I went into the Corps in the summer of 1980 After running into the Recruiters office on a blazing hot summer day, I needed to get off the streets now, before I or someone else killed me or locked me up for a long time. I was in trouble and it was my only out.
I remember standing at attention in that heat with 4 inch plat form shoes & hungover to the max. When it came time for the medical eval they asked us if we had any previous injuries. I was proud to show off mine. The proudest one being the wires in my face from surgery after my face was reconstructed after a fight. The guy behind me or in front had wires in his head from a car accident. Well, I come to find out if you have any type of metal in you, you get a free discharge. Anyway, the X-Ray department or someone got our records mixed up. I got his head, which only had non-metal sutures, and he got my face. This kid was a skinny dude who admitted he thought he made a mistake by enlisting. So, I did the biggest sale of my life, which took about 3 or 4 days to close. I could not go back where I came from & he wanted out. All the other recruits seem to know about this too, which made it even harder to sell him to get out now. It seem like 1/2 tried to get him to tell the DI'S the truth. I was sweating this out like nothing before. Finally he made up his mind & left very quietly, maybe it was my begging or threatening that did it. Either way I got to stay.
During 2nd phase I got into it with the Guide of our sister platoon. He was a 27 year old 5'7" build like a brick black guy with a name of Armstrong (something you never forget) and his arms were huge. One day, one of the team leaders told me that Armstrong wanted to meet me at the whiskey locker. Well, I had heard so many stories about this guy beating the hell out of his recruits to get them to shape up., since the DI'S wouldn't do it. Now it was my turn. So, I go there and walk inside & wait. Soon, here he comes & shuts the door. He starts screaming at me like a DI would do & I was amused with adrenaline. He comes at me to smack the grin off my face and I grab him, he tries to knee me in the nuts & I am defending him off every move which angers him even more. I strike him once in the face & move for the door which he then grabs me from behind & plants me on my face, with him on top. He has a deadly choke hold on me then goes and bites the back of my neck & takes a huge piece out. When he was full, he got up & I turned over and ran my back against the close door & broke it down. I ran to The DI office enraged & they laugh., until they saw the bite out of my neck. On the way to sick bay I stopped by to tell my Senior DI what had happen, cause he would be the only one who would help me. I told him, and he said I should of kicked his ass. I said I was to afraid of being sent to the brig or losing time, and I had a better Idea to get him in the "Smokers" during 3rd phase. He asked if I could box (which I did for 3 years in the ring & plenty outside) and told me this Armstrong was suppose to have a 7 degree black belt. I could not of cared less. It was all set, & what a hype it was. A little white dude against this big brickhouse. I was allowed special time to train at night, hitting mattresses or whoever would hold up something.
Right before the match I got a nose bleed. What timing, bleeding before I step in the ring. I used my face to block every punch, and the blood was running freely. I also attacked him with all I had. They stopped the fight going into the 3rd round because of the blood coming out of my nose. Damn thing was, Armstrong did not want to come out either, he had a Asthma attack. Anyway, he won, but I got the respect from all the DI'S..they loved me from that day forward.
The next morning I woke up not feeling to good and when to sick bay. My temperature was up at 100 degrees, so they put me on bed rest for the day..loved it. The next morning 2 privates where standing over me on my rack, trying to get me up. They had a bad look on there faces & said..Holly crap Hatten, you need to look at your face. When I looked in the mirror my nose was gone, my upper lip was 1" thick and my mug was one huge swollen mess. The Di's had no problem rushing me back to sick bay where I stayed for almost 36 hours under observation, while they tried to figure out what was wrong while pumping me with antibiotics, and running a temp of 102-104. Finally they made a decision to send me to Balboa Hospital. Once there, I was pretty messed up in the head, but what happen next is the worst torture I ever had endured. The ENT Doc, saw what was going on and had to do an emergency operation to relieve all the pressure & infection going to my brain. He sat me in that Dental Chair, with his nurse holding my head & started cutting inside my nose with a blade to get all the puss out. The one shot of cocaine or Novocain was not enough to kill the pain. He just kept cutting & cutting, while I was screaming & crying while the poor nurse was trying to hold my head still. The sadistic doc even punched me across my face saying "Your a Marine You can Handle this" (words I use to really hate when ever said again). After about 1/2 hour of cutting, he stop and got out this 4 inch long/ 1-2 inch wide plastic piece and started trimming it. I asked what this was for and told me it was a temporary bridge he needed to insert up my nose, so it doesn't collapse. The puss had eaten the bone away. So, he inserts it not once but 4 times, each time taking it back out and trimming it again with a grin on his face. Once it fitted he then did the packing(6 ft or something of gauze up each nose, which is not the most pleasant thing either, especially since my face was on fire. Once this 1 1/2 hour procedure was finished, the interns gave me a Demerol Shot in the arm & picked me up, one on each side of me and dragged me out to the waiting room in my soaking wet fatigues. I was admitted into the hospital then & stayed for 10 days while they rebuilt my nose under anesthesia this time.
I got out of the hospital the Day our Platoon was taking the finals. I went to the DI'S main office to report in & there was like 6 DI'S there stunned to see me. They asked what I wanted & I screamed out I wanted to finish Boot Camp Sir. They said if you can go catch up with your platoon who where right now taking the final PAC, I could graduate. I ran down there & they had just finish, but the DI said hurry up & go inside Hatten. The Marines giving the test didn't want to at first because I was alone & they were closing down, but let me do so anyway by only verbally answering the main questions verbally & by disassembling & assembling the M16, I passed. Since I lost some much time on the final phase inspections & Drills, I never had to do any of them from that day forward..lol...I literally skated through Boot Camp.
That is my Boot Camp Story & I am definitely sticking to it..Getting into Recon was another, but not as eventful
Waking up after a major celebration of finishing ITS was brutal. We party to the wee hours to celebrate finally making it to the 1st Division Fleet Marine Corp. I was not looking forward to be with all the Grunts. I was remembering about being on line with over 100 grunts in ITS and notice that they could not keep the line straight while fire the M16. Hell, they would end up killing me if I was stuck with them. While we were filling out some kind of paper work, this LT came down and Said "All those who had signed up for Recon get up here" I had heard about that group & new it was just what I wanted to do. Only 1 guy stood up and I followed him & the LT up the stairs. The guy in front turns around on the stairs & looks at me and Shouts "what are you doing? You didn't sign up for RECON!! Without blinking or missing a beat I yelled, Go Fuck yourself, I have just as much right to join as you do, So keep your fucking mouth shut!!! He pissed my hangover ass off. That really caught the LT's attention, but he didn't say a word but come on. The other Marine went in first to see the CO. Then I went in and the CO started telling me how hard RECON was & if I could meet up to the standards. I said YES SIR, I had made PFC meritoriously through the 051 course in ITS, which really pleased the CO, so he signed the paper work & off I go. Later on at RIP school I had to put the same Marine that told me I could not sign up, in his place when we were sharing the same locker. I did not care for him at all over all the other Brother's in Recon.
After arriving at Recon, they put me through hell with, Bends & thrust, push-ups, flutter kicks etc. until their (now my) LT said that was enough. Then they made me move that big metal closets from one Quonset Hut to another where I would stay. No one lift a finger to help this Boot. It seemed everyone did not want me there & some were obviously jealous I was going to RIP school tomorrow with them. Again, I did not have to stand in on any inspection.
RIP school was fun, I'm a fish & anything with the water was what I loved. I just love them there Beach Ops. That is why I also got a SCUBA quota, after 1 1/2 year in RECON. The hardest part was carrying the wet suit (top & bottom) and mask BC etc in that bag while you ran to the beach 1 mile or so away & then through the sand, that I sure didn't like. Once in the water, it was all good, no matter how cold I got. At the end of RIP school I had made a hell of a lot of friends. This was my home & I loved it.
SCUBA, was one big party for me. We had our own room shared with only one other person. Mine was a Navy man with a wife near by, so I had the room by myself. I studied & party just as hard. On the final exam of when we had to qualify at 130ft depth, the Instructors told us NO PARTYING Tonight!! Get to the rack by 2100 hours, Revile is at 0600. Well, I had hooked up with some girl 2 nights prior & we went out to the movies that night, Drank 2 bottles of wine & off to her place. After I had my feel, around 0100, I needed to get back to base, but the drunken Bitch wouldn't let me go. She kept telling me I was the only man for her, she loved me, crying hysterically the whole time. She just wouldn't let me go, she had completely lost it & I was getting very angry. I finally threaten her, & that I would steal her car. At 0400 she drove me back. At 0500, I hit the rack waking up at 0600. I was in trouble, but told no one. I made that dive, which was the most painful hardest thing I did during the entire class. About 30 ft down I couldn't equalize the pressure & look up at the dive Master for some answers, He just shrugged & I was on my own. I made it, when I came up my mask was full of blood with some coming out of my ears, But I did it. That was all I cared about, getting that bubble on my chest. I actually finish 2nd in my class, right behind a LT..However I never dove again, I don't know why either.
8 months later we were doing some of my favorite Beach Ops running the MARS boat in & out of the Surf Zone. I was the coxan training a boot Louie. I had him going full throttle & once at max. speed turn the boat around. Well, I went over board & he didn't shut the motor down ( I forgot to mention that important part to him). SO, I notice the boat coming right at me and tried to duck pushing off the bow & covering my head, but it didn't work. The propeller hit my funny bone area & BANG, Man, now that fucking hurt. I went in and out of shock. I remember bobbing in the water hearing everyone yell are you OK, No I 'I'm sure the hell not OK, Hell I stopped the propeller..( is all I kept thinking or saying). All I knew was I couldn't move my fingers & I was really scared.The LT jumps in & start pulling me back to the Mars boat damn near drowning me the whole time. There were Helo's doing maneuvers too, so the SSGT on shore through up a red flare, took the radio & landed a Huey. The Doc ( You may know him Doc Fitzgerald ) cut the wet suit top arm off & my bone fell in his hand. He was great, telling me everything will be OK. I wouldn't be able to move my fingers for 6 months or so. After 8 month of everyday rehab. I decided to end my career. I now have normal mobility of my fingers, the Elbow is still a problem, but I'm Still On Top Of The Dirt...Semper Fi, bill