Voices: Father and Son, Brothers in the Corps
The following was written by Jared, a Combat Marine and Purple Heart Recipient, for his father, a Vietnam-era Marine.
To you Dad, Happy Fathers Day.
The EGA (Eagle, Globe, & Anchor) [tattooed] on my chest. It is a tribute to my father and me. I got it right after boot camp and you can see the 65" and 05". I graduated boot on Parris Island almost to the exact date of my father 40 years later. We had earned our title of Marine on the same grinder and it was also the start of a friendship and brotherhood my father and I had so longed for.
In 2006 I was stationed in Hawaii with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, Golf Company 3rd platoon. The Marines in my platoon gave me the nickname "Old Man" the first day I got there because of my age. I was 25 when I joined the Corps and I was 26 when I got to Hawaii. I was older than my Lt. and almost all the other Marines in my Plt.
In September of 2006 we deployed to Iraq to the Al Anbar Province. 2/3 saw some of the most fierce fighting of the Iraq war since falujah. We are known as the Angels of Al Anbar.
On October 7th 2006 while on foot patrol I was struck by an IED that went off 12 feet beside me. I was severely wounded all over my body and if it wasn't for the quick reaction of my fellow Marines and my Doc I would not be writing this today.
After almost 30 surgeries over the next 3 years to fix my injuries I still wasn't healed. In the blast I lost about an inch and a half of my left lower jaw bone and 7 of my teeth. Infections were plaguing my healing process.
The Naval surgeons came up with a plan that they would use my pec muscle sliding it through my neck and attach it to my jaw to create a good blood supply to my jaw so the bone could heal and accept a new bone graph. This is a process used for cancer patients and has been very sucessful. The only problem is that they would have to cut open the left side of my chest over my EGA and my tribute to my father and I. I refused to let them do that!
Over the next few days and many talks with the surgeons I told them that the only way I would let them do this surgery is if they promised that they would stitch my EGA back to the way it was. I told them that this is the most important thing to me in my life. It not only represented the Corps and my utter devotion to the Corps but it represented my father and my bond that we had together.
I was told that before my eight-hour surgery ended, the Naval surgeons were going to just stitch me back up with no regards to my request. When a young Naval Officer female surgeon Dr. Serria Mehman told the other surgeons in the room that "We have operated on a warrior, and his only request to us was that we put his [tattoo] back together. It is the only thing he has asked of us and a promise we made to him and if you won't do that! For him I will". This woman spent the next hour sewing my tattoo back together again. She is now known as Dr. Stitch at Bethesda Naval Hospital, a name that myself and my fellow wounded Marines have given her.
After 36 surgeries I am now healed. Well as much as I can be. I truly owe it to my family and most my father for helping me through my operations and life after the Corps. My father showed me that "Once a Marine, always a Marine".
I was medically retired on November 29th, 2010 because of my injuries.
Through all of my 36 surgeries my father never left my side; he was there in my room day in and day out. He took time off of work for weeks at a time to make sure his son and fellow Marines were always taken care of. My father even told the doctors to take his bones and whatever else they needed to fix me. I was not just his son I was his brother.
My father never saw combat as a Marine; he was a crypto Marine, but he saw what combat does to a Marine. My father walked the lonely halls of 5-West at the hospital and made sure that he stopped into every room of a wounded Marine and Navy Corpsman and any other service man. He let them know that they served their country more than anyone could ask of them and that he would give anything he could to help them in there road to recovery.
To this day when I look down at my scarred chest and the scars all over my body and see the 65" and '05" and the EGA on my chest, I am proud and reminded that I'm not a hero for what I did, but that my father is a hero for what he has done. I hope one day that I will be the man he is.
For he has held and stayed true to the highest standards of the United States Marine Corps and being a father and friend.
I love you Pop! Semper Fi.
Cpl. Jared (Old Man) Kreiser USMC Ret. 05-10
Sgt. Michael Kreiser USMC 65-69
Old Man Out!