In The Beginning
In late 1972 I left college, and walked into the recruiting office in Boise, Idaho, past the Coast Guard office (which wasn’t even open yet…), around the corner, and down the long hall. There was an Army recruiter, a Navy recruiter, and an Air Force recruiter who were standing in a gaggle about half-way down the hall, chatting and having their morning coffee. They had perked up when I came around the corner, but after a few seconds (as I was walking toward them), they went back to chatting among themselves, and parted as I walked past, my eyes focused on the sign over the door at the end of the hallway that said “United States Marines”. They knew, and didn’t even bother to try to intercept me.
I turned the corner into the office, and a rough-looking Marine with a lot of stripes and a bunch of ribbons stood up, as I said “I want to be a Marine.” With a smile, he waved me to a seat, and we talked for a few minutes…and he asked what I’d like to do in the Marine Corps. I didn’t really know, so he asked me what I liked to do for fun. After we talked for a minute or two about swimming, wrestling, cross-country track, martial arts, etc., he asked me if I’d like to jump out of airplanes, SCUBA dive, and be on the front lines with some of the toughest Marines in the Corps, and he had me hooked. “Top” (Master Sergeant) Brown said “no problem,” and said I’d even get a bonus for signing up! With a “Grunt guarantee” contract (right at the end of the Vietnam war…). All I would have to do is after I graduated Boot Camp and Infantry Training School (ITS), was watch for the Marines who would come to our final days of ITS, asking for volunteers for Recon. I couldn’t wait…
Of course, that never happened. No one came by to ask for volunteers, in fact, because of my test scores, I got orders for Sea School after ITS, and ended up getting stationed on a big grey ship (Sub-Tender) in a small Marine Detachment, with a whole bunch of sailors in Guam for two years. To make a long story short, I spent my time overseas, and when I returned to Camp Pendleton, I was assigned to an Infantry Company (as admin…because I could type), and promptly got into a bunch of trouble… After standing tall in front of my Company Commander (and the First Sergeant) a few times, I finally got my wish. He said I was too much for his company, but since I’d been bugging him (and anyone else in authority who I could get access to) to go to Recon (which was right down the road), he let me know I’d gotten my wish, and would be reporting there the next week…and good riddance.
The rest is history! I’d found my home, and once I’d jumped through the required hurdles to be accepted (which were designed to weed out all but the most determined, or crazy…see more about that here) I was in, and never looked back. Recon and Force Recon are very specialized units in the Marine Corps, and only those with an intense internal drive and “never quit” attitude even apply to join – but if you do, it will be a life-altering experience. A brotherhood unlike any other.