Kai Ryssdal

Gunnery Sgt. Holtry, United States Marine Corps

Kai Ryssdal May 28, 2014

My drill instructor’s name was Gunnery Sgt. Holtry, United States Marine Corps. That wasn’t his given name, of course.

It was Jerry. Jerry W., to be more specific.

But lord help any of us if we ever were caught referring to him as anything but Gunnery Sgt. Holtry, United States Marine Corps.

That’s him, by the way, fourth from the right in the picture above, just about the time I was in Officer Candidate School down in Pensacola, Florida.

It only lasted 14 weeks, but it’s kind of telling that that’s still how I remember him, almost 30 years on.

Why am I telling you this? Well, a couple of reasons, not necessarily connected but all of a piece somehow.

Item 1: On Tuesday, President Obama laid out his timeline for leaving Afghanistan. The official combat mission ends this year, 4,500 or so troops in-country by the end of next year, and by the end of 2016 what the White House calls “a normal embassy presence.” According to the website icasualties.org, 2,322 Americans have died there since 2001.

Item 2: CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s Twitter timeline this past weekend was, in honor of Memorial Day, a steady stream of remembrances of America’s war dead. Makes you think.

Item 3: This past week or so having been, in addition to Memorial Day, graduation week at a lot of colleges, this commencement address by Adm. William McRaven, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, stuck.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got today. No Marketplace angle. No business, no economics.

I never served in combat. Not even close. But for some reason, Memorial Day this year hit me harder than usual.

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