I can remember it happening, not that it hadn’t happended before but
this time I wasn’t quite so sure of the outcome. In March of 1995 I had
accepted a challenge that only 10% of all American’s ever complete. The
challege of becoming a United States Marine. Every so often I open my big
mouth and respond to any challenge “Of course I can do that!” Then that
overwhelming feeling of fear and mild confusion sink in as you begin to
think “Now what have I gotten into?” Overcoming a challenge can ultimately
mean great success and of course the result could mean failure as well.

For me failure has never been an option, that is the basis for my decision
to join the Marine Corps “I want to be the best!” I proclaimed.

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“Now don’t you go and get one of those crazy tatoos” my mother weeped
as I was loading myslef into the goverment vehicle. As we dove off, I
recall a lasting mental photograph of my stern father so very proud, my
sobbing mother, my 13 year old brother heart broken to be losing his big
brother, and my three year old sister absolutely confused as to why
everyone was so sad. As I looked around the vehicle, only two of the faces
mimicked my own apprehension. Nate Juarez was a guy I had played baseball
against growing up. He looked every bit the athlete I remember him to be.

He was tall and lean, with broad shoulders and a slim waist. Orlando
Chavez was a short, chubby young man who always wore a grin on his face,
except for this day. Sergeant Wilson, our recruiter, was obviously the
only one who seemed to have it under control. He appeared as confident
this day as he had been the day he had convinced us to sign on the dotted

In life we sometimes associate silence with akwardness; the first 15
minutes of our ride to Denver were the epitomy of this silence. Eventually
we all lightened up to our usual selves and the comraderie between Juarez,
Chavez and myself began as we ventured off together. Sergeant Wilson
dropped us off at the military processing center in downtown Denver for
some final paperwork and to officially swear us in. After a short bus ride
to DIA my emotions began to run wild. I was excited to be flying out of
the new Denver International Aiport and I was leaving home for the very
first time! The airplane lifted with it’s envigorating burst of power and
we were off. As I flew West I waved good bye to Boulder and hello
adventure. After a breif stop in Salt Lake City to pick up a handful of
recruits we were off to San Diego, America’s Finest City!
As the landing gear began to lower on our final approach, a lightning
quick flash of questions whizzed through my mind. What if I wanted to go
home? What if I wanted too chill in San Diego? Maybe I wanted a tatoo? I
was terrified, I couldn’t stop thinking “What if ?” I was now so nervous
that I had chills up and down my spine.All my fear was diverted as soon as
I caught my first glimpse of a Drill Instructor. There they were waiting
for us at the end of the airport corridor. Now that I recall, Drill
Insrtuctors only come in two different breeds; Little and Mean as well as
Big and Mean! They quickly set there sights on us and made their approach.

After confirming we were recruits they snatched our paperwork from our
hands and headed us towards a designated area of the San Diego Airport
where there were several rows of young men who were going to begin
training. After the drill instructors had accounted for all recruits, we
were shuffled into school busses. Little did anyone know that the San
Diego Airport was their last glimpse of civilian life.

As we arrived there was a silence. In a single heartbeat the bus
doors exploded open and Drill Instructors stormed through like a hurricane.

In fact my heart might have skipped a beat when they started yelling, “GET
became so chaotic I could hardly decipher left from right. As we exited
the bus there were the infamous yellow footprints. It was as if they were
solid gold, and so neatly “covered and aligned” making perfect rows. As I
filled in my set of prints the entire spectrum of emotions filled my body
and I thought to myself “Now what have I gotten into?” In retrospect, only
one thing is for certain; I will NEVER sign a contract without reading
every single detail. But honestly, my first day of boot camp has actually
become a defining moment in my life in which I can draw strength from and I
am able to face whatever challenge is presented to me with confidence to