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!


  • Greg Neubert

    SSgt Mitchell is a close personal friend of mine and we are both members of the same Chapter in the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club Int (LMCI). Believe me Don is one hell of a Marine and a better Brother was never born. Don and I have logged thousands of miles together and spent countless hours bending our elbows in true Marine Corps fashion while spinning our war stories. I am privileged to call him my friend, Brother and fellow Marine. Cpl Greg Neubert, USMC 1970-76

  • Randol Parr

    Hiding the food is what is hard to believe – we were so carefully watched. I have no problem with the growth because I went from 5′ 6 to 5’11 and 127 lbs to 166 lbs in the same 13 weeks. When you go in small and skinny they slam you with “double diet” with out extra time to eat. This was Nov 64 to Feb 65.

  • Richard Dotson

    6 1/2″ growth in 13 weeks? Difficult to believe. This makes the rest of the story even more suspect. Sorry, but I don’t buy it.

  • Doug Walker

    SSgt Mitchel, Many parallels in my story. I also had both Moon and Shields as DIs in ’62. Made PFC in 3/7 at Pendleton then on to electronics school, also becoming a radar tech (MOS 5912) but in Hawk Missiles. After a year in ‘Nam (field promotion to E-5) did 38 years with IBM. I am not a motorcycle rider but I do the RUN FOR THE WALL as a chase vehicle and really enjoy the camaraderie of that wonderful family of patriots. Maybe I’ll see you there? Semper Fi Sgt Doug Walker

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