Today is the Marine Corps birthday. More specifically, it’s the 244th anniversary of the birthday. The Marine Corps was founded on November 10, 1775.
I retired from active duty on September 30, 1998, after 20 years. I retired from the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve on January 16, 2008, after 30 years. I was already living in the Philippines at the time. It has been more than 41 years since I went on active duty in September 1978, and nearly 42 years since I joined the Delayed Entry Program.
I picked up a retired Marine Corps ball cap last year when I was in Florida, the first time being in the United States since 2014. My older son, Joseph, bought it a few days after I pointed it out at the base exchange. I now wear it almost everywhere. With so many military service members in Hawaii, I don’t expect to receive any criticism for wearing it. I haven’t so far.
Both Army soldiers and civilian personnel at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii tend to say this to me. It’s usually the military police at the gate and some of the civilians at the base exchange. I’ve heard it in other places as well, but I can’t tell you where because I don’t remember.
I always say “thank you” or “you’re welcome” in reply, but I would like to add “thank you for your service as well”. For some reason, I never think of it until after the fact.
As I mentioned at one time, I usually have four special occasions to contend with in November every year. This year, Thanksgiving Day (the fourth Thursday in November) falls on the same day as my birthday, the 28th of November.
The holidays kind of snuck up on me. The only special occasion I thought of this year, in advance, was Thanksgiving Day. I must be hungry for roasted turkey or something.
My wife, Josie, always says “happy birthday” to me when we first wake up on November 10th. As always, it takes me a few minutes of waking up to figure out what she’s talking about. The reality is that all Marines, past and present, should celebrate it as such. Military service can take a lot of out of person, both mentally and physically, and it’s usually even more so in the Marine Corps.
I consider it more important to me than the anniversary of my birth. Without the Marine Corps, I never would have met Josie in the Philippines (and certainly not in Olongapo) in 1983. In fact, I probably would have never visited that country. I don’t know of even one relative, on my side of the family, who has.
I’m not bald yet, but I’m getting there. I have a receding hairline, but it still hasn’t reached the halfway point. If I let it grown long, I can probably part it in the middle and no one would know. Except me, of course.
I keep looking for ball caps without any embroidery of any kind on them. They’re getting harder and harder to find. I’ll wear other kinds of hats as well, as long as they don’t make me look like a dork. Ball caps are simple and go with almost any casual attire.
My father used to wear a different kind of cap, for fishing. He was covering almost complete baldness (his head looked just like Patrick Stewart’s head). I’m not there yet, but he was like that as far back as I can remember. I don’t need a hat to cover anything, at least not yet.
I’m supposed to return to the Philippines in less than a year. I don’t want to wear caps or hats that identify me as being with one organization or another. I’m proud to be a retired Marine, but most people there don’t understand that pride.