Eleven year Marine Corps anniversary

Eleven year Marine Corps anniversaryI’ll admit I’ve taken my last eleven years as a United States Marine somewhat for granted. And now, as a drill instructor charged with making Marines, I see now more than ever that becoming a Marine goes well beyond a paltry twelve week recruit training cycle, follow-on occupational schooling, and even the first enlistment.

The change is, indeed, forever. Even after only one month, most recruits have developed the necessary survival skills to endure recruit training. It’s the first step of many which distances the future Marine from his prior civilian associations. He’ll speak differently, walk differently, socialize differently, and eyeball his once familiar civilian world with suspicion and mild disgust while he wonders how he could have ever been so nasty.

But the lure of hometown friends and hometown habits are strong. Within days of being home after boot camp he’ll surely skip a shave or two, maybe sag his pants a bit lower, or even fall victim to the same downward spiral he enlisted to escape from. Luckily, thankfully, time off after boot camp is short and the young Marine is soon whisked away from hometown temptations for further combat training and his occupational school.

He’ll miss home. He’ll miss his civilian friends. He’ll miss his girl. But training a hard-core killer is no relaxing task, and as the tempo picks up he realizes he doesn’t think about home so much as he used to. He’s making new friends now, the kind who understand his language and miss home too, sometimes, when there’s down time. He’s making the kind of friends who struggle beside him, sweat and hurt and sometimes bleed beside him, and those are the ties that bind beyond his senior-year-prank-run-from-the-cops or any high school house party.

He’ll visit home again before his first deployment overseas. Maybe it’s Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Okinawa. It matters little. He’s leaving because his country calls and no one back home can seem to understand. Why does he want to go? Why can’t he just do his job here, where it’s safe? But those questions fall on increasingly quieter ears, because the distance between who he is now, a young Marine, a kid really, facing life or death, and who he was as a civilian leech of society, is getting wider by the day. For some, that distance is already too great to turn back.

Every deployment changes a Marine. It makes him remember it’s a big, Marine Corps green world out there, and life back home never so much as hiccuped while he was gone. He may have been safely behind a computer screen his entire deployment, crunching numbers and churning out roster after report, or he could have had his boots on the deck, patrolling and dodging bullets and seeing death all around him.

It matters little, because when he returns home again no one will understand. He tries at first, doing his best to describe what a face looks like after it’s been peeled from a skull, but soon realizes their ears are quieting too. He stops. And immediately misses his Marine friends, buddies they’re called, because they were there too and understand. They don’t need the details because every time they close their eyes they see that face peeled off a dirty white skull in a bloody grin.

It’s time to go now, where loyalty, brotherhood, dedication, and devotion aren’t just punchlines and actually mean something to the men who use them. The man he was is in the rear view mirror, shrinking to unrecognizable points. There’s a twinge of sadness in his heart for the things he leaves behind, the things he had known for so many misdirected years.

But, oddly, he begins to smile. Because soon he’ll truly be home.

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3 Responses to “Eleven year Marine Corps anniversary”

  1. Gabe says:

    synergy

  2. Yo Adrienne says:

    As always, it’s a pleasure to read your posts. You are an exceptional writer, my friend. 🙂 Big hugs to you!

  3. SHAUN IN THE HAT says:

    WOW A CRAPPY HAT IS A GOOD WRITER. IM SPEECHLESS HAHAHHAAHAHA WELL SPOKEN MY FRIEND WELL SPOKEN

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The author.Born in the year of the Dragon, the author grudgingly accepts the fact he has too many interests and not enough time. A cyclist as long as he can remember, an avid yet inconsistent writer since age eleven, and a U.S. Marine since age twenty-one, the author also adds peak bagging, diving, snowboarding, and computers to his list of interests. Incidentally, he is aware of his inability to make a living from any but the Corps. The author accepts this as fact and remains optimistic. Feel free to drop him a line.

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