As much as I love my parents, Carl, Betsy, Cindy, Bill, and credit them for raising me well and teaching me and preparing me to make good decisions in life and to be a good man, I have to also give credit to the Marine Corps for shaping me and making me who I am today.
I know that every life experience that we have, every challenge that we stand up to and every good and bad decision that we make, ultimately make us who we are, but I joined the Marines during a time in my life when I was very impressionable and when I needed a little extra guidance...not the guidance of a loving parent...not the sincere advice of a friend...but lessons and learning from life. The Marines shoved life in my face. Some days "Fwwwap! Here's a poo sandwich. Eat it, love it, want some more of it!" and some days "Good job son, what you do is very important, and here's a simple pat on the back and a thank you and a job well done."
My moms and dads prepared me to be a man...The Marine Corps chiseled off the rough edges, provided me an unsheltered existence, forced me to adjust when the situation called for it, forced me to pick myself up when I was down and keep marching forward, taught me the selflessness of "sacrifice", and very importantly showed me that there were thousands of people just like me who were actually nothing like me! I learned that I could be an individual (and be proud of that person) yet still function as part of a team.
I am very proud to have served as a Marine. I can also say that I still make mistakes, still make bad decisions and still have endless opportunities to become a better man. I will always be a Marine...Once a Marine, Always a Marine. I will always try my best to be an honorable person. I will always be proud of who I am. I will always be grateful to my parents whose teachings, love and support got me to the point where I could go off on my own and serve my country.
Since the day I left for boot camp, I've been out here in the world, touching it, tasting it, being a part of it, loving it, roaming it. Since the day I got out of the Marines, its teachings, its principles, the discipline...have been a part of my life, a part of me.
Thank you United States Marine Corps for allowing me to be a part of the world's finest fighting force. Thank you for the title "Marine" that I will always carry with me. Thank you for for dragging me through the mud, deeper into manhood. Thank you for all of the poo sandwiches...