Chief Petty Officer (Navy Seal) Adam Brown, Hot Springs AR, 1974-2010.
In his cap says ''With your shield" and in shoulder patch ''With your shield or On it" but what is the story behind of that phrase?
In ancient Greece, and especially in Sparta, what we call a Shield was called "Ηοplon", meaning Weapon. The Spartan shield was large and heavy, its role was not only for defence but also for attack. The Spartans used them in combination for example: Defence-pushing the opponent backwards, defence-slam hit to make him fall to the side to lose his balance, hit with the shield from top to bottom like an axe (could break a skull, a bone etc), a horizontal or diagonal strike with the shield from left to right and vice versa like a razor blade towards the opponent's skull-neck etc. Even if he broke his spear or lost his sword, the Spartan could still fight with only his shield (many dead Persians at Thermopiles test it). The shield internally had 2 retention straps with screws, one on the fingers and one on the elbow, so there was no chance of it slipping out of your hand and it was held tightly in your arm. The shield of every Greek has always had a ''design'' on it, it is like the current badge of the Unit that the soldiers have on their uniform. As an identification around their neck they had a string with their first name and their father's name engraved on a piece of wood or metal (like the ''Dog Tags" or the today's Army), so in case of death they would later know that he was for example: Leonidas of Archelaus of the Eumenes family.
Returning home after battle without your shield was the ultimate shame for a Spartan, everyone thought you threw it away so you could run faster to get away from battle, you were considered as a coward and a unmanly as ''Shield Dropper", then you were a total pariah in the province. You had no right to hold any a public position, you were not hired for work, men avoid and did not even talk to you, small children laughed at you and women had the right to slam you and curse you in the street saying "you are worthless" and "go back" in the womb to be reborn a true man". Then you had only 3 choices: commit suicide, self-exile (and never come back) or wait until the next battle which you must die fighting in the first line to ''clean-up your name".
The wives to the men and the mothers to the sons when they gave the shield said "E Tan e epi Tas" which means "With your shield or on it" meaning "return as a fighter or dead on the shield" (so not like a coward without your shield).
I am smoking Captain Black Royal, double Greek coffee beside me, sun-clouds and very light rain outside.