If I was your friend and we served together and you died doing what you believed in, would your soul wish I had a terrible life of pain and suffering?!

Life Instead of Death

When someone gives his life to save your life, you must not waste it. If someone buys your life at the price of his life, you do not dare waste it. Your moral, sacred responsibility is to lead the fullest, richest, best life you can.

Think about this, right now, ahead of time, while you are calm and rational. If you were the one to die and your buddy lived, you would want him to have the best life possible. You died to give him that.

Many warriors in their hour of despair have done the wrong thing, seeking a permanent solution to a temporary problem. They would have sworn that they would never consider suicide. At the moment of truth, however, they did the wrong thing because they had not, with all their heart and soul, worked through it ahead of time.

Dr. Grossman uses the following, to make his point:

Saving Private Ryan. Do you remember the end of the movie, when the last Ranger, Captain Miller, lay dying on the bridge? He looks up at Ryan, he looks up at us, and what are his dying words? “Earn this. Earn it.” Earn it. Be worthy. Don’t waste it.

Do you remember the old man at the very end of the movie standing over the grave of his comrades with his grandbabies and his great-grandbabies bouncing all around him? He looks over at his wife, and says, “Tell me I’ve led a good life. Tell me I’ve been a good man.”

How can we equip ourselves, train ourselves, and prepare ourselves so that we will not be found wanting at our moment of truth? How can we “earn” this? As warriors, we can learn, strive and prepare ourselves but in the end we can never truly earn it. We can, however, strive to do our best, like Private Ryan, and dedicate ourselves, ahead of time to master survivor guilt and lead the full, rich and productive life that has been purchased for us at such a dear cost.

One U.S. military leader wrote these words as he witnessed his soldiers engage in great acts of valor: Dear God, where do we get such men? What loving God has provided, that each generation, afresh, there should arise new giants in the land. Were we to go but a single generation without such men, we should surely be both damned and doomed.


Pain shared is pain divided (D. Grossman)



About The Author

David K. Devaney SgtMaj USMC Retired 2009 City of Hit Iraq with PTTDavid was born in Geneva New York and graduated from Geneva High School in 1980. He joined the Marine Corps on a guaranteed Infantry contract in April of 1983. After graduating boot camp he was stationed in Hawaii with 3rdBattalion 3rd Marines (3/3). While assigned to 3/3 he held billets as a rifleman, fire team leader, and squad leader. During 1986 Corporal (Cpl) Devaney was selected as a member of Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Platoon, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine. Upon graduation of Scout Sniper School he was assigned to the Scout Sniper Section of 3/3 STA Platoon. During his second deployment as a Scout Sniper with 3/3 he was promoted to Sergeant (Sgt). After a tour on the drill field from 1989-1991 Sgt Devaney returned to STA 3/3 were he deployed two more times. During 1994 Sgt Devaney was selected to the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt) and ordered to III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), Special Operation Training Group (SOTG); while at SOTG SSgt Devaney was assigned as a Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) and Urban Sniper Instructor and Chief Instructor. At the time III MEF SOTG Instructors were members of Joint Task Force 510 (JTF 510 CT); a Counter Terrorism Task Force. In 1998 he deployed to Operation Desert Fox with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4 and was attached to Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 572/594 as a sniper. SSgt Devaney deployed again, during 2000, with ODA 135/136/132 to Malaysia as member of JTF 510, working with the Malaysian National Police. After leaving SOTG Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Devaney was assigned to Company A 1st Battalion 7th Marine, and spent much of his time training the Scout Snipers of 1/7. Just before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, he was selected to the rank of First Sergeant (1stSgt) and led 270 Marines, sailors, and soldiers during combat – receiving a Bronze Star Medal for destroying the enemy and their will to fight. During 2004 1st Sgt Devaney was ordered to duty as the Inspector Instructor Staff 1st Sgt for 2nd Beach and Terminal Operations Company, Savannah, Georgia. During 2007 he was selected to the rank of Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) and received orders to Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 (VMAQ-4) stationed at Cherry Point, NC. There he trained a CADRE which in turn trained a massive Quick Reaction Force in combat operations. After two more deployments to Iraq SgtMaj Devaney received orders to Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico, VA. SgtMaj Devaney retired from the Marine Corps on 31 December 20013. He now works as an adjunct combat instructor at the “Crucible’’ in Fredericksburg, VA. David is also on the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Association. David’s published work: Books Devaney, D.K. (2007). Surviving combat: Mentally and physically (3rd edition). 29 Palms, CA: USMC. Devaney, D.K. (2015). They Were Heroes: A Sergeant Major’s Tribute to Combat Marines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Articles Devaney, D.K. (2011) Enough Talk of Suicide, Already! Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2011) Can PTSD Be Prevented Through Education? Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2012) PTSD Is Not Cancer. The Marine Corps Gazette. Devaney, D.K. (2012) Women in Combat Arms Units. The Marine Corps Gazette.

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