It was brought to my attention that I need to be careful with my use of ERMAs Easily Recognizable Military Acronyms So I will try and spell them out first.
MTF = More To Follow
Phil was going to school in Brockport studying Criminal Justice. I had been in the Navy for a little over 5 years, a First Class Petty Officer, and was stationed at the Naval Ship Yards In Brooklyn NY NY (we were moving the base functions to Staten Island). I had been there for about 6 to 8 Months I guess and the 1st gulf war was happening.
I was working in the Cabinet/Carpenter Shop one day when my Chief came in and told me I had a phone call in his office from a Marine Master Sergeant. My Chief then started to ask me why was a MSgt was calling me, What did I do, Was he going to see a report from base security, why didn’t I tell him I had done something to the local Marines, Who else was involved.. Well you get the idea.
So my Chief escorts me to his office and sits down to wait for the hammer to drop. I pick up the phone and although it has been a while the whole conversation that went something like this (this conversation has been reformatted to fit your screen and has been edited for content to maintain a G rating):
Art: Hello this is Petty Officer Dykeman
MSgt: Hello Petty Officer I am MSgt (I can’t remember sorry) and I have your brother in my office and he tells me he will not enlist in the Marines until you say it is Okay.
Art: MSgt please put my brother on the phone
MSgt: Stand By
PJ: Hi Art
Art: Phil listen to me very closely
Art: As soon as we are off the phone tell the MSgt that you need time to think it through and walk away. Do not let him hold you there or say anything else to you about promises or job or anything. Do not sign anything, I mean anything. I will meet you at home this weekend and we can talk about this.
PJ: But I want to do this
Art: Great but don’t do it until we talk. They will promise you all kinds of stuff but in the end you will only be a grunt. If you want to go that s fine but I want you to know what you are getting into before hand. Don’t sign anything.
PJ: I know what I am doing.
Art: Just wait and meet me at home this weekend.
Art: I am serious about this wait
We hang up and my chief says “At least you didn’t screw up. You know he just signed the papers, right”. I said he better not have but even if he did it is only delayed entry papers and he can still get out of it.
So I go home and guess what my Chief was right, PJ had signed to join the Marines and was leaving in a month for Paris Island. He was joining to be part of security forces and had his first set of orders guaranteed (in writing) that he would be stationed overseas at a security unit for his first tour. I tried to explain that the security thing is the hook to get you so that after your first set of orders you will become an ordinary grunt in the Marines. He said he didn’t care and was doing it.
That was the only time we ever talked about his decision to join. He never told me that I was right and I never rubbed it in knowing I was. We did talk about our military futures when ever it was time for one of us to re-enlist or renegotiating orders. We tried hard to get stationed close or at least at the same deployment locations (another story entirely when we were deployed together)
I didn’t know how strong minded he was until then. Now I can look back and see that he chose a path and followed it, right or wrong, he went with it to the end regardless of what his big brother or anyone else said.
Although we never talked much about some of his decisions, when we did he was always firm in his conviction that this was right for him at this point and time. Believe me when I tell you that he went down some paths (bringing a few of us along for fun) that were definitely questionable (another story(s) for another time) but he was better for it in the end.
He was very proud of the decisions he made. I don’t believe he had many regrets about them. If you had ever talked to him about a decision he made that seemed a bit off to the rest of us you knew it was his way, right or wrong. It was just the way he chose to go, no matter the state of mind or condition he was in when he made it.
I am proud that he was strong enough not to listen to me or anyone else that tried to sway him. Although it was short he had a wonderful life, family, career and was happy doing it the way he wanted.