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Okinawa: Where Semper Fi Meets Semper Peace
By Aaron M. Davis
Charles Douglas Lummis is a quiet and unassuming 86-year-old retired College professor of Political Philosophy from the International University of Okinawa. But put him in front of 17 young active duty Marines waiting to tour "Hacksaw Ridge" (where young pacifist Army Medic Desmond Doss won the Medal of Honor for rescuing 20 wounded comrades in WWII), and Doug emphatically speaks about American imperialism and his experience as a Marine Corps Platoon Commander in 1961.
"My company was waiting in the South China Sea to be deployed into Laos," Doug powerfully begins his impromptu speech directed to the young Marines. His WestPac cruise on the APA Paul Revere was deployed in the West China Sea "with a reinforced battalion fully combat loaded," he added. The Communist Pathet Lao in the country were fighting the US-supported Royal Lao government forces. The NVA were also fighting along with the Pathet Lao. President Eisenhower, advised by Marine Corps Commandant General David Shoup (Medal of Honor on Tarawa), decided to pull the Marines out of the area. The "spill-over" effect of the Civil Wars in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam would eventually result in Marines landing at Da Nang, Vietnam, in 1965.
"Even in the Marine Corps, I had my doubts about what we were doing in the world," Doug continues.
After his active duty and reserve time, Doug used the GI Bill to get his Doctoral Degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
His journey led him to Japan for 25 years and finally to Okinawa for the past 20 years, where he retired.
In 2010, a USMC CH-47 helicopter crashed on the grounds of his university, which is very near Futenma Marine Air Station. He is the Veterans for Peace Chapter Leader 1003 (Rock), where he marches, protests, and educates for peace on Okinawa.
"The last thing I said to the young Marines at Hacksaw Ridge was our wish that no one should harm them, and that they shouldn't be put in a position that they would have to harm someone else," Doug concluded with a soft touch that would make General Smedley D. Butler (for whom all the bases on Okinawa are named) very proud.
With Smedley, my dad Walter C. Davis Jr., Doug, and I, Semper Fi has met Semper Peace on Okinawa!
P.S. I met Doug in April as I was visiting battle sites where Dad fought 77 years ago as a Marine. Doug graciously accompanied me everywhere I wanted to go. My favorite place on the Southern tip of Okinawa was the Peace Memorial Park, which is a beautiful place and contains the names of all US, Japanese, and innocent civilians killed on Okinawa.
Aaron Davis is a former Marine and Army Officer, a life member of Veterans for Peace, and former VVAW contact in Utah. He lives in the Philippines, 3 kilometers from where General Douglas Macarthur landed on Leyte in 1944.
The author's dad, Walter C. Davis Jr.
He was a Sgt. prior to being sent to Okinawa, where he was a Platoon Sgt.
Protesting at Henoko Bay.
Doug and Aaron at Hacksaw Ridge.