30 November 2008


It is axiomatic that change is stressful. People will endure a lot to avoid change; witness the majority French refusal to become involved in the Resistance during WWII.

Our church received the painful news this weekend that our pastor of nearly 12 years is leaving for another call. This is the man who shepherded our flock on the long, but amazingly wonderful trip out of the PC(USA) and into our gracious new denominational affiliation with the EPC. He is my dear friend as well as my pastor; my traveling companion to convocations in Denver, Edina, Tulsa, Orlando, Sacramento, and Bay Village, as well as countless trips to presbytery meetings. I have learned so much from him and will miss him as my pastor (although we will remain fast friends and colleagues in ministry).

Our congregation will now enter the process of calling the new pastor that God has already picked for us.

In the meantime, as frail humans we do not seek or desire change. When it is put before us anyway, we come to realize that it is only through God's grace and our faith in His risen Son that we can move on.

29 November 2008


I am not certain how I missed it, but this address by LtCol Tim Collins, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, on the eve of the Iraq War demonstrates the difference between our Anglo-American culture and that which plants car bombs in crowded markets. It is one of the finest I have heard, comparing with that of BGen Tom Draude, USMC, to our troops just before the Kuwait Liberation.

The actual address was never filmed or recorded, but an embedded war correspondent (you see her portrayed briefly in this clip) took it down in shorthand. This depiction, featuring Kenneth Brannagh, is from a BBC production titled "Ten Days To War."

The speech is filled with Biblical references, and is clearly the product of an educated mind and warrior spirit. It ought to end, for once and for all, the idea that some have that soldiers want war. This is clearly a leader who knows that he has a job to do against a reprehensible foe, but who also wants to ensure that his troops understand that they are representatives of their Nation and, I would suggest, of Christendom.

As an aside: Unfortunately, Col Collins was later smeared by an American Major, a reserve Civil Affairs officer who was a social worker in civilian life, who disobeyed a direct order from Col Collins and was upbraided appropriately. Apparently this REMF (rear echelon....well let's leave it at that) was offended by language that would be familiar to any warrior, so he tried to put Collins on report for "allowing" his battalion to maltreat Iraquis.

It was later discovered that this clown reported things that he had been told by others, none of which he had either witnessed or could substantiate in any way. After an in-depth investigation, Colonel Collins was exonerated.

27 November 2008


When we woke up this morning, it was colder than usual in the house--we are great believers in quilts, except for Horse Girl who is perpetually "sweating to death."

I checked the thermostat--60 degrees. Recycled the thermostat--no joy.

Thankfully, we have a great HVAC service firm and we subscribe to their annual plan which includes a check-up in the fall and spring and, best of all, guaranteed emergency service. I called and they promised they would have someone out within 90 minutes.

Pat showed up in about an hour. I briefed him on my suspicion that the ceramic igniter had failed, as it has several times in the past. "A York?" he asked.

"Oh yeah," I replied and he nodded sagely.

"First, let me check the thermostat," he suggested. We went into the dining room and opened the automatic thermostat I installed when we bought the house 14 years ago.

"Ahhhh," Pat said.

"What," I said. (This is about as brilliant as the conversation got. Sorry.)

"Did someone use the air conditioner lately?" Pat asked gently. [Last night's low was 26 F.]

Horse Girl picked that very moment to walk in and sleepily ask, "Has anyone seen my cat?"

"Hey, Sis," I asked. "Did you get hot last night and turn on the air conditioner?"

"It wasn't me," she exclaimed. "Why does everyone always blame me? I'm tired of this family always blaming me for everything! Oh, there he is. Come here, Alex [T. Cat]. Hmmmmmph. Gruuuuuuuuuuble. Is there anything GOOD to eat in this house?" It went on for another five minutes, but I won't bore you, and frankly, I stopped listening.

Pat was very understanding as we switched to "Heat" and the system came to life. The trip was covered under our plan, and he got our call done in five minutes.

I told SWMBO what had happened and she whispered, "Bionicle Boy."

I went to his room. "Hey, BB, did you by any chance get hot last night and turn on the air conditioner?"

Wide eyes. "No. That is, yes. I forget." This from a boy who can recite the detailed history of every Bionicle since the the Rock of Ages.

I am just remembering that we prayed for these very children and God gave them to us and I am very thankful--if just a bit peeved. 8>)

26 November 2008


There is much for which to be thankful this year.

We have the right and ability to thank God for the multitude of blessings He has showered on us. We know that all He does for us flows from His grace alone and not due to any act on our part. We are free to worship as we are led to do, and we have the Good News of Jesus Christ to share with the world, or as Jesus would have said if he was from my neck of the woods, "In Downingtown, and Chester County, and Pennsylvania, to the ends of the earth." Cf., Acts 1:8.

We live in a country that still has the standard of living that is the envy of the world. While we have brothers and sisters who do not live in the best of conditions, many who will be cold and hungry tomorrow, most of our "poor" live in much better conditions than people in the third world. What really pains me is to see the number of young people in America who throw away the opportunity given to each of them to get an education.

I have seen children sitting in a bullet-riddled one-room shack in Monrovia, Liberia, learning to read and write and cypher the old fashioned way--at the salvaged blackboard with the "school's" one or two precious pieces of chalk. They are well mannered, scrubbed and in their school "uniforms." They pay attention, because they and their parents realize the value of education. There are no complaints about lack of multi purpose rooms, computers, or gyms and athletic fields. They get their exercise after school as they work with their parents to get that day's food, only to start over the next day. And they smile shyly and sing in lovely childish voices.

We have completed that quadrennial drama known as a presidential election. There will be another change in administrations and yet, there are no tanks in the street, no politicians placed in house arrest for their political views, no riots in the street. While many of us voted for the other guy, come January 20, 2009, we will have only one president--and we will be free to praise him or criticize him without fear of a knock on the door in the middle of the night.

The Phillies finally won another World Series, although our football season appears to be all but dead. If the Arizona Cardinals administer the coup de grace tomorrow, that bullet to the brain will put the Eagles out of their misery for another year. But the Phillies won it all!

It is only 84 days until Spring. Oh, I know. You astronomical purists insist on pushing that date into March, but anyone with a lick of common sense knows that pitchers and catchers report in February to begin SPRING training. Please note that no one calls it "Late Winter training!"

And finally, as most of us celebrate here with family and friends, we must always be thankful for the few who are our warriors, the young soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and the Coasties, all of them having chosen to put our protection ahead of their comfort and safety. Many tomorrow will be in harm's way, and we owe it to them to keep them in our prayers. And don't forget their families who also sacrifice on our behalf.

Yes, we have much for which to be thankful.

22 November 2008


For those of us old enough to remember it, today is a sad day. Forty-five years ago this afternoon, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Nothing was ever quite the same.

I was a senior in high school, recovering from my Dad's sudden death the past summer. He and JFK were veterans of the Pacific war, and his election meant something special to my parents and their generation. His young family, athleticism, and charm had captivated the Nation. I'll leave it to the historians to critique and evaluate his presidency, but the National mood was positive.

I was in a lunch-study hall at about 12:35 on a dreary, rainy Friday before Thanksgiving. Suddenly, the intercom came on, broadcasting popular radio music. There were a lot of snickers--the office staff frequently activated the intercom, entertaining the student body with their plans for the evening or the results of a hot date. This time, not a word was spoken.

Two or three minutes later, no one having spoken, we heard the a radio news bulletin from KMOX in St. Louis, repeating the report that shots had been fired at the presidential motorcade. I remember looking at the clock and thinking, "Remember this. It is historic."

When we got to our next class, the Principal came on the intercom and announced that the President had died. My Econ teacher was 23 and in his first year of teaching. He stood in front of the class in tears--as were many. I remember him saying, "How can this have happened? This is the United States of America. Things like this don't happen here."

As we left school, the flag was already at half-mast. One kid made a smart-ass comment about hoping we got Monday off. A classmate decked him, and we all cheered.

When I got home, Mom and my brother and sister were also home and in shock. The weekend produced the first 24-7 news cycle as the story developed. The rest is history: Senator Dirksen's moving eulogy, Mrs. Kennedy and Caroline kneeling by the catafalque and then kissing the hem of the flag, three year old "John-John" (JFK,Jr.) saluting as the caisson moved past, the haunting drum cadence, and the eternal flame.

Within five years, we had also seen the assassination of Malcolm X, race riots in several major cities, the assassination of Dr. King and then of Bobby Kennedy, and a descent into a long period of national despair.

This week, my brother and I were talking about this year's election, comparing Senator Obama with JFK. My brother mentioned that our parent's generation, the "Greatest Generation" of the Depression, WWII, and the post-war boom, put seven consecutive members of that generation in the White House: JFK (USN in WWII), LBJ, Richard Nixon (USN), Gerald Ford (USN), Jimmy Carter (USN post-WWII), Ronald Reagan (US Army Air Force), and George H.W.Bush (USN). JFK, Nixon, Ford, and Bush were all junior officers who actually saw combat. Reagan served in the States, Carter was in the Naval Academy, and LBJ stayed in Congress.

The Vietnam Generation, on the other hand, has had but two: Bill Clinton who dodged the draft in England, with a side trip to Russia, and George W. Bush who flew in the Air Guard (and that was not as safe as it seems: in those days, Guard units got the planes and other equipment that the regular forces did not. The plane that Bush flew was a notorious "widow maker"). Of all the good men who served in my war, it amazes me that those two were the best our generation could scrape up, but what the heck! It was not even a "pretty good generation" when compared to that of our parents.

Now, to use President Kennedy's phrase from his inaugural address, the torch has been passed to a new generation. I pray that our next President will set the tone and raise the spirits of the Nation as well as did the man who died forty-five years ago today.

21 November 2008


On December 7, 1941, approximately one hour after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor had begun, Japanese envoys handed to Secretary of State Cordell Hull a note breaking diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan and announcing that war could commence at any time in the future.

Earlier this month the Presbyterian Lay Committee wrote to the session of every PC(USA) congregation, reporting on the outcome of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Specifically, it reported that

• the GA established a $2 million fund to help middle-governing bodies (presbyteries and synods) sue local churches and confiscate their properties.

• in defiance of the PC(USA)'s constitution, GAPJC has ruled that presbyteries can establish permanent commissions armed with the power to defrock your minister, remove your session, seize your property and even deny your congregation the right to hold a meeting.

• in several cases, individual lawsuits have been filed against session members and local church trustees.

The Lay Committee suggested that sessions consider

a. cutting off all unrestricted mission giving and per capita payments to the denomination’s higher governing bodies (presbytery, synod, and General Assembly) "until they call a halt to their cruel assaults on your brother and sister congregations."

b. re-directing unrestricted mission gifts to ministries that the session knows it can trust.

c. designating GA, synod and/or presbytery per capita contributions to a Legal Assistance Fund established by the Lay Committee to assist congregations and their leadership sued by the denomination and its agents.

Now, The Layman reports that on November 18, the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) wrote to all Sessions in the PC(USA) claiming that the Lay Committee's letter "contained many factual errors and may cause great misunderstanding."

On that grim "date that will live in infamy, Secretary Hull, having already been told of the attack, excoriated the Japanese diplomats, telling them, "In all my 50 years of public service, I have never seen a document so full of outright lies and scurrillous distortions."

Reading the Stated Clerk's letter, one asks, "Where is Cordell Hull when we need him?"

The Stated Clerk says "The General Assembly did not create a two-million-dollar defense fund, as requested by the Presbytery of Northern New England. The assembly chose, instead, to create an Extra Commitment Opportunity (ECO) fund that would receive voluntary contributions. The name of the ECO is Constitution Legal Defense Fund and it is numbered E052058. To date, we have received no contributions to this fund, and no money from the per capita budget has been allocated for it."

Well, I'm glad the Stated Clerk set that straight! A "Legal Defense Fund" for presbyteries has not been established. It is a "Constitution Legal Defense Fund." Moreover, the CDLF has no set amount, unlike the $2,000,000 fund desired by the Presbytery of Northern New England. And how nice that he goes to great length to tell Sessions how they can contribute to the CDLF. He had to--so far, the CDLF has not received a nickel. And he forgot to mention that the reason that PNNE's overture was defeated is because the GA did not want to commit "its" funds to such a purpose.

Yep. Those guys and gals at the Lay Committee sure tried to slip a whopper past the Sessions--not.

Next, he reports that

The letter suggests that presbyteries have taken aggressive actions to deprive congregations of their pastors and property via ecclesiastical processes and the secular courts. The letter misrepresents the actions of presbyteries and misinterprets recent General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission cases.

Virtually all actions by presbyteries are reactions to aggressive schismatic behavior by individual congregations and sessions. Of the thirty-nine cases in civil courts, thirty-six have been filed for local sessions. The three filed by presbyteries have sought only that sessions and congregations be required to follow the processes provided by the Book of Order.

Oh, my. Where to begin?

No aggressive action by the PC(USA) or the Presbyteries? Read the Louisville Papers for yourself--especially the part that suggests that as soon as a presbytery thinks a congregation may be re-considering its denominational affiliation, it form an AC to remove the pastor and session, chenge the locks on the doors, freeze the bank accounts, and get to court to tell the judge that the presbytery is a "bishop"! Or telling the judge that the PC(USA) is a hierarchical denomination even though the authors admit that the PC(USA) has never called itself that.

Consider that before the Louisville Papers were leaked, the Presbytery of Eastern Oklahoma put them into effect by clouding the title to the property of each of its member congregations.

"Of the thirty-nine cases in civil courts, thirty-six have been filed for local sessions."

As counsel to four of those thirty-six churches, I can explain their action. In the case of three of them, they knew that the Presbytery of Donegal had instituted suit against two disaffiliating churches 25 years ago. The presbytery lost at the trial court level and on appeal. Desiring to be the plaintiff rather than the defendant, they filed a declaratory judgement action, asking the court to rule on which corporations owned the property. They then allowed the presbytery to refrain from answering the complaints and entered into negotiations. We never set foot in a court-room!

In the fourth case, the Session had advance word that the presbytery (PNNE) was planning to appoint an AC to assume original jurisdiction, oust the Session, change the locks, and "prevent" the huge majority of the congregation from leaving the PC(USA). That case has also been settled. The majority gave up the physical plant, part of which is nearly 200 years old, to the 50 or so which make up the so-called "loyal PC(USA) remnant). The 200 plus majority has now swelled in number.

Most of the other 32 congregations that filed suit have also done so under the duress of the Louisville papers.

And lest anyone forget, it is presbyteries, following the game plan of the Louisville Papers, that have sued individual elders and pastors. See, e.g., Presbytery of Northern New England and its surrogate, the "loyal remnant" who sued elders at Londonderry Pres, and Presbytery of Washington who sued pastor and elders at Peter's Creek Pres.

"The three filed by presbyteries have sought only that sessions and congregations be required to follow the processes provided by the Book of Order. When sessions/congregations have followed those processes, they have usually
been dismissed to the reformed denomination of their choice.

First of all, there are no such processes set forth in the Book of Order. Second, the Stated Clerk is apparently not well-informed by his staff. Where presbyteries have created such procedures sua sponte, the procedures put the presbytery in control of scheduling and require innumerable delays to "ensure" that the congregation really understands what it is doing. Where congregations have tried to follow such procedures, they have usually resulted in a determination by the presbytery that a "loyal remnant", often of ten percent or less, constitutes the "true church" which ought to get all the property.

It is true that presbyteries served with civil lawsuits have had to expend significant resources in defending our Book of Order processes. In the Sundquist v. Heartland Presbytery case, the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission (GAPJC)recently affirmed the validity of those processes, which include permitting presbyteries to create structures that can respond to civil lawsuits when they arise, but such processes do not provide for aggressive actions by presbyteries.

Huh? As I discussed in a blog a couple of weeks ago, Sundquist is highly suspect. It appears to have been written with the sole intent of allowing the Stated Clerk to write this letter, because the questions of disaffiliation and dismissal were not at issue in the case. The sole issue taken up on appeal was whether a presbytery could give an AC blanket authority to go after a pastor and/or session and/or congregation on mere suspicion that they might be talking about whether they should leave the PC(USA). The GAPJC nonetheless threw in a long piece of obiter dicta about dismissal procedures, essentially assuming the role of GA and presbyteries to amend the Boook of Order.

And what nonsense it is to claim that the suits are about "defending our Book of Order processes." Not a single presbytery or congregation has filed or responded to suit. In every instance, corporations created under state law (and in tune with the Book of Order suggestion that congregations ought to incorporate) have been in suit over ownership of property, an issue which even the PC(USA) concedes is a matter of State law.

The Stated Clerk gets really exercised when it comes to the suggestion that sessions withhold per capita. He says "The congregation’s responsibility is not to itself, but to itself in light of its call to ‘fulfill its responsibilities as the local unit of mission for the service of all people, for the upbuilding of the whole church, and for the Glory of God’ (Book of Order, G-4.0104).” (Citing to Johnston, et al. v. Heartland Presbytery)

Well, yeah, but how is it wrong to withhold per capita from the PC(USA)and use it through some other agency "for the service of all people, for the upbuilding of the whole church, and for the Glory of God"? Just because the agency used is not the PC(USA)? Or is it that he believes, as did the authors of the Louisville Papers, that the PC(USA) alone is the "true church"?

And try as he might to limit Central Presbyterian v. Presbytery of Long Island (a presbytery cannot require payments from a session, nor can it punish a session for its refusal to comply with requests for payment from a presbytery),Kirk Johnson et al v. Heartland Presbytery, and Minihan and Richards v. Scioto Valley Presbytery to his aspirational language, he must admit that those cases established and reaffirmed long-standing GAPJC decisions that payment of per capita is voluntary, not mandatory.

Finally, we hear once again a plea "to heed the words of 1 Cor. 6:7 and avoid lawsuits." Well let's look at 1 Corinthians 6.

1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Paul counsels against using frivilous lawsuits against brothers, that is, suits for improper purposes. He does not forbid all suits. For instance, in Romans 13 he reminds us

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

In other words, God created and instituted the civil magistrate to carry out those proper functions within its domain. One of those functions, recognized since at least the Roman Empire, is to resolve property disputes. When Paul asks, "Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?", I wonder if he meant that one brother claiming the property could decide the issue between himself and the other brother? Probably not. And a whole lot of judges today are believers--witness the admonition of the Louisville Papers to seek a Roman Catholic or Episcopalian judge!

And I'll bet that many in the PC(USA) wish the Clerk had stayed away from 1 Corinthians 6. "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."


Oh, Cordell, what would you think?

14 November 2008


When I was teaching military law at The Basic School, we made use of commercial motion pictures in the Leadership Department. For instance, I showed When Hell Was In Session, the story of Admiral Jeremiah Denton, as a precursor to teaching on the Code Of Conduct. We showed 12 O'Clock High as a study in various leadership styles.

Below are five motion pictures that taught me something of leadership. I would be interested in learning if practitioners of other professions claim any help from motion pictures.

My top 5:

Mr. Roberts
Henry Fonda
Jack Lemmon (Academy Award)
William Powell
James Cagney

This motion picture takes place aboard a Navy cargo ship in the waning days of WWII. The Captain, a tyrant who was commissioned from the Merchant Marine, takes joy from punishing his sailors for his own incompetence. Lieutent (jg) Doug Roberts, the First Lieutenant and Cargo Officer, is the only barrier between the Captain and the crew. Thinking himmself wasted on a part of the backwater Navy, he longs for duty with the forward forces, for one opportunity to test himself in the crucible of war. It is only after he gets his transfer that he comes to recognize the gallantry of men consigned by war to sail "from tedium to monotony, with an occasional side-trip to apathy."

From this I learned that in war, every man has a role and they are all important in their own way. The cooks in the battalion mess are every bit Marines as are their infantry brothers.

When Fonda was recognized at The Kennedy Center Honors, the Naval Academy glee club sang. As they marched from the stage, the Midshipman director saluted Fonda and said, "Thank you, Mr. Roberts." Each Mid saluted as he left the stage. Fonda said it was the greatest honor of his career.

The Enemy Below
Robert Mitchum
Curt J├╝rgens

This is a study in command and the art and tragedy of war. Mitchum is the newly assigned Captain of a destroyer escort in the Atlantic. Jurgens is the CO of a U-boat seeking to rendezvous with a surfacew raider. When the destroyer makes contact with the sub, a 12 hour pursuit commences. I learned to let the man who knows his job do it without unnecessary interference from the "boss." The mutual respect that the two "enemies" ultimately share is one that I feel toward some of the NVA officers I opposed on the field of honor.

12 O'Clock High
Gregory Peck
Dean Jagger (Academy Award)

The 918th Bomb Group is one of the initial groups making up the 8th Air Force. As a test bed for daylight precision bombing over Europe, it develops a reputation as a "hard-luck" group. Peck is sent to relieve the Group Commander and turn it around. Through a combination of hard-nosed determination to accomplish the mission, personal courage, and the ability to treat his young airmen as men--eve when they do not want to be men--he transforms them. "It's tough to grow all the way up at 21!"

Jagger won the Academy Award for his performance as the ground executive officer.

Steven Spielberg complimented the opening of the movie as one of his favorites.

What Price Glory
James Cagney
Dan Dailey

An otherwise non-descript motion picture based on the play by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings, it nonetheless goes to the heart of the professional soldier. Captain Flagg commands a rifle company in the 6th Marines in WWI France. First Sergeant Quirt, with whom he has served and battled over their long service, is assigned as his First Sergeant. The other NCOs include Cpl Kuiper (Wiliam Demarest) and the Mess Sergeant (Harry Morgan). These "Old Breed" regulars take the many raw recruits under their wings and turn them into Marines.

In its own way, it is also a study in leadership. As the unit marches back to the front, Flagg says, "There's something about he profession of arms--it's almost like a religion." The wounded Quirt follows up with, "Oh what a lot of damned fools it takes to make an army. Hey, Flagg, wait for me."

Laurence Stallings was a WWI Marine who was wounded at Chateau-Thierry. He ultimnately lost his leg due to the wound.

Battle Cry
Van Heflin
James Whitmore
Aldo Ray
Tab Hunter
Raymond Massey

Arguably the best novel to come out of WWII, it is also the best WWII motion picture about the war in the Pacific. Written by Leon Uris, it is a fictional account of members of 2d Battalion, Sixth Marines from boot camp to a first wave assault late in the war. Uris was a member of 2/6 and I suspect that Heflin's character was loosely based on 2/6's most famous commander, LtCol (later LtGen) William K. Jones.

James Whitmore, himself a WWII Marine, is splendid as the seasoned Communications Chief who turns recruits into warriors.

If you follow this theme, you will see that a core value is the leadership of the "elders", the "Old Breed of American regular," that runs through it.