By: Bob Shepherd
I was the typical high school nerd! I minded my own business, was not very social, and dreaded confrontations from bullies. One particular bully—let’s call him Harry—enjoyed exercising his rather assertive and tough nature against me on several occasions during my senior year (1966). In September of that year, I received my induction orders from Uncle Sam (the mandatory draft was in effect due to the Vietnam War) and I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. I was sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, on January 2, 1967 (Happy New Year!). Suffice it to say that during my training I was remolded from a wimp to a man in short order.
The Drill Instructors have a way of doing that! The training was beyond tough, mean, and relentless; somewhere along the way, I’m not quite sure when I crossed that line, I developed a “never again” hardcore attitude against being pushed around or bullied by anyone ever again. After I graduated from Boot Camp and went home on a 10-day leave, the test to that attitude came my way within a few days. The bully I feared in high school crossed my path on Main Street in the town in which I resided. Not knowing I had joined the Marines, he stopped and ridiculed my “ridiculous-looking crew cut.” I attempted to walk around him, and he grabbed my arm. Instinctively, and without a moment’s thought, I grabbed his arm, tripped him to the ground (as learned in my hand-to-hand combat classes), and began a rapid and relentless “machine gun” pounding with my fists about his head and shoulders. Suddenly, my arch enemy’s screams of “stop! stop!” made me cease my attack. I got off him, stood up, and walked away. As I turned my head back and saw a weeping mound upon the sidewalk, I silently thanked my Drill Instructors and the United states Marine Corps for molding me into a real man and giving to me the gift of standing confident and tall wherever go.
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