Everyone makes decisions in their lives that can pave the way to how their adulthood plays out. Some choose to go to college, others choose to go into the family business.
Then you have the ones that join the School of Hard Knocks, the United State Military.
Have you ever wondered why or how someone came to that decision? Well let me tell you, if I hadn’t joined the United States Marine Corps I wouldn’t be who I am today.
My road to Parris Island was pretty much a given. Meaning that I was 100% sure since the age of 14 that I would join the Few, the Proud, the U.S. Marines. My father is a former Marine and I wanted to be just like him. Everywhere he walked, he just had an aura to him, a certain presence that he gave off, and a leaned back swagger to his step that I just couldn’t get as a 14 or even 17 year old kid.
Joining the Marine Corps was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I didn’t realize this at the time, but I needed the Corps more than the Corps needed me. The reason for this statement was that in my head I was bigger than the Corps. My attitude was so bad that I thought I was the best thing going. A
nd no matter how hard my parents tried to knock me down a couple pegs to keep me grounded, it just didn’t work.
It all began as a freshman in high school. I was the stud wrestler of my class, I was one of the only kids in school with muscles. And if that wasn’t bad enough I had all the attention of the Senior Girls. So you can imagine my ego was so inflated it could have filled the auditorium.
Thank God I never drank or smoked.
I don’t know what my poor parents would have done then. No matter what they tried, my attitude just stunk. I thought I was the man and no one could tell me different.
So the road to Parris Island began on June 3rd, 1994. I was in great shape and not worried at all about what awaited me on the island.
Once the bus pulled in to the island I was welcomed by some big, seemingly psychotic, deep voiced drill instructor.
This guy had the personality of a rattlesnake and spit fire from his mouth.
Once he brought us to our squad bay we were introduced to his brothers.
These were 4 more drill instructors who took turns surrounding us and verbally degrading every man in the squad bay.
All of us men were told that we were now known as recruits and that no one is to call each other by their first name.
I was signaled out rather quickly because I was not afraid of the DIs, I stood my ground and challenged their authority.
This was a very stupid thing to do, but probably the best thing that could have happened to me.
After I stood up to the DIs I was a marked man. I was constantly being punished by being put on my face in a giant sandbox called The Pit.
I was finally shown that I am not the best, that the world does not revolve around me, and I was taught how to be a gentleman. All of these things equaled one word…humility. I was humbled.
See the thing to understand is by me standing my ground that first week of the Indoctrination of Boot Camp, I made myself standout, I didn’t do anything disrespectfully, but unbeknownst to me, I made things harder for myself.
I made myself the center of attention.
Wrong thing to do.
Believe me you get enough attention by just being there.
When you stand out, that’s a challenge. And the Marines love challenges, so they tried to challenge me constantly.
The Marine Corps breaks you down from the punk, mamas boy or tough guy you were and brings you back up to a Marine.
Instead of me getting put in the pit all the time, the Drill Instructors challenged me by putting me in charge of the Platoon.
I was given the Honor of Platoon Leader. The Corps likes a leader, not a follower.
Once I was given that title I never lost it. I went on to graduate Parris Island as the Honor Graduate for Hotel Company, Platoon 2170.
I was actually rewarded for standing my ground. The DI’s wanted to test my character and see if they could break me.
Could I handle the pressure?
Could I achieve the mission under stress?
This one little reward changed me for life.
Being humbled, learning pride, honor and commitment and becoming a Marine made me who I am today. I thank God for that. Everyday in my life I try to be a gentleman and be a good man. For even though I am no longer in the Marine Corps I still represent the title that I earned….I am a Marine.