Following my posts on Al Gray, a reader asked why I capitalize Marine. The answer: to honor the branch on service for which I have the most respect.
During my years working for the National Security Agency (NSA), the most important job I was tasked with was supporting troops in the field during combat. Much of the thirteen years I was in and out of Vietnam was spent doing just that. And the warriors who most welcomed and made the best use of the intelligence I was able to provide were the Marines.
I have always believed that one reason the Marines were more ready than other services to exploit signals intelligence (SIGINT) is that one of their heroes, Al Gray, was a SIGINT specialist before he became a combat commander. Al never failed to seek SIGINT support and always used it to maximum effectiveness. His fellow Marines learned from his example.
And the Marines enjoyed more than members of other services the humorous aspects of my presence with them. I was a civilian under cover as an enlisted man in their unit. My civilian rank was often higher than the equivalent military rank of their commanding officer. To maintain my cover, I lived with the enlisted troops, slept beside them in the dirt, ate C-rations at their side, used their latrines, and dressed in their uniform. And they found my payroll signature, Thomas L. Glenn III, hilarious. They called me “TG3” and assigned me that moniker as my radio callsign.
I look back with wistful fondness to my days in the field with the Marines. I still grieve to this day over those killed by my side. And I honor the corps by always rendering their name in capitals.