Colin the Marine

One night in the spring of 1985, during a college semester spent abroad in England, some classmates and I befriended a rowdy group of Brits in a pub. Pints turned into quarts and quarts into gallons, and all too soon we were dismayed to hear the pubkeeper cry out “last call”. We eagerly accepted our newfound friends’ invitation to accompany them to their nearby flat and continue the party.

As the festivities stretched into the early morning, we learned that our new friend Colin, the most gregarious and obvious leader of the group, had recently been discharged from the Royal Marines. At this point, one of my college friends, who happened to be much more enamored with my recent flirtation with the Marine Corps than I was, told Colin of my experience. Colin’s face lit up, and from that moment on we shared a kinship, and he would talk of nothing else. It didn’t seem to matter to him that I had only spent half a summer at OCS, while he had seen combat in the Falklands. In his mind, at least on that beery night, he had found fellow Marine, and that was a special thing.

The party eventually wound down, and we in the American contingent gathered our things and prepared to leave. “Wait,” said Colin. “I want to give you something.” He rushed back into his bedroom and emerged with a dog-eared paperback copy of Fields of Fire. “This is our bible,” he said. “Every Marine needs to read this.”

I read it, and have re-read it several times since. It’s a remarkable book, written by a remarkable man.

If you are a Virginian, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday.

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