Can a teenage boy struggling with school, family, and drugs turn his life around to become successful? Not without the help of a nearly two-hundred and fifty year old institution…The United States Marine Corps!
A Marine recruiter uses every old trick in the book to compel young Christian Dattwyler into swearing his life away for government service. The biographical memoir delves into Christian’s mind as he experiences Parris Island recruit training followed by cross-the-world experiences in the Fleet Marine Force
Targeted Age Group:: 16-90
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I originally wrote two separate family memoirs. The first covering my family's arrival to Ellis Island through my teenage years. The second covering my four years in the Marine Corps. After distributing both memoirs to family members, my sister commented on my writing and asked why don't I submit as a book?
I spent years editing out details that don't progress the story and combining parts of both memoirs into the book with the goal of a full flowing story to be read as a novel
Upon returning to my father’s house in Cape Coral, Florida I felt like I was in a new chapter of my life. Every place that I went to, the public recognized that I was in the Armed Forces by my high and tight haircut. In 1987, none but military and cops sported military regulation haircuts. Most people wore long hair in those days. The similar “fade” haircut caught on a few years later starting with college kids, and then a good portion of the general public. When I
would walk into a bar or restaurant, many would take notice of my haircut, ask me what branch of service I was in, and offer me a drink on the house. I was taking in my newfound local “celebrity” status and running with it!
The eighties were a transition period for our nation’s view of the military. The animosity and public rejection of Vietnam veterans had finally run its course. New movies such as Oliver Stone’s Platoon had opened the eyes of a new generation to the brutal experience that Vietnam vets had to endure just because their country called on them, not whether the war was morally right or wrong.
The American public had a fresh love and respect for the Marines after 200-plus Marines and Sailors were recently
lost in the terrorist bombing of Beirut, Lebanon. Marines were caught in the crossfire of being in a no-win situation, called on to be “neutral” peacekeepers in a deadly region of the world. The love and respect only increased for the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army Special Forces. This was due to a successful and quick mission ordered by President Reagan, code-named Operation Urgent Fury. The mission objective was the freeing of American students during the Cuban turmoil on the island of Grenada in 1983.
American patriotism was once again blossoming under our conservative President. Songs such as Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, John Cougar’s Pink Houses, and James Brown’s Living in America were the new anthems of the decade. In turn, I was proud to serve my country during this age. I was also humbled and honored by all those who recognized and saluted the beginning of my service.
Date From Hell
A few days were left before I would have to report to Infantry Training. Looking up my little black book (which had many more blank pages than contacts) I called a girl who I had always liked in high school named Jennifer. She had heard that I had run off to become a Marine. When I asked her if she was free to go out with me that evening, she accepted. She even volunteered to pick me up in her car (I didn’t yet own a car).
I previously met Jennifer in the second half of my sophomore year at Cape Coral High School. It was
shortly after I had transferred from New York to Florida. She was also new to the school then, just being moved by her family from Connecticut. Our connection was purely the fact that she was a Deadhead in a school where it was impossible to find fellow followers of the Grateful Dead like myself. We hung out and talked with each other a lot during high school, but I never formally asked her out on a date then.
Wearing my best ironed Hawaiian shirt along with corduroy blue shorts and white high tops (remember, it was still the
eighties), she came and picked me up in her Mustang. Either she looked more beautiful than I had remembered, or it was just that I hadn’t had contact with any girls for past thirteen weeks. She asked me where we were to go. I
replied, “Where else? Fort Myers Beach!”
We parked her car at the public beach parking and walked across the street to the Lanai Kai, the local beach party hotel run by the notorious Conidaris family. We sat down at the beachfront bar and I ordered us drinks. Jennifer was impressed with the fact that my Military ID card would enable me to purchase drinks while still eighteen years old.
We began catching up with each other’s lives. As the drinks kept coming, I began to take over our conversation more and more. I was telling Jennifer everything about boot camp, the snarling DIs, the ten-mile force marches, the seven parts of the M16, the five types of grenades, four parts of a fighting hole.…
I failed to realize at the moment that Jennifer was overwhelmed. She could not relate to any of these subjects that I was endlessly carrying on about. The conversation was all about me and my experience at Parris Island. I was also drinking two drinks for every one that she had. Nevertheless, as she drove me back to Cape Coral, I asked her if she wanted to get a coffee somewhere. She made up a lame excuse and quickly dropped me off at home. There was no goodbye or goodnight kiss, just silent awkwardness.
I had become the date from hell! I didn’t realize at the
time that Parris Island had really screwed up my head. I blew that one so bad to where I never had an opportunity to meet with Jennifer again.
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