Pork Chops and Bread

Pork Chops and Bread

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

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


  • Harry

    I guess if I counted ITR as boot camp it would be about 13 weeks but the fact is that in 67 I spent 8 weeks at Parris Island and I am certain of that! In present day it is 13 weeks and at one time before it could have been longer.Just like you I just know what I know.Harry

  • Don Mitchell

    Bill, thanks for your comments. I smiled the entire time I read them. Especially the ones about Cpl Hicks. I still remember his missing teeth. Guess he had some of those fights.. haha. I think GySgt Stankowski was our Series Gunny as well. I’d forgotten him. Really laughed about the cookies. I was just darn lucky. Semper Fi brother

  • Bill Evans

    I also had SSgt Moon and Cpl Hicks from Sep to Dec 63 in platoon 168 and it was 13 weeks! Your comments about both DIs were right on. Still to this day I tell everyone what a prick Hicks was. But I guess that is what we were supposed to endure in our quest to become a Marine. They had just come off of having an honor platoon before our platoon and from your comments, the one after ours. Half of us were from Indiana and the other half I believe from Detroit. We gave it our all and became Marines but we never won any of the honors and that just made it worse for us from their perspective. I tried to sneak some cookies into my jacket when we had mess duty one week and SSgt Moon was standing outside in the dark watching. He came in and walked straight towards me and asked if I was getting enough to eat and I said “Yes Sir”. He patted my stomach and said it looked like I was putting on some weight. After feeling the cookies he said, “What is this Pvt. Evans”. I said cookies Sir. He said, “I thought you just said you were getting enough to eat Pvt. Evans”. At that point I knew I was screwed. He slowly unbuttoned my jacket and took the sugar cookies (3 of them about 4 inches in diameter) stacked them on top of each other and told me to open wide and then crammed them in my mouth. Wound up splitting open both sides of my mouth. Never took any more food after that! Cpl Hicks was always trying to get us to fight each other but never succeeded. Later at ITR at Camp Pendleton there were numerous fights between our platoon members. It’s a shame Cpl Hicks never found that out! Went on to aviation electronics school in Memphis and was with VMA-533 and VMA-242 (jets) at Cherry Point, NC. Was asked to extend for three months to be able to go with VMA-242 as they were to deploy to Vietnam soon thereafter. Did not extend and wound up leaving the next day with orders to join HMM-362 (helicopters) in Vietnam. Finished my tour there and then was discharged. So many great memories over those 4 years including numerous ones during boot camp. Wouldn’t change any portion of it for the world. A great learning experience that taught me so many attributes to be used for the rest of my life. Have owned and operated several businesses and have enjoyed a great life. Thank you GySgt Stankowski, SSgt Moon and yes, even Cpl Hicks!!

  • Harry

    I started going to “Rolling Thunder” 1993 the year after 10yr re-dedication of “The Wall” First walk was hard but after that it was like a big magnet puling me in.Some years I would go twice.Once during Rolling Thunder and again on Veterans day. Last trip was 2014 on Veterans Day. During my Thunder days would camp at the Burke Lake campground near Fairfax Semper Fi Harry

  • Harry

    It can get pretty rough on this site at times. I went from 155lbs to around 170lbs while in boot camp.Lost around 10 before heading to Nam.I am a little skeptical about stealing and hiding food though.When was boot camp13 wks? Just checked my platoon book my training started 13 Oct 67 ended 14 Dec 67 Anyway nice story. Harry

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