Fallen Green Beret Carried Creed in his Wallet
BY JOHN CHAPPELL, Staff Writer
Mark Marquez found something in his son’s wallet he hadn’t known was there. That billfold was among personal effects returned to the family on Monday after their fallen soldier’s body was brought back to the United States.
Staff Sgt. Justin Cameron Marquez, 25, of Aberdeen, and Warrant Officer Joseph L. Schiro, 27, of Coral Springs, Fla., died from wounds received from small-arms fire on Saturday while on patrol in the Chak district of Wardak Province, Afghanistan.
Their families had met at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where those who die in battle are repatriated. Mark Marquez discovered a sheet of three-hole notebook paper, folded and wrinkled by time, his son had carried with him.
On it, Justin Marquez had written out the words of the Special Forces Creed – a creed composed long ago during the time the late Lt. Gen. William C. Yarborough commanded the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg.
Yarborough – who spent the last years of his life in retirement in Southern Pines – is hailed at “the father of the modern Special Forces” and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Earlier this year Ross Perot came to the base to dedicate a bronze statue commemorating the day Yarborough, wearing the unauthorized Green Beret, saluted his Commander-in-Chief.
“Nice headgear, soldier,” President Kennedy told him.
“It’s not authorized, sir,” Yarborough replied.
“It is now,” the president ordered.
As commander of the school, Yarborough oversaw the adoption of much of what were to become enduring symbols: the Green Beret, the Special Forces Prayer, the Special Forces Motto and the Special Forces Creed.
Its summation of his duty was so important to the young soldier that he’d copied it out word for word, then kept it in his wallet. That piece of paper, stained and worn, had obviously been opened and read many times, the father said.
The writing was immediately recognized by mother Terry Marquez the moment she saw it.
“You see, that’s Justin’s own handwriting,” she said. “And he did every single one of these things – except for the last, the very last line: ‘My goal is to succeed in my mission, and to live to succeed again.’ That’s my son. He wrote all this. I am just saying he didn’t live again to do his next mission – but he did every single thing. It is beautiful. That is his own handwriting.”
Veterans passing through the line to pay respects at Sunday’s visitation had a different view. He and Schiro may have died accomplishing their mission that day, in those faraway hills – but they did not fail, the veterans said. Schiro and Marquez carried out their mission; they succeeded – though at the cost of their lives.
At the top of the page Marquez had written “SF Creed” and, to the right, the Special Forces Motto:
and under it, in parentheses, its meaning: “To Free the Oppressed.”
Laboriously, Marquez then had written out – apparently from memory – stanzas of the Creed:
I am an American Special Forces Soldier
I am a volunteer, knowing well the hazards of my profession
I serve with the memory of those who have gone before me.
I pledge to uphold the honor and integrity of their legacy.
in all that I am in all that I do.
I am a warrior
I will teach and fight whenever and wherever my nation requires.
I will strive always to excel in every art and artifice of war.
I know that I will be called upon to perform tasks in isolation,
far from familiar faces and voices.
With the help and guidance of my faith,
I will conquer my fears and succeed.
I will keep my mind and body clean, alert and strong.
I will maintain my arms and equipment in an immaculate state befitting
a Special Forces Soldier,
for this is my debt to those who depend upon me
I will not fail those with whom I serve.
I will not bring shame upon myself or Special Forces.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I will never surrender though I am last.
If I am taken, I pray that I have the strength to defy my enemy.
I am a member of my Nation's chosen soldiery
I serve quietly, not seeking recognition or accolades
My goal is to succeed in my mission - and live to succeed again
De Oppresso Liber
(as handwritten by Staff Sgt. Justin C. Marquez)
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