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February 24, 2007

The Final Inspection

The Marine stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now, Marine,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand.

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the Marine waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Marine,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."


Amy brings us Part II, and a little clarification.

The poem was written by Sgt. Joshua Helterbran of the 224th Engineer Battalion. After he found it circulating around he wrote a part II which he did sign :

Part II

I'm very saddened by America today,
when they take credit for what others say.

I wrote a poem because of problems in my past,
how was I to know that it was going to last.

It has been read by all and loved the same,
but indeed at the end there is no name.

The name is simple for those who know,
it's not Kilmer, Longfellow, Service, or Poe.

It's a soldier who has fought for his country so true,
He's proud of the ole Red, White and Blue.

You now know the poem the one and the same,
The Final Inspection is the name.

I wrote it because of the trials so true,
and of my buddies who died for country and you.

So take this poem, take it as you trod,
because in Heaven I'll see my God.

He will look at me and say don't be sad,
others read your poem and you made them glad.

Now step forward my son and look your best,
and come inside with all the rest.

by: Sgt Joshua Helterbran

- Joatmoaf -

February 24, 2007 at 12:15 PM | Permalink


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Was looking at your pictures and I think they are awsome.
I pray for you all every day and ask the Lord to keep you and protect you all from harm.
I live now in Costa Rica and from there I send my THANKS, for the valiant job you are all doing for all of us!!!!

May God Bless you all!

Posted by: Mariam at Mar 2, 2007 5:52:25 PM

Not fer nuthin, but according to Sgt Helterbran's bio which isposted here:


he didn't even enter the military until 1996. Now a few of my buddies and I can remember that poem from when we were in, in the 60's!

Someone wanna explain that to me?


Posted by: deudddersun at Apr 14, 2007 3:03:02 PM

It could be kind of like the 'Kilroy Was Here' that everybody seemed to take credit for in WWII but which could actually be traced back to WWI at the very least.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at Apr 21, 2007 10:17:36 PM

It could be kind of like the 'Kilroy Was Here' that everybody seemed to take credit for in WWII but which could actually be traced back to WWI at the very least.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at Apr 21, 2007 10:17:39 PM

You always have someone out there that thinks the seen something, done something, been there and done that. Most of those people have never been anywhere in there life. I am proud to say that I DID write that poem, I DID serve my country, I DID lose many good friends, buds, companions while I served in a combat zone. I feel sorry for the ones who try to put others down for what they have done. For all others that this poem has touched, GOD BLESS.

Posted by: SGT Joshua Helterbran at Apr 18, 2008 11:57:19 PM

i remember receiving a piece of paper when i went to BCT in 05, it had this very same poem on it, but no name. i want to thank Sgt Helterbran for writing it. it has gotten me through a lot since then.

Posted by: PFC Anthony Timmerman at Aug 14, 2008 9:34:09 PM

this poem was handed out at my fathers wake he served in vietnam with the proud 101st screaming eagles i hold this poem close to me for it truly defines him thank u joshua helterbran for this poem and your service to our country god bless u and all that
served/serving this great country
p.s. god speed home soldiers

Posted by: Carlos Tijerina III at Sep 24, 2008 4:36:25 PM

I became aware of this poem on "Extreme Make-over, Home Edition" and went surfing for the whole thing. I found the original and where someone changed it for policemen. My nephew is a brand new Marine, my youngest son is just finishing law enforcement academy. Imagine, a 2-for-1 blessing. Thank you, Joshua, for sharing God's gift to you.


Posted by: Mom at Feb 11, 2009 5:26:11 PM

I am a retired USAF Col. and pilot and my son is a Marine now serving overseas and carrying on a long family tradition of service to this country: I have seen this poem many times over the years and I don't think it really matters as to who wrote it or when, although it is nice to give credit where and when credit is due - it is still heart felt; it applies to every service member of every branch of the military and their families and when our time does come, we can all say that we have already served our time in Pergatory/Hell.

Integrety, Service, Excellence. Service Before Self. Happy Birthday America! :>0

Posted by: Wedge at Jul 3, 2009 8:35:48 AM

Thank you for all of the prayers while I was recovering after my motorcycle wreck. I currently have went thru a Medical Review Board and I have been found fit for duty. I look forward to joining my brothers and sisters in the Armed Services overseas in combat. God Bless all the servicemembers and their families.

Posted by: SGT Joshua Helterbran at Oct 4, 2009 1:37:52 PM

I am a retired police officer and have written a novel and would like to use the Final Inspection, in it. If you have any information about the author and copyright, please e-mail me. Thank you.

Posted by: Gary Kassay at Nov 29, 2010 5:16:42 PM

The author of "Final Inspection" is Sgt.Joshua Helterbran. He began to write it in 1996 when he was stationed at Ft. Benning, GA. He recieved a copyright for it in 2009 and you can find it in the Library of Congress stating him as author. On October 15th, 2011. Sgt. Joshua Helterbran will recite the poem at an unveiling ceremony at Ft.Benning, GA where his poem will be on a monument for 2 fallen soldiers. I am proud to say I am married to Sgt. Joshua Helterbran. If anyone has any questions regarding his poem or copyright, you can contact me via email [email protected] Thank you.

Posted by: Carrie Helterbran at Oct 11, 2011 10:08:54 PM

I never write comments but I need to state the impact this poem has in everyone that reads it. On April 10, 2011 we lost a nephew in Afganistan and I am using this poem in a scrapbook I am making for his mother. I comne from a strong militar family and my husband also. I made a scrapbook with 27 near relatives that has served or still are in military service. All military servicemen should be PROUD of what they do and we should all be thankful for them. Joshua thank you for such inspiration, get well soon and God bless you and bless our wonderful and special country. I am proud to be an american.

Posted by: Liz Nieves at Dec 19, 2011 11:48:10 PM