Bound and Determined

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.

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • Bill Finn

    I, somehow, passed my physical in Chicago with an uncorrected vision of 20/200 and was allowed by an Army Doctor to enlist in the Marine Corps in January, 1957. While at Camp Mathews’ rifle range about half-way through boot camp, I was having trouble even seeing the bull’s eye from the 500 yard line. My senior DI immediately took me back to MCRD for a real eye exam with a Navy Doctor. He was amazed that I was in boot camp and told me that I could just opt-out and go home. By that time, I had made too large an investment in becoming a Marine and I told the Doctor and my DI that wanted to finish boot camp if I could. They were both agreed and I eventually qualified as a marksman with a score of 182 (I think). I never regretted that decision to complete my training and become a Marine. When I eventually got to my unit, A/1/4, at Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, several guys thought my dark rimmed glasses looked cool and got a pair with plain glass for themselves.

  • Wayne Stafford

    We had a guy in our boot camp platoon in late 1966 who had scoliosis. His spin was so bent he couldn’t get his shoulders straight. The major inspecting us at graduation tried to adjust his shoulders but they wouldn’t move. Still graduated. Then there was the guy with asthma who collapsed on the confidence course. He graduated too.

  • B. Gordon Cpl Korean Era

    Had a history of asthma and couldn’t see things at a distance well. Told them about it at exam in Oklahoma City in 1950. Someone in the clinic hollered at me. I said were you calling me? He said yes, and you just passed the hearing test. I was accepted into the Marines. Made it thru Boot Camp in San Diego, and ITR at Oceanside. Shipped out to Korea and almost died from an asthma attack in 1951. Navy Doctors and Corpsman couldn’t believe my condition. Shipped me back stateside with limited duties requirement. Made it for another year and was surveyed. I made it just barely. Wish I could have done a better job. I tried! I am proud to have been a Marine and would do it over again if needed.


    Since you did not sign a name…I will ask if you were with A 1/3 from Jan 66 -thru March 66. I got transferred there from A 1/4 Chu Lai around Christmas 65 Semper fi and ” Welcome Home ” Jerusalem Israel

  • GYSGT Danny Marso

    I joined the Corps in high school on the 120 delay program,join in school,at 17 ,then shipped out for Parris Island in August 1962. Graduated from boot camp and went to ITR at Camp Gieger. February 1963 reported to K/3/2 at Lejeune. 0311 for two years,then my next duty station was the Marine Barracks at Great Lakes. The Marines ran the Navy Brig, provided some security, and I got some choice duty in the district chaser unit at Great Lakes,we had 10 Marines, and we went out in two man teams and covered 13 States in the mid west. After an extension for VN I was discharged as a Cpl. In 1966. I met my Wife while a Great Lakes and we were married in June of 1967. I went to work for New England Telephone in December 1966. After a few years,I started to miss the Marines,so I went down to the nearest unit,and joined on a prior service contract and retained my rank as Cpl.. They sent me to a Navy Doctor for the physical,and since it was in between drills told me to see him at his private practice office. The physical was good until he checked my BP, and he said it was too high to enlist,I asked him if he could take it again, and he gave me a chit and said to see him at the next Drill weekend. I reported that weekend,and had the chit in my chest pocket,nobody said anything so I was set till the next annual. I kept that chit for 7 years, lied at every Physical,and left as a GYSGT in 1981.

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