On April 1, 1988, I graduated from Marine Corps boot camp. To this day, the sights and sounds of MCRD San Diego are still vividly fresh in my head. I joined the Marines on November 24, 1987. One month into training, I broke my foot and was sequentially diagnosed with pneumonia (nobody said boot camp was easy). I found myself with the decision of being discharged from the Marines or continue training after my injuries had healed. It wasn’t an easy decision.
After being discharged from the hospital, I could go back to my old life (leave the Marines). The other choice was to be sent to a medical rehabilitation platoon (MRP). MRP is a kind of Purgatory for Marine Corps recruits. In boot camp, your world revolves around a 12-week countdown calendar. Every day you’d look to your fellow recruits and say “n days to a wake up”. That meant waking up from the living hell of boot camp. If you go to MRP, you don’t get any closer to day 0, until you’re back in a training platoon. I chose to go to MRP. There I waited for almost 2 months.
I cycled back to a training platoon and my countdown restarted. My new day 0 was set for April 1. The day April 1 arrived, I actually thought graduating was going to be a big April Fools joke on me. There were so many psychological games, anything was possible. I thought for certain the Drill Instructors were going to swarm me, while in formation, and send me back to “the classroom” (a place of figurative mental and physical torture). OK, maybe a little physical torture but that’s the way the Marines were back then. Well, they didn’t swarm on me. I graduated from Boot Camp. I entered the Fleet as a “boot” private.
So, what’s the moral of this story? Sometime in your life, you may reach a fork in the road. The easier path, though very attractive tactically, may not be your best decision strategically. This critical event in my life made me the pain-in-the-ass person I am today. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has come remotely close to the physical and psychological challenges of Marine Corps Boot Camp. It doesn’t matter if you’re a project manager, an entrepreneur, or just trying to reach a personal goal. Anything is possible if you’re focused enough on the outcome. Anything is possible if you have passion, commitment, and skill.
Graphic courtesy of Leatherneck