I am privileged to belong to the same American Legion Post as Marine Colonel Lou Schott who retired from the Marine Corps in 1967. During World War II, he fought in the battles of New Britain, Peleliu—often called the toughest, bloodiest battle of the war— and Okinawa and is also a Purple Heart recipient. He just turned a hundred years old.
On Wednesday, 2 September, Colonel Schott was the guest of honor, invited by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, at the sunset parade held at the Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, in Arlington, Virginia, to commemorate the end of World War II, 75 years ago. The event was telecast, and I was able to watch it on my computer.
The ceremony, which lasted the better part of an hour, involved what appeared to be hundreds of Marines, many in bright red uniforms. They executed complex maneuvers, including presentation of the colors and other intricate drills in what looked to me like perfection. I saw not one error or misstep.
As readers of this blog know, I have great respect for the Marine Corps. I worked with them many times during my years operating undercover in Vietnam. More than once, I survived because of them. Without exception, they used the intelligence I was able to provide them in fighting the enemy. It was among them that I met a young captain named Al Gray who, as a colonel in 1975, saved my life when Saigon fell and I escaped under fire. General Gray went on to become the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He is a hero among Marines.
I try to demonstrate my admiration for the corps by capitalizing “Marine” every time I use the word. I include Colonel Schott in that esteem. I am privileged to know him.