Becoming Marines (2003)

And so, the story begins...
And so, the story begins…

Becoming a Marine is a unique challenge and a wonderful honor; one should never discount that experience.

I became a Marine after already completing a year’s worth of education at Florida Southern College.  One of my dearest friends, James McMahon (affectionately known as Jim), and I were privileged to forge this journey together, in a roundabout way.  Females and males train separately at Parris Island, but through the grapevine that is church at Parris Island, we were able to see each other at church one day.

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Trust me, I did not look pretty for most of boot camp! Nor did I look good for my official photograph. Sigh.

My expression is a wonderful combination of exhaustion, fear, "get this thing over with already", and "I pray I look halfway decent."  End result: I look like I'm ready to vomit.  Why does every male Marine I know look incredible in their boot camp photo?  How can I make that happen for me?
My expression is a wonderful combination of exhaustion, fear, “get this thing over with already”, and “I pray I look halfway decent.” End result: I look like I’m ready to vomit. Why does every male Marine I know look incredible in their boot camp photo? How can I make that happen for me?

I might look slightly menacing in my photo but I was frequently caught smiling by the drill instructors. Not that what they were doing was funny, at least not most of the time. Some of the girls were incredibly funny and I love anyone who has a good sense of humor and can tell a joke.

Not everyone in my family thought I was capable of becoming a Marine. It was an honor to prove them wrong. I’m the girl in the middle (photo below). I graduated as Private First Class in bootcamp; it was one of the privileges of completing 15 college credits prior to enlisting. Many of my Marine friends who met me prior to my marriage still affectionately call me Whalen.

Getting ready for graduation (October 2003)
Getting ready for graduation (October 2003)

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