"Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference to the world, but the Marines don't have that problem..." President Ronald Reagan
I worked very hard to become a Marine. I went to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. in 1973. All my DI’s had seen duty in Vietnam and come back to push boots through boot camp. They took our training very seriously.
One of the first things we were issued was our "little red monster." I don't know if boots today still get them or not, but we did. The little red monster was a small red notebook, which was just wide enough to fit in the back pocket of our utilities. It contained many facts that we needed to know. It contained our 11 general orders, a list with pictures of all the enlisted ranks in all the services and also all the officer ranks in all the different services. It also contained information on weapons, Marine traditions and customs. Every thing a new Marine recruit needed to know.
We stood hours at a time in lines waiting for something (haircuts, meals, uniforms, shots, etc...) and while standing there we better have our little red monsters in our hands held at eye level. We all knew we had to remember these things. The DI's would randomly ask us questions from our little red monsters and a wrong answer would get you swift and severe punishment.
We were taught many things, including respect for authority. We were taught to react to things quickly. We were put under stress so that everyone knew if one of us would break under pressure. Some people did not make it and would break. They would leave the platoon and we would never see them again.
I remember starting boot camp as a scared civilian and slowly becoming a United States Marine. It was a slow hard process but at the end I was very proud to wear that uniform. I had paid for it with blood, sweat and even a few tears. I knew I had earned it.
We were told many things while in boot camp and we had no way of knowing the validity of these things. I look back now and some seem pretty absurd but at the time we believed them. One of the things I remember being told was that the KGB (Russian version of the CIA) kept records of everyone who had ever been an Officer or non-commissioned Officer in the Marine Corps. We were told that the reason for this was that when and if they ever managed to take over the U.S. they would pull those records out and kill everyone whose name was on them. This was because they knew that a Marine leader was the most dangerous person alive and they would never be able to totally control the U.S. until all Marine leaders were dead.
The day I became a non-commissioned Officer I wanted to send my name to the Kremlin just to make sure they did not miss my promotion. I thought that the story was probably just bunk but I was still proud to be a Marine non-commissioned Officer.
I was young when I joined the Marines and I remember having a lot of problems with the way the old lifers ran things, but I was still proud to be a Marine. It was okay for a Marine to talk bad about the Corps, we had earned the right, but if you were never a Marine you better not say anything bad about it.
Twenty-five years later I am still proud to be called a Marine. I am proud of being called something else too, a Christian. Lots of people think of Christians as being weak or having no backbone, but I am here to tell you that is not true. Many Christians throughout the world have given their lives instead of denying their faith. That is something any Marine can understand. Semper Fidelis.
Visit The Virtual Wall to find a name and location on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
If you would like to obtain a graphic of the ribbons you are entitled to wear go to this link. Ribbon Checker Please note it will open up in a new window and sometimes takes a while to fully load, but it is worth it.