By Mike Hendrickson
I served with Gen. James Mattis in Afghanistan in 2001-2002. He was the Task Force 58 commander. He gave us our rules of engagement brief prior to leaving the wire at Camp Rhino in Afghanistan. We later picked him up just outside of Lashkargah and he accompanied us when we took the Kandahar International Airport in late 2001.
I read his statement of June 3, 2020 with intense interest, as I have read many of his thoughts on the United States over the last several years. But having said all of this, I must ask Gen. Mattis: what will you do next?
Gen. Mattis has talked and written extensively about the dangers of tribalism in America. He talks and writes about the need for unity and the return to the ideas of the founders – that equality for all of our citizens is the bedrock of our grand American experiment. I know from his words that he truly believes, as I do, that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans is the precept for America to be the shining light for all of human existence on earth. As a Marine I know that this is true, and it is not a utopian pipe dream.
A senior staff non-commissioned officer I served with recently wrote: “When I served in the Marine Corps, the majority of my life was in the hands of black, brown, red, yellow and white people. We were friends, we were combatants, we were Marines, and we had each other’s six when the hammer slammed the anvil. We trained, we sweated, and we bled together. We came together from all parts of the country. We came together from all religions. We were a society unto ourselves. We worked as a team, a well-oiled machine. We fought for our brothers [and sisters] through thick and thin. We protected each other, that was what we did. The only color we saw was Marine green. Racism is never OK and should never be tolerated.” This is the mantra that all Americans should strive to live their lives every day. And I know these words to be true.
If Gen. Mattis is content with merely writing a statement and publishing it for all the world to see, and then decides to watch the chaos enveloping our nation day after day, night after night, he’s done nothing to further the cause of freedom and the promise of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
I know that the likelihood that he will see my words written in StateCollege.com is nil, but I have to make this plea to him: run for office this year.
I know that if he announced his candidacy for the presidency that the people of this country and our leaders would not be able to ignore him. He would have the opportunity to oppose both parties on the ballot and a grassroots effort would spring up around him. If it was only U.S. Marines backing him, he would find the funding necessary to be a formidable opposition candidate on the ballot in November. Hell, we might even see a contested Republican or Democratic convention.
I firmly believe that many more Americans would rush to support a James Mattis candidacy; his name and reputation cannot be ignored. If Mad Dog Mattis decides to run, he will be on the ballot in November because the people of this nation would demand it.
I absolutely believe that James Mattis can be the most influential president since Lincoln. But, if he decides to sit on the sidelines after what he wrote on June 3, combined with all of the powerful sentiments about America that he has promulgated over the last 50 years of service to this nation, he will have abdicated any authority he has on the subject of America forever.
So, I ask General James Mattis to put up or shut up. Run for the presidency.
Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Mike Hendrickson is a long time State College resident, State College Area High School graduate (1990), and Penn State alum (1996 International Relations). He joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve while an undergraduate at Penn State, and was commissioned in 1998. After 10 years on active duty, and a deployment to Afghanistan in 2001-2002, he returned to State College with his family. He worked for Penn State’s Applied Research Lab until 2015, and is now vice president for operations for Allied Restoration and Construction, a national company with a branch in State College. Hendrickson remained in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after leaving active duty in leadership positions in 25th Regiment, including a second deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-2011. He retired in 2018 as Battalion Commander of 1st Battalion and is enjoying a quieter life with his wife and daughters in State College.