Military stories from past to present, both wars.


April 27th, 2006 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

I have found that some people look at you in a different light when they find out that you are in the Military. It’s some foreign concept that you would WANT to be doing this as a job occupation. But I am here to tell you that coming from a long line of Military service, and growing up a Navy Brat were some of the best times in my life. I look back at those days in Little Creek Virginia on the Amphibious base there as the standard that all kids should have. The following are stories of joining the Marines and life as a pilot.
I always knew that one day I would join the service, which branch was a different story. I was taught that Marines were nuts, and the toughest of the different services. My Grandfather was a Naval Surgeon in the Navy during WWII and Korea; my Dad was in Danang at the Swiftboat Ops Center and served a sea tour in Vietnam; and my Uncle flew the mighty F-14 based at Oceana Airbase in Virginia Beach. So being exposed to all these different life styles made me think about my future. First of all, I don’t have the patience to be a Doctor (nor the smarts) and after being bitten by the flying bug from my Uncle Bruce, I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life.
I attempted in High School to become a Marine. It went over like a pregnant pole-vaulter. This hard charging Sgt. showed up from the Old Town Alexandria office to interview me. “Mitch, with these scores, we can make you an aircraft mechanic since you want to work in the aviation field,” he said. Well it wasn’t flying, but I figured that I would get there somehow. Since I was 17, my Dad was needed to sign the early enlistment forms saying that I would go to boot camp in the summer. When Dad came home, this poor Sergeant didn’t have a chance to use the Jedi mind trick on my father because he had him out the door in about a minute and a half. “My son isn’t joining the Marines, he’s going to college, and if he did join, I’d make him go to OCS [Officer Candidate School].” Dad was very adamant with this poor guy. I still feel like a heel to this day for wasting his time like that knowing what I know about the lives of recruiters.
So fast forward to college where I’m taking Army ROTC classes because that is the only Service available to me. At the beginning of my sophomore year, the Major in charge pulled me into his office. “Mitch” he said, “I understand that you want to be a pilot and fly. I have to ask you, how do you feel about being a cannon cocker???” See, they only have one flight school slot for the grads and he was getting me prepared that if I stayed in the Army and took a commission, I might not be a pilot. So as I walked across campus, I ran into one of my fraternity brothers who had joined the Marines. “Mitch, my OSO (Officer Recruiter) is at the student Union, come say “hi” to him with me.” I reluctantly went with him because, although I respected the Marines, I deep down wondered if I truly had it in me to be one. (Funny thing is, I ran into Bruce my buddy over in Iraq after 20 years, small world)

The OSO was standing there with his booth covered in cool pictures of Marines doing various things. I told him I wanted to be a pilot and he said, “Well, if you take the aviation test, and pass it, we can offer you a slot at flight school.” What he didn’t tell me was there were ten contracts for each pair of wings awarded down in flight school. See you have to pass the test, then the physical, then OCS, then graduate from College, graduate from TBS (The Basic School), have perfect 20/20 vision, then complete 18 months of flight school. If you do all this, then yes, you will be a winged Naval Aviator.
He had me sold, so I took the test and somehow passed. Questions like “Johnny’s pool is 20-feet wide, 30-feet long and 16-feet deep, what is the cubic space of Johnny’s pool?” Hell, all I’m thinking about is how many chicks from Tri Sig Sorority I can fit into Johnny’s pool. Well, after he gave me the good news that I had passed the test, I signed up to attend Officer Candidate School in Quantico Virginia. I called my folks from the Captains office and braced for the worst. “Hi guys, its Mitchell, hey what do you all think about the Marines?” They both gave me their answers and then asked “Son, where are you calling from?” Hmmmm what do you say “Dad, I took Aviation test for the Marines and guess what? Your-history-major-I-can’t-stand-math-boy passed.” He takes a deep breath; I’m sure the pause of WHAT THE HELL HAS MY SON DONE NOW-type breath as he collected himself. “Son, did you sign any papers by chance???” “Yes,” I reply with an instant explosion on the other end of the phone. I can hear my Mom wailing, “Oh my God, my son has joined the Marines” with my Dad saying, “Mary, get off the phone,” Mom crying, “Oh my God, my son is going to be a Marine.” and Dad again, “Mary get off the phone.” This goes on for a couple of minutes, and then he asks me to put the recruiter on the line. Captain Barker nods his head a lot, I heard a bunch of “Yes Sir, Yes Sir, I understand” and after what felt like 20 minutes, he says, “Sir, the bottom line is your son is over 18 and can do what ever he likes without parental permission.”
Thus began my career in the Corps. Those were a couple of tough months with the folks till I graduated from OCS that summer and now, you would think that my Dad retired from the Marines and not the Navy. Why??? Well, President Reagan summed it up nicely, “Some people go through their entire lives wondering if they made a difference, Marines don’t have that problem!!!” I’d say that both my folks are very proud of their boy, understatement.
Next stop, OCS, till then, remember… where ever you go, there you are.
Semper Fi,