Veterans Day With Mediocre Jedi

Veterans Day With Mediocre Jedi


Every November I have the opportunity to have my blog for Coffee With Kenobi posted on Veterans Day, so I like to try to give some small recognition to the servicemen and women who have lived, and in many cases died, to keep our country free and safe. Last year, I wrote about my grandpa and World War II. This year I had to look no further than the Coffee With Kenobi family. Mediocre Jedi was nice enough to take some time to answer some questions, and I think anyone reading this will agree that there is nothing mediocre about him. Mediocre Jedi has served over 16 years in the United States Marine Corps—12 active duty and four as a reservist (and is still serving). He has served two combat tours to Iraq—as part of the initial 2003 invasion and stabilization operations in 2008. Also, he has led groups of up to 400 Marines and Sailors. Mediocre? Not even within a parsec.


Why did you choose to join the USMC?
I wanted to be a Navy pilot when I went to college (basically, since seeing TOP GUN). However, the professionalism of the Marine instructors at school won me over. I started to appreciate the special missions that the Corps performs and thought it sounded like the best fit for me.

What is the best/your favorite part of being a Marine?
I like that we’re expected to be the most ready when the nation is least ready. Even though I’m a Reservist now, I watch the news, and I’m prepared for the day that we might get the call to go do our jobs. I like being part of a smaller, agile force. I like that Marines pride ourselves on looking out for one another no matter the situation. I could go find any car with a Marine Corps bumper sticker in any town in the U.S., and the owner and I could bond immediately. “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” and “Semper Fidelis” (“Always Faithful”) mean the world to us.

How has your service helped you in your everyday life?
Even when I’m not confident about something, I can fake it until I make it. While I have absolutely NO problem asking for help and admitting fault, enthusiasm and projected confidence is contagious, and everyone prospers.

I was recently selected to begin instructor training in my martial arts class. While I may not know the techniques perfectly, I’ve been leading physical training and coaching people for over 20 years now, so I don’t get too flustered.

Raising my almost-four-year-old son to understand war is challenging. We live in a Marine town, and he sees Marine warplanes every day. He loves them and asks about them. I haven’t shown him much of Star Wars, but kids talk, and he’s started showing interest in guns and fighting. I will not dishonor the sacrifice made by my friends and fellow Marines by whitewashing the sad truths of war, but I of course try to keep it at his level. I was very moved the other day when he informed me that “helicopters can save us.” Baby steps.

USMC logo

What kinds of opportunities have you had due to your life as a Marine?
I’ve gotten to do a lot of cool stuff like fire all manner of weapons, work with explosives, control artillery fire, etc., but hands down the greatest opportunity I’ve been given was that of leading Marines in combat. There is no comparison. The trust that gets placed in our most junior leaders is simply staggering. That said, hire a Marine. I guarantee you they’ll find a way to get the job done.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from the USMC?
A few, actually. Don’t quit. Set the example. Take care of your people first, then yourself. Do the small things right, and the big things will take care of themselves. Live with integrity. Share good stuff with your buddies. Change your socks often.

Which principles that you learned as a Marine are also followed by the Jedi?
The Marine Corps’ core values are honor, courage, and commitment, which certainly sounds Temple-approved to me. Our leadership traits would apply to Jedi in most any situation. Our leadership principles would be especially helpful in combat situations. I think that if you read over those eleven principles you’d agree that the clones looked for and appreciated those same qualities in their Jedi leadership. Read them in Rex’s voice – really!

What could the Jedi learn from the USMC?
Attachment is necessary. We sometimes say that we enlist individuals, but reenlist families. If we don’t take care of our families, then the quality of life just isn’t there for our people, and they’ll find something else to do. By that same token, there’s no such thing as cannon fodder in our ranks, which sometimes I think Hollywood gets wrong.

As a self-proclaimed Ahsoka Tano fanboy, what is it that you admire most about her?
Ahsoka, I think, is grey in that she stands up to her master, her master’s master, OTHER masters, and even the Council when they’re wrong. She always endeavors to do that which she feels is right.


Which character in The Force Awakens are you most excited to see and learn more about?
Luke. After all, I’m not “Mediocre Stormtrooper.”

Thanks so much to Mediocre Jedi for taking the time that made this blog possible. Check out his blogs for Coffee With Kenobi. You will not be disappointed. And thanks to all of the veterans and their families. Do you have a story about a veteran that you’d like to share? Email it to me at, follow me on Twitter @ryderwaldrondds, or comment below. Don’t forget to listen to the Coffee With Kenobi podcasts and remember:

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This IS the podcast you’re looking for!

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1 Comment

  1. Melinda
    November 17, 2015 at 09:21 Reply

    Awesome blog, Ryder! 🙂 As a veteran of the USMC, I was drawn easily to this subject matter, and I must say I enjoyed your chat with MJ immensely. Even after 25+ years after my tour of duty was up and I chose to return to civilian life, I still consider myself a Marine, and hold many of the doctrine close to my heart. Just like MJ said, the tenets of what we learn as Marines carry over to life as civilians.

    Before I close, I “need” 😉 to say I couldn’t help but chuckle — no, outright laugh 🙂 — at MJ’s lesson litany that ended with “change your socks often.” lol I still can hear my drill instructor saying — more than once — during recruit training: “Take care of your feet. You’ll be on them for long periods of time. They’ll be tasked. You WANT to make sure they’re in good shape!” She wasn’t kidding! Even during recruit training, some platoon members did not heed that advice, and paid the price for it. You know how some say we “become” our parents when we raise our own children, repeating lessons we heard (and wanted to ignore 😉 ) when we were young? If they could, my own daughters would have liked to wear their socks for days at a time. “You have to take care of your feet,” I’d instruct. “We change our socks every day.” And putting it on a child’s level: “Do you want to have stinky feet?” Not a good sign. 😉 My drill instructor’s voice echoed in my ears. 🙂

    Great article. Thank you, Mediocre Jedi, for your service. The same to all active duty personnel and veterans. I salute you. 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂

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