As the bus entered the Marine Corps gates, I knew my life was about to change! What I didn't know was how much! I was only seventeen years old getting ready to experience things that would test me in ways I never thought possible I
The sun had already set, and darkness filled the air. The sign entering the Base was lit up with lights boldly displaying the Words "Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego California!"
As we passed by that remarkable sign that will never be forgotten we came upon the Marine Corps Guards that waved us on through! I bone chilling fear came over my entire body! The only other encounter of a Marine was my Recruiter and my Uncle Earl!
My Uncle Earl served at least three tours in Viet Nam and was as tough as they come! He also served as an Officer Candidate Drill Instructor! He had muscles in places I didn't know existed! He was a living example of what a Marine is!
I remember a story that my dad once told me about my Uncle Earl. He spoke of a time that several servicemen were all sitting around a table eating. One of those individual's was my Father who was a twenty -three veteran of the United States Air Force. Other individuals included members of the Army and Navy. As they all laughed and joked my father told me that one individual began making fun of the Marine Corps. About the third time this individual began to speak poorly about the Marine Corps my Uncle Earl quietly said in a stern voice, "Boy you are starting to piss me off!" My father told me that nothing more was said about the Marine Corps!
Here I was a seventeen-year-old boy getting ready to face something that my Uncle Earl had done years earlier! What was I thinking? Not only that but why would my father sign the papers to let me do something so incredibly stupid? Didn't they care about me at all?
An urge came over me to stand up and demand to be let off the bus! Could I still change my mind? Would it be possible for me to plead stupidity? Could I just get off the bus and go back home to the safety and comfort of my parent's? I only weighed about one hundred and sixty-five pounds and stood around six foot three- and one-half inches tall. I was a skinny little twig that had must made a tremendous mistake! What was I thinking?
The bus continued its journey deeper into a place that would break me down piece by piece and attempt to rebuild me into a Marine!
Was it even possible for this place to take someone like me and turn them into a member of the greatest fighting force on the face of this planet? Could this great organization that said "No" to Hitler's forces, ''No" to the North Korean's, "No" to the Japanese, and "No" to the Taliban, “No” to Iraq, and “No” to any other force that tried to take away our Freedom change me into one of them? Was it even remotely possible?
At this point I couldn't think that far ahead! My only thoughts at this point were what the Hell did I go and volunteer to do?
This little joke that I had with my father was getting a little too real! Couldn't he tell that I was only kidding about joining the Marine Corps?
You see the way I decided to join the Marine Corps was on a bet with my Dad!
I had originally wanted to join the Air Force like my Dad! I had taken the entrance exam, the physical and pretty much was all set to go except for signing the final paperwork.
That is where things took a drastic turn!
One day I had an appointment with my Air Force Recruiter at one of those recruiting stations where all the services had offices within the same building. The waiting area was in the center of them all!
One could argue whether it was fortunate or unfortunate that my Air Force Recruiter was running late so I had a seat in the center waiting area.
Almost as soon as I sat down a Marine Corps Recruiter must have smelled blood and yelled out to me to come into his office!
I smiled and told him that I was waiting for my Recruiter!
He got up and came to the door of his office and in a commanding voice said, “Get in here! I only want to talk with you while you’re waiting!”
I nervously got up and went in and had a seat.
To be honest I can’t remember one thing that he said that day! I do remember being there but for some reason I have absolutely no idea what happened!
I knew one thing for sure and that was that I was not interested in joining the Marine Corps whatsoever!
I went on to have my meeting with my Air Force Recruiter.
That night when my Dad got home, I am joking told him that I had decided to join the Marine Corps instead of the Air Force!
My Dad laughed openly and then said those words that will live in infamy, “Join the Marine Corps! Hell, you couldn’t make it through Boot Camp!”
Now that was a dare I was not going to turn away from.
My Dad’s simple, but direct words had landed me right here on this Bus headed into the United States Marine Corps Depot San Diego California base!
My mind started racing! How bad could this really be?
Thank you and may God bless you!