On October 18, 1968, I experienced a temporary loss of sanity.  I enlisted in the
Marine Corps.
Why?  Because if I was going to be a bear, I might as well be a grizzly. I grew up
watching all the neat war movies on TV like "Back to Bataan", "Guadalcanal Diary",
"The DI", "Sands of Iwo Jima", etc.  The Marines really impressed me with their dress
blues, the Marine Corps hymn, and always kicking butt.
My Grandpa was in the Navy Seabees in World War II in the Pacific and my dad was
in the Navy in World War II in the Pacific, also and reactivated for Korea.  They would
have preferred Navy for me, but I wanted to be where the action was.
In June of 1967, I graduated from Mehlville High School in south St. louis County.  
After school, I went to work  in the mailroom of Pet, Inc. (Pet Milk) in downtown St.
Louis. Some of my friends were already in Vietnam.  Some were drafted and some
I went in for a variety of reasons. I knew it was my patriotic duty to go fight for
freedom just as my ancestors had done. That was a given. My friends were over there
fighting and who was I to sit over here while they did the dirty  work.  I felt that if I
went, maybe it would save someone else from going.  My feelings were best expressed
in a movie I saw where another Vietnam vet said, "I wasn't brought up to let someone
else fight my battles for me."  
I thought about the South Vietnamese people.  We studied the war in school, but I
didn't know a whole lot about it.  All I did know was that the South Vietnamese wanted
to be free and the North Vietnamese wouldn't let them.  That was the extent of my
understanding of the war at that time.
Years later, during a Veterans' Day Parade in St. Louis, a former South Vietnamese
soldier asked me when we were going to go back to Vietnam  and kick the communists
out so he could go back home. I felt so bad and his words stuck with me.  At least I
had a home I could come back to.  He had to flee the only home he had known.
There were other things going on in my life also, and the combination of all of the
things going on with me and in my mind decided my fate.
In November of 1967, I bought a new '68 Plymouth Roadrunner. After buying said
Roadrunner, I began to have this problem with speeding tickets.
By the summer of '68, my dad and I were having frequent arguments, sometimes over
the Roadrunner and me staying out all the time in it. I drag raced and partied a lot  
During one of these arguments, I told him I ought to run away and join the Marine
Corps.  I mean, hey, I was 18 and I knew it all.  My dad told me, "You wouldn't make a
pimple on a Marine's ass."
In the fall of  '68, I started going to Meramec Community College part time.  I couldn't
go full time because I had to work full time to pay for the Roadrunner.  A lot of my
friends, with birthdays just before mine were getting their draft notices and I knew mine
was coming soon.
My tour of duty
My Marine time started when I signed my name and took the oath.
From there it was boot camp. I started November 1, 1968. Everyone enters as a private
E-1 and so did I.
Then came Infantry Training Regiment (ITR). I made private first class E-2 here.
Then Basic Infantry Training School (BITS). After that I went home on leave.
I returned to Staging Battalion at Camp Pendleton.
Then from Staging to Okinawa to An Hoa South Vietnam in April, 1969. I made lance
corporal E-3 and corporal E-4 in Vietnam.
After Vietnam, I was at Camp Pendleton for 8 months, then I got separated with an
early out on August 28, 1970. From then until 1974, I was on Inactive Reserves.
In March 1983, I reenlisted, this time in the Active Reserves in St. Louis.  I spent two
years doing that.  That consisted of a weekend a month and two weeks in the summer.
One summer we went to Camp Pendleton on the West Coast and the next summer we
went to Camp LeJeune on the East Coast.  On our weekends we would go to Weldon
Springs Mo. to train or Fort Leonard Wood Mo.  We went to Fort Campbell Kentucky,
too. I was promoted to sergeant E-5 here.
Then I transferred over to Individual Ready Reserves.  On Individual Ready  Reserves,
I did a lot of Marine Corps Institute correspondence courses.  I did the two week drill
in 1987 out at Camp Pendleton. I made staff sergeant E-6 here. I had to go once a year
to to the Marine Corps Reserve Center at Lambert Filed in St. Louis.
My final contract with the Marine Corps expired in 1995
- Click here -
The journey begins with
my Before Boot Camp page.
My Marine Corps experience
and how it all started.
Before we begin the journey through my experiences, let me
make it perfectly clear that I am damn proud to have been a
Marine and I was prepared to give my life in the name of
freedom if that's what it took.  I wouldn't trade the experience
for anything, just the way some things turned out.  In the
following pages, you will read "the good, the bad, and the ugly"
of it all.
<-- Back to Mardex
<-- Back to Sarge T's
<-- Back to Sarge T's
<-- Back to Hotdex
<-- Back to Vetdex
Prologue to my Marine Corps experience.
Beginning in 1968
Edited 5/6/2017
That pretty much sealed it for me.  Did I want to be bellowing out, "From the Halls of
Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli....." or should I wait and be squeeking out, "For it's
hi hi hee in the field artillery."
On October 18th, I went down to the Marine Corps recruiting station at Grand and
Gravois in St. Louis.  "Gunny" Humbert got my name on the dotted line.  I was
scheduled to leave for boot camp on October 31.
The infamous "draft card". The card that sparked a thousand fires.
I had to register for the draft in December of 1967 when I turned 18 and I was issued a
draft card. The copy above is the replacement draft card I had to get after I got off
active duty back in 1970.
Next --> Before Boot
Next --> Before Boot