... when you're constantly on the move, few things remain unchanged.

u is for the USMC

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Will is a Marine.  Although he's been out for years, I say is a Marine because once a boy becomes a Marine, he remains one for life.  I wanted to write about the Marines because of my own experiences: my first impressions, my prejudice, my deep dislike that transformed to endless love and what it's like to be married to one.

My first impressions were horrible but this can probably be attributed to the time and place.  When I met my first group of Marines, I was a full-time university student working part time at a restaurant/ bar to pay my bills, in a small town called Rockhampton, in Central QLD Australia.  Not far from this town was a military training ground, Shoalwater Bay, which facilitates simulations and exercise for militia from several different countries, one of these being the United States Marine Corps.  I won't go into detail about other countries but I will say that none of them behaved the way the U.S. Marines did.  Whenever they had free time, they would storm into Rockhampton, drink themselves stupid and crack onto every female with a pulse.  If you were even semi-attractive you were in serious danger of becoming a victim to incessant bull-whistles, vulgarity and all manner of propositions.  Myself and the other girls in town quickly understood why the Marines had such an awful reputation for womanizing and although we thought it shocking that any girl could fall for such sleaze, we each sincerely worried for our friends, hoping no one we knew would add to the 'surge in local pregnancy' statistics that followed the Marines whenever they left a town.  My opinion was set: I hated every one of them.

As I've mentioned in the past when I met Will two years later, I found him arrogant.  Within the first hour, I'd also discovered he'd been in the Corps and thus thought my dislike justified.  His cockiness, to me, was surely a result of spending too much time womanizing and I could never give someone like that the time of day.  Yet within the next few hours, I thought myself in love and by the end of our first week together, I was certain of it.  Of course his own merits had everything to do with this, but his Marine-ness was more of an obstacle than I could have predicted, I flat-out refused to get involved with one. As the weeks went by, my resistance began to crumble and after several frank arguments, Will helped me to better understand the mentality of the boys.  He told me what being deployed, boot camp and war is like, in a way that movies and songs can never convey.  He made me aware of things from their point of view: their desperation, their struggle, their need for intimacy and their 'frankly, not giving a damn.'  They go in as boys: wide eyed, looking for honour and glory.  They become hardened men within months and perhaps for this reason, they are fortunate to be part of a militia that allows them some kind of outlet during their free time.  Although I don't condone their actions in Rockhampton and firmly believe in subtlety, my anger at all of that has dissipated and has long been replaced by pity.

It makes my heart hurt to think of Will as one of those boys, but at the same time, I feel safe knowing my husband is a Marine.  Not only because he's had the training but because of how emotionally strong he is.  I am awed by the sheer amount this man can handle.  And the way he deals with one problem at a time, giving each his full, undivided attention.  He has carried me through physical and home sickness, arguments, grief and more: standing firm and strong just like I envision a soldier would in the face of danger.  There are times when he breaks.  There are times when he needs to be alone.  There are times when he cries. Some times he becomes pensive and just doesn't talk. During all those times I remember what he told me to make me feel pity instead of hate. I remember what he's been through and I give him as much time as he needs because it's worth every hardship, a thousand times over, to be married to a man like Will.

More than anything else, being married to a Marine is like having an enormous family.  Every one of the boys from every one of his platoons is a brother to him and every time I meet one, they become a brother to me as well.  These boys are so real!  So honest and loyal. I love watching them interact, always with heartfelt emotion, kindness and genuine affection. Yes, they are rough as hell and when they're drinking it's best to leave them be - but they are tender when they need to be and I know within my heart that I can call anyone of them, anytime, and they will be there for Will, for me, for our family. The bonds they made, they've made for life and perhaps beyond, for their souls are joined for eternity - of that I'm sure.

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Sharing my stories of migrating from Australia to the US | travel adventures | married life | furry kids | new experiences | lessons | and loving life despite always missing home. xo.

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