Fortune Favors the Brave- USMC Veteran, Texas Judge Pat Calhoun
The sun wasn’t up yet, but light was beginning to play across the desert. U.S.M.C. Major “Pat”Calhoun was sitting on a sand pile, shaving. A young Marine approached.
He asked, “Sir, aren’t you scared?”
Pat replied, “What d’ya mean, scared?”
He responded, “I’m scared s***less, aren’t you?”
At that moment the ground under them quaked and rumbled, lifting them slightly from the sand pile.
Pat went calmly back to his shaving, and remarked. “Somebody out there is having a shitty day and it ain’t us.”
U.S.M.C. – a big part of his life
Judge P.T. “Pat” Calhoun is the County Judge for Goliad, Texas. He’s also a successful rancher, and U.S. Marine Veteran who served in the First Gulf War. As a commissioned officer in the 2/3 (2nd battalion, 3rd Marines), his men served as the important right flank to the 3rd Marines during the battle for Khafji.
We caught up with him on October 19 to ask a few not-so-serious questions after a mutual friend told us he was “colorful.”
“Where 2 or 3 are gathered together…there are Marines plotting something”
Mr. Calhoun may have a record for holding a command in the Marine Corps – 33 months. He told us that most only stay about 18 months.
One day while his troops were at a Division Support Area, he saw a few Marines sitting together. He knew instinctively they were plotting something. So he walked over and asked them what they were doing.
“Hey, Sir, want to see something funny?”
“Sure, son, what are you up to?”
The Marines broke open a chem-light and poured it all over a desert rat, then let the critter loose in the tent of a Marine from New York. That particular Marine “despised” the “flora and fauna” of the desert. Especially now that a rat glowed bright green in the dark.
As his fellow Marines giggled, blood-curdling screams erupted from the tent. Pat said all he could see was the imprint of a body against the tent wall. And the man was screaming, “I’ll kill all you m******f***ing b******s!”
Calhoun asked the men if they got his rifle- they had planned ahead and taken it. The man was defenseless from the onslaught of the rat, who was by then terrified of the crazed human, and eventually scurried out of the tent. When they checked out their NY buddy, he was literally frothing at the mouth and his veins were sticking out of his head.
Hey, it was fun. Except maybe for the New York guy.
Not all fun and games
Major Calhoun (Ret.) is keenly aware that not all was fun and games during the Gulf War. His infantry unit was tasked with infiltrating minefields.
Sometimes the danger was from American airstrikes. One friendly fire incident killed a radio operator as they were penetrating those fields.
In another incident, one of the men felt or heard the click as the pin on a grenade gave way while in his pocket. As he moved quickly away from the rest of the men, he absorbed the blast and saved their lives by sacrificing his own.
Fortes Fortuna Juvat: Fortune Favors the Brave- the Motto of the 2/3
“My Company tries to get together as much as we can for a reunion. Last year’s gathering was held in San Antonio, and we had 20-25 guys show up.” Pat Calhoun
The Judge told me that they can sit and talk, remembering the war times, but it also serves as a sounding board for those who are experiencing mental issues. They can talk through those issues as former battle buddies…which is an important way for men to heal.
Meeting an old friend
Judge Calhoun is a life-long resident of Goliad, Texas. His son is currently a Captain on Active Duty with the Marines. When the Judge went to Camp LeJeune to see his son during training, he saw that an old friend he’d gone through OCS with was the Commander at the base: Major General Jim Lukeman. So he stopped off to see him while his son was there as well.
Unfortunately for Pat’s son, the sight of his father hugging a General and hollering “How the hell are ya” down the hallway at each other was overwhelming. And when the General made him coffee, his son sat there “frozen.”
“G**d***it, Pop, do you know EVERYBODY in the Marine Corps?”
Now, of course, the Judge enjoys those encounters with friends more than ever and is deeply proud of his son’s service. His life now consists of courts and administrative duties.
How and why did a Marine become a judge?
What swayed this Marine veteran and successful businessman to become a judge?
Goliad has an Airstrip- that runway is long enough to support a 747 landing and takeoff. Former President George H. W. Bush used to come quail hunting and land at that strip.
Goliad bought it for $1 from the U.S. Navy. Then a company offered to buy it from Goliad for several million dollars. Someone asked Mr. Calhoun what he thought about the offer.
He responded, “Well did you check out that company?”
The man was incredulous that Pat would even say that. So he stared at him and said, “If the check is good, why should we care?”
The veteran looked him straight in the eye and said, “As close as we are to the Mexican border, how can you even say that?”
Thousands upon thousands of people and drugs are smuggled into Texas from Mexico each year. Mr. Calhoun was wise to ‘get his back up’ over that remark.
Pat Calhoun was approached by several people who asked him to run as a write-in candidate in 2010. Though he really wasn’t excited about it, he did and received 38% of the write-in vote. But in 2014, things had changed. During the primary he tied right down to the exact number with his opponent. In the run off election, he won with the number of votes in the 63-64% range.
And that’s how a United States Marine veteran became a County Judge.
The memories of a U.S.M.C. Veteran, and the friendships he has made along the way are important. Judge Pat Calhoun serves in the public venue because he values the people of his County. His experiences in the Marine Corps demonstrated the qualities that make a true leader. And that’s what makes him a valuable asset to his Texas County, and to the nation. Semper Fi, Judge.