1963. Seventeen year old, high school drop- out, 5’3″, 133 lbs. Mom said I did pull ups all summer trying to get tall enough to join the Marine Corps. Boot camp, San Diego – hurt and hungry all the time. Used to slip cookies, pork chops and bread into my utility jacket, then run the obstacle course. After lights out, I ate the stashed food and sand grit. Platoon 199, Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sgt Moon (tough but fair), Staff Sgt Shields (tough but fair), Jr Drill Instructor Cpl Hicks (just plain ole mean!). We won all the pennants except the obstacle course (I probably took too much sand out of it!) We were an awesome bunch. 100% qualified and Pvt Norman Colvin regained the title for San Diego of best Marine marksman by shooting a 244 (M14) at ole Camp Matthews.
I left boot camp at 5’9 1/2″, 155 lbs. (no wonder I hurt all the time). Made PFC in ITR, Camp Pendleton and was assigned to MACS-5, New River, NC out of radar school. I became one of the youngest Marines to make E-6 at 20 years old. After the Marines, I had a very successful 40 year career with IBM (got my HS and College GEDs in the Corps and my engineering degree while working ).
I attribute most of my personal and professional success to those 4 years in the Marine Corps. They taught me self- confidence, team work, loyalty, dedication, perseverance and adaptability. Being a Marine never leaves you. I am now retired but ride motorcycle with my Marine brothers, Leathernecks MC, International. Not a better group of Marines around and we get to continue telling all our old sea stories and making new ones.
Semper Fi Marines
SSgt Don Mitchel