Arriving at the San Diego airport the evening of May 3rd 1982, after a long flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International airport, I began to have severe doubts about my decision to enlist in the Marine Corps. Forty some civilians all from mid western states had been on the flight together out of Chicago and were sitting in the area of the airport restricted for military personnel, waiting to be picked up and taken to Marine Corps boot camp. From the looks on everyone’s faces, it seemed most were having the same thought: “Man, I just made the biggest mistake of my life”.
I was getting the urge to run. There was no one watching us. I turned to John Gusse, a guy who was sitting next to me.
“We don‘t HAVE to go to boot camp,” I said. “All we have to do is walk away from this area, but we have to do it now, once the Marine guys show up here we’re stuck.”
“Are you nuts?” he asked. “We can’t do that”.
“Yes we can, we just need to do it now. I can get us money for plane tickets home,” I told him.
“What is your dad rich or something?” he asked.
“No, but I have enough money saved to pay for a couple of plane tickets and I know he’ll help me get out of this if I call him and tell him I need his help.”
“Man, we already enlisted, they’ll put us in prison or something,” Gusse said.
“No we didn’t. My recruiter told me that you aren’t technically enlisted until you take the oath and sign the paperwork at boot camp. They’ll threaten and try to scare us into coming back and going through at another time but if we really want to get out of this we can,” I said.
“Do you really want to go through with this now that we’re almost doing it?” I asked him.
“No not really but my dad will kick my ass if I come home and don’t go through with this,” Gusse said.
“What about your dad, he wouldn’t have a problem with you quitting like this?”
“Honestly. I’m not worried about my dad right now. I’m worried I’m making the biggest mistake of my life. I don’t want to do this anymore.” I replied.