Larry Pate’s letter and his picture of Platoon 315 (PI Sept. 54) brought back plenty of memories. So much so that I retreated to my picture album and came up with this family collage. From left to right, me at PI as I graduated on October 13th, 1954 with Platoon 383, my father John graduating PI in October 1943, and my brother Bob who graduated PI in 1951 (date of picture unknown).
When people talk about the Old Corps, I think of those that went before me. Who amongst you ever saw a boot with a mustache? Look close, my father had one when he graduated. Who amongst you dared to grow your hair as long as my brother did in that undated picture.
Another proud recollection, in 1943, at the height of WWII my father went to join the Army, he wouldn’t think of trying for the Marine Corps. You see, the Corps turned him down seventeen years before, when he was eighteen, “too short”. While Pop was standing there preparing to undergo some kind of examination when a Marine Sergeant came in and starting counting off every third man in a line of guys and told them they were going to be Marines. Well, Pop looked at the poor lot the Sergeant was getting and asked how come these poor specimens were getting to go in the Marine Corps when he was turned down as a young man in much better shape these guys. Well, said the sergeant “these are draftees, we don’t get a choice”. Then he asked Pop, do you want to become a Marine. Naturally, Pop said “yeah”. With that the Sergeant said “Okay, you are now a draftee in the Marine Corps”. A day later, as Pop’s personell record shows, he was discharged as a “draftee” and re-instated the same day as an “enlistee”. By the way, he had four kids, a wife and defense job that guaranteed his being able to sit the war out. Instead, he participated in the invasion and occupation of Okinawa, was discharged as a Corporal and lead his two oldest sons to the Marine recruiting office before he’d let the Army draft us. He said, he wouldn’t trust anyone but another Marine with his son’s lives.