Vietnam vet shows recruits value of honor, teamwork
By Pfc. Kaitlyn M. Scarboro
| | August 05, 2005
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
A retired Vietnam veteran, who served as the team leader for a Medal of Honor recipient, addressed the recruits of Company I at Edson Range, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Monday.
Retired Maj. Steven M. Lowery narrated the heroic actions of a 12-man reconnaissance team fighting against a North Vietnamese Army platoon. Recruits reenacted the firefight around Lowery's podium.
Lowery told his account of the firefight and incorporated tactical techniques, leadership and teamwork skills the recruits would need to make it through the Crucible.
"It's easier for the platoon to work together. It touched everyone and made everyone want to work together," said Recruit Joshua B. Barber, Platoon 3098. "At this point in training, it's getting hard. We've been here two months, and now we are finally on the downhill. It was nice to finally get a motivational speech. It made me feel like I could accomplish something."
Lowery told tales of heroism and of many men who received the highest honors of military service including Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, Navy Crosses, and a Navy Commendation Medal.
"It was an honor and a privilege to know that a retired major would take time out of his day to talk to recruits," said Recruit Andrew J. Comtis, Platoon 3102 guide.
Lowery told the recruits stories of injured Marines who fought until they could fight no more, corpsman who repeatedly revived fallen Marines and a story of one Marine who's selfless actions almost went unnoticed.
Pfc. Robert H. Jenkins Jr., a machine gunner with Company C, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, Third Marine Division, received the Medal of Honor after sacrificing his life for a fellow Marine when a North Vietnamese soldier threw a hand grenade at them. Jenkins used his body to shield the other Marine and absorbed the full impact of the grenade, according to Lowery. This action allowed the machine gun to fight off the enemy and kept other Marines from being injured or killed.
Lowery and the survivors of the firefight went to great lengths to ensure Jenkins received the accolades he deserved for his actions.
Lowery said the story of Jenkins is appropriate for the recruits because of an obstacle they would have to overcome during the Crucible. Jenkins Pinnacle, like many of the Crucible obstacles, was designed to instill teamwork into the recruits.
"When they go through the Crucible, they go through in small teams. The whole effort is to build teamwork," said Lowery.