By: Neal Benore
Flashback Friday & to 3/25/69.
WHY I DIDN’T FOLLOW MY FRIENDS OFF TO COLLEGE AND ENLISTED IN THE USMC.
It’s the third week of June 1968 and I have been out of High School now for 2 weeks. Cruising west Toledo on this beautiful day ( more Later ) my mind is thinking of all the paper work and if it’s in order for me to start Toledo University this coming year and the career path I wish to choose when the news comes on the radio addressing the Vietnam War. Up to this point in life I owe everyone, my Mother, My Father, you get the idea again I am only 18 yrs old. I had or wanted for nothing, drove new cars ate at the best places in town wearing Botany 500 suits of which I had plenty in the closet. It hit me at that moment that it’s time for me to pay back for this great life of mine. My Father paid back in WWII as a Merchant Marine fighting the Germans then enlisting in the Navy and going to the pacific to fight the Japanese. Ok then I’m on Monroe st in West Toledo and am heading east to enlist in the Marine Corps.
The recruitment office was located in downtown Toledo in the Federal Building, Summit St to be exact. The drive took maybe 15 mins or so before I turned on Summit St and saw the Federal building on my right. The building was only a few years old ( a cube back in the 60’s ) and the bright sun gleamed off of the window panes which made up almost the entire front of the building. I parked at Kwik Park on Water St and went in. He the recruiter looked like a million bucks in his sharp and starched uniform. I thought to myself yes a Marine is what I need to be. The recruiter was happy to see me ( little did I know ) and treated me like a million bucks. I was then sent off into another room to take a test, great just what I want is another test to complete. When I returned the test to him he handed it to his secretary for grading and we talked about the Corps and my choices at that time. It may have been 20 mins or so and the graded test was handed back to him at which time his face lit up. It seems I scored very high on this test and he was over whelmed with joy, ( I didn’t know they get bonus points for officers etc ) telling me I need to go to OCS. I am 18 years old and he’s talking OCS, what the hell is OCS. He explains with my score I need to go to Officers Candidate School. I said I have no intention of going to school at this time which is why I am here. Ok, he says you need to go into Recon ( again more bonus points ) of which I said, what the hell is Recon. In simple terms he tells me I would be jumping out of aircraft behind enemy lines. He just got done telling me how smart I am and now he thinks I’m dumb enough to jump behind enemy lines. I turned that one down too. I got just what I walked in for, an Enlisted Man in the USMC and going to fight for this country.
Ok, it’s 3/25/69. I’m cold, it gets very cold at night when the temp drops from 100 to 70 and your in soaked clothes. We started off and a few hours later stopped at a clearing close to the top of the mountain. I set up my gun over looking the valley below when all of a sudden BOOM. My A-gunner is yelling, the gunny is yelling for the corpsman and i see Toby walking in a daze. I’m Checking myself out and not a scratch thank God. Well this day we lost our Lt., Lt Upchurch ( See photo Below ) and everyone around me was hit by the mortar blast, it just wasn’t my time. We got a new Lt, Lt Molley who lasted from 3/26/69 to 4/23/69 ( 28 days ) until that fateful day of his came. It seems to me through all these years that I made the right choice in going as an Enlisted man ( even though I got hit 33 days after Lt. Molley ) for had I gone to OCS I am not sure I would have made it out of Vietnam.
Joining the Marine Corps before going to college was the right choice for me and I would do it again. Some of the brightest minds I met in the Corps not College. Guys I fought with are true patriots and we still get together to this day. Nothing in college nor all the money one has can teach or give you what the USMC can. Please like out of RESPECT the photo’s posted below of Lt. Upchurch and Lt. Molley. SEMPER FI & you now know more about me than my family.