My first day aboard USS Tripoli, then homeward bound after 11 months and 6 days of overseas duty in the Republic of Vietnam.


My LAST day in the Corps

Federal Way, WA

I joined in 1968 on a 90-day delayed enlistment so I could avoid the draft AND ship my belongings to my parent's home and start saving enough cash to make my truck payments before my military pay kicked in.
I arrived at San Diego MCRD at around midnight on 28 June 1968 and almost immediately began my 12 weeks of training. My sense of humor was NOT appreciated by one of my DIs and I later paid for it in a mucky creek at the Rifle Range.
Following my tour as a Fire-Direction Controlman (field artillery, 175 mm guns) in Vietnam, I returned stateside aboard USS Tripoli along with a couple thousand other Marines. Those 17 days aboard ship were perfect for decompression and having two of my wisdom teeth removed by the ship's dentist.
Three days after our arrival at Camp Pendleton, I had my separation papers in hand and was headed for the San Diego airport. I hadn't eaten a chocolate bar in nearly a year, and I spied a pretty gal at a concession stand. I walked right up and asked her for a couple Almond Joys and two packs of Raleigh filter cigarettes. I pulled a ten from my wallet, planning to give her a two-buck tip, when she placed my items and my change on the counter. As I was separating out a couple of ones, she immediately began shouting something about killing babies and women. I quickly scanned the surrounding area, wishing I had my rifle with me. There was only a businessman in a suit behind me and everything else appeared normal. I looked back at her and could see the cords in her neck distended and her eyes aflame with hate! I wanted to say, "Hey! It wasn't me! Maybe someone in uniform?" but her once-pretty face was screwed up and she now appeared insane! I scooped up my items and change and di-di'd away from there.
I was unnerved and next stopped at a lounge and ordered a Vodka Collins to calm me down, and savored one of my candy bars. I got jeered at by a group of guys at a table after the bartender pointed me out to them.
Arriving at San Francisco International (near where my folks lived) I was spat upon when I entered the concourse...though I didn't know it at the time...I thought a gross person was spitting on the carpet. The Greyhound bus driver closed the door on my arm as I tried to enter and again on my spit-shined shoe as I was leaving his bus after the short ride from the airport to South San Francisco depot. My sister discovered the spittle on my jacket half an hour later when she hugged me as I approached my parent's house.
My last day in the Corps will stay with me the rest of my ungrateful country "welcomed" me home.

In my tent at An Hoa combat base...mud was near knee-deep at the time of the 1969 monsoon season
« Previous story
Next story »