About the Author: Vida Gecas serves as Branch Chief of the Marine Security Guard program in the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
When flames engulfed part of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade last February, they stayed in the attack zone. Even as a mob of dozens of demonstrators approached the embassy walls, they did not evacuate. Instead, the U.S. Marine Security Guards stood their ground, protecting their chancery and sensitive materials inside.
Marine Security Guards (MSGs) are often the last ones to leave a dangerous situation, because they are the first line of security for diplomatic personnel, facilities and critical information. I know this first hand, because I am the Branch Chief of the Marine Security Guard program. And this November I ask that everyone salute MSGs twice for their tireless work: on November 10th, when the U.S. Marine Corps turns 233 years old, and on November 11th, Veterans’ Day.
The U.S. Marine Corps celebrates a long history including a strong relationship with the State Department. The current arrangement where Marines protect our embassies and consulates dates back to 1946 when the Secretary of the Navy enlisted Marines to serve as custodians at embassies, legations and consulates. The first MSGs, were deployed to Bangkok and Tangier in 1949. And though times have changed since then, MSGs' mission has not. They continue to protect everyone and everything that enter U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world, around the clock. They defend American interests during attacks like the one in Belgrade, but also help prevent such attacks from happening. In fact, many of us will never know the extent to which MSGs keep us safe.
This is not to say that MSGs go unnoticed. While their long arm of security is sometimes invisible to the naked eye, they serve alongside us in remote outposts, major capitals, and war zones all over the world. They’re just part of the thousands of U.S. Service members - including those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice – who we honor each Veterans’ Day. That’s why on November 10th and 11th we salute MSGs and all in the military for their duty and sacrifices.