I Did the Same Thing-Quit School and Joined the USMC at Age 17

I joined the USMC at age 17 and it was the best thing that I could have ever done at the same time, just like you. It actually led to me getting my GED and eventually getting a BA and MPA degree later. I don’t think I would ever have made it into college without joining the Marine Corps at age 17 and I have always been very proud of my service in the USMC.
Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

19 comments


  • Tom Wheeler

    In reply to Thearle Lacey.
    TJ Lacey……….Trying to get back to you on a couple of older posts…I was in Plt 339 w/you in ’61…..I still have my grad. Book. A little ragged after fifty + years…..I can text your dress blues grad. pix or mail to you…Need your contact imfo. Semper Fi…….


  • Sgt Ted K. Shimono

    These stories sounds like we all joined at 17 years. I to joined after graduating from high school in 1959, went to MCRDSD. Joined 3/5 in October 1959, went tp Okinawa. Did all sorts of things for the year 1960 throughout SEA, some good, some things bads by myself (as ordered) and with others (as ordered). Joined 1/1 upon return to US, sent to 5th MEB for the Cuban Missile crisis, went to Cuba. Joined 2/23 active reserves, became Platoon Sargeant and acting Platoon Commander. Left in 1968. Went to work in the Aerospace industry. Became a Manager after 3 years and for the next 24 years managed many departments. My Marine Corps leadership training was used effectively in managing every department I took over, which made me an assest to the company in every facet of aerospace business (technical, legal, business, technology, etc.). Was assigned as technology representative to work with 10 companies/10 universities for 8 years. Critiqued presentations given by the 10 universities on many facetes of aerospace subjects. Lectured Masters and PhD students/canidates during these 8 years. Legal expert on aerospace lawsuits for the company. Retired in 1994. Went to college, got degree. Spent additional 14 years attending college classes. This is what the Marine Corps did for me. My grandson served in Iraq and Afganistan. My greatgrandson just deployed in November 2016. God Bless the USMC. Semper Fi to all Marines where ever they serve/served (past, present and future). We are the BEST!!!!


  • Thearle J. Lacey, Jr. 1970XXX

    In reply to Tom Wheeler.
    Hot Damn!! Tom, after years of looking I am so GRATEFUL to hear from you. I can finally give a copy to my sons, especially my Marine son (SDRD 1995) the picture to make our records almost complete. My email is TJLacey@comcast.net and my home address is 9 Winding Road, Nashua, NH, 03062. I am also on face book as Wolf Lacey in honor of my Native American heritage and National Chairman of The Metis Nation of the South. My health is shot and very quickly so I was very concerned for my “future at gaining the picture. Heart my be screwed up but right now it’s Happy and filled with a joy I haven’t had in years. Did you see where Sgt Patterson eventually made 1st Sargent? Between him and S/Sgt Rushing, I was able to finally get my life in order after having lost my father. These two Marines gave me things to help my shape my life with confidence and fairness in myself. My wife just stated how wonderful and “it shows you that it’s good when you never give up.” Can’t wait to hear from you again as I can finally complete my Marine Corps three generation site for my son. Thearle James Lacey, JR. and I thank you — Semper Fi


  • Thearle James Lacey

    In reply to Bob.
    I signed up and tested in April 1961 at age 16, exactly one year after my Dad passed away. I quit school and tested and passed, was worn in after passing test with high marks, sworn in again at 17 birthday, June 10, 1961, again July 6, 1961 at Logan Airport before boarding plane to PI and again at PI July 7, 1961. Only regrets were that I had not waited and graduated high school in 1961 for at PI, one of the tests a damn near aced and in private conversation with S/DI S/Sgt Rushing was advised to get my GED for I had technically qualified test wise for OCS. At Camp Lejeune, 1962, while in the field training on various bridges, I was fire team leader and was getting ready to follow team on the single strand bridge via the ‘monkey crawl.’ As I started across on that ‘bridge,’ the guy behind me from the next team got on the rope too soon and to do so he jumped onto the rope. The force of the jump popped the rope upward just as I was reaching for it and I missed it and fell almost 50′, subsequently fracturing my back at the waist in four places. I just had a fusing operation on 4 vertebrae in my neck where it was believed by the surgeon that the front sights of the M1, crushed a vertebra in my neck and compressed three others. It was a level three operation that lasted 5 1/2 hours. I was in a neck brace for 90 days and a soft neck brace for another 30. I still wear it occasionally to rest my neck. But for that incident in the field, I would have been at OCS and could have graduated to become an officer with a career in the Corps. I was never able to get past that lost. I had wanted it so badly that I never investigated other ways of lifed. Two DI’s had helped to get to the point of beginning my dream. I’ll never forget them for giving me a purpose.


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