We Happy Few

Cpl Michael Croft (right) with Scott Hauslyak (left) after Operation Matador, May 2005.  Scott was wounded during the operation, when a suicide bomber struck his vehicle.

Recently I had a chat session with Michael Croft, who was a forward observer (FO) with 3/2’s Weapons Company, but was attached to the Fire Support Team in Kilo Company for most of the deployment.  He was involved in most of the major operations, and saw a lot of unpleasant stuff.  He mentioned that he thought the book should have more reflections of the extremely close bonds that the Marines forged with each other, and that is great feedback.  I can see that is something I can work on, to give more depth and meaning to the book.

When I asked Michael to describe those bonds, here’s what he shared.  I’m posting it here (with his permission), to hopefully generate some more thoughts from other 3/2 Marines…  Also, I have a specific question about the “We Happy Few” phrase (from the famous speech by Henry V in Shakespeare’s play).  Was it a common phrase in 3/2?  How did it start?

Anyway, here’s what Michael Croft says about the bonds of brotherhood:

When we would go through something like seeing those kids dead or the AAV hitting that mine and catching on fire and Marines burning to death, it would really shake us. I personally remember after seeing those kids dead, I stood up on the balcony of that house and just stared out in the distance for a while feeling empty inside. We didn’t have anybody but each other to lean on in those moments and the fight didn’t stop so that we could feel upset about what had happened so it was the brothers beside us that would pull us out of those moments of shock and remind us that they needed us to push through so we could do our jobs in order to make sure the next time we saw bodies on the floor it wasnt one of our own.

I remember after a major tragedy would happen, 1st Sgt. Gregory would always notice who was feeling it the most and would make it a point to make sure they were OK. Knowing that in the midst of battle and seeing the horrifying stuff we would see, that the guys beside us had our back and were not judging us even if we had tears running down our face created a type of bond I have yet to achieve with anybody else since, and those bonds are still just as strong today.  Even though physical distance may separate us now, I would still jump on a grenade for any of my brothers from back then.

I remember a quote that went around a lot during that deployment was “We few, we happy few”, and it was perfect for the type of brotherhood that is created from the type of battles we fought in.  It’s how you get a young kid to be the first to go into a house where he knows insurgents are waiting for him.  That bond makes him want to sacrifice himself so that the other men behind him live.  –Michael Croft, chat session with author

I’d love to hear more thoughts about this from other Marines.  Please contact me if you have something to add.


Update (20jun18):  I did get a response about the Shakespeare quote,
“Comment: “We few, we happy few.” A quote that would stick with me for a very long time. A brotherhood that will never be broken. We are indestructible. And yet so vulnerable… We were fighting ghosts. And sometimes that still haunts me.”

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