In 1955, after forging my birth certificate and my father's name, I joined the US Army at the age of fourteen. However, my age was discovered and I was sent home. A Marine recruiter processed me when I was sixteen. My seventeenth birthday in 1958 fell on Saturday, March 29. Two days later I arrived at MCRD in San Diego in the middle of the night.
A Marine Drill Instructor delivered us to the Recruit Depot where we were treated to "Hell on Earth" till 0330, after which, we were allowed to sleep until 0500. We then began five months of training which included two weeks of KP and two weeks of rifle training followed by four weeks of infantry training.
This Country boy grew up hunting rabbits and squirrels and it paid off when I fired a 230 on the rifle range and received a trophy and an Expert Rifle Badge. Two months later I received my first of three meritorious promotions, the third being Buck Sergeant.
Most recruits thought they made one of biggest mistakes in their lives. I thought I had died and went to a great summer camp. For the first time in my life I had three hot meals a day, hot water, a shower, eight hours of sleep in a clean bunk of my own and... got to carry an M1 rifle. How sweet is that?!!
To this day I am grateful to the United States Marine Corps for teaching me leadership skills, the value of learning something new everyday and physically taking good care of myself, I will forever be indebted to the Corps and will always remain a Marine at heart.
Charles Roberts, MSG (Ret.)