John’s Story

John’s Story

I was born in 1950 and grew up under the shadow of World War II. My father was in the United States Coast Guard and served in the Pacific Theater. He made landings in Luzon and Mindanao, both in the Philippines when the United States re-took the island from the Japanese. At five years old, the world war had only ended ten years prior and the war was constantly in the news. On television, we watched the true stories of the horrors of Jewish death camps in Germany, battles against the German troops, Battle of the Bulge, the massacres of peoples in Poland and Russia by the advancing German war machine, D-Day and the advances in France by U.S. and British forces along with the paratroopers dropping in on enemy lines and the stories of our prisoners of war in Japanese POW camps. These were not movies from Hollywood, but real-life films as they were actually recorded. We also saw many war movies produced by Hollywood during the 1950s, stories about Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and the Korean War and more. My neighbor’s father was in the Marines and also served in the Pacific Theater. Although they didn’t talk about it a lot, we knew what many had seen and done. Most of the parents in my neighborhood had a parent who had served in this great war and we shared their stories together and knew of the experiences our parents had endured. This is where I got my inspiration to serve my country in the military.

I was very physically agile when I was young and I played in all sports offered in my school plus playing in baseball leagues during the summer when we were out of school. We kids played many war games in the woods around our neighborhood when we were growing up. In our imaginary minds, it would be against the Japanese and the Germans. We played war and we had guns fashioned out of wood and rubber knives for a close kill during hand-to-hand combat when we overran our homemade “camp”. I had always wanted to be in the Marines. The U.S. Army was great, but I wanted to be one of those who went in first and did secret missions against the enemy. I wanted to serve where I thought it would mean the most for our military, for our country.

It wasn’t a choice for me to serve. It was my duty to carry on the tradition and the fight for my country and honor, defending our belief for rights and defend helpless peoples against atrocities inflicted on them by other powerful countries. I went to military school when I was 14 years old and I joined the precision drill team. We marched in many towns for parades and I was very proud to be able to handle my weapon so well. When I left military school, I joined the Marines and I was in boot camp two months after turning seventeen, just a kid really. I wasn’t nervous about boot camp because I already knew what it was going to be like, having been to military school and being in very good physical shape. Once I had begun boot camp, I couldn’t wait to graduate and begin my service to my country. Vietnam was war at hand.

While we were midway through boot camp, we had our drill instructors come into our barracks one evening and told us to line up around the foot of our “racks”, which was our bunks, and we did. Other recruits from our platoon began to file in and I thought we were going to get a talk of some kind. Once we all had fallen in formation as instructed, we were ordered to drop our pants and we all did with some hesitation. I believed we were going to get some kind of inspection of proper underwear. We were then ordered to drop our skivvies, our underwear, and with some belligerent encouragement from our drill instructors, we obeyed the order. We were then instructed to bend over and stick our nose in the anus of the man in front of us. This was making me feel very strange and we all were not so quick to follow this order. As I did, so did others, with hesitation and disbelief that we had heard the order correctly. We were slow to execute the order, but the drill instructors were adamant and were beginning to become belligerent and violent towards us. By this time, I and others were bending over and keeping our noses from the man in front of us, but the drill instructors were demanding, screaming and threatening us that close wasn’t close enough. They began to come around the line of us, screaming, hollering and shoving us into the man in front of us to be in the position that they wanted us to be in. They were forcefully shoving a man’s face into the anus of the man in front of them. A few fellow marines were not complying and there was a fight beginning to happen down the way from me as the drill instructors ganged up on the person and I could hear hitting by the sound of fists hitting flesh and the yelling going on as they were forcing this person into compliance. I held my breath and held this position as long as needed, believing that as soon as obedience and compliance had satisfied the drill instructors, they would let us stop. As a unit, we were trained that once we had performed adequately, we were rewarded with relief from that duty charged. Once this had occurred, they did let us stop doing this and the Marines that were filed into our barracks were told to return to their Quonset huts.

This was a horrible experience and we all felt angry, dishonored and shame. It was over and we hoped nothing else like this occurred to us again and it didn’t, but the effects stayed with me. I didn’t like the Marines anymore and I had trouble with authority figures in my future posts, but I tried to just get through boot camp and get away from these people who had did this to me and my fellow Marines. We didn’t report this because I guess we didn’t want to ruin our standings with our drill instructors and we wanted to graduate and get out of this platoon, which we did. I went on to serve in the Mediterranean Sea making beachhead landings in conjunction with NATO and served in Vietnam in an infantry company receiving a Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon, among other awards.

We, as a free nation of people with morals and honor, need to stand up to our military leaders and Congress and make changes. We need to stand up and say that we do not want our soldiers abused, sexually or physically. We do not want our daughters raped. We do not want our sons sexually abused. We do not want our soldiers degraded. We want our soldiers to have an independent counsel. Rape is a violent crime and the borders of our military bases should not be used to shield criminals or those whom would hide such atrocities. A crime perfected in any civilian jurisdiction should be held accountable by the laws of that land.

Please contact your Senators, Representatives, and Congress and become a part of changing this “closed society” that is the military today. Help bring back the honorable to our Military Forces, each and every man and woman who serves this great nation deserves to be honored.