Today is a big day for me, it was 35 years ago today, that I took my first airplane ride from Detroit Michigan (Detroit Metropolitan Airport) to San Diego, California. I was just 19 years old and the first time I was away from my parents was like this. After a few hours of waiting at the airport, I and about 40 other male teens, climbed aboard a white bus for a short ride to Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego. It was late at night when the bus pulls up to the Recruit Receiving building. A large man entered the bus and proceeded to give us instructions on how to exit the bus.
We quickly exit the bus in a storm of chaos and stand on the bright yellow painted foot prints on the ground. This was the very first step of my becoming a United States Marine.
I found Marine Corps life in boot camp to be exactly what I was looking for, and I grew to find that it was actually easy for me.
If any part of boot camp was difficult, it would be physical conditioning.
We had four Drill Instructors (SSgt Atondo, SSgt Pettigrew, Sgt Van Orden, and Sgt Clayton) and our original Senior Drill instructor (GySgt Hernandez) was replaced by SSgt Atondo. Sadly, GySgt Hernandez was removed from the drill field due to weight standards. He was a huge bodybuilder and his very cut frame was not within the current standards set forth by the Corps.
I loved the Corps and I spent 10+ years, leaving to pursue civilian employment opportunities.
I can’t believe it has been 35 years. It seems like it was just yesterday.