with this, and thought it was not as good as last year’s address. But for posterity’s sake here it is.\
US Marine Raider Association Reunion 2016
Memorial Service Address
By Louie Marsh
Each year our Memorial Service is an important moment to not only remember our honored dead, but to also ponder the significance, past, present and future, of the United State Marine Corps Raiders.
The Raider past is forever rooted in their bloody and victorious battle against the forces of Imperial Japan. Nothing can ever change that undying record of valor, ingenuity, blood and fire that the four Raider Battalions have left for us. Likewise, nothing can change their efforts to continue to assist those they liberated from tyranny by giving scholarships, building school buildings, sending books to them and more for many long decades.
But time, even we wish it wouldn’t, is always moving forward. As the last of our beloved World War Two Raiders leave this world behind, and our new Marine Raiders stand up to take their place, we find ourselves in the midst of many changes. Certainly not everyone welcomes all or even any of this.
But we should not be surprised. Life is change of course and the Raiders have always been change agents. Both Edson and Carlson instituted massive changes in standard Marine Corps practice when they formed their battalions and this continued in the 3rd and 4th Raider battalions as well.
People tend to fight change at first and then try and take credit for it later if it succeeds. So while the Raiders were disbanded in the end the veracity of their founder’s vision triumphed as can be seen in all three of our Raider Battalions today.
So change is nothing new to the Raiders. But this change is personally painful for those of us who have lived in the shadow of family members who were Raiders and either have or are now about to depart this life. I’m from Arizona which is famous for at least two things. One is that during the summer it’s often hotter than he – uh H E double hockey sticks. And the second is our stunning and beautiful sunsets. As the sun drops below the horizon the sky is lit with colors of stunning beauty which continue to glow even after the sun disappeared from view.
Like that setting sun the generation of original Raiders is slowly slipping away from us. As Paul said in the book of Acts, Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep… Acts 13:36 (ESV) Each generation has it’s allotted time and then they vanish from our sight. Most of our WW2 Raiders have gone and those who are left will not linger long. But like that brilliantly blazing star they will continue to light our skies long after they have slipped away beyond our horizon.
But now night shall not fall. For a new star has risen, and yet, it is not really a new star at all. Today’s Marine Raiders walk in the footsteps pioneered by their forefathers during the early days of the Second World War. You can call them new Raiders, or MARSOC Raiders, or even “Born Again Raiders.” But in truth they are Marine Raiders and that is enough. Indeed, it is more than enough. It ties them to the Raiders of World War Two with bonds that cannot be broken. Not simply because they are all Marines though of course they are. But the bonds of esprit-de-corps, the power of their Gung Ho spirit, and a history they both stand upon and add too, creates a continuity that cannot and will not be denied.
So while we remember and honor our dead we also look to our future. No one can predict what may come but we do know this. Whatever befalls us the Marine Raiders will continue to innovate, continue to overcome all obstacles and will continue to stand without fear or failure for our great country.
We also know they will continue to pay the ultimate price that being always faithful demands. As members of today’s Raiders join the ranks of the honored World War Two dead by making the ultimate sacrifice, this too unites them as one.
Thus we can say without fear of contradiction that in the future the Marine Raiders will continue to burn bright. Todays’ Corps isn’t the mythical Old Corps and tomorrows Raider Association won’t be the Old Association either.
That is just how it must and should be.
But as long as the Gung Ho Spirit lives the Raiders will not only survive but thrive. My father and most other Raiders I’ve talked to about it, defined Gung Ho as taking care of the man on your right and on your left.
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul taught this concept when he wrote this about the church, 24 But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 (ESV)
We are all part of the greater Marine Raider family. Some, like me, because I was blessed enough to be born into it. Others, because you volunteered not only to serve your country, but to serve with the best as well. Let us remember and give thanks for our historic past, rejoice in a present fresh with possibilities, and look forward to a future bright with promise both for our Marine Raiders, their Association, and above all the United States of America.
As long as we remain faithful to God freedom and country we cannot fail. God bless America, God bless the Marine Corps and may God always bless the Marine Corps Raiders.