Culture Military

Why In the World Did I do it?

It sounds like I committed a crime or something, doesn’t it? I promise my husband is still alive (all of them).

And… since we have been given the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, that is all I will say on the subject and get on with my story. I do not exactly recall how many times I was asked that question in the weeks leading up to — and while I was packing my not-so-big bag to go to — boot camp.

“Heh? What’s that? You mean this is about why you enlisted in the Marines?”

Yes it is.

It was all really quite innocent you see. We — a group of my friends and I — wanted to get out of class that morning, so we all signed up to take the ASVAB. A quite ingenious idea really, we all sat together and we all got out of Chemistry Class. What I did not know was that fateful day would result in a few trips to the recruiter’s station. Naturally, I went to see the guys in the Air Force (and as a freshman in college I was in the ROTC Program). But, It wasn’t to be.

The ROTC class, just like college, was dare I say… too boring? On the various trips to the recruiter’s station I did end up speaking to the Marines, and made friends with a few of them. (I gathered at some point that this was not quite in keeping with the rules, but hey, senior year of high school ended up being kinda fun hanging out with those guys.)

Anyway, at one point I might have said something to my mother about joining the Marines instead. It not only was poorly received but she even went as far to say that I could not make it through boot camp.

I was absolutely incensed!!! Why in the world would I not be able to make it through boot camp? Did I not participate in sports year round? Was I that much of a pansy that I couldn’t hack it? And how would she know? Did she have some inside scoop or some express word from God himself that said “Kristie will never make it through boot camp?”

So, I told my friends. You know what?!?! They AGREED with my MOTHER!!! I could not believe it. You know what I did next, don’t you? I did it. I went down and signed the papers. I went to the MEPS station without telling anyone. I raised my hand and said the words.

My dad didn’t speak to me for months. He didn’t even give me a hug when I left for Paris Island, we didn’t speak until he came to Paris Island to see me graduate.

I did it. It wasn’t so easy, but it wasn’t so hard. The hardest part was realizing that after I actually graduated from boot camp, I still had to do the rest of my contract.

I won’t lie, that was difficult for me. My 18-year-old mind kept saying, “You did it! You can go home now. Right?” Yeah… NO. The years were long. I wish my mom had mentioned that I really don’t like being told what to do. That might have saved me some serious angst, but perhaps she thought calling into question my ability to make it through boot camp would work better. It never occurred to me to ask her.

It was a decision that changed the entire trajectory of my life. Sometimes I wonder where I would be or what I would even be doing right now if I had stayed in school. What I do know is that I have done things that many people have not. I learned so much about basic human behavior that I could not have learned anywhere else. I continue to meet people and make life-long friends that I otherwise would not have met, and for that I would not change a thing.

I even reenlisted… once.

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Yankee Papa
Yankee Papa
8 months ago

Well lass, You were not alone. Entire generations have “taken the King’s shilling…” and had a very long time to maybe wish that they’d gone another route. Some never adjust, go UA or otherwise “act out…” Some act out so much that they get sent home…permanently… if they’re lucky, with nothing worse than an Undesirable Discharge. Then they get to spend the rest of their lives thinking about *that*… Those who ultimately find maturity after such would often give the world to go back and make it right if they only could. One thing that I learned when I was… Read more »

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
8 months ago
Reply to  Yankee Papa

Wonderful comment, YP.

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
8 months ago
Reply to  kristie

“well perhaps my reenlistment is an entirely other story” I hope we hear that story, Kristie. Would also love to hear all about your “lack of willingness to follow rules or play politics”! LOL.

Joni Ellenwood Smith
Joni Ellenwood Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Susan Hannigan

I’d like to hear the reenlistment story too. 😁

Yankee Papa
Yankee Papa
8 months ago
Reply to  kristie

Kristie, I have a whole fistful of “pasts” to ponder over… starting points in my life… new starting points…. new new starting points… Some “pasts” were amazing… some were train wrecks. But I learned to move on. I have a few regrets, but I don’t let them become an anchor. Not having wiped out a busload of cripples and nuns… I have been able to move on. I not only lived to be 70… but managed to do so without having burned out… without having become cynical and bitter. I’m just as much of a whack job now as I… Read more »

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
8 months ago
Reply to  Yankee Papa

Wonderful comment, YP. “I’m just as much of a whack job now as I was when I was 27.”. Well, “whack job” might be a bit strong 😁. Love the quote from Robert A Heinlein.

Yankee Papa
Yankee Papa
8 months ago
Reply to  kristie

Kristie,

You’ll make it kid. And as to it being hard for you to piss into a windstorm… don’t worry about it. It’s overrated…. :#)

-YP-

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
8 months ago

Yay, Kristie! Another of your articles! Fancy people telling you you wouldn’t make it through boot camp! I can’t imagine you not succeeding at that. Well done and good on you!

Susan Hannigan
Susan Hannigan
8 months ago
Reply to  kristie

Ha! You showed them, sister!

homanj1
homanj1
8 months ago

Kristie, what I know about you is that you have accomplished many things, and beaten back many challenges in your life. I wouldn’t be foolish enough to bet against you in your continued path forward. Because you are equipped to do whatever you set your mind to. You may be one of few that doesn’t acknowledge your gifts. But you just aren’t boastful. I’m glad you are writing.

Susan B
Susan B
8 months ago
Reply to  kristie

Would’a, could’a, should’a…three that can drive you nuts if you let them. I don’t have many regrets. Some things would have been great do-overs with the knowledge I have now. Perhaps that knowledge will help others along their way…or not. You have experiences that not only make you unique among the population of this nation (being a very small percent of those that have served), but even more unique in the number of women that can claim what you can. That gives you a pretty rare perspective over a huge portion of the population of the US. Relish that! Sure… Read more »

Mason
Mason
8 months ago

-YP- Covered it. You couldn’t have a better POV to reference. Doesn’t matter why you did it, it is now your path, and yours to own. For one, I think it is/was a great choice.

Mic-Mac
Mic-Mac
8 months ago

Always interesting to find out another lesson learned about Dr. K! Between us, I look up to you with great admiration for all of your achievements. Hugs.

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