We’ll All Die As Marines: One Marine’s Journey From Private to Colonel
“Reading Jim’s book is like coming home!” So says the sixteenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret), in his endorsement of Colonel Jim Bathurst’s book “We’ll All Die As Marines: One Marine’s Journey from Private to Colonel.” In it, Col Bathurst chronicles his nearly thirty-six years as a United States Marine–from the day he arrived at boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, on March 6, 1958, to his retirement ceremony at Camp Geiger, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on October 1,1993.
In his in-depth account of his journey from private to colonel, Bathurst depicts his boot camp experience vividly and provides a comprehensive portrait of his service at all his subsequent duty stations and assignments including as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island to Vietnam where, as a Sergeant, he led an infantry platoon in combat and was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”, a Purple Heart–and ultimately a combat commission to 2nd lieutenant. You live his life vicariously every step of the way beginning from the perspective of a low-ranking enlistee up every rung of the ladder until his last day on active duty when he stood on the parade field as a Colonel of Marines being honored for his protracted and honorable service to his Corps and country.
He includes such assignments as his posting to Marine Barracks, 8th & I Streets, Washington. D.C., as a platoon commander of the world-renowned Special Ceremonial Platoon famous for their precision drill performances, as well as Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps’s largest Recruiting Station (Chicago)–and his many others. His story is replete with the everyday challenges he experienced as a leader of Marines at all levels, in all circumstances, in diverse geographical locations.
Colonel Bathurst accurately characterizes his book: “What you are now holding in your hands was fifty-five years in the making–nearly thirty-six years living it and nineteen years writing it.” In reading the details and description of what his life as a Marine entailed, it is obvious he put a great degree of thought into the book, written in an easy-to-read, smoothly flowing style inviting one to accompany him on his day-by-day adventures and making the reader a part of them. The book is extremely emotional in parts, especially his combat ordeals, while humorous in others.
The writer’s main thrust throughout is that of leadership–from the squad and platoon level in combat (Vietnam) to being a peacetime battalion commander of an infantry unit, a Commanding Officer of a Marine Barracks (NAS, Lemoore), and his final tour as Commanding Officer of the School of Infantry (Camp Lejeune)–and he presents the reader with an up-close and personal narration of the many challenges leaders at any level experience on a daily basis. He offers explicit examples of many of them and affords the solutions that worked best for him over the years.
Colonel Bathurst accurately summarizes his intentions in writing this book at the very beginning in the “Acknowledgements” section when he states: “I have endeavored herein to write honestly and forthrightly about my life as a United States Marine, to put into words the fundamental nature of what it was like to live such an adventure, both the good times and those perhaps not so good, and to recount the unique experiences a Marine has over any number of years–the true essence of my service in inarguably one of the finest military organizations in the world–and something of the numerous brothers and sisters I acquired over those many years, many of whom I will remember dearly to my last days.” I could not have put it any better.
I found the book riveting from cover-to-cover perhaps due to my own time as a United States Marine, but I am certain that anyone who takes pleasure in and learns from true-life stories of success will enjoy the book. It is an entertaining exposé of one person’s commitment to excellence, hard-fought determination to succeed, and steadfast loyalty to his Corps and country. I found the heartfelt stories of combat–especially the gut-wrenching depiction of the pure violence and heartrending loss of fellow Marines killed in action–to be the most emotionally appealing parts of the book. Bathurst takes you to the battlefield where you sense the intensity of combat, smell the acrid odor of gun powder, and hear the dreaded cry “Corpsman up!” as if you were there. His portrayal of war, both the physical and emotional aspect, is that accurate and sensory.
You do not come away from reading this book without your own favorite aspects of his exploits nor without becoming intimately involved in this man’s exciting life as a Marine transiting the long journey from private to colonel with all that entails. It is a well-turned saga in all respects.
As General Pace states on the cover: “… Marines past and present are reminded of the camaraderie, courage, team work, and humor that make our Corps a shared, life-changing experience regardless of when or where we served.”
In summary, Jim Bathurst says it best on the front flap of his book when he writes “… the Corps was not a job, a career, or even a profession; it was–and still is–a way of life.”
The book, published by iUniverse®, is available online in both hardcover and paperback (soft cover) versions as well as in eBook format. The retail price is $42.95 for the hard cover, $32.95 for the soft cover, and $7.99 for the downloadable eBook, although actual prices are usually lower.
Uniquely, the author offers autographed copies of his work by contacting him at SgtB@royell.org