CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Roman soldiers often greeted one another by hitting their breastplate and shouting.
In today’s culture of the Marine Corps, passing Devildogs often grunt “Oorah” as a greeting, but one Marine still draws from Roman traditions to inspire his fellow warriors.
Corporal Michael Kelly, a fires watch chief with Regimental Combat Team 7, has a bachelor’s degree in history and loves to inspire fellow Marines with stories of warriors-past.
In fact, Kelly chose to enlist in the Marine Corps instead of becoming an officer because of his knowledge of Roman soldiers.
“I wanted to be a part of the men,” said Kelly, a 28-year-old native of Omaha, Neb . “I knew there would always be opportunities to lead, but I wanted to be a part of the ranks like Spartans or Romans.”
It takes only a few minutes being around Kelly to see he is passionate about retaining the warrior ethos established by militaries thousands of years ago. Sharing one his favorite history lessons is not a rare occurrence and displays his desire to maintain a warrior spirit.
“Because (Caesar’s) men strictly adhered to strong warrior ethos, firm discipline, and a strong esprit de corps by being prideful of the unit they belonged to, these men were able to stand side-by-side and face whatever odds were arrayed before them, no matter how daunting, to complete the mission and maintain their sense of honor.”
Kelly graduated from the University of Nebraska and joined the Marine Corps because he said it is the most honorable job a man can have.
“There’s no easy way to define his leadership style,” said Cpl. Gary Martz, a counter improvised explosive device chief with RCT-7. “He leads with true inspiration. He uses who he is to convince others that they want to (complete tasks). It’s impressive.”
Kelly’s fellow Marines have embraced his love for Roman warriors and presented him a rubber gladius, or Roman sword.
Kelly also has a passion for bass fishing and hopes to make it a profession someday. And when he isn’t talking about history, he is quoting professional wrestler Rick Flair shouting, “Wooo! To be the man you gotta beat the man.”
There’s still more to Kelly as he hopes to use his degree to earn a job as a teacher after his enlistment.
“I’m hoping to get my master’s at some point,” Kelly said. “Once I am older and have settled down, I see myself in the North teaching high school or college-level history.”
Until then, Kelly is content with being a part of history here and has a reminder for Marines past and present.
“As warriors we must never lose touch with what we are. Warriors and great men of the past have set the standard for what it means to be a warrior and must be remembered,” Kelly said. “Their legacies and deeds have shown what it means to be brave and maintain honor in the face of danger, defining what it means to be a soldier.”
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series wherein every week we recognize an individual Marine or sailor with Regimental Combat Team 7. The Marines and sailors of RCT-7 are dedicated, disciplined and driven to accomplish the mission, and the Marine in this article has earned special recognition for standing out among these professionals. Be sure to check every week to see who will be honored as the latest Marine of the Week.