We had PT (Physical Training) almost everyday. I was in the best shape of my life. We ran in PT gear, we ran in boots and utes (utilities), we ran with full gear and pack. We would run on the streets, we would run on grass, and we would run on the beach. Why did we run so much? Marines are trained to run to a fight. We take the fight to the enemy. We make sure they know who they are up against. And we show no fear.
I remember a few years earlier in my senior year in high school, I went to the state fair with a friend of mine, who's name also happened to be Richard. As we were about to leave, we heard a pop. It sounded like a gun shot. People started running away and Richard dove into a booth immediately. I told him to wait there and I took off in the direction of the gun shot. I know, not the brightest idea in the world. I don't know what I was thinking, but even then, I had the will to "run toward the sound chaos." The police on horseback were already there and I never found out what happened.
I've always hated violence against innocent people. I hated bullies. I always tried to defend those who were smaller, weaker, or afraid to defend themselves. As a young child, I stood up to bullies on behalf of the neighborhood kids. And parents loved me for it. They liked me and felt their kids were more protected when I was around. Truth is, I wasn't big and strong at all. In fact, I was small for my age . But I would stand up to them even if I knew I was about to get my butt kicked.
I remember riding my bike one summer with a couple of friends of mine, Chris and Sherry. Chris was about 7 and Sherry was about 9. I was 10. They moved from the apartments we all lived in and into a house a few blocks away. I hated to see them go but at least they were close by. We were riding our bikes down their street and back when a little girl came over, blocked his path and grabbed the handlebars, and demanded Chris let her ride his bike. He politely told her he is not allowed to let anyone else ride it. She threatened to hit him if he didn't hand the bike over. He looks at me and I knew I had to say something. Now I've always been taught that boys don't hit girls. But if a girl is willing to fight a boy, she's getting a fight. So I told her if she hit him I was going to hit her back. Then with a smile on her face as if this was her plan all along, she turns to her big brothers who were across the street. One of them was about my age and we got into a fight. I don't remember landing any punches but apparently I did. It was as if I blacked out for a minute as I swung wildly at him. Then, the older brother stepped in who was at least a foot taller than me. Still I didn't back down as we faced off. He kept saying, "Hit me! Hit me!" And I kept my fists balled up ready to swing back if he swung first, but hoping he didn't. In the meantime, Sherry had run home to get her mother and when she came, she broke the fight up.
Want to know something Funny? When school started back up, the first boy that was my age was in one of my classes and sat right next to me. I thought to myself, "You gotta be kidding! It's going to be a long year." Turns out, we became friends. I can't remember his first words to me but they were words of peace and indicated he wanted to be friends. I was so relieved. He even added, "You fight pretty good." Like I said before, I didn't even remember landing any punches. I felt we were both swinging equally hard and equally wildly at each other. I responded, "So do you."
That's the way I was growing up. I was just willing to stand up and not back down; to say no and not give in; to show courage and not fear. I don't like fighting and I don't like war. But my hatred for the suffering of the innocent was great enough that I felt I must do something, even if it meant going to war. I couldn't stand by and see the images on TV about Iraqi soldiers executing Kuwaitis, raping the women, and pillaging the homes and businesses. If they were looking for a fight, they were going to get one! And Corporal Lovell, a well trained, highly motivated, sharpshooting Marine, was about to deliver it to them personally. And I wasn't 10 years old anymore!