Finding the Way Back to Mayberry

Episode #107 , "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C."

Dedication: Written during the first days of the War on Iraq, with great pride and patriotism for our men and women of the United States Armed Forces.  PRAY FOR OUR LEADERS AND OUR TROOPS!  In honor of the Marine Corps’ birthday, November 10, 1775 and Veteran’s Day, November 11.  Also, in memory of my uncle, Pvt. Dillard L. Kerley, USMCR, who served in World War II, Killed In Action - Tarawa, November 20, 1943, and my father, Sgt. Don D. Kerley, USMC, Veteran of the Korean War, who died on November 7, 2000.

Introduction:  Gomer decides to enlist in the United States Marine Corps.  Andy can’t believe it, but offers to take him to Camp Wilson to report for duty.  True to form, he makes silly mistakes in the Marines just as he did in Mayberry.  The road to becoming one of the few, the proud, is a tough one, but Private Pyle’s naïve determination serves him well.  Realistically, Gomer might not have been a model soldier, especially during the Vietnam War.  However, in a way, his selflessness, honor, courage, and commitment make him a far better Marine than many of the men around him.

Lesson Points
Marine Corps Motto:  SEMPER FIDELIS (ALWAYS FAITHFUL) – Matthew 26:39, Philippians 1:6
Core Value:  Honor – I will bear true faith and allegiance, with qualities of maturity, dedication, trust, and dependability, exemplifying the ultimate ideals in ethical and moral behavior – Psalm 119:1-6, 1 Kings 8:56-61
        Integrity – Proverbs 12:22, 16:9 and 22:6, Titus 2:7-8 and 3:8-9, Romans 6:23
        Responsibility – 1 Corinthians 3:8-9
        Accountability – 1 Corinthians 10:31-33, Proverbs 28:4-5

 Core Value:  Courage – I will support and defend with mental, moral, and physical strength, adhering to a higher standard of personal conduct, and making tough decisions under great stress and pressure – Hebrews 13:6, 1 Peter 4:11
        Do the Right Thing – Proverbs 3:5-6
        In the Right Way – Galatians 6:7-10
        For the Right Reasons – Matthew 5:13-16

Core Value:  Commitment – I will obey the orders, upholding an unrelenting spirit of determination, dedication and discipline, to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor – Proverbs 16:3, Matthew 11:27, Psalm 31:5
        Devotion to my fellow Marines (co-workers, family, et cetera) – John 15:13, Joshua 22:2-3
        Devotion to the Corps (or other group) – Romans 8:28, 1 Peter 2:13-17
        Devotion and duty to God and country – Job 23:12, Psalm 37:5-6 and 137:1-6

1) Why did Gomer volunteer to join the Marine Corps?  Why was Andy so surprised?  Why didn’t Andy think he could make it?  Do you think it would have mattered to Gomer if it were wartime or peacetime?   What had Gomer’s daddy told him that he would never forget?  How did he see his enlistment in relation to his father’s advice?  Could he have been tested in other ways?  What kind of father do you think Gomer’s dad was?  Do you think his father would be proud of him?  How about his heavenly father?  Even if his earthly father couldn’t always be with Gomer, who was?

 2) Gomer said Andy should have more faith in him.  Is there someone who you should show more faith and support?  What could you do to strengthen them, rather than tear them down?  Sgt. Carter, a tough-as-nails leatherneck, led by strict discipline, and Andy had a more fatherly approach.  Which was the best method for Gomer?  Which way is best to lead you?  What leadership method should you use?  Is Sgt. Carter essentially a good man, or does Gomer bring out the worst in him?  Shouldn’t Sgt. Carter have given him special attention before he thought he was the “general’s son”?

3) We must all support our soldiers who defend our freedom.  Perhaps you are a veteran or are currently serving in the military, or have a son or daughter who is.  This lesson and the current situation in the world today should make us stop and think.  On, there are “5 steps to a Good Decision” that help you see if the military is right for you.  Of course, they are sound steps in any endeavor or challenge:  1) Is it right for you?, 2) See the benefits, 3) Find the job for you, 4) Qualify, 5) Make a game plan.  (#1 also includes: Got what it takes?, Are you ready?, Can you handle the responsibility?, and What do you want from life?)  Follow these guidelines for your particular obligations in God’s plan for your life, and use the above Core Values of the U.S. Marines Corps to complete them for His glory.

Final Thought:
Gomer:  Know what my daddy told me a long time ago?  I’ll never forget it.  We wuz sittin’ out on the front porch in the summertime.  It was so hot we couldn’t sleep, and he said, “Son, some day, when you’re growed up, they gonna test ya to see how much of a man you are.  And you’re gonna have to make it ON YOUR OWN, ’cause I ain’t gonna be there to help ya.”  That’s what my daddy said, and here’s where I’m gonna get tested – the United States Marine Corps!


Almighty Father, whose command is over all

and whose love never fails, make me aware

of Thy presence and obedience to Thy will.

Keep me true to my best self,

guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed

and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines,

my loved ones and Thee without shame or fear.

Protect my family.  Give me the will to do the work of a Marine

and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm.

Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance.

Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties

my country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me.

Make me considerate of those committed to my leadership.

Help me to wear my uniform with dignity,

and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold.

If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith;

If I am tempted, make me strong to resist;

If I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.

Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom

by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.