Battles have been fought for as long as men have been alive. They have fought for land, power, ego, religion and political gain. Men will go to war at the drop of a hat these days and days gone by. From the Revolutionary War to the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, men have fought. We fought in the War of 1812, to the Civil War and many battles in between. Battles have been fought in Nicaragua, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, known as the Banana Wars to WWI. During WWI, we fought at Chateau-Thierry, Soissons and Saint-Mihiel to deep inside Belleau-Wood. We shed blood in Normandy, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. From there, we saw Battle in Korea then to Vietnam, Tehran, Lebanon and Grenada. The 90’s came and we fought the Gulf War, and small battles in Bosnia and Somalia. Only to welcome the 21st Century with war fighters fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. God Bless our Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Seamen and Coast Guard! Battles are inevitable. We will continue to fight until this life on Earth is over.
I joined the Marine Corps on 9 March 1992, I shipped off to Parris Island and my life changed forever. No longer was I the young kid that came from Mississippi. I was a Marine. I was a part of a Band of Brothers unlike any thing else the world has known. While training at Parris Island, the young Boot is put though a rigorous training for 13 weeks, (actually 12 as the first week was administrative, medical and miscellaneous antics the drill instructors saw fit to put us through). Haircuts, were a first necessity upon entering Parris Island, my glorious locks (mullett) were shaved off. We looked alike. Our clothing, down to our skivvies, was identical, every thing we owned inside that gate was identical. The only difference was our dialects. Things we had taken for granted were now being done as a Marine Recruit. No longer did I have the luxury of going to the HEAD in privacy, I now had to share that with other dudes and that wasn’t Cool. Simply going to the toilet now involved 55 other men, that had been holding out from going to the rest room for the first 10 days we were there. No Way, was I going to go set on a toilet that didn’t have walls separating each toilet! I would just die from holding IT in. Let me clear this up for you, The Head consisted of approximately 12/14 thrones, with one set of thrones(toilet) on one wall and the other set of thrones on the other wall and THEY WERE CLOSE TO EACH OTHER, REAL STINKING CLOSE! If you have never looked into the eyes of a stranger that was taking a #2, you haven’t lived. HaHa, just kidding, one of the great rules as a man is, when going to the restroom, never look at anybody or talk to them. Showering became a community event, strip down, towel around your waste, line up and walk into the shower, all the shower heads were turned on and we walked through each shower head IN A LINE, A NAKED MAN BEHIND ME, JUST WASN’T COOL. Believe it or not, those things quickly became unimportant, homesickness and a steady schedule kept your mind off the trivial. Weeks blasted by with miles and miles and miles of running, did I mention miles. Side straddle hops were the closest friend we had, oh, except for the mountain climbers! Pull up bars became our vehicle of choice. The creeks at Peps Point and the Rapids on Peps Point road were exchanged for a swimming pool at Parris Island, the only real difference was you swam with your clothes on, a pack that weighed in at 600lbs, not really but it felt that way, and our Rifle which became our Lover. Our motto became Semper Fidelis and our creed became the Rifleman’s Creed. We traded Mom’s cooking for the freshness of a chow hall. Our weekend rides through the mall parking lot became a hump through the mosquito infested, 100% humidity that was Parris Island. Oh, the sand fleas, little vampire blood suckers that latched on like a pair of vice grips holding metal in a vice. Sucked, they really did! Furthermore, if you had the courage to brush them off of you and the Drill Instructor saw that Brave Action, you and the whole platoon was going to pay for it. By pay, I don’t mean with cash, I mean your physical abilities. You were about to do push ups until the DI got tired and that rascal wasn’t even doing them.
Among these adventures, the Boot is put through rifle training that was a two week part of that 12 weeks. The Boot learns everything he needs to know about the M16 A2 Service Rifle, because every basic Marine is a Rifleman upon departing Parris Island. Parris Island consisted of boxing, pugil sticks and close combat training. Inspections of everything, uniform inspection, hygiene inspection (everything from finger nails to toe nails and everything in between) rifle inspection, and squad bay inspections. Everyone was the same and had the same goals, to graduate that Hell known as Parris Island.
Close order drill was an integral part of recruit training. If we weren’t doing the things I have mentioned already, we were outside, inside, it didn’t matter where we were, we were filling all spare time on drill. Everything had to be done in an order. Close order drill is used to maximize combat effectiveness. When a man or a unit maintains order they already have an advantage over their enemy. Close order drill builds confidence, discipline and ‘esprit de corps’ and these are key to a warriors character. The sounds of cadence that are sung by the Drill Instructor and Senior Drill Instructor is a sound that rings in the recruits ears forever. Those cadences that were sang to us became a spiritual hymn of sort, it made us march with perfection and perform our responsibilities with accuracy.
I was naturally born again hard on 06 June 1992, the day I graduated Recruit Training, and went to a couple of schools and ultimately joined the Fleet Marine Force to serve these United States as a Marine. I served until March of 1996 and was honorably discharged. The Marines and the life of a Marine taught me a lot of great things, along with the occasional bad things that men and women learn in the military. I cherish those young years, it was a great experience and I encourage all young people to pursue it if they wish or if they aren’t sure what their life holds, the military offers a lot of great opportunities.
My story doesn’t end after I left the Marine Corps, matter of fact, it was only the beginning. I believe, right or wrong, that we are put here for a purpose. Not that our lives are predestined, but our lives are meant for something. Whether or not, we make the most of it is up to me. I believe the things we do in our lives shape us for either something good, bad or great. My military path was a plan greater than my own. The life of a war fighter is tedious, it requires a mental toughness that can only be gained through much work, training and exercise. His life is a disciplined life. His life is one of obedience and authority, as he is under authority and has authority over younger war fighters. He rises early and eats a hearty breakfast. You see, he has to replenish himself as he is worn down from the affairs of the day before.
The battle I fight today is much like the battles that men and women have fought in the past. There is a strange comparison, except the weapons I need are different. I traded my Rifle for a bible and the Drill instructor that once stood over me has now become the most High God. I must put on God’s armor early in the morning or I will surely lose the days battle (Eph. 6:10-18). My steps are ordered by God now and I must prepare or I will be held accountable (Psalms 37:23). We all have a decision to to make. We can choose to fight on the side of God that stands for life, happiness and truth or we can just throw our hands up and lose the battle before we even start.
I threw my hands up and life became ugly. I lost all the fight that was in me. I gave up and was over run by the enemy. The enemy is cunning, and subtle. He is well prepared to defeat you and feed lies to you. The lies can seem so real. They will lead you to a place you do not want to go and you will lose. Oh, its tempting, and its seductive, but it will only be temporary. The reality will leave you gasping for air. I was gasping once I realized the serpent was latched on to my neck. He seduced me with drugs, that took all my pain, hurt, shame and guilt away. However, once the fog lifted I had more of those negative things on my shoulders than when I started. I decided it was time to fight. The battle rages but the serpent is no longer squeezing the life from me. I am FULLY ALIVE now.
We are in a war, its not one that you can see but its a spiritual war. One that is going on right now for yours and my soul. The bible tells me in Ephesians that we do not battle flesh and blood but we are in a battle against principalities and powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). We must prepare ourselves or we could be seduced by his lies. I never dreamed that I would have gone down that dark road, Ever. I encourage you today, my friends. Take a look inside, if everything is good, that’s great, no need to change. But if everything inside that heart is not good, ask God to help you remove it. Then, sit back and watch him work, you will be amazed. I was. This battle is real, it is no joke! Here is the deal, regardless of our beliefs, we are either gonna win this battle and help our fellow Soldiers (Fellow Marines in my case) or we are going to lose. I am tired of losing! We are going to advance or we are going to retreat! I am no longer going to retreat. This place is to good to give up without a fight. What’s it going to be? ENGAGE!
Going Forward in Reverse!