Bound and Determined
It was in the late summer or early fall of 1963, when at the age of 17, I got my parents to sign the consent form needed to enlist in the Marine Corps. With the consent form and pocket full of promises from the local recruiter I went down to Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan, NY to join up.
During my physical exam the Army doctor, who looked like he was about 80 years old, mixed up my paper work with the poor guy standing next to me. This guy had rheumatic fever as a child and should have been classified 4-F.Unfortunately he got my 1-A classification and I got the 4-F classification.
I was not a happy camper! To let everyone know they made a big mistake I shouted, cursed and threatened everyone around me until I was given the “bum’s rush” and escorted out the door.
Not willing to give up my quest to join the Marine Corps, I waited about two months and went to a different recruiter and started the process all over again. Remember this was the pre-computer days and you could get away with it.
On the day of my physical exam I had a different doctor. I passed the exam without a problem. As I was mentally congratulating myself I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and was stating at a chest full of ribbons. I’m 6”1” but I had to look up about six inches to see a face that belonged to a very large MP. Behind him was an even larger MP. I was informed that I was about to be arrested for fraudulent enlistment. Of course I denied I was ever there before and tried to convince them they were mistaking me for someone else. One of the MP’s laughed and said that I made such a big stink he actually put a photo of me on his wall in the MP office.
After some desperate negotiations on my part the OIC at Whitehall Street told me to come back at 7:30 AM the next morning with an overnight bag. He told me I was going to be shipped over to Governor’s Island for a series of exams to see if I would pass a more stringent physical exam.
The next morning I boarded a ferry boat to Governor’s Island. There were twelve passengers going for physicals. Eleven of them were trying to get out of the Army and I was trying to get into the Marine Corps. I never regretted getting on that ferry boat.
Fast forward from that point on….I went to Parris Island in the first week of January 1964….made PFC out of Boot Camp…..and was attached to the one of the first combat units into Vietnam- 1st Battalion 3rd Marines in 1965.