Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Marines

I felt it necessary to do this little bio on Memorial Day weekend.

 In 1995, I was 19. Had my diploma, had some college courses under my belt. Had my own apartment (party central). Most importantly, no debt. No direction as well. You should all know, that even as a teenager, I was odd. I knew that at 19, I was retarded and didn't know shit on how the world worked. I was yearning for SOMETHING, just not sure what. It wasn't weed , beer, or girls. I had plenty of that, yet knew it was not fulfilling. One day it just hit me, I knew what I lacked. I lacked pride. Pride in myself.

 Any hopes of football were gone (Damn you genetics). Then one day I decided what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a Marine. I wanted that sword, I wanted that Blood Stripe, but most importantly I wanted to do something that a lot of people don't do. An endeavor that no one in my family had ever taken. I contacted my Brother who is friends with Jeff. Jeff was known only as The Marine. I'm guessing it's because he's the only one of my Brother's friends who served. So I meet with Jeff, and find out how things work. My plan is this, I will enlist for 4 years, then I will take advantage of the G.I. Bill while becoming a Marine reserve. After completing my degree, going into the OTC(?). I would attempt to become a USMC Officer and have that as a career. I was never sure if I would want the Marines to be a career, but after talking to The Marine, who himself was a career Marine, I had no doubt. This is what I wanted. It would give me a college education, a career, but most importantly, a sense of pride that I was desperately lacking.

 So I went down to the local recruiter, talked to that guy for about an hour. I even joked with him. "Which branch has the most females enlisted?" I asked. He replied, "The Air Force, but they all fuck Marines." I actually thought that was pretty funny. So, the first thing I had to do was take a written test. I believe it was called the ASVAB test. I did very well. When I spoke with the recruiter the next day, he asked me if I was sure I wanted to join the Marines. He told me that my test results would qualify me for numerous programs in the Navy. I politely told him I was sure, I wanted to be a Marine. The next phase was some physical crap. Turns out, that a 5'11" man should only weigh 193 LBS. I weighed 239. So I had to go to the local High Shool and run around their track. I ran 3 miles with an average time of 7.04. Then I had to do chin-ups, and push-ups. I guess my strength performance was fine. I did a body comp test which was 11.8%. After all this, I was deemed worthy to go to Basic Training. I thought the whole thing was retarded, but after talking to friends who were Marines, and considering we were not at war, I understood it. The Government does not want to spend money training some kid who will only quit on them after a few weeks. I get it, no problem.

 So I'm all set, now I just have a final interview. I was so excited. I was even given my choice of Basic. Jeff (The Marine) already told me to go San Diego, because N. Carolina had something called Sand Flees(?). In this final interview, I am asked if I have ever visited with a psychiatrist or psychologist. Too which I reply yes. They (a second guy was there) both looked at me. I didn't think nothing of it. After all, my mother had passed away 26 months prior, and my Father thought I was going through some depression phase (No fault of his own). They told me they needed the name and number of the Psychologist, which I gave. We finished the interview, and all was well. The next day the recruiter called and told me to come to the office for the final paperwork. I drove very fast. I was so excited to start this new chapter, not to mention overcoming a challenge. I sit down, that's when I get  a little dose of reality.

 "We have a problem".....My heart dropped. I'm thinking what problem, I aced all your tests, I'm ready, Let's go. The recruiter informed me that my two visits to a "Shrink" disqualified me from joining the Marines. I was stunned. Now, I'll never know if this is true, or the recruiter saw my eyes tearing up, but he told me that they may be able to get me in on waivers which would make the psych visit "Null & Void". I stood up, looked directly at the recruiter, and told him to go fuck himself.

 After getting into my car, I cried. I cried hard. It was the saddest moment of my life, next top Mom's death. I now had a new dream. It was to be retired from the Marines at 45, with a college degree and no debt. Most importantly, it was a self worth. A pride that only a handful of Americans can lay claim to. I was denied. I was denied because I was honest about the worst time in my life. My Mom died when I was 16, my Father left soon after. I got a job, and still finished High School in the top 5% of my class of 512. I had my own apartment in High School, and still kept my grades up. Apparently, you can be a high school drop out, and still join the Marines, so long as you don't spend too much time in your room.

 Needless to say, I spent my early 20's hating the Marines, HATING. Not only them, but our Federal Government. I even looked into citizenship for Canada, I was so pissed. But as I grew older, I realized one thing. It wasn't the fault of any Marine, I still don't think it was my fault. It was just not meant to be. I have since found my place in this world. A place that I love, and cherish. I have my wife and my daughter. Neither of which would have occurred if I were jumping from Chicago to Afghanistan right now.

 Memorial Day reminds me of this. I've had a lot of friends who died in combat. Even more acquaintances. And too many strangers, to look up the numbers. They all gave their lives, so I can have a Blog and tell you this story. The Corps missed out on a kid that would have made a damn fine Marine. I will never forget that, but I have forgiven, and became much appreciated for what the Corps, and other servicemen in the other branches have sacrificed on my behalf.  Please hold a moment of silence tomorrow, wherever you are at, for our brave men and women who have given their lives for our Freedom. May we never forget.

      Semper Fidelis,
           Jon O'Brien


  1. Jon,

    I believe you would have made a good Marine.

    Sometimes bureacracies come up with off the wall shit to cover some stupid point on a checklist. Niether Lee Harvey Oswald or Charles Whitman ever saw a shrink - both should have.

    I will bow my head tomorrow, and remember all those great men who gave their last full measure so you and I can enjoy being citizens of the greatest nation. Then Tuesday, I will reaffirm my promise to them to defend the Constitution they died for.

    1. T- Thank you so much Brother. I believe the same.

      As far as the red tape. I know it exists, and I hold no ill will. And for Whitman, you hit the nail on the head of that Motherfucker.

      Have a good day tomorrow, I know you won't forget.

  2. Interesting post. Glad it all worked out for you in the long run. Despite all the obstacles, you moved forward and made a life you cherish. Congrats to you.

    1. Thanks Pal, cherish, I do. Couldn't have been possible with out the sacrifice of our fallen.

  3. Hello J.O.B.
    I enjoyed your story but the only thing I would add is, “Everything happens for a reason.” Maybe the Marines were just not meant to be for you at that time. I served, and my loyalties lie, with the U.S. Navy but got my combat training when I went into MIUW604 (Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare) at the Marine base in Quantico Virginia where they also train the CIA and FBI.

    My thoughts this weekend will be for those of my family who served and some died serving this country from the conception.

    My “Sir” name came to this country from Scotland during the Revolutionary War and fought under General “Mad” Anthony Wayne in the young “Continental Army.” His pay for his service was a 200 acre farm in what was the western part of Virginia. By the Civil War, his grandson fought and killed in what had become West Virginia as the Confederate troops moved north toward Pennsylvania. My father and his two brothers fought in WWII. The youngest was part of the D-Day landing and just one of seven out of his whole company who survived the Battle of the Bulge counter attack. He had his feet treated for Frost Bite and then continued to march into Germany after that battle and was part of the occupation forces. (He just passed away this last Fall) Their youngest sister joined and severed during the Korean War.

    My mother’s grandfather was going to school here in Baltimore, MD while his mother was still in Munich Germany when WWI broke. It was then he decided that he was an American and joined the American Army in an Artillery Division when the U.S. got involved in WWI. His mother was still in Munich. His three sons joined the U.S. Army when WWII broke out; one was in the 101st Airborne and was dropped behind the German lines the day before D-Day invasion. He continued the fight on into Germany and was part of the occupation forces.

    I myself served at the end of the Viet Nam War and then was sent to South America for 9 months to subdue Communism in Chile, Argentina, etc. By the time we came back home we had lost 3 of our unit. My thoughts will be with them this Memorial Holiday.

    I also have a nephew who served with the Marines and did a tour in Fallujah, Iraq with the convoy units during the Second Gulf War. I would impress that we should honor those who served in the First Gulf War, the Second Gulf War, and Afghanistan today. Their sacrifices are no less than those who came before them.

    1. Thanks, EOK. Us Gulf War I vets are pretty upset that we didn't take out Saddam so todays troops wouldn't have to. My screenname is based on the fact that I have at least one direct ancestor who fought in every war this country has fought. In a strange twist, I served in Gulf War I, and my dad served in the second. Of course, dad served in Vietnam, Beirut, and Grenada as well.

      Thanks to you and yours for keeping Old Glory flying.

    2. TGP & EOK- As you both know, the sacrifices made by you and your families are very much appreciated here. Thank you both.

  4. Jon,
    That was a great story. Thanks for sharing. I believe that you would have made a great Marine.

    Sometimes things happen for a reason.

    1. H/Nox- I agree on everything. LOLOLOLOLOL
      The best part of my life, is that I understand the reason, every time I look into those beautiful blue eyes. No regrets here. I hop you had a nice Memorial Day.

  5. A very heartfelt story. You're a well-adjusted man.

    Back in the old days, the recruiters would have coached you on giving the "right" answer. Life takes some twisted and crappy turns, but people like keep chugging and make the best of it.

  6. Fiddle- I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I have found that the human spirit can navigate through all sorts of twists and turns. Today, I have a wonderful life and I wouldn't trade it for anything.