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Marlin Jackson - United States Marine Corps

…Dad studied my beat-up Studebaker, looked out at the night sky, and then came out with it.  “Marlin, just what in hell do you want in life?”   

Like I should know.  I’d given thought to the military.  My parents were for it, but I wasn’t sure.  I knew only one thing.  “Dad, I want to get out there and see what the hell this world’s all about.”

The next day, I went to the recruiting office and interviewed with the air force, army and navy.  The flyboys wouldn’t talk to me because I didn’t have a high school diploma.  The army and navy said they’d give me this training and that and travel to exotic foreign places – tried to make me believe I was a prince or duke or someone they couldn’t get along without.  No go.  I wasn’t comfortable with them laying it on that thick. 

The following day, I went back to the recruiting center and strolled into the marine corps recruiting office.  A huge gunnery sergeant sat behind a metal desk, head down, staring at his paperwork.  Three minutes passed before he finally looked up and growled, “What the fuck do you want?” 

How does a 128-pound sixteen-year-old answer that?  Suddenly, I felt naked and vulnerable in the big sergeant’s presence.  I must have smiled because he frowned.  Not good.  Then, I decided to try assertiveness.  A tough little guy not afraid to work the system might impress him.  I straightened up and looked him in the eye. “What have you got to offer me?”

Immediately, his frown turned into a scowl. A black carpet of big, bushy eyebrows covered his forehead, his voice a low rumble, like bowling balls loose in the back of a truck.   “Not a God damned thing!  My beloved marine corps will give you only what we want you to fucking have.” 

Talk I understood.  I liked this sales pitch!  I asked him about enlisting, and he told me my parents had to sign.  The next morning, I was back with Mom and Dad to do the paperwork.



1. "What the hell do you want in life?"
2. Marine propoganda
3. A surreal landing
4. Empathy for the enemy
5. Serious trouble
6. A messy situation
7. My time in Vietnam
8. Drugs and alcohol
9. Nightmares and Flashbacks
10. Beyond therapy