When I first arrived at MCRDSD at 2330 hours, on 16 Nov. 1961, I can remember one thing. Two other recruits and I arrived and we were told to “take off everything that you were not born with and …” put our clothes into a locker and put the key, on a shoe lace, around our necks. We stood there. I was naked and the other two guys still had on their underwear. A Marine yelled at them and their underwear just disappeared. They did not take them off, their underwear just disappeared.
I never had a bowel movement for several days after arriving. I do not remember getting an erection during boot camp, which is unheard of for a 20-year old. (Yes, I was the old man in platoon 390).
I went to 2nd ITR and was in the same company (Company A) as Phil and Don Everly (brothers who were Rock & Roll singers in the 1950s.) We got liberty every weekend. They got some of their friends together and put on a Hell-of-a-show following the training and just before we got our “boot leave”.
Following 2nd ITR & leave, I returned to MCRDSD for training as a Radio/Telegraph Operator (MOS 2533). While there I went to find my old DIs. I found them and was invited to chat with them in their Quonset Hut. We talked for about 10-minutes. I learned that the Senior DI (S/Sgt Cunningham) was finishing up getting his CPA degree and the Junior DI (S/Sgt Dent) was finishing up his BA Degree. I learned that all of the other DIs that I had were also working on their college degrees.
When I got up to leave, S/Sgt Cunningham and Dent shook my hand, thanked me for coming by, and politely told me to not do it again.
The greatest thing I learned from Marine Corps and its Boot Camp is that there is nothing in the civilian world that I cannot deal with and over come. That includes the leukemia that I have. I may die with it but I will not die from it.
From 15 Feb. 1962 (Graduation Day – the day I became a Marine) on to Infinity, I will always be a United States Marine.
Once a Marine, Always a Marine!