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11th Marine Regiment


11th Marine Regiment

1st Marine Division

We Artillerymen are indeed a very privileged group. In addition to the protection of our Patron Saint during life, we can look forward to our own special heaven after the sounding of TAPS. I refer, of course, to FIDDLER's GREEN.

Down through the ages, all purveyors of the fire, members of the ancient profession of stone hurlers, catapulters, rocketeers, and GUNNERs, better known as Field Artillerymen, have discussed this special place in the hereafter, where someday each of us will be privileged to roam. There are as many tales of the Green as there are old Artillerymen; stories rich with the smell of gunpowder and campfires; and flavored with a taste of Artillery Punch. Imagine, if you will, a starry night, many years ago...

In Gun Position 15 (which for you youngsters is now Artillery Firing Area 31) just after a coordinated illum mission, nestled in the shadows of the Regimental CP is a battery of smoothbore cannon camped for the night. As the campfires dim and the flasks of rum and lemon empty, the conversation turns to life in the hereafter. A rugged old section chief is surprised to learn that not all present have heard of supplies of GRID SQUARES, ST-1's, B-1-RD's; few have ever been sent to fetch a hundred meters of gun target line or for the combination to the firing lock; fewer still have been availed of the highest of knowledge; the greatest piece of Artillery lore; the Special Destiny awaiting all Artillerymen. As the young cannoneers listen intently, he shares with them the Legend of FIDDLER's GREEN.

It is generally conceded, he explains, that the souls of the departed eventually end up in Heaven or Hell. Heaven lies about six klicks down the dusty road to eternity and can be reached by turning left at the first crossroad. From that same junction, Hell is about eight or nine klicks straight ahead. The road is easy to identify; it's the one paved with good intentions. A little way down the road to Hell, there's a sign pointing to a trail that runs off to the right of the main road which reads:

When Artillerymen die, their souls form up in the battery area, where they are regrouped into gun sections. Then, they load their belongings onto a caisson or 5-Ton, whichever isn't deadlined, point their Advanced Party down that long road to Eternity and move out at the authorized speed limit (as set by the Regimental Motor Transport Officer). Like all crusty old Marines, Artillerymen face the call to eternal damnation calmly, and pass by the turnoff to heaven without a second glance... BUT, unlike the others, Artillerymen are met by a Gun Guide at the next turnoff--the road to FIDDLER's GREEN. The road to Hell, which continues beyond, is crowded with Engineers, Infantrymen, Aviators, and other miscreants, not to mention the droves of Sailors and Soldiers (of the non-redleg variety). It is at this point that Field Artillerymen bid farewell to their old comrades and wheel their teams down the trail to the Green.

The Green nestles in a large valley spotted with trees and crossed with many cool streams. One can see countless tents and several large buildings in the center. Laughter can be heard from afar off. At the entrance are several long picket lines for the prime movers as well as picket lines of another kind with members of the local chapter of the Environmental Protection Agency. Oh well, at least Arty Mechs are on hand to service the pieces after the long march.

There is a representative of the Almighty Great Gunner present to scan the rolls of the Orders of Saint Barbara and to attest to the fact that all who are seeking entrance are true Artillerymen. Once certified, true Artillerymen are met with open arms and immediately given a generous flask of that Immortal Nectar---Artillery Punch.

FIDDLER's GREEN is a unique place. It is believed to be the only Heaven claimed by a professional group as exclusively it's own. (However, our Marine Corps brethren, those who didn't serve the Field Artillery, guard the streets of someone else's Heaven and call us if they need reinforcing fires.)

The Green is a gathering place of rugged professionals. Their claim to fame is that they served their pieces well and selflessly while on earth. The souls of all departed Artillerymen are camped here, forever gathered in comradeship. In the center of their countless tents and campfires is an old exchange where liquor is free. There are Taverns and Dance Halls. Credit is good; no questions asked. There is always a glass, a friend, and a song. Daily routine consists of full time R&R. There isn't even a Command Duty roster. Everything is strictly non-regulation. The chow is plentiful and good, and.....there is no waiting in line. The main pastimes are dancing, drinking, and singing all day... and, well... dancing, drinking, and singing all night. The Green flows with rum, whiskey and pleasures known only to a few on earth. The Chiefs of Artillery, old Battery Commanders, Section Chiefs, and Gunners down through the Powder Man---they are all here.

Periodically, an Artilleryman feels a compulsion to continue down the road to Hell. He repacks his gear, fills his canteens with Artillery Punch, makes provisions for his horse (or tops off the HMMWV) and bids farewell to his comrades. He departs for the main road, turning South towards Hell. He was not forced to leave the Green, but felt he must go of his own accord. HAH, do not despair my friends! Not a single Artilleryman has ever made it all the way to Hell, because their canteens of Artillery Punch are empty long before they make it and they have to return to the Green for a refill---NEVER again to leave.

This then is the story of FIDDLER's GREEN. There are many versions. Of course, occasionally, stories circulate to the effect that the Green is shared with Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers, and Coast Guardsmen. Don't you believe it. Only the Officers and Men of the Noblest Arm, the King of Battle, the Field Artillery, could continue to enjoy the comradeship and spirit of their most honored occupation after death. Just as in life, where not all are privileged to be Field Artillerymen, so too after death, only these privileged few may enjoy the rewards of a special Heaven that is uniquely their own.

So, fellow Artillerymen, as we Close Station, March Order to decamp the gun postion of life, having occupied this position in service to our great nation, we contemplate our movement brief and proceed with confidence that, protected by Saint Barbara, we need fear nothing. And even if we should collide with the rocks of temptation or bog down in the quagmire of sin, remember....our comrades will be waiting for us by the campfire at FIDDLER's GREEN.