He has inspired hundreds of thousands of people with his poetic, patriotic rhetoric about the United States, war and defending freedom. More than 300,000 people have seen him do his rap-style monologue on YouTube. He’s been given a nickname — “BadA** Marine” — and spawned a Web site and copycats, among them a student who performed the speech in a high-school talent contest and won.
The thing is, this isn’t “Cheers” … because nobody knows his name.
Who is the mystery Marine in the video, which was first posted a year ago and only Monday suddenly exploded, snagging 40,000 views in a matter of hours and now boasting at least 288,036? Is he an actor playing a Marine, or is he an actual member of the U.S. Marine Corps? What’s his name and his story? And what compelled him to recite the rap that has now touched so many?
Though no one seems to know the identity of the young, handsome African American man in the Marine uniform, many have certainly come to know his words.
“She called,” he says, standing before a U.S. Marine Corps crest hanging on the wall. “From the bowels of Ground Zero/she sent this 911 distress signal/because she was in desperate need of a hero/and didn’t have time to decipher what to call ‘em/so she called ‘em all her children/and said, ‘I am America, and I’m calling on the land of the free.’/So they answered.”
He raps about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; their impact on people of every race, ethnicity and creed; the call to defend the country and freedom from terror; and the painful process of soldiers leaving for war.
“Brothers and Sisters/We’re just Americans,” he concludes. “So with that I say ‘thank you’/to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines/for preserving my rights/to live and die for this life/and paying the ultimate price/for me to be free.”
Not even the Marines can confirm who he is or whether he is, in fact, one of their own. The reason is simple: YouTube is a restricted-access Web site on Marine Corps computers.
"We don't have access at work, so I can't substantiate, corroborate or verify anything I can't see," explained Marine Corps spokeswoman Christina Delai. "There's nothing we can do about it here."
Even one of the people who uploaded the motivational Marine's video onto YouTube doesn't know who he is.
That person, Matthew Denton, of Birmingham, Ala., says he first saw the clip a year ago, when his brother sent it to him after having done a search for “inspiration” on YouTube.
“I was impressed with it and wanted to share it, so I downloaded it and showed it at my local church service,” Denton, a broker at a fiber-optic sourcing company, said Monday in an e-mail to FOXNews.com.
He said he tried several times to contact the person who initially posted the video — screen name studman20673 — but to no avail. (FOXNews.com has also contacted studman20673, but an e-mail was not immediately returned.)
“With no response, and no real views increase other than me, I posted it to my site, fearing it might go inactive and be lost forever. … That was last year,” Denton wrote Monday. “It has been on my YouTube site since then — getting a few hundred views a week. UNTIL TODAY!”
Denton and his brother Andy named the video star the “BadA** Marine” and created a Web site using that moniker, in his honor. They also tracked down another fan named Zac Savage, who found the clip on Denton’s YouTube profile, performed it at his high school talent show and took home the top prize in the contest.
“I think it is incredible how this Bad-A** Marine explained in three minutes why we’re fighting this war ... when some politicians have failed to convey it in three years,” Denton said.
More than anything else, Denton wants to track down this unknown serviceman and tell him how his monologue has affected so many.
“Please help me find this guy,” he wrote to FOXNews.com. “He has no idea the difference he has made, and is making, with his words.”
So if you’re out there, mystery Marine, please come forward. Everybody wants to know your name.