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Destined To Serve

by Gloria Nesloney

My earliest memory of military life was when I was 4 years old while living in Long Beach, California. I remember the strong mildew smell of canvased tents and metallic smell of ammo cans. I remember the sound of the P38 opening the canned MCI meals. The smell of chlorine coming from the swimming pool near the base at Camp Pendleton in 1978 is still ingrained in my memory. I could hear the cadence of the morning PT runs in a distance that echoed with deep tones of men’s voices. I remember going to the office where my father served as a United States Marine Military Police. He worked in the Customs Department on The Queen Mary. After visiting my Father at the base, joyfully I said, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a Marine.”

After my Father retired from the military we moved to Freer, a small town in South Texas. Freer was known for oil, ranches, and rattlesnakes. The option to go to college was out of the question because we grew up poor and our financial situation was bleak. If you were going to be successful, you had to either already own a business or join the oilfield. I had worked as a dishwasher at Grandpa’s Cafe, our family owned restaurant, during my younger years. I knew that is not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Though the customers flowed in daily, the finances always seemed to decline as did the economy during the oil boom.