In July of 1977 I entered the Marine Corps. If the Scouting stories seem to have no end, I haven’t even opened the door to writing about my time in the Marines. Most of them will start with, “This is no shit, I was there…”
I did six years of active duty. Most of that was with a RADAR shop working on the RADAR and missile firing controls on F4-J and F4-S Phantom II fighter jets. That shop was headed up by a Marine Staff Sergeant. He was the NCOIC, the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. A group of us that served under him have gathered for a reunion in Beaufort, S.C. It looks like an even dozen will be at dinner tonight, along with wives, children, and one grandchild.
It is difficult to describe any of this. What it was like to be part of that shop and what it is like to be back together after 25 years. We went to Parris Island this morning, we went to Morning Colors, and then to a recruit graduation. We have begun to tell each other stories, some from way back, others about our lives between then and now.
All of us did at least six years, several made the Marine Corps a career. Only one is still on active duty. He will retire in ten months after thirty years. I knew him as a Corporal. He’s a Lt. Colonel now.
So many stories and all the different paths our lives have taken. We are tied together by shared experiences and memories. Beyond that, we are connected by all having worked for that Staff Sergeant that expected our best and tolerated nothing less. There was no better RADAR shop than that one, and he was the reason. Working for him was a life changing experience on par with going through boot camp.
The wonderful love of a beautiful maid,
The love of a staunch true man,
The love of a baby, unafraid,
Have existed since time began.
But the greatest of loves, The quintessence of loves.
even greater than that of a mother,
Is the tender, passionate, infinite love,
of one drunken Marine for another.
General Louis H. Wilson
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Toast given at 203rd Marine Corps Birthday Ball
Camp Lejueune, N.C. 1978