Eagle, Globe and Anchor


photo courtesy of Jim McLellan

During a particularly long and grueling night, Jim McLellan and his crew were in a cold, dark tent at the side of the flight line. They sat in the tent eating Ready-to-Eat Army Rations in sleeting conditions. Everyone felt pretty miserable, until a fellow by the name of Captain George Nolte looked around at them and said with a big grin, “You know guys, we’ll look back at this as the good old days.” George was right, retired lieutenant colonel McLellan wouldn’t trade his time in a squadron for a million dollars.

At the age of 17, Jim McLellan made a choice that would change his life forever: he joined the marines on the brink of the Vietnam War, right before the draft had begun.

“I do remember when they were calling the numbers,” McLellan said, “Mine was not in the range where I expected to be immediately called to service, but at that time I had already made the commitment to join up months earlier.”

McLellan said that serving in the Marines is important, but it is definitely not something for everybody. He has seen more people die in training and peacetime operations than in war.

The most important item that represents his experience in the military is the symbol of the Marines: the eagle, globe, and anchor. It symbolizes all of the core values of the marines, McLellan said.

McLellan served in the Marines for 29 years, from 1971 to 2000, and although he sacrificed a huge portion of his life to fight, he knows that war itself is horrible.

“War is the failure of politics to attain a peaceful resolution to a problem,” McLellan said, “People die and countries can be torn apart.”

“I have seen friends die, and for those left behind, life is never the same,” he said.

However great the sacrifice, McLellan said that it is a necessity that everybody in the military must be willing to give for his/her country.

“You serve in the military because in your heart, you know it’s the right thing to do,” McLellan said.

In recent years, McLellan had the chance to see the sacrifice that men and women make for their country from a different perspective.

“Those who serve in our all-volunteer forces of today share a commitment to America and her values,” McLellan said. “I see that even more clearly now as a father [whose] daughter deployed to a combat zone as a nurse.”

Veteran’s Day is an important holiday that shows the importance of the freedom the Armed Forces has given to us, he said.

“If today’s students understand the purpose of Veteran’s Day it will give meaning to the sacrifices of those who have gone before, and for those young men and women who serve so courageously today,” McLellan said, “Freedom isn’t free. There is a cost and someone has to step forward [so] that we all may live in a world free of tyranny and fear.”