Monday, January 07, 2008

Be A "Marine For A Day!"

Stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC, in the late 1950s, I often would drive down to Charleston for a long weekend. My dad once was involved in an accident while I was there and I called the base to arrange an emergency leave.

I forget the details now but The Corps decided I needed to drive back up to the base and actually pick up the leave papers. My teenage younger brother said he would ride up and back with me to help me stay awake.

Arriving at the base that evening we were told paperwork would have to be done in the morning. Too cheap - and short of cash - to go to a motel, I brought my 16-year old brother into my barracks for the night.

For a SOS breakfast in the mess hall, he wore a set of my utilities and some borrowed boots, but we still did not get to leave. I found I had a photo assignment with a bunch of reservists out in the field so I gave him a clipboard and we hopped into a jeep.

I had briefed him on how to respond with the name of my company and battalion if he were asked but I nearly panicked when I saw a reserve officer walk up to him. My brother gave a snappy salute, talked a moment and saluted again as the lieutenant left.

As we drove back to get him out of uniform and grab the paperwork, I said "where did you learn to salute?" "In the Boy Scouts," he answered, giving me a crisp three finger salute.

I hope the statute of limitations has expired.

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At Tue Jan 08, 01:30:00 PM , Anonymous Carla said...

Having been a WM, I loved it!!!!

At Tue Jan 08, 01:44:00 PM , Blogger imabug said...

did he end up following your footsteps into the marines?

At Tue Jan 08, 05:27:00 PM , Blogger chucker said...

No, my brother realized I had eft HUGE boots to fill so he joined the US Army.

At Wed Jan 09, 08:45:00 AM , Anonymous Paul said...

Semper fidelis !!

At Tue Jan 15, 05:09:00 PM , Anonymous the kid if he did it said...


And now a word from the "little brother". As I turn 65, I feel it is safe to let it be known that I MIGHT have once played a marine for a day. I know this refutes the quote, "Once A Marine, Always A Marine!"

I was about 13 not 16. By 16 I was more interested in the "girl" Scouts than the "boy" scouts.

As I recall, Dad was hospitalized in Charleston; Mom wanted to spend the night at the hospital with him and I was a left over that needed to be cared for.

My brother told Mom not to worry. He would watch over me. Then he phoned Camp Leujune to ask for emergency leave and it was denied unless he returned to the base (camp or whatever) and signed back out. Seemed very natural military-think on my part. I knew about that stuff cause I'd been to the movies.
So Mom and Dad are at the hospital and with the assurance that my older brother would simply take me with him to sign back out, he promised to 'Motel" me overnight and return in a day.

We had a nice drive up to N. Carolina, the first time I had been out of SC except for a few carefully planned cross-country trips from Charleston to Atlanta, GA.

As we approached the base, I was informed that we had no money to put me in a motel and that I was to slouch down in the passenger seat and pretend to be asleep as we passed through the gate. That got me into Camp Lejuene Motel for the night.

At about midnight, we entered his barracks and I slept on an available cot. Not bad so far.

When we woke up and showered I was told to put on a uniform with "BOYD" printed on the front. It fit.

I was introduced around to the soldiers as a younger brother. After the laughter, we slipped into the mess hall. I stayed at least 3 people behind my brother while in the line so there would not be 2 soldiers, standing side-by-side with "BOYD" printed on their uniform.

Sitting with others, again I was introduced as a "younger brother". I was then left in the barracks while my brother went to get his permission for emergency leave.

Boy was I surprised when bro. returned and said we could not leave right away. He was assigned to cover some military field manuevers then he could leave the base.

Being of quick mind and desperation my brother hannded me a clip board and told me to remember some things like I was "with" such and such and Was on-the-job learning my writing marine-job. Oh! And not to forget if anyone spoke to me, I they did not have stripes on their uniform I was to salute and say, 'Yes Sir".

Then we got a jeep and rode about ten miles from the barracks, well it seem like that, since we went way outback.

We settled on a hill top and I watched and listened to artilliary fire, mortors, watched explosions in the distance and then watched a wave of troops practice taking over an objective, the area we were watching.

Every now and then I squinted my eyes, murmured something or just nodded and scribbled some scribbling on my clip board while my brother went forward and took pictures, leaving me with specific instructions, "if in doubt, salute it."

I remember climbing in an unoccupied tank; leaning back against a tree until I had to jump to my feet and salute an officer, who asked me what my job was. I rattled the something about and with something then smiled. He saluted me back and said,"well carry on". I did. I sat right back down and hoped nobody else noticed me.
After formal Marine Corps picture-taking, my brother go off a few unofficial shots of me there where and when I should not have been...that is, If I really Did It!
A month or two later my brother brought home some fellow recruits that had no family nearby, offering a home cooked meal and the opportuity to share the gas bill.
On at least 2 occasions I remember him bringing people home for the weekend who just stood in the doorway staring at me and saying, "He really was your brother!!! Laughs all around.
We explained all the laughter to my Mom many many years later. She said, "I figured you were up to something. I just didn't know what. You both were always up to something I never would have approved."
Yes Mom.


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