Week Thirty-three: Brian B. Baker

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What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? 

When I was eighteen I went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, because I wanted to be a Marine more than anything. In high school I didn’t study as hard as I could because I knew I was going to be a Marine and I would use my GI Bill to get through college to advance my military career.

Arriving at MCRD – San Diego was an experience I’ll never forget and if either of my kids wants to be a Marine I will whole-heartedly support them.

Once off the plane I was shuttled into the USO room near the San Diego airport. It was forty-five minutes before someone came in and told us to, “Get your butts on the bus!”

Once at MCRD, we were put through one of the worst nights I can remember. Staying up, going through processing was tough and grueling, but that’s how you make Marines. You see who the weaker ones are and you watch them drop. Those left standing at the front are the hardcore Marines.

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Before I left for MCRD, I’d trained the previous month, running, calisthenics and making sure I was in good physical condition. I studied my general orders, and still have some of them memorized almost twenty years later.

I was hardcore and wanted that title badly.

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I remember the first time we went to chow, I hadn’t eaten in twelve hours or something like that and the food looked like something brought from the Gods. I was hungry and cleaned my plate. If I could’ve had seconds I would’ve. After chow, we headed to barracks for something I can’t remember, it was grueling few days and some of it is a blur.

On the third day of processing, just before we were to go to our regular platoon and not receiving platoon, we were doing our medical evaluations and I went for the hearing check and the doctors were amazed at my hearing. Next came the vision test, where I was told, “You’re probably going home recruit.”

Those words shook me, I tried my hardest to be strong and not show any emotion, but that night, my last night in receiving platoon I cried in my bunk because I knew everything I wanted was gone and I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.

Learning I wasn’t going to be a Marine was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. That moment changed everything in my life.

My wife says she wouldn’t have met me if I had been in the Marines, I’ve told her countless times, “some things are meant to be, and we’d be married anyway.”

I wanted the title U.S. Marine so bad, that I didn’t think about what would happen if I wasn’t able to get it. I wish I could try again, but I’m too old to go through boot and I have a lot of things I want right now, I don’t think being a Marine would improve on my life, it would just bring satisfaction to my ego and I need less ego.

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Brian B. Baker is an unpublished writer of Science Fiction/Fantasy and Horror. He’s been writing short stories since high school, and is certain it’s one of the few things that keeps him sane. Brian blogs at  The Bleeding Inkwell.

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