A Marine from “K” Company, 2nd Bn, Marine Corps Recruit Depot
Submitted by: John Wintersteen
I’m sure most of you from “K” Company, 2nd Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC, could look at your DD-214’s and see that 44 years ago today, you enlisted in the finest major fighting force in the world. That decision alone to take such a large step is impressive enough. To finish Boot Camp and become a Marine is even more so. We all know inside ourselves what it took to overcome what fears we might have had. For some, it was being away from home and family for the first time in our lives, for others it was self-doubtcould we cut the mustard? What if we didn’t make it? Would we have to go back home and admit we failed? Maybe some worried about being sent to war. After all, the Korean War had ended just 6 short years before.
Now, after all this time, we know we had what it took. We know what a powerful influence the Corps has had on our lives. In our later years, we realize that many of our decisions, consciously or subconsciously, are and were guided by the principles of the Corps and that ever-present reminder to “do it right the first time”. Or, “Adapt, improvise, overcome.” Respect for God, Country and Corps was instilled in us, whether we knew it at the time or not. Our Drill Instructors did a number on us and we all thought it was a bad thing at the time. How wrong we were! Now we see our DI’s again and can thank them from the bottom of our green hearts for what they gave us.
Deep down, you now walk around confidently, knowing you did something, and are something, special, with no need to prove it to anyone else. When someone finds out you are a Marine, you can see the subtle change in the way they react or look at you. They don’t even know why it happens themselves, because they haven’t experienced the Brotherhood. They just know Marines have a long history of defending them and maybe they can’t understand why someone would die for somebody else.
We had a strong bond with our High School sports teammates and some of those can last a lifetime. Most don’t. But where else can you find the camaraderie we have with a million or more living Marines? Not to mention the bond we have with those who fought and died to bring us to where we are today. We carry on that proud tradition and try to live exemplary lives. How much is that worth to you? Would you not do it again? Our Series Officer, Col. Alex Fazekas met us for the first time since 1959, stood up and said, “Y’all should be proud of yourselves for being a such big success.” We won’t ever forget that one.
If you can make our reunion in June, and you haven’t been to one before, you will be able to rediscover and experience this wonderful camaraderie again.
All four Sr. Drill Instructors will be there. Try like hell to make it. If you can’t be there for some compelling reason, join your local Marine Corps League Detachment and commit to doing some good work. You’ll get back that feeling of brotherhood again and meet some great Marines in the process.
So, on this Superbowl Sunday, pick up your glass and toast yourselves. You have a right to do that with no immodesty. I will be toasting all Marines, and especially you, with whom I shared a frightening, then exhilarating, thirteen weeks, 44 years ago.
Semper Fidelis to all Marine Brothers & Sisters,
John WintersteenDanville, CA
Proud to be a L/Cpl