Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
I sometimes have the opportunity to review various books, but it has been a while since I have done one. That being said I read a lot and probably do more book reviews, however, much of my reading is comprised of histories that a lot of other people just are not that interested in, and since I am not doing these reviews for an historical or political science journal, I see no point in writing reviews of them here.
But once in a while I read a book that jumps out at me as something that I really feel the need to review. One of those is Greg Cope White’s The Pink Marine.
Greg served as a closeted Gay man for six years in the Marine Corps, leaving with the rank of Sergeant before the era of don’t ask don’t tell, but the book is not so much about that, although the threat of being found out and being court-martialed or discharged with a less than honorable discharge was always present.
But as I said, the book is about far more than that. This is not a story of a man talking about being persecuted, it is a book about overcoming obstacles and self-doubts to accomplish something worthwhile. For Greg this was becoming a United States Marine, something that he is still very much proud of being.
You do not have to be Gay to enjoy, appreciate, and be inspired by this book. It an outstanding read for anyone who wants to understand the importance of learning to overcome and succeed.
The book deals with life, and how Greg’s life, upbringing, a lifelong friendship, all came together during the crucible of Marine Boot Camp. This is a story of triumph in the face of self-doubt and adversity, a story of friendship, loyalty, and bonding that those who have not gone through Boot Camp, or other forms of rigorous initial entry training in the military, training which challenges you to reach beyond your limits and overcome all of the obstacles thrown in your path.
Greg’s story is a common story for many men and women, straight and gay alike who have volunteered to serve in the military, not knowing quite what to expect, and then be broken down, and built back up, not just as individuals but as a group. When Greg tells the stories of Boot Camp, the work of the Drill Instructors, and his story of conquering his own doubts and weaknesses I could relate.
While I am not Gay, I have served in the military some 35 years, 17 1/2 years in the Army, and about the same in the Navy, with about six of my Navy years serving with the Fleet Marine Force. I still remember the breaking process of my Army ROTC Advanced Camp at Fort Lewis Washington in the summer of 1982 when an Army Special Forces and Ranger, Vietnam combat veteran by the name of Sergeant First Class Harry Ball broke me down and built me back up. I have written about that before, and it has stayed with me. Greg’s very vivid description of his Marine Corps Drill Instructors, also Vietnam vets, made me feel like I was there again. Such training can be both traumatic and humorous and Greg tells it better than most.
Likewise, Greg’s retelling of his work to master the Marine Physical Fitness Test, (PFT) made me recall my transition from the Army to the Navy, serving with the Second Marine Division at Camp LeJeune North Carolina. Though I was about to turn forty, the Marines made me want to do more than settle for Navy standards or my former Army standards, I wanted to meet theirs. When I read his account of nearly maxing that test, it brought me back to when I passed the Marine PFT with a Class One score on my 40th birthday in March 2000, and completing a timed forced march in full combat gear at the end of a grueling field exercise. Though I am a Navy officer I proudly wear the Fleet Marine Force Qualification pin, it establishes a link with Marines that cannot be broken.
I heartily recommend Greg’s book to anyone, especially those that need some inspiration to begin to believe in themselves, and that they can accomplish things that they thought were unattainable. It is a story of what it takes to become a Marine, total commitment and the qualities of courage, honor, loyalty, and professionalism. That is what you get in this book.
Greg’s book should also be read by those who oppose Gays serving in the military. I would hope that reading it would help lessen their prejudice and enlighten them that Gays and Lesbians, like anyone else can serve our Nation honorably, with the highest distinction.
I found Greg’s story tremendously inspiring, even at the age of 56 and now passed over for Captain, happily getting ready for my final tour of duty before I retire.
The Pink Marine can be found in most bookstores as well as on Amazon.com which has it on their Kindle format. Greg is an author, television writer, and is the host of the Cooking Channel’s food and travel show Unique Sweets, writes for the Huffington Post, and has his own blog over called EAT.GREG.EAT at www.eatgregeat.com
Have a great day.