I got an age waiver in 1986 to join the Marine Corps. I was 29 years old and always wanted to serve, but my dad (a World War II Marine) always talked me out of joining. He passed away in 1985. I was older than all three drill instructors at Parris Island, S.C., but I held my own and graduated on time with my platoon. I was there from mid-July to mid-September—in the heat. I hate heights but had to do the "jump off" rather than "repel off" the 45-ft. tower. I also remember causing the platoon a trip to the sand pit, for not demonstrating a proper about-face. But I excelled at climbing the rope, remembering how to do it in grade school, middle school and high school all at least 11 years earlier.
I never had to clean the head, for I was the one put in charge of the supply room—maybe due to my age and being responsible. I didn't do mess duty either but maintenance duty in a warehouse building instead.
I also went to a marriage class since I was married, and it got me to early chow on Sunday and then to church as well. I'll always remember singing the "Marines' Hymn" to end mass, with all present. Very uplifting!
I never got in trouble but fit in with all the 18 to 19 year olds. I remember them telling me about their pickup trucks back home. Most of them were 10 to 15 years old. Then I'd tell them I have a brand new 1986 Ford Bronco full-size waiting for me at home that I bought just before going in.
Great memories I wouldn't trade for anything!
I know my dad was supporting me from above, all the way through the same camp he attended 44 years earlier. Semper fi!
PS—I served as a reservist for three years, went to Norway for 2 weeks, got my Blue Nose on USS Inchon 1988 and was called up for Desert Storm in 1991. I finished my eight-year contract in 1994 and joined the American Legion right after, making me a 21-year member and counting.