IT’S OUR CODE
By Ed Creamer
On Aug. 30, 2006, Marine Col. F. Brooke Nihart, 87, executed his orders to report for duty at Marine Detachment, Heaven's Pearly Gates. As a sergeant during WWII, he served on the aircraft carrier Saratoga during the battle for Wake Island. He later fought on Okinawa. In 1951 he led a force of 200 Marines in the first nighttime helicopter operation in military history. He and his men landed on a hilltop near the Punch Bowl. As a result of actions against North Korean forces there, he was awarded the Navy Cross.
That alone should be enough for us to remember most men by. However, he will best be remembered for something we, who have served, all take for granted. He will be remembered for putting down on paper in 1955 the words we learned to speak by heart. He was the originator of the "Code of Conduct," the code we each followed and practiced while serving in the defense of our country. On Aug. 17, 1955, President Eisenhower signed an executive order making this the official credo for Americans who serve.
Article I tells us, “I am an American, fighting in the armed forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.” How true those words are even today. For they speak of the ultimate sacrifice we all understood the price we, and those serving today, might have to pay just to have our freedom.
Article III goes on to say, “If captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape.” This is the one statement I think all of us wanted so much to adhere to if we were ever captured. The one statement that went to our very core of what we hoped we were all made of. WE MUST NEVER GIVE UP was the thought we always kept in the back of our mind.
Article V advises us to give only our name, rank and service number if captured. It goes on to say, “I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.” And with these words we each wondered how much we could endure just to abide by those words.
While the words “Code of Conduct” seem simple enough when taken by themselves - we all had them read to us in either boot camp or OCS - it’s not until you take that first step toward serving in a combat zone that you realize how real those words have become. How your fellow man and your country expect you to act in the face of an enemy. How you would want yourself to act.