One time at Band Camp a 70-year-old Hispanic lady put her hands down my Dress Blues pants while I was on the march… But more about that later.

Quantico Marine Band at Super Bowl XLI (Gabe Santacreu Flikr)

First, I’d like to say that SOFREP has some extremely knowledgeable staff writers and some guys who are still, or have been, Grade-A savages. Most of the stuff I did while in the Marine Corps involved marching, traveling, and tuning. But on a parade deck. I was in the Parris Island Marine Band, and here’s my story.

St. Louis, MO, 1999. Bill Clinton is still president (but he neither inhaled nor had sexual relations with that woman). The St. Louis Rams actually have a pretty good football team (13-3). Mark McGwire was still demolishing baseballs at home plate but the St. Louis Cardinals had an abysmal overall season record of 75-86 (ouch). And then there was me. I had started Junior College that fall and I absolutely hated it. I skipped more classes than I attended. I’d never liked school, but I was there at no cost to myself courtesy of a trombone scholarship. Plus, I had no one making me attend. So, I didn’t. 

You Couldn’t Make a Pimple on a Marine’s Butt

I’d show up for orchestra practice just enough to not lose my scholarship but I generally had a dozen reasons why I was unable to attend. Simply put, I was a bum. I needed structure and a purpose. So, one day, after skipping yet another day of classes, I went to my grandparents’ house. It was, and still is, a small, comfortable mid-century house. My grandpa told me he bought it for something like $4,500 and was looking for me to spend the same on a new house. Oh, the 50s.

My grandpa was a big-hearted man and one of my biggest sports and music fans. I think he attended nearly every basketball, baseball, football, soccer, volleyball and Cross Country event I participated in over the previous 14 or so years. Let’s just say he was supportive. And I loved his support.

I walked into his house one evening and he was sitting at the kitchen table talking to my uncle Kevin.

I blurted out to the two of them, “I think I’m gonna join the Marines.” My ever-supportive Korean War-era Marine veteran grandpa replied, “You couldn’t make a pimple on a Marine’s butt.” I looked at my uncle and said, “Did you hear that?” A man of few words, he just said, “He’s probably right.” 

Off to the Recruiter…

I couldn’t believe my ears! There was no respect put on my name whatsoever. I told them that I was going to show them and that I was going to enlist. They blew me off as fast as I’d been blowing off English Comp. But the fire had been lit. I had decided. I was going to be a Marine. The next day I went to the recruiter’s office without telling anyone. I told the recruiter I wanted to be an MP and then an Embassy Guard. He told me to think about it and call him in a couple of days.