I served proudly in the USMC from Oct '79 until Jul '83. I spent my entire tour of duty in San Diego as a true "Hollywood Marine". Though promised fortune and fame serving in exotic ports by my recruiter, like most Marines, I did exactly what I was told.
Aptitude scores, a good education, and the ability to type, and talk bounced me from one side of the grinder to the other after graduation. Initially, I worked as a liaison with Naval Security Group executing background investigations on new Marines qualified for OCS. Though I never ducked a bullet during my career as a Marine, I did spend four years in the "spit and polish" of the boot environment. We trained daily with Drill Instructor School, NCO school, as well as other training programs attached to the base. Though I only handled a weapon to qualify, I never once fell below a perfect 300 on the PFT.
A training base post, though at times dull, is never idle. Along with being the NCOIC of the ceremonial detail on board the base for a period, modeling for recruiting posters, and bar tending at the OC, my last year I also sat behind the CO of the base in the bleachers as the MC announcing the weekly graduations. I was meritoriously promoted twice in rank in order to fill a billet, not because of anything special I did (other than passing a meritorious board), but more because the Corps needed the rank to fit the ticket at the time. I ended my career as the Discharge NCO for 2ndRTB papering training failures out of the Corps. While not a glamorous stint by any means, I could tell some heart breaking "stories" of those who should, and should not, have graduated.
I left the Corps in '83 a bit disappointed by the dog and pony show a peace time tour had become. This however, is my point: I learned more in that four year period about the discipline of being a man of reputation, honor, and integrity, no matter the circumstances, than any combined experience I've had since. It makes no difference what "job" we have, being a Marine is all about doing the very best that we can with the responsibility we're given. "Beans, bullets, and bad guys" means a lot of different hats are worn. I handed my life to my country on open palm, they did with it as they chose, I do not regret it. I'm thankful I survived the experience, and salute those who haven't. God bless every single American citizen who has ever served in the Armed Forces, but especially my Marines. Semper Fi
Sergeant of Marines, '79-'83
USMCRD San Diego, CA
(This letter was posted on the Sgt. Grit.com website in February 2010)