30 Years After Boot

Today marks the 30th anniversary of my graduation from Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego.

I actually went by the Recruit Depot a few months ago, while I was in San Diego on business. I was heading to the airport because I had a few hours until my flight out, and I figured I'd take advantage of the free WiFi at the airport and catch up on some emails.

But when I saw the sign for the MCRD entrance, I told the taxi driver to stop and let me out.

It was a Thursday, Family Day, and I was at the entrance for the people who were coming to see recruits who would be graduating the next day.

So I went in and found a place to store my luggage and took a walk around. It was weird … nothing seemed to have changed. There were a few new buildings, and I was walking around in some areas that we never even set foot on when we were recruits there.

But the buildings were the same yellow color. And they were the same style, the same look and feel as before. And as I walked by one of the buildings, I caught the same smell that I had noticed 30 years ago, the smell of uniforms and boots and gear … and fear.

Ah yes, 30 years and nothing had changed.

And I tip my hat to the Lance Corporal who had to be all of 20 or 21 for his diplomacy. He stopped me because I had strayed from the areas that visitors were allowed in. He asked if I was there to see someone graduate, but I told him no, that I was just stopping by because I hadn't been back since I graduated in 1981.

You could see the wheels turning in his head as he did the math and realized that I was really old.

But all he said was, “Welcome back Marine.”

Well done.