Interview with U.S. Marine General Jerry McAbee

Combat Notebook: Dispatches from the War on Terrorism
By P. T. Brent, 5/28/2004 11:38:04 AM

"For those who have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know"

A few words written by an anonymous Marine, taken from a now famous combat ration box in Vietnam .... and now echoed by the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan fighting a global war on terrorism. We are visiting the Marines arriving in AFG theater (Marine Expeditionary Unit) comprised of a fleet of Navy ships, aircraft, and a battalion over 1,000 U.S. Marines.

Tim Monaghan, left, traveling with Marine General Jerry McAbee, in Afghanistan, Qatar and Bahrain.

We are with the Commanding General of Marine Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, Jerry McAbee, for a Hawaii Reporter exclusive interview while visiting Afghanistan, Qatar and Bahrain.

Quite a Proud Marine Family - the McAbees

Since 1936 a McAbee of Alabama has been serving America from within the U.S. Marine Corps.His father served in WW II and Korea and his brother served in Vietnam. With retirement eminent General McAbee simply states: "what better honor than to wear the uniform of the U.S. Marine for 35 years. The general has served with Marine Commandants, General Norman Schwarzkopf during desert storm and virtually in every clime and place Marines might project their peace keeping force in readiness.

General Jerry McAbee is a southern gentleman who is the deputy component commander for U.S. Marine forces in the USCENTCOM theater. The general's duties takes this Marine from Hawaii, his home at Kaneohe Marine Base to Afghanistan, Iraq and the network of countries which supply American resources to the war effort. We traveled with Brigadier McAbee to Bahrain, Qatar, and Afghanistan. He is well respected by his fellow Marines. He carries his own gear, lines up last for chow and is sure all Marines are taken care of prior to accepting something for himself. and is clearly still a regular Marine. He shows a genuine empathy for these young Americans about to shove off for war. This is a hallmark and a quality found throughout the officers of our Marine Corps.


Hawaii Reporter: How are we training the Iraqis to fend for themselves?

The General: "The new Iraq army is established, so is the Iraq Civil defense, and the Iraqi police all carefully selected post war, they appear to have taken the mission seriously, and many have died fighting these extremists."

Hawaii Reporter: What is your forecast for Iraq in the next five years?

Iraq is a rich country, they have educated people, resources i.e. the second largest supply of oil in the world, fine infrastructure , good roads ample lakes, rivers and water for agriculture all representing a bright future. Based on us keeping our resolve to provide security for this country which is so rich is history and culture. Two of the original wonders of the world are in Iraq."

Hawaii Reporter: Is the cost of lives and resources too costly?

The General: America's military has always fought outside America. They do this to defend our way of life. WWII was to prevent direct invasion. This global war is to keep our way of life for our grand children and future generations. What we do here will define life in America for the next 50 years. ... Our young Marines know this and our Corps pledged to accomplish these goals.

We must stamp out poverty, ignorance and hatred. We need to help them have jobs, education and religious freedoms. Our Marines have sacrifice lives and limbs to make sure we stand now over here and not on our shores. It is a long investment. Americans' well know that Freedom is not free.

Appeasing these people who attack our way of life is a poor investment. Churchill once said ... "An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile, hoping he will eat him last."

Hawaii Reporter: How are we doing in Iraq?

The General: "The vast majority of Iraqi people just want the same thing we desire, jobs, religious freedom, peacefully raise their families and to be happy. A few people foreign mercenaries, thugs, people who hate democracy or in some cases just hate westerners hope to alter our resolve by terrorism. Most them are just self seeking opportunists who wish for coalition forces to give up."

Hawaii Reporter: How is life today for Iraqis?

The General: "All resources that serve the public are today superior to pre war conditions, schools, hospitals, irrigation systems agriculture, natural gas and oil at a record of 2.5 million barrels per day.

Hawaii Reporter: The ultimate outcome of this war?

The General: Our actions will define our American way of life for the next 50 years. We must stay the course.

P. T. Brent is a Hawaii business man and former U.S. Marine infantry veteran. He has been embedded with the Marines in Iraq and other conflict areas for the past 60 days.

© 2009 Hawaii Reporter, Inc