YUCAIPA, CA – Every so often I reach up to the top shelf of my bookcase and pull out my Marine Corps graduation book. There were 72 of us in Platoon 1061 of the First Battalion. The pages are filled with pictures of smoothed faced men – boys really, ages 18, 19, 20 some as old as 23.
The pages show pictures of us climbing ropes, jumping across water ponds suspended in midair with our M14 rifles thrust out in front of us, on the parade deck marching to the deep-throated commands of a drill instructor, standing at attention during inspection, and on Sunday afternoon’s off, writing letters home to our moms.
Platoon 1061 was all gung ho in boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego in the summer of 1967. We felt destined to go to “Nam” and win the war against communism.
And we wanted Gunnery Sergeant Robert L. Sproul to lead us.