It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again
By Jim Kuiken
Just remember, wherever you go, there you are…
Sometimes, if you live long enough, and are lucky enough, you get to come full circle back to enjoy something you started out loving, a long, long time ago – before your career, life and everything else got in the way and made everything so complicated and “important”.
Yogi Berra, Buckaroo Banzai, and certainly Senator John Glenn all understood this. Senator Glenn (a fellow Marine), was not only the first American astronaut to orbit the earth in 1962 (at age 41), but was also the oldest person to ever fly in space, in 1998 (at age 77), and the only person to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs.
Also…one of the reasons I followed his career so closely was that my great grandfather (married to my great grandmother – “Gramma Pokie”, described in my first book “The Making of a Warrior as a major early developmental influence), was also named John Glenn – a Deputy U.S. Marshal who was killed in the line of duty in 1940.
So…enough of the personal family side-track…let’s circle back.
Lots of folks go through their lives never looking back, but many of us periodically remember those long-gone days from our past where we were doing the simple things that were exactly where we felt happy…or in my case, fulfilled…when we first started out.
As many of you know, I’ve been exceptionally blessed to have been able to be of service to my country, Nation (and yes, those are two different things), citizens and legal residents of the United States, my community, and my family over a long career as a combat Marine, firefighter/EMT, law enforcement officer/agent, diplomat, senior executive in the US Government, a corporate leader, US Congressional candidate, and now as a writer, speaker, and advocate of our military, veterans, first responders (fire and law enforcement), and emergency medical services. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
But…it all started out way back in the very early ‘70’s, when, although I was already a newly minted 0331 Machinegunner in the Marines, I got noticed while doing my annual rifle qualification course, pulled off the range, and given the opportunity to participate in long-range precision shooting. As someone once said (yeah, ok…it’s Buckaroo again…) “nothing is ever what it seems to be, but everything is exactly what it is.”
I had found my true calling. The exacting science (mixed with a little art) of long-range precision shooting; the concentration and extreme discipline; mastering demanding techniques; growing and perfecting my skills; extreme physical demands of not only the shooting, but the conditions under which that shooting was conducted; the stalking skills and challenges…and most of all, for me…the autonomy and self-reliance of being out there, dependent on no one, but everyone depending on you – protecting your fellow Marines and accomplishing not only tactical, but strategic goals in the overall mission and battle plans.
Lots of responsibility and challenge for a 19-year-old Lance Corporal (E-3)! I LOVED it.
Don’t get me wrong, doing that job in combat is a very sobering and difficult thing to do, and to later deal with – but the pure skill, challenge, and discipline of the art/science of long range precision shooting coupled with the field craft of stalking and setting up the shots were completely fulfilling to me.
My action / adventure days are long gone, and I am very happy with my current life as a writer / speaker / advocate…but…
When I was invited by “Jackson V.”, owner / instructor at Ghost Firearms Training – a premier firearms training facility – to go through their Long Range Precision Rifle (LRP-1) Course, I couldn’t say “YES!” fast enough. (And the LRP-2 looks like even more fun!)
I’m sure it is very much the same thing Senator Glenn felt when, in the twilight of his career, he was accepted back onto a spacecraft, to fly one more time. “And, while with silent, lifting mind [he] trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out [his] hand, and touched the face of God.” (John Gillespie Magee, Jr)
No longer that fresh-faced hard-charging 19-year-old Marine in superb shape – far from it, as a 63-year-old writer – I none-the-less can barely control my excitement in going full circle, back to where I am, preparing to go out on that two-day mission to put a tiny bullet downrange through the heat, wind and other factors, placed precisely onto a very small target a thousand yards away…in the company of others, who like me, are there to test and challenge themselves.
It’s like déjà vu all over again.