Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day 1980 – Marine Boot Camp at Parris Island

Here’s another guest post from U.S. Marine veteran Dan Stepel:

It was Memorial Day 1980. I was a little more than half way through boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. We were just about to hit the rack for a welcomed night’s sleep when the senior drill instructor came busting into the squad bay.

This was never a sign that anything enjoyable was about to happen, and we all stood a bit on guard and hoped that it was not me who had once again screwed the pooch.

Our senior DI fit every image you would ever have of the gravelly voice-in-your-face recruit’s nightmare. He was in his late 30’s and had done two tours of duty in Vietnam. Now he was in the middle of the room standing there holding a bag.

He spoke a few words about Memorial Day and how Jody [the civilian at home] had a real nice time taking our place at the family cookout and was fulfilling our wife’s or girlfriend’s needs in our absence. Then the tone of his voice changed.

“However these heart-warming Kodak memories are not free. Our freedom comes at a price.”

He reached into the bag and withdrew a grimy old military shirt that looked like it had not been washed in 10 years. The shirt was stained with dried blood from the front, over the shoulder, and on the back. It was pretty clear that this shirt was worn by someone carrying a wounded Marine off the battlefield.

He held the shirt up. “This is American blood. This is the price of freedom.” He paused for a brief second as if he were recalling something painful. He folded the shirt back into the bag and walked to the door ...

And now 30 years later on September 11, 2010, I'm planning to start walking 12,000 miles through 50 states for PTSD Walk Across America to raise awareness of and funds for active-duty military personnel and veterans suffering from PTSD.

Keep up-to-date with my project at the walk's Facebook page at

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION. Her newest military-related project is supporting the upcoming PTSD Walk Across America.Phyllis' social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing combines traditional marketing principles and Internet marketing strategies to put power in your hands. Read her social media marketing blog.

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