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Sea Stories

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This page is dedicated to the memory of Bud Campbell

Sea Stories are necessary to convey an anecdotal touch to the history of the Interrogator Translator Teams. Sea Stories are not "tall tales" as the name might imply, but may convey a bit of color to vitalize our Marine Corps. They represent a part of our heritage as Marines that will never change— the art of telling a good tale to record a part of our history and help convey the esprit de corps of being a Marine.


The following Sea Story conveys the real essence of the message of what this page is attempting to convey. Read it carefully and determine for yourself if this is not at the heart of our experience as interrogators.

A Civil War veteran once described being in combat as having "been to see the elephant." This phrase came from an old East Indian tale about three blind men who went to the zoo to see the elephant. One reached out and caught the elephant's trunk. To him it was plain to see that an elephant was much like a large snake. To the one who grabbed a stout leg it was obvious that an elephant was like a strong tree. The one who reached out and grabbed an ear exclaimed it was obvious, even to a blind man, an elephant was like a blanket.

The wisdom of what that Civil War veteran said, as a metaphor for combat, and the relativity of it long before Einstein, took me a long time to fully understand.

I now know that he understood what every combat veteran since Caesar's legions has known. War is an intensely personal experience. What it is depends from where you viewed it. It is also the most profound human experience of a lifetime, and for many it is the "15 minutes of fame" that Andy Warhol promised us all.

I have "been to see the elephant" and like all who have seen it, I saw it from my own personal perspective. My job in Viet Nam was unique, one that gave me a view of the war that few Americans have ever had. I served three tours there. To me the enemy was not some faceless entity that fired at you from the bush or tried to kill you from a distance with a bullet, a mortar, a rocket, or artillery. To me he was a human being, another soldier, and one with whom I talked daily. One whose body I searched for documents. I read the un-mailed letters to family, friends, and lovers found on his body. I searched his wallet and looked at pictures of his loved ones, like ours, far away and missed deeply. Those alive, I came to know as individuals, and like all other people I have known, some I liked and some I didn't. I spoke their language and knew them as people who weren't all that different from all the rest of the people I knew.

I also learned something that Kipling knew long before me; a soldier is a soldier in anybody's army! In his Ballad of the East and West he said,
For there is neither east nor west, border nor breed nor birth, when two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth."

Bud Campbell


*Bud Campbell was a MSgt Team Chief with the 11th ITT in Vietnam in 1965. Subsequent to that, he made a lateral move to the U. S. Army to accept a warrant commission. He retired from the Army as Chief Warrant Officer. When the MCITTA formed, Bud came forward and offered his services as Webmaster for this website. He argued for the establishment of this page as being vital for members to have a forum to record their informal thoughts, and record their personal accounts of their perspective of "the elephant"— as he put it, "with poor grammar, spelling, warts and all."

Bud died unexpectedly of a heart attack in September of 2003. He did not get to see "his page" to fruition or to enjoy what is to come. However, he did leave us this, "I invite each of you to tell your story, to post it here so that all may know which part of "the elephant" it was that you have seen. Perhaps, if we get enough of them we will one day find out what it really looks like."




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Frank Signorile