Civilian in Combat (2)

I survived all my time in combat and am now a hale and hearty eighty-five-year-old. Through it all, soldiers and Marines accepted me as one of them. They found my payroll signature name, Thomas L. Glenn III, absurdly pompous and made fun of it by assigning me the radio callsign of TG3. Guys in Vietnam even went so far as to make a desk name plate for me that shows “TG3” in black and white marble from the Marble Mountains near Đà Nẵng. That name plate now holds a place of honor on my desk.

I learned in the process several invaluable lessons.

First, the commitment between fellow combatants is probably the strongest bond people can feel. Soldiers, sailors, and Marines don’t call it love; men are not supposed to love each other. Never mind. It is the strongest love I have ever felt. The song, “My Buddy,” which I quoted here a while back, captures that feeling.

Second, love of country—and love of the guy fighting next to you—is an ennobling emotion second to none. Nothing I have done in my life has equaled my willingness to risk my life for my country and for the guy fighting by my side.

Third, that I was a civilian during my years in the trenches is unimportant. It didn’t matter what uniform I wore. It mattered that I was willing to do it.

I am proud of my service to my country. That I did it as a civilian is immaterial.

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