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We’ll All Die As Marines by Colonel Jim Bathurst

For seventeen-year-old high school dropout Jim Bathurst, the Marine Corps reputation for making men out of boys was something he desperately needed when he enlisted in March of 1958. What began as a four-year hitch lasted nearly thirty-six years and included an interesting assortment of duty stations and assignments as both enlisted and officer. We’ll All Die As Marines narrates a story about a young, free-spirited kid from Dundalk, Maryland, and how the Corps captured his body, mind, and spirit. Slowly, but persistently, the Corps transformed him into someone whose first love would forever be the United States Marine Corps

We’ll All Die As Marines is not only his leadership, service, and training but also regales many tales of his fellow Marines that will have the reader laughing, cheering, and at times crying. In this memoir, Bathurst reveals that for him-a former DI who was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”, Purple Heart, and a combat commission to second lieutenant, the Corps was not a job, a career, or even a profession; it was – and still is – a way of life.

Reader Reviews on We’ll All Die As Marines

Gripping read! Marines will recognize the names and places, and instantly feel as if you are part of the story either in the field, standing post, aboard ship, in garrison barracks, or having a beer at the base club. There is leadership in action at every chapter of this Marines life and the results have contributed to the success of the Marine Corps, his charges, and his own. Civilians will get a real and honest view in the life of a Marine. I recommend adding this book to your personal library, and it should definitely be on the United States Marine Corps Commandant Reading List.

Unknown Reader

Since I am not an avid reader, I found it astonishing that I simply could not put this book down once I started it. The author’s tales about himself and his fellow Marines had me laughing hysterically one minute and crying the next. Perhaps it was because I was, excuse me, am a Marine who served on active duty for three years. For those unfamiliar with the Marines, the title may seem somewhat strange and even a tad gory, but once you read the book, it becomes clear. In sum, a great read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Unknown Reader

Jim and I served together at Marine Barracks, Yokosuka in the late 50″s. We worked at the Naval base brig and I think that the continual drilling of the prisoners led us both to apply for and get accepted to drill instructor school. However, in my case, I ended up being channeled to the warrant officer program and Jim continued to become a DI.

His leadership and demand for discipline with the prisoners were both qualities that followed him through the rest of his long career. I should not be surprised to see him ending up as a Colonel with the respect of those that served with him including me. Jim, best regards. 

Dave Penman, Major, USMC (ret) LDO

About the Author

James Bathurst enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1958.  After advancing to gunnery sergeant, he received a combat commission to second lieutenant while he was in Vietnam. With nearly thirty-six years of service, he retired as a Colonel of Marines. James and his bride, Nancy, live in Girard, Illinois. They have five children and nine grandchildren.


Tags: "V" Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", Colonel of Marines, Dundalk, gunnery sergeant, James Bathurst, Jim Bathurst, Marine Barracks, Marine Corps, Naval base brig, Purple Heart, Silver Star, United States Marine Corps, Vietnam, warrant officer program, We'll All Die As Marines, Yokosuka


  1. CAPT Julia Barnes, Nurse Corps (USN) Retired

    Great Marine.

  2. Capt. Jim Lindsey-RVN 67/68

    Hell of a Marine

  3. DB Wright

    We have a CMC (who is said to be the front runner for next Chairman of Joint Chiefs – God Save Us) who has castrated our Corps even an Air Force publication is speaking out in defense of our former Marine Corps combat capability being destroyed systematically. Somebody somewhere needs to wake up and act and sadely it won’t be this President, or his Secretary of Defense who is aiding and abetting the assassination by this Commandant. One need only look back when the Chief’s of the various sections at HQMD had their titles changed to Assistant Commandant’s for those sections degrading the Assistant Commandant of the Corps title all in the name of “look at me I’m an Assistant Commandant!” Those of us who bleed our Corps Colors are alarmed, dismayed, and in disbelief we would witness such a desimation of our beloved Corps and by its Commandant! One is drawn to a comparision of Benedict Arnold! dbwright an ole Gunny

    The disorientation of the United States Marine Corps
    creator avatar
    1 day ago

    Marines are considering changing their way of fighting.
    Photo by
    (Cpl. Kyle Jia/Marine Corps)
    There are two concept documents that have done irreversible harm to the United States Marine Corps despite their good intentions.

    One has already severely hampered its offensive morale and effectiveness. The values and unique personality of its Marines will be destroyed by the other.

    The Marines’ fighting style and sense of identity will shift with the implementation of Force Design 2030 and Talent Management 2030. They will dampen the national pride that has always been associated with the Marine Corps. They will undermine belief both within and without the Marine Corps in the Corps’ ability to detect, close with, and defeat the adversary.

    The Marine Corps has always considered themselves to be unique, serving as “America’s shock troops” both on land and at sea. Marines take great pleasure in being the nation’s preeminent 9-1-1 force, ready to deploy anywhere at any time to fight any foe and win.

    Marines have a distinct reputation in the eyes of the American public because of their youthful vitality, dedication to duty, grit, and dependability.

    The U.S. Marine Corps has traditionally been viewed by the national security establishment as a force that is “ready and eager to fight,” always on the horizon and ready to demonstrate American determination or respond swiftly to any circumstance, anyplace.

    From Tripoli to Afghanistan and every battlefield, skirmish, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief response in between, this trinity of convergent perceptions and expectations has molded the ethos of America’s Marines.

    Americans of all ages have been accustomed to seeing the headline “The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand.”

    But spirit is easily damaged.

    When a group’s spirit is destroyed, it can never be restored, in contrast to the physical components of a military.

    Unless the current direction is altered, future Marines will be faced with difficulty.

    Divestitures that undercut its Congressionally mandated tasks as a combined arms force-in-readiness include decreases to the Marine Corps’ force structure and equipment as well as reductions in Navy amphibious and maritime prepositioning ships. And by managerial techniques that are bad for morale, teamwork, and individuality.

    The Marine Corps’ ability to respond to global crises and contingencies across the spectrum of conflict has been severely hampered by the elimination of all armor, scout sniper platoons in infantry battalions, and bridging in addition to drastic cuts in infantry, cannon artillery, assault amphibious vehicles, aviation, military police, assault beaching, and combat service support.

    These capabilities were burned at the “divest to invest” altar in order to fund the development of experimental weapons that will merely be carbon copies of what other services already have in abundance.

    For the sake of self-funding an essentially one-dimensional coastal defense force, the Marine air-ground task force is being weakened, despite being the first on the scene with the combat power and sustainment to endure and win “in every clime and place.

    Marines are really important to the United States military. Having them go downhill is not a good thing and should be changed.

  4. Ernie Barnes

    Well stated Marine.

  5. David B. Wright

    I was rushed and failed to save the story in MilNet the other day that I read and sat aside I was so furious, but not surprised. I know nothing of the General Officer who declared his unit heading for possible combat would not be celebrating the Birthday of our Untied States Marine Corps, a Birthday declared to be celebrated by none other than Commandant LeJeune and has faithfully been followed to the best of my knowledge. I talked with many a veteran of WWII and Korea, as well as Vietnam and I never once heard one not tell of celebrating our birthday even under fire. There are countless photos of the birthday cake being served to the Oldest and Youngest Marine. One I vividly recall was taken at the Chosin Reservoir with MajGen O.P. Smith in the photo and at that time the issue of the survival of the entire 1st Marine Division was still in doubt. BUT the birthday was still celebrated and cake sent to all who couldn’t attend the small ceremony. I’ve celebrated our birthday states side and around our nation, some years several times over a weekend or even as many as 3 in the same night (the CMC Ball in DC, HQMC Ball in DC, and the Marine Barracks Ball in DC). I’ve seen many of our living Medal of Honor Receipents at those balls, part of our living legends and honored heroes. Some were still serving and even participated in the Honor Sword Party or other parts of the ceremony and it always caused a welling up of pride in their actions, and our beloved Corps.

    So my question is why cancel the Birthday Celebration, especially to, as I understood it, a unit enroute to possible combat. No one ever said it had to only be celebrated with a ball, our ladies in gowns, and we with our medals displayed in full blues. IN fact I view it much like saying our Chaplain will not be holding Sunday services because we are enroute to a possible combat area. I truly see no difference – It is simpy a long, long tradition our Corps units have observed as best they could at sea, in peace, and in combat and wars. WHAT HAS CHANGED?? SHAME on any Commander who makes such a decision as this!

    I’m 82 and probably have no right to express such strong opinion on this subject to our new modern Corps that I understand less and less beginning with it’s last few Commandant’s. Our Corps has changed from having a Commandant and Assistant Commandant and then Heads of each letter section of our Corps at HQMC. NOW it seems everyone except the night clean up is an Assistant Commandant for this or that to the point THE Assistant Commandant should probably be done away with.

    Semper Fidelis

    DB Wright
    Las Vegas
    59-74 GySgt

    PS. I’ll be celebrating our Birthday as I always do at home quietly but still celebrating it!


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