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Five Successful Marine Corps Veterans You Haven’t Heard About

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Updated: August 19, 2016
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By J.E. McCollough

Entering the private sector after military service is rarely a simple transition. Life throws all kinds of complications at the veteran from the simple to severe. The loss of loved ones, personal injury, substance abuse as well as a myriad of other things are all things that can undermine a veteran’s efforts to achieve great things as a civilian. Well, here are five examples of Marines who were able to overcome, or at least live with, their personal tragedies and become successes, each in their own way.

1) Adam Brashear – You’ve probably never heard of Adam Brashear, but he was a decorated Korean War Marine Corps veteran, earning two Silver Stars for heroism in combat. Post-war, this brilliant African-American graduated from Cornell and became a scientist researching clean energy alternatives. His research ended tragically, however, when an experiment in anti-matter failed, destroying his lab and killing most of his co-workers. The silver lining to this tragedy was that the anti-matter gave Brashear super-powers, turning him into the Blue Marvel, one of the first black super heroes. Brashear faced intense racism from a society that did not trust a black man with that much power, and President Kennedy regretfully asked him to retire, which he did. As society changed, however, Brashear returned to being a super hero, and today he continues fighting for the human race, occasionally teaming up with the Avengers.

2) Jack Ryan – Ryan is probably the most successful veteran on this list. His Marine Corps career was unfortunately cut short. As a young 2LT, he was involved in a Sea Knight crash on Crete during a training exercise, severely injuring his back and forcing him to leave the Corps before he would have wished. Though talented at making money as a stockbroker on Wall Street, Ryan accepted a consulting job for the CIA, which eventually led to successful career as an intelligence analyst during the Cold War. Ryan continued to rise through the ranks, ultimately becoming the Deputy Director of Intelligence. He would have preferred to quit his life in the government, however his nation called upon him after the assassination of the President and Ryan served two successful terms as POTUS.

3) Frank Castle – A lot of people would object to Vietnam veteran Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, being on a list of successful veterans. After all, he is constantly on the run from law enforcement and nearly every cartel, gang and mafia want him dead. However, regardless of whether or not you agree with his methods, which include murder, extortion, coercion, torture, kidnapping, to name a few, you can’t deny he gets results. He also frequently comes to the assistance of kinder, gentler vigilantes like Daredevil, saving their lives and ensuring they’re able to continue to do good in their own way. He does what he loves and he helps the good guys. As far as I’m concerned, that is success.

Harry_Callahan4) Harold Callahan – Callahan’s career in the Marine Corps is shrouded in mystery, and it is unclear if he saw combat. However, as a living-on-the-edge, hard-nosed, take-no-shit San Francisco police detective in the 70s he racked up an impressive forty-three kills. Though he walked the line between the law and Punisher-style vigilantism, he always managed to stay clean, even though his nickname was Dirty Harry. Detective Callahan never became wealthy, and he never remarried after his wife died, but his grit and determination to serve and protect the citizens of San Francisco made his post-Marine Corps career a success.

5) Michael Corleone – Despite having a deferment arranged by his father, Corleone enlisted into the Marine Corps in 1941. He fought in the Pacific campaign in World War II, receiving a battlefield commission and a Navy Cross. He was discharged in 1945 due to injuries sustained in combat, returning home to New York. Although Corleone never intended to become involved in the family business, his father’s ill health and intense pressure from competing businesses and corrupt New York City police forced Mike to return to the battlefield, this time in a quiet Bronx restaurant instead of the beaches of the Pacific. Corleone suffered extensive personal tragedy, his oldest brother was murdered, as was his first wife. Another brother’s betrayal even forced Mike to do the unthinkable, especially for a Marine, commit fratricide.

Corleone led a life full of violent business dealings and amassed extensive wealth, however he never lost the hope of becoming a legitimate businessman. And, to a large extent, he succeeded in doing so, setting up charitable organizations and putting others in charge of the more nefarious aspects of his business. Unfortunately, Corleone’s success was shadowed by too much personal tragedy, and despite his lifelong success in business he never got over the murder of his daughter. He died alone, broken hearted, in Sicily, in the same house where his first wife died.

Personally, I think it’s kinda humbling even the fictional Marines had shitty civilian lives. Well, tough lives, anyway. The reality is, your life after the Marine Corps (or whatever service you signed up for) isn’t going to be perfect. It’s going be tough as fuck, and you’re probably not going to be a superhero. The CIA isn’t going to throw you offer you a job right away and I’m hoping you don’t become a vigilante killer. (though… honestly, if you have a hookup with the mob, hit me up).

Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.

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