Heads down, mouths shut. The lights went dim. Our hands were shaking, Our palms were starting to get clammy, our minds were running one hundred miles an hour. We knew where We were heading, we knew there was no turning back. The bus came to a gentle stop, there was a simultaneous sigh that filled the air. Almost a sigh of relieve. But then, the doors opened. Welcome to Parris Island. Looking back, that’s the first memory of my Marine Corps career. Stepping on those yellow footprints knowing that my life will probably never be the same. Just trying to submit to the reality of what I have done to myself. Recruit training was an incredible experience, looking back. Sure while I was there I hated every second, but I know now, that everything that I went through had its own, well deserved purpose.
My training started on August 1st 2011, 3 months of hell followed. We went through everything from sitting in a classroom, learning Marine Corps history. Learning the fundamentals of what it means to be a Marine. Learning how to move as a unit, as one, with marching. Learning the ins and out of the M16 A-4 service rifle, and learning how to properly fire the rifle. And a lot of running. It all culminated with the Crucible. The defining moment for all recruits. I’ll never forget the moment I received my Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. It was the proudest moment of my life at the time. I’m sure if you asked any Marine they would say the same.
After my time at Parris Island, I came home for about a week, then it was back to training. I went to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for MCT (Marine Combat training) for about a month. There I went through a lot of the same things as boot camp, but a more in depth look at the basics of war fighting. After leaving MCT it was off to A school to learn my job as a Marine. I was sent to Pensacola, Florida for about 6 months, there I was taught the basics of being an airframes mechanic. From hydraulics repair, composite material repair, and metal repair. Once I completed that I learned exactly where and what I’d be doing. I went to Camp Pendleton, California. There I would be going through C school to learn the basics of the AH-1w and UH-1n helicopter airframes. Learning how to navigate the publications, and getting hands on experience with the aircraft. That all lasted about a month, then the next step was learning what squadron I would be calling my first home. HMLA-267, the Stingers, which I would soon find out was an all upgrades squadron. Which means they had the newer version of the AH, UH airframe. Luckily there were a lot of similarities so the transition was relatively smooth.
I spent the following 2 years in the airframes shop, where I applied all that I learned in A, and C school to the aircraft. I spent a lot of time inside of the aircraft, doing whatever needed to be done to get them up and flying again. I gained an incredible amount of respect for what the aircraft can do, and for those before me that guided me along the way, and those that I worked with side by side every day and every night. Then one day I got pulled into the back office of the shop and told that I’d be going to the Hazmat division of the squadron, which is were I spent the remainder of my Marine Corps career.
Hazmat presented me with a few more challenges, which included, learning a new system, new regulations, and a new work life and schedule. I had to go to about 3 weeks worth of classes before I was able to be in the hazmat site. Once in hazmat things started to get into a steady flow, especially once I got put on night crew. There was a lot of down time, most of which I spent building morale. Which I did by blaring a lot upbeat funky tunes (a lot of Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire), you get what I’m saying. I spent what felt like countless hours in and around that site. It was almost like I lived there, which wasn’t the best feeling in the world. All in all though I had a blast. But like all great things it had to end.
With that being said my Marine Corps career ended in July of 2015. I know 4 years doesn’t seem like a lot now, but while I was living the life it felt like 40. That’s just a taste of my Marine Corps experience. There’s quite a few grey areas in there, I know. Sometimes you can’t give the whole story. This is one of those times. Every Marine has his or her own story. I’m willing to guarantee no one is the same.