My birthday is four days before my older sister Sharon’s in April. In 1962 we were a seventeen year old junior and an eighteen year old senior in high school. We had two younger half sisters and a younger half brother. Within two weeks of our birthdays we lost our step father in an automobile accident. He was the only Dad we ever really knew. Our real father died in World War Two and we were too young to remember him. Mom was left with five children. As you could imagine, this was a life changing event for our family. Huge amounts of sympathy, support, and services were received from people and organizations who truly cared. Mom decided to keep our home in the Merrill, Lyon Mountain area.
During my junior and senior years in high school we would visit the military recruiters offices in Plattsbugh. We knew them all by name and they were happy to establish a relationship with us for recruiting purposes. They were familiar with all the area school systems and their administrators. In March of my senior year I decided it was time to join the service. My father and step father both served in the Army. I felt an obligation to follow in their footsteps.
I approached the Army recruiter about enlisting. He sat and had a long discussion with me concerning goals, future, and the Army. Then he told me to get my butt back to Lyon Mountain and graduate. As soon as I graduated he would sign me up. He said he would call the principle, Buzz Harrica, and let him know we talked. The Army didn’t want me until I graduated. Out the door I went.
The office next door to the Army recruiter belonged to the Marine Corp recruiter. I walked in and explained the Army didn’t want me because I was quitting school. He reached over his desk, shook my hand, slapped me on the shoulder, and said we could make out my papers right now. The Marine Corp wanted recruits. He would make me a Marine. In less than an hour he contacted my mother and Buzz Harrica to let them know I would make a hell of a Marine. When passing the office next door on my way out, I waved my papers at the Army recruiter and gave him a big salute.
My enlistment oath was administered in Albany on March 21 1963. My first plane ride was from Albany to Beaufort, SC and a bus took us to Perris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot. My next four years would see many great adventures.
There was no dwelling on past losses or decisions at Perris Island………….you were too busy running and getting your butt kicked.