Monday, March 5, 2007

Come to the dark side

In high school (mid 90s), when I first started to get asked the age-old question of "so, what are you going to do with your life?", I wanted to scream. It seemed to me even then, that after only 17 years old, most people were not going to know exactly where they were going to end up in life. Through the ensuing years, my initial thoughts were proven correct, for the most part.

I was pretty active in high school with sports, work, and maintaining a pretty decent average. I was initially in a Baylor Medicine prep group, but as requirements and fees kept changing, like most of the group, I said 'thanks, but no thanks'. I did talk to some of the recruiters, just about everyone but the Marine Corps. Those guys were kinda weird, to my mind. The Air Force and Navy were kind of interested in me, especially after I mentioned that I had taken the ASVAB on a whim, and scored fairly well. In talking to the Navy, I even retook the test. I remember something about if I had a higher score, I could get into submarines, but after a long night of work and a little partying afterwards, surprise surprise I bombed the test. The recruiters stopped calling after that...

By this time, I had already been accepted to the universities that I applied for, so I figured that I would put the military on hold, check out the college scene, and try to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life - after college.


There are quite a few things that I am thankful for having experienced in College, but for the most part it was a disaster. A 300 seat auditorium for a math class taught by a TA with a strong Indian accent, pretty girls, and not enough sleep did not reflect well on grades at the end of each semester. Throughout the course of my first year, it became apparent that I might have to obtain a back-up plan for the event that this school thing didn't work out, so I started to re-examine the military. I talked to a number of servicemen, but really didn't get any kind of warm and fuzzy from any of them until I spoke to a few Marines.

Perhaps it was the difference in how they spoke about their services. For most of the recruiters, it was all about what they could offer me, the bonuses and the guarantees ad nauseum. The Marines that I spoke to basically told me, "It's a kick in the balls, but if you think you're man enough..."

With sweet talk like that, my future was decided.

At home for Spring break, I borrowed the ever sexy mini-van and drove over to the Marine Recruiter's office. I walked in and told the Corporal, 'sign me up'. What luck, the Marine Corps just happened to have a few open spots in the infantry, now one of them had my name on it. I was slated to go to Marine Corps Recruit Depot in the summer of '95.

Pretty stereotypical response, my dad was worried but tried not to show it, my mom was freaked out and definitely let me know it. My friends were on either side of the debate and I was stoked.

I remember reading some of the literature from the recruiters and noting a passage that mentioned '...the Drill Instructors will ensure that you get plenty of exercise and training...'

Interesting phrase, that...

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