In the military, your hair can’t be longer than four inches and cannot touch the ears, collar, or eyebrows. Hair can’t interfere with properly worn headgear and may not be styled in a manner that allows the hair to extend more than two inches from the scalp. Hair color must look natural. Typically weekly haircuts are required as “touch ups” to maintain military standards.

Probably the most memorable “training” (and hair cut.. not what you think) I received during the entire 18 months of our platoon’s workup was not an official training at all, and I sure never got a certificate for it. But it made a lasting impression.

Not long after we met, Gabriele and I had a date set for our wedding. My family had spent good money on the preparations. For whatever crazy reasons kids do crazy things, though, around the second week of MAROPS, we decided we couldn’t wait any longer. We quietly eloped — snuck off to Vegas and hit a chapel. 

When we got back I said, “Look, my mom will kill me if I tell her what we did. She’s planned this whole big thing. She’ll be devastated.” I swore Gabriele to secrecy. I couldn’t let my mother find out, and since my sister, Rhiannon, was living right in the area and going to San Diego State, we couldn’t let her find out either.