Note that today's new member is being announced simply as "New Member". No rude cracks about FNGs or having to buy the beer, etc, etc.
What's this Sarge? No smart-a$$ remarks? No wise cracking.
No boys and girls, not today.
For this lady was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps on the same day as the Nuke was commissioned into the United States Navy. She and the Nuke were roommates in the second semester of their freshman year and into their sophomore year. She and the WSO also became fast friends. "Guin", as we have always called her, is very much family.
She was a shipmate of both the Nuke and the WSO during their college years as they all went through the same Navy ROTC program at the College of the Holy Cross. (Which, by the way, I reckon as the university having the finest Naval tradition in the country. Only being surpassed by the Boat School. Down there in Maryland on the Severn. You know, the Naval Academy. I'm sure some of you have heard of it?)
What's more, Guin's Dad was also a Marine. Sadly he passed on when Guin was young and never did get to see his daughter return her first salute as an officer of Marines. Well, he wasn't there physically but I did feel that there was another Marine in that hall on that fine day. There in spirit.
I remember that day very well. For you see, as a crusty old enlisted Master Sergeant type, all three of my kids gave me the distinct honor and pleasure of making sure I was the one who gave them their first salute. I cannot begin to describe the absolute joy and pride I felt on those three days.
When the Nuke was about to be commissioned, of course she assumed that I would be there to render that first salute. The Nuke being The Nuke, with her precise attention to detail, she made absolutely sure that I was going to do this. The Nuke never assumes anything, she confirms, commands and directs. She is one Hell of a fine officer. And I'm not saying that just because I'm her Dad. But (as usual) I digress.
The Nuke also asked me if I would be willing to render the first salute to Guin. If her Dad had been alive, I know he would've been the one to do that. But she wanted me to step in for her Dad. How could I not? I was touched and nearly overwhelmed with emotion.
So I told her, "Yes, sweetie, I would be honored to give Guin her first salute. I'm kinda tired of saluting sailors, a Marine lieutenant would be a nice change of pace." And yes, I got "the Look" with that crack about sailors. Heh.
At any rate, the commissioning ceremony was at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI, where the Naviguesser, the Nuke and Guin all graduated from) in Alden Memorial Hall. The new officers would be sworn in and then walk across the stage to where they would receive their first salute.
When it was Guin's turn, I rendered the snappiest salute I could (which I have to tell you, I think I have the best salute in the entire armed forces, full of gravitas and power it is. Encapsulates centuries of military tradition it does, but I see I'm digressing again.)
When Guin shook my hand (thus passing to me, semi-covertly as tradition demands, a shiny silver dollar) I told her, "I'm sure your Dad would be very proud of you on this day Ma'am." And I could feel it in my bones, he was. I know he was.
Ah well, seeing I'm talking about this day back in 2005. I might as well mention that also on that day (remember the Nuke received her commission the same day) the Naviguesser had flown in from Norfolk. Seems it had been arranged that the Naviguesser would actually commission his sister, the Nuke. That too was an awesome moment. Not that I needed to be told, as I could see it while the kids were growing up, but both daughters have often told me what an awesome older brother they have.
He's a pretty awesome son too, I might add.
But there it is, we have another new member here at the Chant du Départ, welcome aboard Guin. Proud to have you. I might also mention that Guin is now a writer, having left the Marines last year, to be a Mom. (There's a toss-up as to which is a tougher job, Marine or Mom? I know both are tenacious and fiercely loyal.) She has a blog here which I believe will be moving to Wordpress sometime soon. But you can still read about Guin at that link.
The rest of you lot, tread lightly. Remember she's a Marine.