Josh Duncan

U.S. M.C., Ret.

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Josh has been a contributor to this site almost from the beginning.

His experiences and passion for America are valuable assets indeed.

Updated 04/24/11


I don't know who has written this but it sure explains a lot.


The question is--- why do we truly believe that we are still Marines and always will be no matter what. Long read but well worth it.


On Life. (in general)

Life's much easier when you read wonderful books and stare at inconceivable art and listen to transcendent music and watch inspiring movies. When you allow the great authors and poets and filmmakers and musicians and artists to help sort things out for you, life just becomes easier, I think. Perhaps this is because you realize you are not the first person that has ever felt that he had no clue what's going on, or what's to come. You realize you are not alone. And you say to yourself humble things like, "how small I am."

And you become stronger.


But even with the nod of the greats, it's important we each tell our own story in our own way. It's therapy, for one. But it also preserves the memory. I never want to forget any of the Marines I ever walked alongside.  They are my heroes.


Chapters. (and why a father is always right)

On the last afternoon of my active duty service I met my old man for a drink.  We sat in deep couches in a familiar bar and ordered the old fashioned. We first toasted the great naval service of which we had both served, and next the adventure that I had just lived. We sat in that bar for hours and told stories of the great men we knew back then and how I wish the VA would cover the Propecia prescription for my hair loss and finally did what it is a father and a son do after one has come back from war and the other had already been, which is change the subject and talk about mom.


And at some point that afternoon, I can't be sure exactly at which time, I looked at my dad, who had flown three tours in Vietnam and whose one Marine son had fought in Afghanistan and whose other in Iraq, and asked him what he was thinking about just then. He told me he was thinking about life's chapters and how important it is to recognize when they start and when they finish. He told me to enjoy this moment.

And that was all he said.


My dad's lesson was simple that afternoon: It's essential to sincerely differentiate between "time" and "moments" because life's shade, import and value are defined by moments and time is just what we have left.


My father the Scotsman was right. But then again, it's been my experience that a father is always right.


On Love, (swimming in the ocean, Shakespeare and everything else.)

Pool workouts are straightforward, comfortable and humdrum. But working out in the water is about heart and when you swim in the ocean you have the environment to compete with and the climate and God. And so I prefer to do my swim workouts in the open ocean.


This weekend I did my usual La Jolla Cove to La Jolla Shores and back swim.  The water was cold and the sand sharks off the Shores, harmless though they are, did their best to frighten me (but how I love that they take 30 seconds off my 500 meter split). The only difference between this swim and the countless others I've done these past few years is that this was the first ocean swim I'd done since being off active duty.  For the first time this workout was about me wanting to look and feel good, instead of about preparation for training (or not wanting to fall behind my Force Recon Marines during a swim exercise) and, quite frankly, I hated that feeling.


My mind was everywhere during the swim. But at around the 1,000 meter mark it settled on one thing: how much I love the Marine Corps.


It came to me out there that my experience in the Marine Corps was the most wonderful, transformative, rich experience a man could ever hope to have.

And this is what I learned...


The Marine Corps taught me the sort of practical things that all men should know but don't these days like how to shoot a weapon, survive in the wilderness, navigate by compass and map, and take care of your feet.


The Marine Corps taught me the true meaning of words I had only before read about in Shakespeare: honor, obligation, courage, fidelity and sacrifice.  These were no longer merely a part of some story from an epic script on war, but real memories about real men in war.


In the Marine Corps I learned what it means to be truly happy and what it feels like to be truly sad. And I realized neither had anything to do with me but both had everything to do with the unit and the definition of a meaningful life.


In my travels I learned that life isn't very easy for most people in this world. And that we are blessed to have won life's lottery and to have been born in this country.


I learned that freedom is impossible without sacrifice and neither matters very much without love.


I learned that it's not what's on your chest that counts, but what's in your chest.


I learned that standards matter. I was taught the importance of discipline. And of letting go from time to time.


I learned that all it takes is all you got.


I learned a good NCO is worth his weight in gold...a good Staff NCO is absolutely priceless.


I learned it is important to write letters to yourself along the way because the details will escape you.


I learned there is a difference between regret and remorse.


Phase lines help you eat an elephant. Which is true with so much in life I suppose.


I learned that apathy is the evil cousin of delegation.


The Marine Corps taught me about physical courage, team work, the absolute virtue of a human being's great adventure and that all men fall.


With respect to tactics, I've found it most critical to never say never, and never say always.


I learned the importance of a good story shared among friends. Or a good glass of scotch enjoyed in solitude. Or of the importance of sailing away until you cannot see the coastline anymore...and then coming home, a better man.


I learned that faith matters. And that aside from the importance of believing the universe is so much bigger than any one man could ever comprehend, I learned that I truly believe in the power of a great bottle of wine, the courage of the enlisted Marine and the tenets of maneuver warfare.


I discovered my morality.


I learned how to fight in the Marine Corps...and my time in bars with my brother-Marines has taught me that contrary to our own self-perpetuated mythology, not all blood that Marines shed together is on the battlefield.


The Marine Corps taught me how to think aggressively. How to respond under pressure. How to perform. How to live excellently and that nothing is more important than the mission or the Marine.


The Marine Corps taught me how to laugh - deeper than I ever thought imaginable - and how to cry. And that a warrior's tears reflect his soul.


Finally, the Marine Corps did more for me than I could have ever done for gave me an extraordinary adventure to live that is mine and that I will never for the rest of my life forget.


And then there's this last irony...

That I would have the honor of spending these years studying and practicing the discipline of warfighting alongside the wonderful modern Marine-hoplite only to realize that what I learned had so much less to do with war and so much more to do with love.


How do I feel in the 72 hours since I've left the Marine Corps?

I miss it already.

And you will continue to miss it.



The subject is in English  - I have been reading the Latin Dictionary.  As a Recruit I was taught that our Motto was "Semper Fidelis".  When the Semper Fi came out I did not use it.  After a while thinking about how proud I was of our Motto I wanted to know what Fi meant in Latin.

It means "Pheu" as in foul smelling.   When Semper Fi is used it's interpretation is "Always Stinks"
   Semper Fidelis




The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education.

He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers:  "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie.  Be honest. What do you make?"
Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,   "You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began...)
"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.  I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I-Pod, Game Cube or movie rental...

You want to know what I make?" (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

    I make kids wonder. I make them question.
    I make them criticize.
    I make them apologize and mean it.
    I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
    I teach them to write and then I make them write.
    I make them read, read, read.
    I make them show all their work in math.
    I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
    I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
    I make my students stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, because we live in the United States of America.
    Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

"Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant...

You want to know what I make?

I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  What do you make?"

THIS IS WORTH SENDING TO EVERY TEACHER YOU KNOW. (And everyone on your mailing list, for that matter).

    "Teachers make every other profession "

If you are reading this thank a Teacher.  If you are reading this in English thank a Soldier




Excellent article recommendation - Lloyd Marcus Article -  A BLACK MAN, THE PROGRESSIVE'S PERFECT TROJAN HORSE



The enclosed article is my findings years after the Korean Peace talks began.

I was a rifleman (BAR) with DOG Company 2nd Battalion 1st Provisional Brigade en-route to Japan to help form the 1st Marine Division.  We sailed from San Diego July 1950.  We were a very large fighting force other than for Infantry.  We only had 6 rifle companies that would have 9 if up to strength.  We were diverted to Busan (formally spelled Pusan), South Korea.  We landed there on 2 August, 1950.  Went directly into combat with North Korean Armored units.  The U.S. Army that had arrived before us were poorly trained, desperately under armed and poorly led.  None of them had a single weapon that could stop a Russian T- 34 Tank.  The North Koreans were armored and had 300 T-34 of such tanks.  After crossing into South Korea and capturing the Capital Seoul they had by our landing date pushed the units of the 8th U.S. Army to within a week of driving them off the Peninsula to make South Korea nonexistent.

  I enjoyed the Commandants Message but as usual had the feeling the Brigade was cut short.  Even though we were only 6 rifle companies and were a unit for only seven weeks.  Our accomplishment with our outstanding support was Historical for Marine Corp's History.  We actually saved the South Korean portion of the Peninsula.  This along with saving at least 3 Army Divisions of the 8th  Army from being pushed into the sea.  That is History.  I as a rifleman did not miss a firefight Dog Company was in.  The Brigade received two Presidential Unit Citations.  One from President Truman and one from President Syngman Rhee.  We also received one from the 24th Army Division even though it had lost its colors.

The Brigade was disbanded as a unit of the 8th Army on 13 September, 1950 to become the 5th Regiment of the 1st. Marine Division.  We were brought up to strength but remained Dog Company, 2nd. Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st. Marine Division.
Although we had dropped half of the men that sailed from San Diego we still became the 1st Infantry Unit to make an amphibious landing at Inchon 2 days after having bee a Brigade.  The morning of 15 September 1950 we landed at Inchon.  
  I was with Dog Company as a PFC in the 1st Division for Landing in Inchon where there was relatively little opposition other than friendly Naval Gunfire.  Our platoon was the first to enter Kimpo Air field.  We were for the second time wiped out down to 25 fighting men when we broke the MLR guarding Seoul.  We were pulled of line and regrouped at Inchon.   Dog Company had lost its officers a second time.  This time our CO "Lt. Smith" was killed.  We left Inchon for Wonsan on the East coast where we played operation Yoyo due to harbor mining.  We waded ashore to find that Bob Hope, the 7th Army Division and a division of South Koreans had pacified the area.  We understood there were no North Korean Army to fight, so we celebrated.

   Years later after becoming an Intelligence CWO I studied the operational maps used after Wonsan.  I became convinced that the U.N. had people on both sides of the war for a reason.
   The U.N. countries were not involved in our saving the Peninsula.  It was their plan that a highly trained, well armed light mechanized Army with 300 T-34 tanks could take the lower Peninsula before the other members of the U.N. could be mustered to stop them from controlling all of Korea.  They were right.  The under strength, armed and trained U.S. was the main forces sent to South Korea.  They were less than a week from being pushed into the sea.
   Gen. MacArthur saw what the plans were and diverted our powerful force of support weapons to Pusan.  The B. S. Missouri, 3 air to ground carriers and our company, Battalion and Brigade stopped the push immediately.  The Norths U.N. saw their effort had failed.  They then gathered Chinese Field Armies on the Yalu with the Idea of when we eliminated the North Koreans they could claim we would invade China.  MacArthur saw this and wanted to bomb the Chinese.  Since the U.N. was running the Police Action, Truman was out of the order other than one vote.  As MacArthur's C in C he could not give orders other than through the U.N.  MacArthur had to be relieved.

When the 8th Army and our 10th Corps had no North Korean Army to fight we felt it was time to go home.  The North U.N. had another plan.  The unit assignment of the U.N. was determined to have revenge,  They ordered the 1st Mar. Div. to proceed up what you know was an untenable single road north.  This was to get the 10th Corps in our area and the 8th Army now in the west to become close to the Chinese border.   This allowed the Chinese to operate the secondary excuse we were moving to invade, for there was no North Korean Army to draw us North.

When studying the battle maps it occurred to me that where there were Southern U.N. forces, there appeared 3 or 4 times as many Chinese.  The Chinese could only have obtained our positions from the troop assignment department in New York.  The Chinese had no intelligence capability to cover our positions.  Masterful rear support along with Marine training kept the many times more plentiful Chinese from wiping us out.  We again lost our company officers.  Our CO was Capt Smith, no relation to our 2nd CO.

I also participated in every firefight while with Dog Company 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st. Marine Division until flown to the Naval Hospital at Yokosuka, Japan.  I received a number of minor wounds with no officers or corpsmen to verify.  I was presented and wore a Purple Heart in the Hospital in Japan.  When returning to the 2nd Div. at Lejeune I reenlisted for six years and my discharge had no P H so I was required to get rid of it because as a Corporal it was improper. That was prior to DD214's. 

    Semper Fidelis
     Joshua M. Duncan 1087527

My presence in all the above is on official monthly company reports at the Naval Yard in Washington D.C., and I also have a copy used in writing the above. J.M.D. 




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