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!

19 comments


  • John T. Durant E-2-12 & H&S-10

    In reply to Bill Finn.
    BILL When I was give the eye test the doc said…”Read the Chart” and I said…” What chart?” He asked if I really wanted to join the Marines to which I said “yes”. He then guided me to the chart and took out an instrument that had a tiny hole in it and held in front of one eye and again told me to read the chart after reading it perfectly he tested the other eye and I read it perfectly. After I got to MCRD Paradise Island on August 15, 1054 a Navy Ophthalmologist examined my eyes and prescribed glasses. Several weeks later while at the rifle range and ready to shoot, for the first time, prone from the 200 yard line, my rifle Instructor was frustrated and nudged me with his foot . NO he didn’t kick me and asked why I wasn’t shooting. I told him that the target wasn’t up, whereupon he went slightly apesh*t and wanted to know where my glasses were, and went further ape when I told him that I hadn’t received them yet, most recruits receive them their first week. So we figured out a way that I could sight on the number board. I shot a 208, I’ve always wondered if that wasn’t a thirty caliber pencil used to mark the “Shot Spotter”. I got my glasses several weeks later after returning to “Mainside”. While walking back to the Platoon Huts I cried when I could see individual blades of grass for the first time while standing at full height. I had no idea that other people could do that. What an, “eye opening experience.”


  • Daniel J. Daly

    In reply to GYSGT Danny Marso.
    To GySgt. I was in the Marine Corps from 9/65 to 9/69 and except for Boot camp and before I went to Vietnam I never had a physical exam while I was in the Corps. Is this annual exam something new.


  • Dwight Morgan

    My Dad signed for me to enlist in the delayed entry program in January 1972 while I was in high school. I was supposed to go to Hollywood in June, but had a motorcycle accident in late January that needed 2 steel pins in my left elbow. When we went in June to OKC to leave, they examined my elbow and I watched my buddies leave and I went back home. Ready for college, I asked to either take me or discharge me in late July. They took me and I turned 18 in Phase 2 boot camp. I did see my buddies at the chow hall a couple of times, but did not dare talk or even acknowledge them.


  • Sgt Ted K. Shimono

    You all need to get in contact with Jim Barber, former Marine with 3/5. He wrote a book about the funny things that happen in boot camp. Title of book “SH*TBIRD” How I learned to love the Corps. His email address is : jimdbone@gmail.com. The book is available now.


  • David Solis Martinez

    In 1967, after two years of college party life, my guilt got the better of me and I begged my mom on blended knee to please sign the “sole surviving son” waiver so that I could enlist in my beloved Marine Corps. My childhood hero, Uncle “Tony Solis, had been a Marine since 1944. There was no way I was not going to enlist after hearing his stories while on leave year after year. Stories of the South Pacific battles, Korea battles and now Vietnam Nam battles! I can proudly boast of having served my four years while he was still serving his 30+ years. I never had the privilege of serving under him but we did share a few beers at the eclub at MCAS El Toro! I did attend a Christmas party at a reserve unit he was in charge of before his last tour of ‘Nam. We wore our dress greens. I came out of the bedroom proud of my Lance Corporal chevrons and there he stands with hash marks up and down his sleeves, Sgt. Major chevrons and ribbons and shooting badges that would make God’s jaw drop! I beamed with pride when he introduced me as his nephew to his men! He finally retired as Sgt. Major A.M. Solis in the mid 70’s.


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