Celebration Of Service (5-04-2016)

Yesterday I got a gift from Cpl. Josue Barron.  He didn’t know he was doing anything to inspire or help me but he did.  I get motivation to keep pushing against my limitations in a lot of places and yesterday, my “grit glass” was filled up by this man.  Thank you Cpl. Barron!


, Marine Corps Times6:44 p.m. EDT May 3, 2016


Some would say the two-minute video captures everything that is best about the Marine Corps — a one-legged vet pushing through immense pain to conquer a colossal hill that memorializes fallen comrades. Beside him, brothers in arms shout words of encouragement and motivation. Within him, the memory of lost Marines provides strength to endure.

The climb was part of a five-year reunion that honored the Marines and families of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, which completed Afghanistan’s deadliest deployment in 2011.

The “Dark Horse” battalion made great gains, but at great cost, when it deployed in and around the town of Sangin, in Afghanistan’s embattled Helmand province. In seven months, the battalion saw 25 Marines killed in action and another 184 wounded. Nearly three dozen of the wounded returned home as single, double and triple amputees.

Among them is former Cpl. Josue Barron, who lost a leg and his left eye in the conflict, and is shown in the April 30 video.

“When I saw that steep hill, I doubted myself a little bit,” Barron told Marine Corps Times. And with good reason — First Sergeant’s Hill rises far above the regimental headquarters at Camp Pendleton, California, and is a beast for even healthy Marines.

Worse yet, the hill’s grade prevented Barron from performing the swinging motion needed to propel his prosthetic leg, which reaches to his hip. He decided to ditch the leg and press on.

“After a while my body went numb, but I wanted to get up there,” he said. “I have friends up there, and there was no way I was coming back down without reaching them.”

The friends of whom he speaks are names engraved on nearly two dozen wooden crosses. Marines put them up to honor their fallen, and the site has become hallowed ground. It is so special that a team of seven leathernecks rushed to rescue the memorial crosses just before wildfires consumed the hill in May 2014.

“We used to do that climb before we deployed, but the crosses didn’t go up until after that so I had never seen them,” Barron said. “It took me five years, but I made it.”

As Barron stood triumphant with friend and fellow Marine veteran Will Makaafi, who provided the loudest shouts of encouragement, the two were soon joined by four Gold Star families who also made climb.

“It was their way of honoring their boys,” said Mark Soto, who organized the reunion. He is also the father of a sergeant wounded in Sangin who has since been medically retired. Soto had started a Facebook page titled “The Boys of 3/5” as a way to help families share information and encouragement during the difficult deployment.

It was evident the bond and brotherhood fostered by the page would be needed long after the Marines returned home, Soto said, so the page never shut down. This led to the five-year reunion, which included 125 Marines and 350 family members. It even got a salute in a tweet from Commandant Gen. Robert Neller on Monday.

Neller told Marine Corps Times earlier this year that Marine units need to hold more reunions.

“We are trying to facilitate more of that this year,” he said. “We are just going to encourage people to stay connected. That is the best way to help each other because they trust each other.”

That is not lost Barron, who said many vets still face serious challenges. He is especially concerned about the high suicide rate among veterans.

“If someone sees me overcome my challenges, maybe they will think twice about overcoming theirs,” he said.

The reunion included honors from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego during a graduation parade, a barbecue and other typical events, but Soto said it was the hours spent atop the hill that made the event truly special.

Barron said it was an emotional time as he gave special tribute to his platoon commander, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, who was killed instantly when he stepped on a landmine during a Sangin patrol in 2010. Though known by most as the son of retired Gen. John Kelly, Barron remembers the mustang officer differently.

“He was a good man, a good platoon commander, and a good Marine,” he said. “So were all of the men whose names are on that hill.”

3-5 Marines

A retro style tribute photo I did for 3/5 a few years ago. Like many other Americans out here I’m deeply appreciative of all their hard work!


10 responses

  1. Thanks for sharing Lynn,great story! Love your pic also!

    1. Hi there! Happy Thursday! I loved that story and wanted to share it. Glad you liked it too. I’m a ham, that’s for sure…luckily people don’t give me too hard of a time about that. Wishing you a fantastic day!

  2. We all lose something after spending time in Afghanistan, whether it be our brothers or a piece of ourselves, but some lose more than others. One of the most important things we lose is that brotherhood. Few of us stay in contact once we/they leave the service, which (I believe) is why we lose 22 a day. It is always good to hear units reaching out and help those that left the service after serving honorably. Thanks my beautiful spider monkey for always being the military supporter you are!

    1. That’s right…nobody comes out unscathed. You know I think it’s imperative for units to try and keep contact. I can’t imagine not having people who understand certain things around in the aftermath. Some things you can see…like missing limbs, etc. and some you can’t. One time a Ranger sniper told a story (I’m going to paraphrase) about riding in his car with the window down after he left the service. A bug flew in the window and hit him in the neck and he automatically assumed he’d been shot. A Vietnam vet friend was walking along a hiking trail and something buzzed by his head. He flinched and jumped to the side. He said it sounded like a tripwire. I’ve heard more than one veteran say they can’t pull over on the side of the road (here at home) because of IED’s. Deployments change your thought patterns. These are things that you can’t always explain to other people (and maybe you don’t want to). Then of course, there’s the hyper-vigilance that plagues people and sleeplessness and, and….

      I can only imagine how isolating it would be not to have people around who get it without a whole lot of explanation….not just the problematic aftermath but all of it…the good parts, the funny things, the shitty days you shared.

      You know, I’ve always wished they had come up with another name for PTSD. As soon as they put “disorder” at the end, they made it more problematic for people to come to grips with. Strong people don’t want anything to do with “disorders” and it keeps them from really understanding what’s happening. They should have called it an “effect” (PTSE). It’s actually the expected, logical reaction of a normal brain to certain circumstances. It’s a shame it wasn’t better labeled because that alone would help so many…

      Anyway, I’m going off topic. Blah, blah…monkeys like to talk.

      Glad you stopped by, Lishie. I ALWAYS love hearing from you!

  3. I’m loving this post, and your photo. I’m considering airbrushing nose art on the back of my guitar, and this photo may provide me with my subject matter. Beautiful!

    1. Woo hoo! You know just that thought puts a smile on my face. I do think you should put some nose art on your guitar…that would be awesome, no matter the model for it. Gosh…I really love the pin-up genre. If I rode a motorcycle I’d put “nose art” on it somewhere. I saw a Jeep once with some fantastic pin up art on the door. That was really cool! If you do it, make sure to post a photo for us to admire!

  4. An inspiration to all of us!

    1. I really loved that video. There’s something about the “warrior and his brothers” we don’t always get to see but that provided a little glimpse. I find it VERY inspirational.

  5. And most couldn’t complete that with both legs. Thank you for always caring and remembering us Lynn.
    Have a beautiful Blessed day dear friend

    1. …and did I mention that you inspire and motivate me too? I left a message to that effect on bb.com. I think it might have cut me off halfway through. They only give you so many words to express yourself which is silly because they should know women like to talk…and talk….Lol. If the message cuts off there mid-sentence, just tell me and I’ll be happy to repeat some of the reasons you fill my “grit glass” too.

      Have a great afternoon.

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