Marine Corps Graduation
I Did It!

Marine Corps Graduation! It was just around the corner now!

Just prior to ever leaving for boot camp my dad had told me that if I get a stripe out of boot camp he would fly out for my graduation. I know he did it to motivate me, but I had smelled another challenge.

From the first moment I was fortunate enough to be selected as a squad leader this was in the back of my mind.

I thought to myself in that moment when he selected me, could I do it. I thought of my Dad's last statement, and I said to myself “Yes”.

Every time I thought about letting up a little, I refocused on my Dad's challenge! I wanted him to be there when I graduated more than anything.

Marine Corps Graduation – It meant a lot to me!

Well, I had done just that. By graduating as a squad leader I would be receiving my first stripe, Private First Class.

Now that may not seem like much to anyone, but I will tell you that it meant a lot to me.

It took a tremendous amount of hard work and determination not to give up, or cave to the pressure that was put on me as a squad leader. Especially when they would get in my face and tell me that they were going to do whatever it took to make me give up.

It meant that everyday I was expected to set the example for my squad.

Setting the example meant pushing my self a little bit harder and focusing just a little bit more on every thing we did. I knew they were watching and judging me. I suppose I had done a number of things that should have caused me to be removed as squad leader, but by the grace of God I was not.

Marine Corps Graduation – Every time we opened our mouth.

The best thing about the stripe I earned was that my sleeve would not be bare. The second most important thing was when I left this place I would no longer be referred to as "Private".

I had grown absolutely sick of that title!

Every time we opened our mouths formally we had to state our rank and name in the third person. When I say every time, I mean every time! Of course it also meant shouting it as loudly as possible.

"Sir, Private Covey reporting as ordered, Sir"! at the top of your lungs!

I was absolutely sick of it.

When I called my Dad to tell him I was getting that stripe he was excited. Of course I had to maintain my excitement because the DI was right behind me as they always were when we were on the telephone. Now I don't think they really cared what we said, but they were there close by.

Marine Corps Graduation – Sounds of the jet airplanes taking off!

Now we didn't get to make many telephone calls, but when we did it was special.

About the only thing left before graduation was our final drill (marching together as a platoon) and our formal dress uniform inspection.

The final drill went like clock work. Even the sounds of the jet airplanes taking off with their engines roaring couldn't keep us from hearing the Drill Instructors commands.

We had gotten so good at tuning out every sound except theirs.

I don't remember what we scored on the final drill , but we passed and that was all I cared about. If we wouldn't have, I am certain that we would have found ourselves in the pit with our dress uniforms on. That would not have ended well for us.

Marine Corps Graduation – It was like watching a domino falling!

During our dress uniform inspection I remember like it was yesterday one of the guys had locked his knees together while standing at attention.

Now if you don't know what results from doing that, you better learn before doing so.

If you lock you knees together for too long it will surely make you pass out.

Well he had done just that. He went down straight forward and hit the concrete sidewalk face first. It was like watching a domino falling in slow motion. After they got him up, he got the pleasure of getting back in formation and being inspected.

Marine Corps Graduation – I repeated my rifle serial number over and over in my head!

The one thing I remember most about the inspection was repeating my rifle serial number over and over in my head. When the inspector, the Company Commander, would present themselves in front of you for inspection you were to bring your rifle up, check it so that it was safe, and then present it to the inspector.

The inspector would take the rifle and at some point would ask you for the serial number.

Fortunately I was able to rattle off the serial number and passed with flying colors.

It was finally graduation day!

The majority of us that started together had made it to the end. What an unbelievable experience! Those thirteen weeks seemed like years.

Marine Corps Graduation – I wanted to make sure the enemy died for theirs!

I entered as a kid wet behind the ears and was going to leave a man ready and very willing to go to war.

As someone said somewhere, “I didn't want to die for my country! I wanted to make sure the enemy died for theirs! To do so, I must be prepared!”

As we marched out to the Drill Deck I was beaming with excitement. I tried my best to locate my Dad without moving my head and looking. Although I didn't see him, I knew he was there. I knew because if he said he would be there. So I knew he would be there unless he had died in the process.

There were about a hundred or so spectators watching. One of those spectators specifically was there for me!

As we came to the spot where the final ceremony was to take place, the Senior Drill Instructor began his commands.

Marine Corps Graduation – Platoon 1094 - Dismissed!

He called out, “Platoon Halt! We stop like a precision machine! Better than we ever had!

“”Right Face!” he shouted with a very commanding voice.

“Parade Rest” he again shouted.

We had a few formal announcements which I couldn't tell you one of them because I was waiting for the final commands. I did notice my Dad as I was standing there though. When I saw him I tightened up my stance a little bit with my chest out just a little more, if you know what I mean.

Then it came!

“Platoon 1094 – Attention” the Senior Drill Instructor called out with pride!

“Platoon 1094 – Dismissed” he shouted out boldly for the final time to us.

We all shouted for joy and threw out covers (hats) into the air with excitement!

We had made it! What a feeling!

I greeted my Dad and we both hugged like never before. Keep in mind, to me, he was a mountain of a man and hugging was not a normal thing for us. But we did, and it was great!

Thank you and May God Bless You!

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