Michael J. Kerrigan

Marine Corps

By Thomas E. Minor / Guest columnist

Posted http://www.theledger.com/opinion/20170825/polk-perspective-character-counts-one-marines-viewpoint

Character is defined simply as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” The Marines taught me that “character is an inward trait to be learned only after close observation and association and a person’s character is his or her most precious asset.” The Marines taught me many other things about character that have held true over my lifetime. I listen. I learned. I acted on them. I prospered.

Here are just a few of the more important things the Marines taught me about character:

‒ Character is the foundation of leadership and all other leadership traits build on the quality of the individual character the leader possesses.

‒ A fatally flawed character often equates to fatally flawed decision making.

‒ Fatal character flaws inevitably undermine and make suspect all of the motives and actions of the leader, eventually rendering… Continue reading


My name is Tyler Southern. I was raised in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2007 at the age of 17 I joined the Marine Corps. After training I was attached to 1st Battalion 2nd Marines where I deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan

On May 5th 2010 , while in Afghanistan, I stepped on the pressure plate of a 10lbs victim operated IED resulting in the immediate loss of three limbs. After two and a half years rehabbing at Bethesda Naval Hospital , I medically retired on September 21, 2012.

On July 9, 2011 I married my best friend, the beautiful Ashley Southern and January 1, 2014 she gave birth to our first son: Damon Cole. My hope for the future is to raise three wonderful children with the love of my life, work with heroes, spread awareness for the wounded, and remember & honor the Fallen.



By Jim Michaels, USA Today

James Mattis*, who retired from the Marine Corps last year as a four-star general, is among the most articulate thinkers on a subject that gets very little attention: what it means to be a warrior.

Even in retirement Mattis has an enthusiastic following among Marines, an infantry-oriented service that values espirit de corps, or fighting spirit, above almost all else.

In a speech last month, Mattis tackled a concern that is on the minds of a number of combat leaders: A public that wants to paint veterans as victims and why that is potentially damaging to the fighting spirit of America’s warriors.

“I would just say there is one misperception of our veterans and that is they are somehow damaged goods,” Mattis said. “I don’t buy it.”

“If we tell our veterans enough that this is what is wrong with them they may actually… Continue reading


This poem was chosen by Major General John A. Lejeune, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, as his favorite of all the Marine Corps verse written during the war. It is republished here by permission of the author and of the publishers, Reilly and Lee, who hold the copyright.

IT was thick with Prussian troopers, it was foul with German guns;
Every tree that cast a shadow was a sheltering place for Huns.
Death was guarding every roadway, death was watching every field,
And behind each rise of terrain was a rapid-fire concealed

But Uncle Sam’s Marines had orders: “Drive the Boche from where they’re hid.
For the honor of Old Glory, take the woods!” and so they did.

I fancy none will tell it as the story should be told–
None will ever do full justice to those Yankee troopers bold.
How they crawled upon… Continue reading

More and more readers ask to post articles as The Character Building Project grows in readership. Here follows a contribution from a Viet nam Veteran and pal of mine who ask me to pass on a little history most people will never know.

There are 58,267 names now listed on the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth , Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III,… Continue reading

Our good friend Tom Esslinger of the Marine Crops Association brought the first rate reporting of Gretel Kovach to the attention of the Character Building Project.

Gretel C. Kovach joined the San Diego Union-Tribune in February 2010 as a military affairs reporter. Her coverage focuses on the Marine Corps, warzone operations, combat casualty care, and the California National Guard. Kovach spent three months out of the last year reporting from the front lines of Afghanistan, embedded with U.S. Marines. She also has reported from Iraq and Ground Zero in New York City during the 9/11 attacks. Gretel’s excellent series reached me yesterday afternoon as I returned from Bethesda Naval Amputee Center after Captain Aloysius Boyle personally introduced me to scores of our wounded warriors and their equally heroic caregivers. Continue reading

Corporal Paul Kim went to war as a 21 year-old and was medically retired with the mental functioning capacity of an 8 year-old and was a hemiplegic after suffering a severe brain injury. He is a first-generation American citizen and was born shortly after his father Ray Kim immigrated to the United States from Korea a few years before Paul was born. Continue reading

Sgt. Gregory Rodriguez suffered a massive traumatic brain injury that severely impacted his speech.  He received a medical retirement from the Marine Corps and was placed on the temporary disability retired list which meant that he had to attend a physical every 18 months for the next 5 years to determine if his condition had stabilized, gotten better or if it had gotten worse. My team was asked to check in on the Marine because he wasn’t responding to the letters that were sent to him directing him to call the number listed on the letter to schedule an appointment to be re-evaluated. At the time we met with him he was in jeopardy of being dropped from the temporary disability retired list because of non-compliance. Continue reading

Since the Global War on Terrorism began, 1,400 of our brothers and sisters have lost their lives in combat. Close to 13,000 Marines have been wounded. At least 5 times that many carry the signature wounds of this war which has been an asymmetrical mix that spans a spectrum between mind blowing 21st Century battlefield technology to bayonet and hand to hand combat. Continue reading

In my recent interview with lawyer and Marine Major, Justin Constantine, a courageous wounded warrior, I asked Justin… If you did the right thing, does it matter how or why you did it—whether you did it willingly or unwillingly, through fear of public opinion or for its own sake? While Justin was reluctant to be judgmental of others, he agreed that right actions done for the wrong reason do not help build character. Doing something for the right reason is the noble quality of character that really matters. Continue reading

Readers of the Character Building Project have been sharing stories and their views of factors that foster character development and bravery. This week we will post several suggestions for inclusion in Courage in America, starting with a report from the Khe Sanh veterans’ site. Continue reading

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