'The Marines' Captures Corps' Values

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2007 - "The Marines," a PBS documentary highlighting the history and heart of the smallest branch of the U.S. armed services, airs tomorrow on PBS stations nationwide at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

Filmmakers given access to Marine Corps training facilities in Parris Island, S.C.; Quantico, Va.; and Twentynine Palms, Calif., aimed to capture how a warrior culture and ethos is instilled at the Marine Corps the moment a recruit arrives at boot camp.

"How the warrior culture is engrained and how it sets the Marines apart from other armed services branches are critical aspects of Marine development and understanding," John Grant, producer of the WNED documentary, said.

At Twentynine Palms, the country's largest Marine base, filmmakers got a close-up look at a battalion training in mock Iraqi villages as it prepared for deployment. For roughly one-third of the Marines in the featured battalion, it would be their first combat deployment.

"We interviewed a Marine sergeant who had been to Iraq twice," Grant said. "It was interesting that the people who had been to Iraq were most concerned about sharing their knowledge with people who were going over there for the first time to give them a better chance of surviving the experience."

Other segments of the program focus on the Wounded Warrior Barracks in Camp Lejeune, N.C.; the new Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Va.; and women's role in the Marines.

During interviews, more than 30 present and former Marines of all ranks, plus authors and military correspondents describe the rich history, tradition and continuing importance of the Marine Corps.

Retired Marine Col. Thomas Shreeve, who is not featured in the film, said the Corps offered him a unique challenge.

"I learned the value of self-discipline, and I learned that I was capable of a great deal more than I thought I had been, in terms of meeting and overcoming physical adversity," he said. "I wanted from the Marine Corps a challenge that was outside (academic institutions), and I got it."

Part of the education he learned in the Corps is the "warrior ethos," Shreeve said. "It refers to the ethics that pervades an elite structure like the Marine Corps," he said. "It is self-discipline and self-sacrifice while working together to overcome an objective under extremely stressful and adverse circumstances."

For people who aren't familiar with the Marines, the program provides real insights into the Corps, Grant said.

"I think ("The Marines") is important because it exposes young people to the idea that there is a body of men and women who embrace values to which one can aspire," Shreeve said.

One Marine who embodied such values in Iraq is Cpl. Jason L. Dunham. Dunham was killed in action when he used his helmet to cover a grenade, then covered it with his body to shield his fellow Marines.

The 22-year-old Marine was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action, and the PBS documentary has been dedicated to his memory.

"The documentary offers an in-depth look at the rigorous physical and psychological training that create this tenaciously loyal, highly skilled breed of combatant ready to defend country and comrade at any cost," Grant said. "It focuses both on how one becomes a Marine and also what it means to be a Marine."

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