Some time prior to leaving the Gulf, two of my sergeants wanted to talk to me privately. We went for a walk and talked about my active duty service coming to an end. One of the sergeants was someone I knew for four years, Sergeant Jones. The other, Sergeant Dilworth, I knew ever since boot camp. We were both from the Dallas area and were on the same plane ride to Camp Pendleton, California to start basic training. We also went to the same MOS school and served our entire time in the Marine Corps with each other. So we were good friends and it was going to be difficult to part ways.
They both told me how they really wanted to keep and wanted me to reconsider spending my last year in the reserves. When I told them that I appreciated their comments and desire to keep me, they said I would be promoted to Sergeant if I stayed. I had mentioned before that this was something to laugh at and now I'll explain why. I spent four years in R.O.T.C. which would allow me to be promoted to the rank of Private First class upon graduating from boot camp. However, that never happened. I know that my certificate was included in my paperwork, but for some reason, I wasn't promoted. When I brought this up to my Drill Instructor, he just said to bring it up at my next duty station.
My next duty station I reported to was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma where I got my MOS training. When I brought it up there, they said they would look into it for me. Nothing happened. After completing my MOS training, I reported to my next duty station, which was my permanent one. I reported to the Commanding Officer there about the problem and he said he would look into it. Nothing ever happened. I don't remember if he retired or transferred somewhere else, but we got a new Commanding Officer. I reported the same problem to him, and at this point, I had already been meritoriously promoted to PFC. He said he would look into it but nothing happened. I eventually get promoted to Lance Corporal and then Corporal. Both Sergeant Jones and Sergeant Dilworth knew of all of this. So you know you why I can only laugh at the offer to be promoted to Sergeant. For one, I should have already been Sergeant. And two, when a Marine gets promoted, he has to walk down the line where the others get to congratulate him but punching him in the arms on both sides, then turning back around and going through again so everyone can punch the other arm. I could only imagine how many Marines would be coming out of their tents everywhere getting in line. No thanks! And third, a promotion was not going to change my mind. They understood, and then Sergeant Jones handed me something. It was Sergeant insignia. He said, "You deserve these for a lot of reasons." It made me feel good, and to be honest, I almost teared up.
As I mentioned in the previous chapter, I, along with several other Marines, was dealing with a lot of emotions; emotions that shouldn't be left bottled up. I was experiencing a decreased lack of interest in writing home, listening to my tapes, or even the card games we were playing. If not kept busy, I would just lay in my cot and suffer through the hot days. By mid April, it was already reaching triple degree temperatures.
My last letter that I remember writing home was to my sister: "Hi Robin. I've been getting tired of writing letters lately, but I'm forcing myself anyway. I've been trying to make more phone calls too, but something always comes up.
They say we should be leaving here by the 17th. You know how the word changes tho. We are expecting to be at Camp Lejeune for at least seven days. There's even talk about keeping us on active duty for 30 days when we get back." I also mentioned how Patrice and Zach wanted to be there when my plane arrives and provided their contact information so she could get in touch with them. There wasn't much else to say. I was ready to go home and leave this place. The heat was becoming unbearable, the boredom only made it worse, and the emotions were causing fights.
To help relieve some of the tensions that were building up, we were allowed to visit the recreational area. I can't remember what it was called but to me it was like a resort. There we could buy burgers (I called them camel burgers), fries and sodas. We could relax or even go for a swim. I took these pictures including one of me standing next to a camel out there. He had already snapped at others so I was cautiously keeping an eye on him. He did seem to like drinking Coca Cola, though. I think he took a liking to me. See him smiling for the camera as I took his close up? Or maybe he was plotting his next move. Regardless, we were at least having a little fun and looking forward to going home any day now.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone