Marine brotherhood


We sat, as old friends will, catching up after decades of a note here and a phone call there, sharing a meal on an outdoor bistro patio, overlooking our county justice center. Jeff was the first person I hired when we moved to the Twin Cities in 1970.

He had recently returned from Vietnam, having done serious business, including retrieving remains of the stepson of a renowned Air Force general. Jeff turned up in my Carolina community while traveling to the reunion of those who accomplished that mission. He thoughtfully scheduled a couple days for our own reunion.

Jeff was trained as a Marine officer while a student at St. Thomas in St. Paul. I raised money for the St. Thomas and Visitation prep schools. While training, Jeff knew Bob Mueller. I am reading the new book by Jim Mattis. We have much recent Marine history to scrutinize.

Jeff exemplifies Marine values and integrity. Mueller and Mattis do likewise.

An offhand note to Jim Mattis seemed to assure my entry to John Canley’s Medal of Honor ceremonies. That was shortly after Jeff located Canley and Jim Mort for me. Since then Mort has visited.

Mattis thinks fighting alongside fellow Marines is ultimate good fortune. His arresting story won’t only interest students of military issues.

The justice center features a Confederate statue, provoking activists who resent recognizing the period of national shame. Jeff and his wife Karin, a psychiatric nurse, volunteered at the Texas-Mexico border earlier this year. They are active members of an extraordinary Catholic congregation in Minneapolis.

Our talk leads us to agree about the importance of the 2020 election and thoughts of an informed and committed electorate; emphasizing Iowa’s unique role. The Iowa Diaspora attitude is crucial. It keeps us positively optimistic.

Jim McDiarmid is a Storm Lake native, writer and Marine Corps veteran living in North Carolina.

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