Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

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by: John Horvat

The citizens of Radford, Virginia took time out on this Veterans Day 2013 to honor one of their own, the late Col. John Ripley, USMC. Since his untimely death in October 2008, this grateful city in southwestern Virginia, through a group termed the “Ripley Committee,” has honored the Marine legend in a number of ways.

Through their efforts, a painting of the late colonel in his dress blues was dedicated last Veterans Day and now hangs in the Radford Public Safety Building lobby. Earlier this year, Radford City council went one step further and declared April 2 to be Colonel John Ripley Day.

In another gesture of devotion, the decision was made to go yet one more step with the renaming of the University Drive Bridge after their favorite son. Visitors to the city will now cross the Col. John Ripley Bridge when they visit the New River and take a peak at Castle Island, where the city’s “Huckleberry Finn” lived his adventurous boyhood.

On hand for the dedication was Col. Ripley’s sister Mary Susan Goodykoontz (pictured above) and TFP member Norman Fulkerson. As the author of An American Knight, the only biography to date of the late colonel, he was invited to speak and was received by locals with a standing ovation. Many had read his gripping account of a man they had known as a mischievous youth whose eyes “danced with a sense of wonder” and who later earned legendary status in the Marine Corps. Col. Ripley was most commonly known for having halted the largest Communist offensive of the Vietnam War when he destroyed the Dong Ha Bridge on April 2, 1972. Mr. Fulkerson chose to focus his remarks on the man’s moral courage.

Norman Fulkerson opened his brief remarks by commenting on the “irony of naming a bridge after a man who was most commonly known for destroying one.”

He opened his brief remarks by commenting on the “irony of naming a bridge after a man who was most commonly known for destroying one.” Enriching this theme he explained how the Dong Ha Bridge was not the only structure Col. Ripley destroyed during his memorable life.

“We live in a very bad world,” Mr. Fulkerson explained, “and there is a subtle tactic among those who hold contrary opinions to get us to make concessions on our principles. This is a gradual process that he metaphorically referred to as “building bridges” between conservative and liberal opinions. Through such a tactic, he concluded, we are not asked to give everything at once but merely make small compromises. Col. Ripley was not one to fall for such a tactic, as was exemplified with the proverbial “bridges” he destroyed through his energetic testimonies against allowing open homosexuals to serve in the Armed Forces and sending women into combat.

He finished his remarks by explaining how Col. Ripley did build one bridge. It was a task to which he devoted his whole life. It was the “bridge that would link him to God, our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Marines’ Hymn has a stanza that speaks of the streets of Heaven being guarded by United States Marines, Mr. Fulkerson concluded. “When we cross the bridge he erected, I feel certain we will meet one great United States Marine on the other side, Col. John Ripley.”

 

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The Battle of the Blood

Written by John Horvat

In the final analysis, the military is all about blood. Wars are waged in the field of blood. We ask our soldiers to be disposed at any time to shed their blood for our country. So impressive is this great sacrifice that we can figuratively say that in the young soldiers’ veins, flows the blood of the nation.

When soldiers go to war, they receive that “red badge of courage” which is the true test of their dedication. And when they die, we pray that their blood be not shed in vain.

So strong is this blood in war that the war bond itself becomes as if a blood bond. Who cannot but reflect upon the words of King Henry V’s St. Crispin’s Day Speech:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother.

In the great trials of war, these “brothers” are immersed in each other’s blood. They fight amidst the blood of both friend and foe. They nurse each other’s bloody wounds. Each depends upon the other to give their blood for their brother next to them in a sublime act of self-denial.

Indeed, does not the Gospel say that greater love hath no man that he who lays down his live for another?

However, there is one thing that this blood asks: that it not be tainted.

Often, soldiers are not saints but there are certain acts that dishonor that blood which they shed. These are certain vices that destroy the cohesion that unites their blood as one. Treason, disloyalty, dishonesty and cowardice are certainly among these. Yet another is unnatural vice that puts a disordered sexual relationship in the place of that disinterested bond between soldiers.

And thus, the battle over the inclusion of homosexuals in the military is about blood. We can say that figuratively this blood that unites soldiers as brothers is tainted by introducing the possibility of this relationship in the ranks which demand the disinterested and total trust of a brother.

However, on a much lesser level, we can say that the military is physically about blood since it would introduce into the military a group with high-risk blood contagion. This is so true that current FDA policy will not accept homosexual men as blood donors.

In addition, medical officials note that there is exposure to drug-resistant diseases circulating in the homosexual population such as hepatitis C, antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, or various strains of herpes.

The irrefutable danger involved in this contagion should alone be enough to exclude homosexuals from the military’s battlefields of blood. However, the homosexual lobby is trying to downplay this danger and is even seeking to lift this ban citing better testing methods – a move many doctors oppose as far too risky to lift. Despite political pressure to lift it, the FDA has recently voted to retain the ban since no one can deny that men who have sex with men (MSM) are a significant risk. Only recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study which found that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM was 44 times higher than among other men and the rate of primary or secondary syphilis 46 times that of other men.

Thus, by exposing men in close quarters to occasions of contagion, we will be introducing yet another danger which will add to that of the enemy on the battlefield. However, worse yet, we will be symbolically injecting bad blood into this bond of brothers that must have total trust.

We ask our soldiers to shed their blood for our nation. They have the right to ask that their blood not be tainted.

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Disband the Marine Corps

By: Col. Arthur J. Corbett USMC (Ret.)

It would be better to disband the Corps than see it dishonored and its virtues and values destroyed.

The Pieta in St. Peter's Basillica --Rome, Italy

A vandal once took a hammer to the Pieta. It was a shocking and unexpected event, but the fact that it happened suggests a perverse streak within our nature to desecrate that which others revere in order to gain attention for ourselves. That the vandal could not himself have created an object so sublime did not mean that he could not, with a stroke of a hammer, indelibly mar its beauty or offend its admirers. Such is human nature, and such is tragedy. As individuals, institutions, and cultures, we are all sometimes vulnerable to tragedy through no fault or volition of our own.

Tragedy is not inevitable, but the confluence of political opportunism, ethical narcosis, and moral malaise that dominate and subvert American culture have ripened the opportunity for our political leadership to do what no enemy has done in 217 years—sully the reputation and honor of our proud Corps. While homosexuality is a tragic reality, and those who indulge in its indignities deserve prayerful compassion, they are not fit to lead men in battle. Culture vandals may debate this issue, but as Marines we know this intellectually, morally and viscerally. For the civilian, this may be but one of the many irreverences that he has endured as a member of the declining culture, but for the Marine it is a violation of a sacred trust. We have always perceived that the threats to our honor were external to our borders and could be countered with courage, zeal and competence. We never suspected that the threat to our ethos would come from within our Nation and be sanctioned, however indirectly by the American people. The sorry fact is that this will not be a gross betrayal by a dark and sinister force –rather it will be a culmination of banal evils from a progression of noxious ideologies. The result will he the same, only the intent is more benign.

Ayn Rand made this trenchant observation on the subversion of virtue within a culture:

When men reduce their virtues to the approximate, then evil acquires the force of an absolute: when loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous, it’s picked up by the scoundrels—and you get the indecent spectacle of a cringing, bargaining, traitorous good and a self-righteously uncompromising evil.

And so we find ourselves at a crossroads as an institution. Though prayer and reason might yet triumph, it is clearly time to fight and prepare. For such an undeserved indignity to be heaped upon such a noble institution, with but a whimper of protest, would betray the untold thousands who bought with their blood the honor we enjoy. Yet we are constrained in our efforts by the very nature of the political system that they fought to defend, and we recognize that, while this tragedy should not happen, it is ultimately not our decision to make.

America will get both the Government and the Military Establishment that it deserves. God has blessed us richly in the past with remarkable strength in both institutions, but now we choose to go it alone. We have displaced faith in Providence with confidence in technology. We enjoy a wide, but inevitably temporary, advantage over potential adversaries in our technological capability, and so we grow both prideful of our position and forgetful of the very values that ennobled our success. Like all civilizations that have preceded us, we are passing through the culminating point of culture and starting down the precarious slope that lies beyond.

Lt. Gen. Victor H. Krulak

Soon, we must again answer an important question that has frequently been asked in the past: Do we really need a Marine Corps? As we know, Lt. Gen Victor H. Krulak answered that question in his book First to Fight: America does not need a Marine Corps—the other Services could manage an adequate defense without us but America wants a Marine Corps, because it feels safe knowing that there is a band of warriors always ready to respond rapidly, against unknown odds, to any national emergency. America felt good knowing that men of character, who shared a warrior ethos, stood ready to do its will. But some of America has changed its mind and now seems to regard virile virtues as a vestigial encumbrance upon a society that prefers dissolute equality over honest distinction.

Marine Corps history is replete with examples of uncommon valor and common virtues. The extraordinary successes that Marines have achieved in battle have earned for our Corps a reputation that is the envy of every other Service and that is unequaled in modern history. Our customs are steeped in tradition, and our traditions have been respected and honored by successive generations of Marines. We are esteemed by our countrymen and feared by our enemies. Our dead are remembered, and those who once wore our uniform, are forever entitled to claim the title “Marine.” We are indeed a unique and proud brotherhood of warriors.

Perhaps now is the time to recognize that although America might, for the first time need a Marine Corps, it no longer wants one. It is true that the future portends many littoral conflicts to which a Marine Corps should respond, but the other Services will adapt. They will certainly adapt better to amphibious warfare than the Marine Corps will adapt to recruiting sexual deviates. Marines are an incredulous lot by nature, and brutally honest in their observations and decisions. The young officers who attempt to explain how homosexuality is an “alternate” instead of a deviate life style will quickly lose the respect of their Marines and a bit of their own honor in the process. Sanitized terms like “sexual orientation” may serve to obfuscate the gross realities of a perverse lifestyle to a jaded public, but Marines living in a barracks will rightfully question leadership that discredits by association the sacrifices they are willing to make. The party line will be that homosexuals are Marines, just like you. The cognitive dissidence that this simple, yet official, lie must engender will tug at the credibility and ultimately rend the integrity of our Corps.

Critics claim that homosexuals already lurk in our ranks. The salient difference between the current reality and the proposed policy is that now the homosexuals lie to the Marine Corps. Soon we will find that to accommodate homosexuals, the Marine Corps must lie to Marines, and they in turn to one another. Institutions like the Marine Corps are not built upon deceit.

Official emblem of the United States Marine Corps - the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.

We dare not tarnish the reputation of our Corps. Too many valiant men have fallen in honor for us to allow the term “Marine” to be degraded in a futile attempt to lend dignity to practitioners of unnatural acts. It is time to case the battle colors and ask Congress to disband our Marine Corps. The Army has long sought the Marine Corps as its own, and in many of the world’s navies there are naval troops. We can preserve our reputation, and that of those who have preceded us, by not compromising our values as a Corps. We should transfer our personnel to another Service and don their uniform. It is better to wear proudly the uniform of another Service than to see the Globe and Anchor progressively defamed. As we know, the Marine Corps is not essential for national defense; it is an expression of pride and competence by a strong people. America is our home and the home of our families. There is still much here that is worth defending. By disbanding now we preserve more than a tradition of honor and service—we preserve a remnant of hope for a future generation.

There will be time in the future, as there has always been in the past, when America will be threatened. Survival may become a dim prospect, and ancient virtues and values will be recalled. From such a crucible may emerge a neophyte warrior who remembers that his grandfather, or perhaps his great-grandfather, had been a sergeant major of Marines. If he is confident in his fellow warriors, loyal to his country, resolved on victory,

Marine Corps Color Guard at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.

uncompromising in integrity, and dedicated to both innovation and tradition, then he may have the audacity to claim the title “Marine.” Once again, America will want an elite corps of honorable men to do the difficult today and the near impossible tomorrow. Old battle colors, dusty but unstained, will be unfurled, and proud men will commit their lives to God, Corps, and Country. They will inherit an unblemished tradition, and what will provide the continuity between our Corps and theirs will be a common motto: Semper Fidelis! It will be the intervening years, when there wasn’t a Marine Corps, which will validate for all time the motto itself.

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Arthur Corbett was a student at the Naval War College at the time this article first appeared in the January 1993 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette. He went on to retire from the Corps after 21 years of service with the rank of Colonel.

This article by Col. Corbett expresses the same elevation of spirit one can see in the testimony given by Col. John Ripley before the HASC in 1993.  For information regarding the first cradle to grave biography of Col. John Ripley, click here: An American Knight.

 

This article is re-printed courtesy of the Marine Corps Gazette and copyright is retained by the Marine Corps Gazette.

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