It is with cheer and a grain of salt that I officially say goodbye to the Marine Corps. 4 years ago, on this day, I left Oregon not with but the clothes on my back–with the pipe dream notion that war breeds men. It was with tears and a cold Oregon rain that I parted ways with my old life, knowing full well the possibility I would meet my fate on the battlefield. That was exactly why I went though: I needed to know. I needed to know if I could look the devil in the eye and walk away, I needed to know if I could handle war.
My recruiter was surprised at my adamant decision to join the infantry. With a GT score of 131, ASVAB total of 92 I could’ve done just about anything in the ‘Corps. I would have it no other way, however. I feel like there is a purity involved with the infantry, a kind of simple truth to it all. People say grunts are dumb, but I was hardly the smartest person I’ve met in the field. There were more than a couple of people in my platoon with higher test scores than myself, perhaps we were an exception to the rule, perhaps not. People join the Marine Corps for a variety of reasons, few of them truly want to see the rotten side of life though–and most of them that are smart enough go do something more respectable than walk around with a rifle. I am however a subscriber to the idea of the noble savage, and thus sold on the infantry.
The idea of experiencing something truly soul destroying was my main motivation behind joining the Marines–and especially the infantry. So what did Iraq do for me? I never experienced anything horrible or mind-shattering while I was overseas. I hit the ass-end of the war, the “hearts and minds” part of it all. I spent the better hours of my first deployment handing out beanie babies and soccer balls to the children of Zaidon, via the turret of an MRAP. We were limited to a few short moments of terror, dispersed by much larger amounts of boredom. My second deployment was spent all over Iraq, visiting different FOBs and COPs to photograph and sketch Marines.
The experiences I got weren’t quite what I was shooting for; no Phantom Fury, no large scale war-fighting and city-clearing. Just the experiences of an average grunt in a dying war. So what did all of this do for me? What great wisdom did I acquire through 4 years of seeding bullshit?
At this point… I don’t know.
I do know however, I feel better. I feel like I at least tried, I feel like I did something that no one else (around here anyway) can say that they did. I’ve been around the world, been shot at and have had to deal with epic amounts of bullshit on a daily basis. In all honesty, I do feel like I’m a better man for it all. Whatever the case, exactly what happened to me is exactly what the higher powers that be had intended for me.
I will take this experience, these events that have shaped me in the last 4 years and use them for the better. I will be going to art school now, and I’ll be twice the man that every other fresh out of high school 18 year old will be that will inevitably be going there. None of them will ever know what it’s like, will never experience what we have, will never go through anything like what we have.
These last 4 years have been the most blood, sweat and tears of my life–and I’m proud to say that I made it out the other side.
With that I bid you adieu, and I will see you all next week. Sorry for the late update, been pretty busy lately with personal matters. It turns out being unemployed doesn’t mean you can just sit around all day when you’re just getting out of the military and married and are trying to find a new place to live and trying to go to school, etc. Strange huh?
Anyway, for those of you who remain in the Corps, stick it out and do your job. Keep it real and don’t let the culture of bullshit infect your mind. Stay who you are, if who you are is worth staying.