Home Veterans Leaving The Corps In the Vietnam Era: A Finale to Our Series

Leaving The Corps In the Vietnam Era: A Finale to Our Series

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This is a continuation of Vietnam ‘Throwback Thursday’ series — click to read from the beginning.

Life After Boot Camp vietnam marine corps engineer combat marijuana marinesI had thirty days leave and had been gone for a year. I was going to be good to be back home; home where my friends were, where my family was. My family had moved back to Fort Wayne because they didn’t think my father was making enough money. They had rented the house, so they had somewhere to move back to.

I took a cab from the airport and thought I would surprise my mother. When I arrived home there were hugs and kisses from my mom she was so happy to see me. I shook my father’s hand and gave him a hug. Guess what was the first thing he said? Where are your orders and leave papers? Do you have an airplane ticket back?

I went looking for some of my friends and most had moved to other towns and moved on with their lives. Some of my friends who joined the Marines before me were home now and so the party began. While I was home, I went and looked up Darlene to see how she was doing. I heard she had a boyfriend. I guess I was out of luck. It’s strange how life goes on without you. I had been gone for three years and only had one year left. I couldn’t wait to get out and get back home and start a new life.

One day I decided to give Darlene a call and see how she was doing. She had been the most loyal friend that I had and had sent many letters… more letters then anyone sent me the whole time I was away. I didn’t care that she had a boyfriend; I knew that she really loved me. I remembered all of the letters she wrote, but I didn’t write her back too often. So if I lost her, then it was my own fault. We talked for a while on the phone and that was it. I tried to invite her to a party at some of my parent’s friends. She refused.

During this trip home, my parents were a little different with how they were acting. They had some new friends and my parents invited me to come along with them to meet this new couple. On the way to their new friend’s home, my folks told me about a new business that they had gotten in to. This new business was called Amway. It was selling different products and they thought that I would be very good at it. These new friends of theirs had signed them up in this new world of sales.

The people I met were very nice; they lived in a nice luxury apartment. They had some snacks and some soft jazz playing on the stereo. It didn’t take long for them to start laying out the whole deal to me. I was introduced to a new way of selling called multi-level marketing. This meant that to become really successful, you would need to talk other people into signing up under you; then they would do the same thing. Well I liked some of the products that you could sell and it seemed to be a company that I could maybe stand behind. However there would have to be a delay for me to sign up anyone, I still had six months to go before I got out of the Marines.

I signed up under my parents and they were happy that in a short time I would be selling these products with them. Amway had a great product called ‘Shoe Shine’ when sprayed on your shoes or boots it looked like a spit shine. This would be great when getting ready for inspections. I bought a case and took it with me when I went back to Camp Lejeune.

I still had a week to go on leave when my father and I had an argument. I decided to cash in my plane ticket and buy a bus ticket. It was cheaper and provided me with a bit more money. I bought a small cooler and some beer for the trip and I was gone.

(make sure to click to page 2 on the bottom right)

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I have picture’s …………….later in the wind ………70-71………..cup unit skinner’……….U.S.M.C…..2/7 ,3/5 ,2/1………

  2. Great story Ed!

    Sorry to hear you had such difficulty with your father, did the situation ever improve over time? I was very fortunate to have had a great relationship with my Dad and with the Lord, jesus as well.

    I joined the Marines in June of 1968 for a two-year active-duty stint to be followed by two years of active reserves and two years of inactive reserves. After boot camp, i became an 0844 fire direction controlman and went to Nam and served in a 175mm Gun Battery.

    I served overseas for a little over 11 months and went home aboard a ship as part of one of Richard Nixon’s “early troop withdrawals”. It was an 18-day cruise and I was seasick for the first four days. Since I couldn’t eat, I went to the shipboard dentist and had two upper impacted wisdom teeth pulled. By the time my mouth healed up I was ready to eat again.

    My “welcome home” at the L.A. airport where I was to catch a flight to San Francisco was a gal at a cigarette/candy stand screaming at me about killing women and children. Unnerving.

    On arrival in San Francisco, either a fellow passenger OR someone just inside the gate spat on the back of my uniform. At the time, I thought they were spitting on the carpet. The bus driver who took me the two miles to South San Francisco bus terminal from the airport closed the door on my arm on entering his bus, and lurched that bus several times attempting to get me to lose my balance, and closed the door on my spit-shines shoes on exiting. Interesting times, those were.

    When I arrived home, my sister greeted me with a hug and that’s when she and I discovered the spittle on my back. I still didn’t “make the connection” until some years later. I thought that it had been on the bus seat when I sat down. I couldn’t imagine anyone spitting on a serviceman’s uniform, or burning a draft card, or burning a flag, or marching against the war. I was a bit naive for a twenty-four-year-old, I guess.

    Then, I got pissed when then-president Ford gave amnesty to the Canadian draft-dodgers.

    All water over the bridge now, and I’ve purposefully tried to forgive each and every one who maligned me…that’s been a struggle.

    Semper fi,

    Harry

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