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Old 05-21-2013, 11:43 AM   #1
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So my 17 year old son wants to enlist out of high school. He graduates in December. He knows that we have saved enough $ for his college. He has looked at ROTC and other military branches. He has a 3.1 gpa and good college entry exam scores and military aptitude scores. He has lots of options, but he wants to enlist, go through boot camp at Parris Island, and get deployed. His main reasons are he wants the challenge (mental and physical, and he is very physically fit) he doesn't want to sit in classrooms, and he wants to see the world. So Marines out there, does enlisting sound like the right thing for him?
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:25 PM   #2
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If it were me, I would advise him to join a different branch. No offense to the Mairnes, but I would want him to learn a job skill while in the military that transfers to the civilian world. I was in the Army, so I'm not an expert on the Marines, but from what I know about the Marines, it would'nt be a good choice if that was part of what he is looking for.
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:30 PM   #3
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As a US Army combat vet from the Viet Nam era, the last thing I would want is a son, daughter or grandchild enlisting and being deployed overseas in a combat zone.
Go rent "Born on the 4th of July" and watch it with your son for some real perspective of the possibilities of what can happen.

If he is hell bent on joining up, encourage the Air Force or Navy.
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Old 05-21-2013, 01:01 PM   #4
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As a former Captain in the Marine Corps, I would have home him think twice. The physical and leadership challenges are great. Not the best choice of schools for civilian occupations. USMC used to depend on the Navy for a lot of schools, but received very few slots. In non-combat locations, a lot of training and hurry-up-and -wait time. Boredom can lead to drinking, etc. things may be different now in a mission oriented environment. But I wonder. Not the best duty stations to 'see the world'. Very few, unless accepted to embassy duty. East coast US, west coast US and Okinawa. Currently trips to the middle east - not a lot of tourist opportunities. Have him stop and think what he really wants to accomplish. He'll get more out of officers training in leadership. Thes a PLC program through college: you pay his way and if he still wants after four years he can be commissioned. Don't accept any monetary assistance - it obligates him to service, even at an enlisted rank, should he not finish college or not graduate officer traing school. My info may be dated.
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Old 05-21-2013, 04:07 PM   #5
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Has he really researched this, or is there an element of peer influence at work?

I think the above comments are valuable, but I have no first-hand input (I had a full Air Force career via AFROTC).

Any of the armed services will give you a good opportunity for travel and other very valuable life experiences, so it would be wise to consider exactly what he wants to do in the military. Most 17 year olds are simply looking at what they see as the glamor of the military, without ever considering what actual job they would like to do there.
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Old 05-21-2013, 04:24 PM   #6
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I say let him do it, if he really wants to. If it's not for him, then when he's 21 he can do something else. Or, if he does his homework while in, and actively seeks some of the opportunities (someone mentioned embassy duty), he could have a hell of a fun an interesting time. And whoever said the Marines don't have any training that transfers to the real world obviously has no idea what they are talking about. Yep, he might get shot at, but if it his really his idea, then take a serious look at it.
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Old 05-21-2013, 04:59 PM   #7
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As the wife of an Army man and former marine, I would try my hardest to discourage my DS or DD from joining the service. It's a brutally hard life and not just for the person who joins. If he doesn't need the money for college, he can find other ways to see the world and find mental/physical challenges.
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:30 PM   #8
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Tried college right out of High School. Went one semester, couldn't concentrate on studies, ducks were flying, out for football, etc.

Joined the Marines in 1960, scored high in placement tests and had a choice of several "skilled" options. Chose surveying and fire direction as something that sounded interesting. Pvt. 1st class out of boot-camp largely because of my marksmanship ability. Saw "overseas duty" in Hawaii. Shot on the divisional rifle and pistol teams for nearly three years. Surveyed and camped on most of the Islands in the Hawaiian chain, delivered to the islands courtesy of the Marine Aviation helicopters. Combat loaded and set sail for Laos, (pre-Vietnam) then turned around and invaded Hawaii's Maui instead.

The Marines offered officer training school for a six year extension. But by that time I had had enough of the service and wanted out. I was ready to settle down, and went back to get a college degree and graduate school through the GI bill, plus work.

For me, a good experience, but would I do it again, . I just lucked out enough to have served between several wars. A few years later, I could have been very dead in Vietnam.

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Old 05-21-2013, 07:31 PM   #9
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My only experience with the Marines is having had a son and son-in-law that served. Son wanted in through pressure from the recruiting officer who became my son-in-law. It was the best thing that ever happened to my son. It really made a man out of him and I am very proud of him. He served six years. SIL is a career Marine who retired in 2000 due to a permanent disability caused by a military hospital. He went out as a top sergeant (Master Sergeant?). I am so proud of both of them.
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:47 PM   #10
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My military career was enlisted, in the Air Force. I have always had great respect for the Marines. My interactions with them over the years have been positive. I currently work for DoD in a civilian capacity, and I still interact on a daily basis with many prior service individuals from all military branches. In my primary area of responsibility as a DoD QA rep, the contractor's (un-named) product manager for a hi-tech missile defense system's electronics department is a former enlisted Marine, whose job in the military was related to avionics and radar. There are indeed jobs within the Marines that can relate to civilian occupations. There are electronics, aviation, weapons/ammunition (my area of expertise) and others. However, I suspect it's a lot like the Army in that regardless of your MOS, you are first and foremost a soldier, and combat is a distinct possibility. Not so much in the Air Force or Navy. I'll say this though....If I hadn't gone into the Air Force, I'd have been proud to be a Marine. I commend your son for wanting to serve his country.
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:17 PM   #11
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I commend your son on wanting to serve his country, it will be a huge commitment. Have him talk to as many veterans and non-recruiter Marines that he can prior to his enlistment. The mission of the military is at it's most basic to kill those your directed to kill, preferable without getting killed in the process, but that is a risk. The oath of enlistment is below and I recommend he think about what it will mean to swear or affirm that he will live by this oath for 4 or more years of his life. The officers and NCO's appointed over him will expect nothing less.

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:45 PM   #12
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I reccommend you support and respect his wishes. However, since you are savvy enough to be here, maybe you can help shape his choice. The military offers a great 20 year retirement package. Your pension is determined by amount of time served and the value of your last 36 months of basic pay. The higher the rank, the higher the pay. A short term 3-6 year enlistment or commissioned tour will go along way towards shaping his life. But if he is thinking career, I reccommend you influence him to become an officer...if only for the higher pension,

I've served in the Army since 1984, both enlisted and commissioned. I've enjoyed all of it (for the most part!). If I retired today, I'd receive roughly $6600 a month...for the rest of my life..pre-tax. Not a bad deal.

Bottom line, support him, but it is worth his time....yours talk to a few vets...I'd seek out Vietnam, OEF and OIF vets to offer perspective. I'll gladly help if you'd like

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Old 05-22-2013, 02:43 PM   #13
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I enlisted in the Marines at age 17 in the early 1960's. At the time I wanted to be in the infantry. At the time the Marines offered no guarantee as to your assignment. Your assigment was based on how you performed on the various physical tests and written tests during boot camp.

After a few weeks at boot camp at Parris Island, I came to the realization that perhaps I had made a mistake about the infantry. After I completed basic infantry training at Camp Lejeune, NC (back then, boot camp lasted 11 weeks and basic infantry training was 4 weeks). I was delighted to discover that my next assignment was the Communications and Electronics Battalion at MCRD San diego (Marine Corp Recruit Depot) where I attended classes (40 hours per week) for about 30 weeks for training as a radio relay technician. I got in on the ground floor of digital electronics. I studied PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) before it was cool in the civilian world. After I completed training I spent the rest of my 4 year enlistment serving as a radio relay or radio technician (that's 2 separate MOS's) in various FMF (Fleet Marine Force) units.

After I was released from active duty, I had no problem finding a job based on my Marine training. I parlayed that into a 39 year career at Megacorp and I used my Marine training every day.

The GI bill totally paid for my college eduction at night school.

I will have to add that 3 of us from MyTown enlisted together and went through boot camp together. One was killed and the other was seriously wounded in Vietnam. Through the luck of the draw, I didn't serve in Vietnam.
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Old 05-22-2013, 04:16 PM   #14
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Say JakeBrake you seem to have missed out on the TRC24 analog multiplex, I guess you trained on the GRC50, which was PCM.
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ls99 View Post
Say JakeBrake you seem to have missed out on the TRC24 analog multiplex, I guess you trained on the GRC50, which was PCM.
Actually, I originally trained on the AN/TRC-27 made by Raytheon which used PPM (Pulse Position Modulation). This was a failed forerunner to PCM modulation. That was a very educational experience. Had to use a an HP O-scope to position the pulses. You really can't appreciate PCM until you've worked with PPM.

Also worked on the AN/TRC-75 made by Collins Radio. This used SSB (single side band).This 1KW jeep mounted radio was the workhorse for Marines of the era.

We also had a number of AN/GRC-9's. This was the crank operated radio that you see in WWII movies. We never used them, but since they were on the T/O (Table of Organization) we had to maintain them. I forget who made them.

Then we had the AN/GRC-10 made by Motorola. This was an FM radio as solid as a rock. This was wired to a TSC-4 analog multiplexer made by Western Electric. They went into a shelter on an M-37 truck.

We also had the PRC-6's (walkie-talkie) and the PRC-10 (back pack). these were thowaways and as a radio technician I didn't have much to do with them.

The week I was released from active duty, the battalion accepted some new troposcatter trucks, but I don't know anything about them.
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:22 AM   #16
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I am not a Marine, although over the decades I've known quite a few, and became friends with several. This includes guys who fought in every conflict from WW2 to the current conflict, and I play poker with a revolving group of young marines.

In my experience there is a significant maturity gap between 21 year old civilian coasting through community college, a 21 year old E3 in the Army, Navy, or Air Force,and 21 year old E3 Marine. It, sounds cliche but Marines boot camp does turn boys into men.

It sounds like your son wants to join for the traditional reasons, challenge, adventure,and desire to serve the country. Frankly exactly the type of young men the Marines are looking for.

I highly recommend that both you and your son read this book Making the Corp, which is about boot camp, and Marine corp life and traditions. The book is written by Thomas Rick, long time military/war correspondent for the Wall St Journal and latter the Washington Post. He is good writer and quite a few parents facing exactly the dilemma you are going through highly recommended on Amazon. It is interesting and easy read, although since the bulk of it was written in 1997 a bit outdated. I also think you will gain a profound respect for the process the Marine uses to transform kids into Marines.

I had a chat with Nords about kids entering the service recently. One thing is clear as other have said, from a career prospect, civilian employment, danger etc. the other services are better choices.

Marines are the less likely service to put in the 20 years needed to collect the military pension. Generally the Marine scores the lowest for quality of life and generally happiness of all services. Finally, the chance of your son being killed or in injured on the jobs are roughly 25% higher in the Marine corp and 3x more than the air force. Although it is worth noting that overall mortality rate of the armed service is lower than the civilian at the same age. Evidently the benefits of being in shape, good medical care, outweigh the risks of being shot at.
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:42 PM   #17
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Thanks for all the responses. I knew this group of people (the ER community) would be a wealth of knowledge. I know my son doesn't want a desk job and wants to get out of this small college town and see more of the world. In addition, he loves physical and mental challenges. So I can understand the appeal of a military career. At this point, I am trying to persuade him to consider Navy and Coast Guard. There are some opportunities for him in later years if he has some expertise in boating and boat rescue type work. But if he decides he wants to be a marine, we will support him in that decision too.
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:51 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by ikubak View Post
At this point, I am trying to persuade him to consider Navy and Coast Guard.
Yeah, good luck with that. I think the best you'll get is the "support whatever decision he makes" part.

It's far easier to join the Marines and then decide that you'd rather be a sailor... than to join the Navy and then decide that you'd rather be a Marine. So this way he'll answer his "What if?" question and still have options. Besides, as a recon Marine he could still have plenty of chances to go to sea on submarines.

It sounds like your son isn't interested in college right now, so there's no sense in wasting the time/effort/$$ on it. However after about 12-18 months in any branch of the military he'll be laser-focused on college classes.

Our tenant's son joined the Marines a few years ago and is now an EOD tech. He deployed to Afghanistan and he's been stationed on Okinawa. I think he's going to finish his obligation and then... go to college.

I strongly recommend the delayed enlistment program-- sign up now, report in January. The Marines are particularly good about mentoring their young charges between "now" and "report" with plenty of sunshine, fresh air, lots of healthy exercise, and a few motivational talks with gunny sergeants. It's all "optional" as in "you have the option to show up on time or early". But the point of the mentoring is to ensure that they've learned about all the dirty tricks of recruit training and they're mentally ready for it. He will also be able to do pullups and thus escape some of the attention of the drill instructors.

If your son joins now with a January report date then he'll have far more MOS choices than doing it in the summer with a gazillion other high-school graduates. I'm also told that Parris Island is much cooler that time of year. Much, much cooler.

"Making the Corps" is over a decade old but it's still the best book out there on Marine recruit training. He really needs to read that to understand what happens during recruit training (and "why"). The book also follows its Marine recruits into their first tours of duty, and it recounts their failures as well as their successes. It's well-written without cheerleading. It'll save him plenty of pain & agony in uniform.

In addition to reading Clif's book, I suggest you send a PM to Leonidas. He doesn't post here much but he's a Marine.

Co-author (with my daughter) of “Raising Your Money-Savvy Family For Next Generation Financial Independence.”
Author of the book written on "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement."

I don't spend much time here— please send a PM.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:42 AM   #19
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I was attending radio school at MCRD, San Diego (1963-64) when the opening sequence to "Gomer Pyle, USMC" was filmed. I was attending night classes. I was off-duty during the day, so I was able to watch.

Note a dark spot on the right side portal as the color guard passes through. This was where a stop sign was mounted. The film crew removed the stop sign and attempted to hide the spot, which, obviously, did not work.

The street in front of the portal along the perimeter of the parade ground is now named Hochmuth Blvd. At the time Major General Bruno Hochmuth was MCRD's commanding general. In 1967 he had the honor (?) of being the highest ranking Marine killed in Vietnam.

INMHO, "Gomer Pyle, USMC", offered a more accurate portrayal of USMC life of the era than movies like "Platoon" and "Full Metal Jacket".

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Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
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Old 05-25-2013, 03:57 PM   #20
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Why not encourage him to attend one of the military academies. He'd get his military experience and a college education. Plus, when he graduates he'll be a second lieutenant or ensign (depending on the Academy he chooses). I was in a similar situation and went to West Point ... the best decision I've ever made.
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