Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Veteran: Veterans Day Speech at Loveland High

Veterans Day Speech at Loveland High

Corporal Joseph Flanigan
Marine Corps
January 1968-January 1971
San Diego, California

Veteran’s Day Speech, November 11, 2014.

In 1967, when I graduated high school, I wanted to be a nuclear physicist. I just thought it would be amazing to study the insides of atoms. Well, it was Vietnam time, and the draft enlisted youth to the military as soldiers. In college, I soon realized I needed more money for tuition, and I volunteered for the draft to get 3 years of college for 2 years of service using veteran’s benefits. While in boot camp, I learned the first of many Marine ideals, like, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution staring the Marine Corps. From that date, every Marine is trained in combat to defend our United States. As I was to learn, for every Marine on the front line, there are many jobs Marines do to support missions. 
Yesterday was our 239th birthday. 

While in boot camp, you hear the drill instructors shouting. “In my Marine Corps, we do 100 push-ups before chow!” “In my Marine Corps, we don’t walk, we run!” “In my Marine Corps, we crawl on our belly to rest!” And you think to yourself, this guy is insane, always saying “In my Marine Corps” before every challenge and command.

While in bootcamp, you take lots of tests that will determine your job in the service. My results came. “Private Flanigan, you have been selected for a new job. Something called computers. I didn’t know anything about it. You don’t have to take the job. If you don’t, you will be shipping out for Vietnam.” At 18, I just made of the smartest life decisions, “Sir, I accept.” That decision began my 45-year career in computer science.

Boot camp graduation, the drill instructor hand you the Maine Corps Eagle, Anchor, Globe emblem, shakes your hand and says “Welcome to my Marine Corps” And then you understand.

For the next year, I went to a special Marine Corps school, completing 4 years of college courses in 48 weeks. I still remember the first day of class, and the first words of the instructor, “How high can you count on your fingers?” By then, I already knew in the Marine Corps, the easy answer was always wrong. After instructed listened a few wrong answers, he announced: “In this class, you will learn to count.” I learned to count, many did not.

We were to training on Tactical Data Systems. This was the first generation of computer-assisted flight and ground weapons. From the ground system, officer flight controllers commanded combat missions on military targets using data from radar, missiles, aircraft, and other armaments. Even though I was trained at the highest level, I was a Marine and could be transferred with the systems into combat. The Marine Corps changed my dream of looking into the physics of atoms to using atoms of electricity.

My duty was in Garden Grove, California,  testing and preparing new systems for deployment. We worked long hours in 6 foot cubes chasing computer circuits. To change a programs in second generation computers, technicians rewired circuits. 

Occasionally we would be assigned special duty. Marines who died in Vietnam would return to the states at the El Toro Marine Airbase. Today, I can still see the coffins being unloaded from giant cargo planes. Standing in company formation, stone silent, we watched, and said silent prayers.

When a Marine leaves active duty, we honor each other, no longer officers or private, just Marine. In greeting other Marines, we say, our motto, “Semper Fi”, forever faithful.

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