I spent the better part of yesterday in the limelight doing a painting demonstration at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the Global War on Terrorism Gallery. Dozens of visitors stopped, asked questions, oo'd and ah'd and generally fed my already over-stuffed ego.
The real treat for me however was seeing my old boss, Colonel John W. Ripley USMC (retired). Colonel Ripley, following his retirement from active military service, took on the helm of the Marine Corps History and Museum Division and sheparded us through the process that resulted in the National Museum of the Marine Corps becoming a steel and concrete reality.
He was waiting to take out to lunch one of the Marines who works at the museum, Sergeant Jeremiah Workman. What do these two stellar Marines share in common? They're both recipients of the Navy Cross, an award second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Amongst Marines the Navy Cross is virtually equal to the MOH. This is especially true in Colonel Ripley's case. On Easter Morning 1972 then Captain Ripley almost singlehandedly stopped the entire North Vietnamese Army dead in its tracks by blowing up the Bridge at Dong Ha. The phrase "Ripley at the bridge" is as well known to Marines as the Chosin Reservoir and the Iwo Jima flag raising.
These two gentlemen were gracious enough to let me photograph them. One of the great joys of being a Marine is experiencing the constancy of the Corps that transcends time and place, and having the opportunity to stand momentarily in the shadow of giants such as these two men. It is a truism that people of this calibre are humble even to the point of embarrassment over the fuss made with regards to their heroics.