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Lucky charms keep platoon safe

22 Apr 2004 | Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

Cpl. Travis J. Lowis knows his grandfather is watching over him.  He's got a special place with Lowis, since he died last August.

"If there's one thing that's kept us safe here in second platoon, it is G-Pa," said the 24-year-old.  "When I say G-Pa, I mean my grandpa.  I keep him here in my wallet."

He wasn't kidding.  Inside his wallet is a small bag that contains some of the remains of his grandfather, Bill Peterson.  It sounds a bit morbid to some, but to Lowis, from Iron Mountain, Mich., and assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, it's a connection to someone in his life that made him feel safe. 

"He... goes everywhere with me now," Lowis added.

Lowis isn't the only one to connect to family.  In fact, Marines carry all sorts of trinkets and good-luck charms.  Some of them are shiny and valuable.  Others are simple as tattered family photos... or even a worn pair of boots.

"My dad wore these boots I have on during Operation Desert Storm," said Lance Cpl. Ryan P. Taylor, a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. 

His father wore a set of gold major's oak leaves when he wore the boots in Kuwaiti sand.  The elder Taylor gave his son the boots before deploying.

"They haven't kicked enough enemy butt, so they're over here again," Taylor explained.

The Marines turned out an odd assortment of charms, from religious to just plain odd.    One Marine had his good luck charm blessed by witches and another kept stones from a sacred river.  Still, another Marine carried a friend's memorial service program and one more Marine had a Cherokee war charm consisting of a hawk claw inside of a snakeskin pouch.

"There comes a time for every Marine here where the only thing that gets you through something is someone watching over you: your good luck," Lowis explained.

This group of Marines needs no more explanation.  The charms have already proven themselves.

"We were hit by an improvised explosive device and a piece of shrapnel went into my flak jacket and then back out without ever breaking my skin," explained Sgt. James M. Back, the platoon guide from Logan, Utah.  "That's what I call luck."