Military comradery doesn’t end when you muster out

By Jim Daly

I was watching an old military show the other day, when there was a great example of camaraderie. It was a situation where a whole squad (12 men) took the blame for something one of them said in response to an officer who was wrong in his philosophy and his orders. The squad was a team; a family. Strong in their brotherhood, support, and camaraderie.

Other than family there are few teams, relationships, fraternity, or camaraderie as strong as in the military, especially the Marine Corps. That is something that I really missed when I retired.

As I have said many times in the past: I am neither the easiest person to like or to be around. I lost my family when I was 11 and I have never had many friends. But in the Marine Corps (military) that doesn’t matter. When the time comes, you trust your buddies (unit or branch). You would die for them, without hesitation. And they for you.

I remember a time when my squadron was on a Navy base, and seven of us Marines, squadron mates, went to the chow hall for dinner. As we went in, a group of about 10 sailors asked the last two of us if they had a light for a cigarette. They said: “No, we don’t smoke.”

The 10 sailors then viciously attacked the two Marines. After a few seconds the rest of us realized what was going on, so we went out to help. By then our two guys were pretty beat up. The five of us waded in. Then the chow hall emptied and it was probably 45 against seven. The Marines fought our way back to the truck, carrying one of the first two, and helping the other one walk.

That is just the way it is in the service. Any threat to one, is a threat to all, and all jump in. Especially in a combat situation. It has to be that way.

When it comes to civilian life, all military veterans are “brothers” and support the others in all things. That is why veterans Service organizations are so important to us. We all share similar history and experiences. We have that camaraderie; that brotherhood.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is a special brotherhood because all members have experienced combat or directly supported combat. The VFW in Aberdeen is made up of a small group of veterans who have developed a special brotherhood. A special camaraderie.

The seven members of the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars who regularly attend meetings, are a team that works together to support our building, operations, and programs. We support the missions and programs of the VFW National Organization. We also support one another.

There are four of us that go in on Monday morning to clean the Aberdeen VFW after our breakfast service on Saturday and Sunday morning (the others are not physically capable of that kind of work for one reason or another). After we clean up, we go out to lunch somewhere in town, and share our memories (a.k.a. “war stories,” attitudes, and philosophies). We also work on the plumbing, electrical, and structure of our building.

When one of us needs help on our own property, a project, or when we need any other support, we can call on each other and we run to help. No question.

There is also an honor guard made up of four VFW members and four other veterans who are available to provide “honors” at a veteran’s funeral. They fold and present the flag to the next of kin. They provide the rifle salute and play taps. If asked, they could be pall-bearers.

They, too, have a strong relationship and support each other in any endeavor.

Then there is the VFW Auxiliary. It is made up of spouses and immediate family members (daughters, sons, siblings and grandchildren) of veterans qualified for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Their camaraderie and support is also very strong.

If you are a veteran and miss the military camaraderie, brotherhood and support you will find it in your local Veteran Service Organization (VSO). I highly recommend all veterans join a VSO: the VFW, American Legion, 40 et 8, Vietnam Veterans of America, Marine Corps League, AmVets, etc. There is more to them than “grandpa’s drinking club.” There is a camaraderie, a brotherhood, friendship and support that can replace what you lost when you left the service.

We are there to support you. To support all veterans, in all ways.

The Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars and their Auxiliary meet at 6:30 p.m. the first Monday of the month in our building at: 105 E. Heron St. in Aberdeen. The point of contact is me, Jim Daly: 360-581-5153. We would love to see you brothers and sisters — comrades.

Please remember: Many of our young men and women have sacrificed greatly around the world, to protect our country, our rights and freedoms, our allies and the flag of the United States of America. I am proud to have been one of them, and would gladly defend this great country again today or any day.

Jim Daly, a retired captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a member of the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 224 and its Veterans Service Officer. He is also a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.