My Faux Pas: The Marine Corps

(1) a amrine flagI first heard the term faux pas at a Southie/Eastie football game at White Stadium on a Thanksgiving many years ago. I was sitting with my father and Bill Carr in the stands and Joe Feeney came up to talk to them. As I listened he said something or the other about a faux pas.  It’s funny how that incident stuck with me.

At the time I had no idea of its meaning. Over the years there were many times when it accurately described what I had done. Today is one of those times.

I forgot that today was the Marine Corps birthday. I totally forgot. Not even an inkling of the fact that November 10 meant anything.

I knew a judge who was inclined to give guys who served in the Marines the benefit of the doubt in some cases which I believed was entirely appropriate. The defense bar seemed to sense that so its members would tell the judge that the defendant served in the Marines. The judge began to suspect that a game was afoot wondering how come all of the crimes in the district seemed to involved Marines. The judge then used a test to determine if the defendant was really in the Marines by asking him that date of the Marine Corps birthday. The judge expected that everyone who had been in the Marines would remember that date.

I happened to be out with the judge having a beer. The judge told me about this. I responded that it wasn’t really a good test. I went on to say that when I was in the Marines the birthday was not a big deal. I only remembered one time when I celebrated it and that was at Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. All us second lieutenants had to all wear our “dress whites” and attend a very formal dinner on the first floor of our the BOQ. I recall that because it was the first time I had onion soup and I can still see the piece of French bread covered in cheese floating around in it.

The only other time I wore my dress whites was when I went off with the Basic School Glee Club to sing songs for the brass down at Mainside. We had a small repetoire of songs. I remember singing: “Over There“, “The Marine Corps Hymn,”,”The Song of the Marines” and “Johnny Get Your Gun. What was I doing in the glee club? It was simple, I’d have done anything to get out of those forced nighttime marches into the dark woods of Virginia.

After that though, I don’t recall celebrating the Marine Corps birthday and for years after I left the Marines I never did. It seemed the celebration came back into vogue over the past twenty or thirty years or so.

A couple of my siblings just reminded me of it by wishing me a happy birthday. It all began at Tun Tavern which was an appropriate venue for it. So forgive my neglect and let me say to all my fellow Marines: “Happy Birthday.” 

 

9 thoughts on “My Faux Pas: The Marine Corps

  1. MATT ,SEEING THAT YOU CAN’T REMEMBER THE MARINE BIRTHDAY ON A REGULAR BASIS [WE CELEBRATED NOV 10TH ON A HILL OVERLOOKING RT 9, NOT THE ONE RUNNING THROUGH BROOKLINE, IN 1967], TRY COUGHING UP YOUR GENERAL ORDERS AS PENANCE. I’M SURE MY BUDDY, THE NEW COMMANDANT, GEN DUNFORD WOULD GRANT YOU ABSOLUTION.

    SEMPER FI, COUSIN JIM AMBROSE CAPT. USMCR

    1. Cousin Captain James:

      I don’t suppose you were dressed in you dressed whites at the time overlooking Route 9:

      Looking back on November 10, 1961 found me at Atsugi, NAS and for some reason we didn’t celebrate it at all; the next year I was at Beaufort and the base was practically deserted because everyone had moved south into Florida as a result of the Cuban missile crises and I remained behind as part of a small contingent that was going to go out on the 30th MEU down to the Caribbean.

      I’ll have to try to do a better job remembering. Perhaps you can tell the Commandant to give me a call a week or so before it.

      Semper Fi, Cousin Matt, 1/Lt USMCR

  2. * Matt : … Madeleine not …. Madeline 🙂 Again … SEMPER FI to all the real blood and guts Marines who made our Country what it is, and whose sacrifices are understood and revered by many of us still .

  3. SEMPER FI , MATT !

    The SEMPER FIDELIS SOCIETY of MASSACHUSETTS was founded many years ago
    at JOE TECCE’s Restaurant by TOM LYONS, JACK HYNES ,GENE VALLINCOURT and a few other of us less well known MARINES in attendance.
    3000 MARINES and guests including the COMMANDANT of the MARINE CORPS
    have followed at the convention center in SOUTH BOSTON every year since !
    SEMPER FI

    AL JOHNSON

    1. Al:

      Semper Fi back at you. Nice to hear from you and get a little history lesson. You are right the Marine dinner is now a big affair. A dozen years ago I went to one or two of those events, remember seeing Marty Leppo there. I intended to go back again but as I wrote each year it slips my mind. Hope this finds you well and if so stay that way. SEMPER FI.

      Matt

  4. I saw you in dress whites in the backyard on Belfort Street around 1960. You looked good beside that TR-3. 2. Like MSfreeh, I want to say something totally unrelated: I think you keep Msfreeh on this site so no one will read the commentators. 5. Anyway, Happy Birthday to you and all the jarheads I’ve been privileged to know throughout my life; the few, the proud, the Marines.

  5. Gracious Gods there Matt … Proust ate a Madeline and the rest is history. For you it was that crust of french bread stalking the edges of your bowl of onion soup, and we hear a serious morsel of yout history : Second Lieutenant Matt Connolly in his Marine Corp dress whites singing JOHNNY GET YOUR GUN with the Corp’s Glee Club. And this as a stratagem to beat night marches !!! …. Let me tell you something Lieutenant. It took guts, humor, a non-inflated view of oneself, and a realization that we do not control where we appear in life and history, in the Marine Corps or otherwise, to admit that !!! … Great funny story and image. Semper Fi and Happy Birthday .

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