DalyDose of…USMC Birthday
Happy 235th Birthday USMC
Some of you know that I served in the United States Marine Corps. When I went in, I was a tiny recruit. My camouflage sizes were XS/XS (extra small, extra short). I was referred to as one of the “Ethiopian privates” and was made to eat food from the “Diet privates’” trays as a transfer of weight plan.
I look back at my official boot camp picture and I looked like a kid playing dress-up in dad’s clothes. They take these pictures in the first week so we have a dual look on our faces. There’s still the pure fear of being there, plus a face of soon-to-be warrior as the drill instructors dared anyone to attempt a smile. Yeah, I was definitely one of the smallest recruits. I think I was about 130 pounds and maybe 5 ft. 7 inches.
Keep reading to learn a bit more about my Marine Corps experience!
A common nickname for Marines is “Devil Dog” and true to the nature of the canine, I had NO IDEA how small I was. I would challenge anybody to anything in boot camp and even later in the service.
Why I joined and why the Marines?
I asked myself that very question as my feet hit the welcoming yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego. I instantly thought that I’d made a mistake.
I actually joined up as a junior in high school with the delayed entry program. I wasn’t recruited; I walked into the office and told them that I wanted to sign up and I’d only go if I could pick my M.O.S (job). They were like “sloooow down son”. They made me take some practice test and a little fitness test. Seriously?
Academic test – high school was boringly easy…you couldn’t tell by my grades because I didn’t always manage to make it to class unless there was a test. Tests were a chance to show off and let the teacher know that I didn’t NEED to go to class.
Fitness test – the prelim test was something like a 1.5 mile run, pull ups and sit ups. I was only 130 FREAKIN pounds….that’s not a lot to pull up! I was also a soccer player and we ran and did sit ups ad nauseum…seriously until we puked!
So after the those hoops were jumped, I signed up. Rarely went to the meetings they setup throughout senior year, but I always went when they taught something like drill (marching) so I could get a leg up.
I think I joined the Marines for a few reasons. One was spite, because some people didn’t think I could survive in that environment. So I jumped in and took the biggest challenge I could find. (psssst…I was a bit arrogant back then) Also, my friend Scott had joined a year earlier and he found himself stationed in Hawaii. Funny as it sounds the uniform was actually a consideration. I needed to have pride in something I was going to be forced to wear and the Marine Corps uniform seemed top notch, plus I had learned about the Eagle, Globe & Anchor.
I really had some romantic notion what it would mean to leave Kalamazoo, Michigan and go off and become a warrior. I wanted that and it was something no one else I knew was doing.
These reasons may sound crazy, but you should ask me about some other decisions I’ve made in my life! Plus when you get around Marines, you want to be in that club. Just watch this year’s official “USMC 235th Birthday Message” from the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.
Seriously, how could I resist that tradition?
I’d like to thank the Marine Corps for giving me a big challenge at 18 years of age. I would have taken college for granted, I’m sure. Beyond that the Marines has impacted my life in so many enduring ways. I am a huge stickler for loyalty and I deplore a lack of teamwork and a focus on individual blame. I love the idea that we need to “adapt, improvise, overcome” and that attitude keeps me going when things look impossible. I also credit the Marines with supporting my natural inclination for always attempting to tackle the impossible. Oh yeah, I have some killing people and breaking things skills, but those don’t come in handy too often!