SEMPER ODYSSEY Conflicts of a Marine Reservist
Untold tales inspired John to share his own story. “Like many combat veterans of World War II, my father didn’t speak much of his experiences as a machine-gunner at Iwo Jima, Saipan and other islands in the Pacific. He’s gone now and those stories are lost to history,” explained John Caldwell, Mississippi Transportation Commissioner and retired Marine Corps Colonel. “That was the original motivation to begin writing. Everyone has stories, and these are mine – for better or worse.”
A combat veteran of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, Colonel John Caldwell lived three decades in the Marine Corps Reserves. The unique mindset required of a reservist and the repetitive tensions of coming and going, even in the best of circumstances can be maddening. Sometimes family pays a price. Sometimes business suffers. Sometimes the Marine Corps is shorted. Add a political twist and all bets are off. Commissioner Caldwell experienced the inevitable turbulence with a firm foundation of faith, family and friends.
“The title SEMPER ODYSSEY embraces an ‘always adventure’ perspective while facing the twists and turns of life. Stepping in and out of uniform at most inconvenient times creates unique tensions that full-time Marines and civilians may find a little odd.” Caldwell said. “Finding a way to capture that was a challenge.”
Colonel John Caldwell is a second-generation Marine and a first-generation politician. Combat experiences that earned him a Bronze Star and other awards are preceded by youthful escapades and followed by unexpected career twists. A daring jump from a moving freight train… A nearly fatal encounter with a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake… not to mention the labor and delivery countdown of his firstborn on an insane interstate trek between duty stations. The world of politics would be a cinch, or maybe not.
“Direct involvement in partisan politics is something that is mostly foreign to active-duty servicemen and women. In fact, it is illegal,” explained Caldwell. “Reservists walk a difficult line to avoid conflicts, but conflicts abound.” Thus, the book’s subtitle, Conflicts of a Marine Reservist.
Recollections and experiences bounce back-and-forth between the civilian and military worlds keeping status quo derailed and readers intrigued. Family, friends, as well as the unmentionables – religion and politics – are splattered throughout.
Commissioner Caldwell’s candor provides refreshing glimpses of personal and public service in his one-man crusade to inspire others. His “let the world spin” approach to life’s chaos and setbacks is enough to challenge even the most casual reader. Marines, especially Marine Reservists will be the first in the Amen Corner. Veterans and their families will love it. Politicians and politicos need it. Anyone who enjoys connecting with a character in a well-written memoir will finish this literary journey happily exhausted!