Longtime Bothell resident Parl Guthrie joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Bothell High School in 1964. Courtesy of Parl Guthrie

Once a marine, always a marine | Letter

I wanted to thank you for printing Nicole Jennings article regarding her experience in Marine Corps boot camp (Bothell/Kenmore Reporter, Sept. 15). I almost missed it because I no longer buy or read newspapers for a number of reasons. I just happened to be having coffee in Tully’s one morning and saw your paper sitting there, so decided to glance through it.

I graduated from Bothell High School in 1964. Our class knew that we would be drafted into the Army as soon as we graduated, so three of us joined the Marine Corps on the buddy system. I can tell you that was one of the best decisions of my life, besides working for, and retiring from, the U.S. Postal Service after 40 years of service. The old saying, “Once a Marine, always a Marine” could not be truer. The camaraderie we have for each other then and now is like no other branch of service. All branches of the service are great in one way or another, but the Marines have a bind that never ends. And when we meet a stranger who is a Marine, one of the first things we say to each other is “Semper Fi Marine.” That is the Marine Corps motto which means “always faithful” or “always loyal.”

I have no doubt that the experience Nicole had was enlightening, but as a Marine who went through Marine Corps Recruit Depot in 1964, I can tell you that it was just a small fraction of the training Marines go through. Actor R. Lee Ermey was a Marine in real life, he also starred in the movie “Full Metal Jacket” in 1987. The first half of that movie was the most realistic representation of Marine Corps boot camp ever made. Ermey played a gunnery sergeant drill instructor who got killed by a mentally ill recruit halfway through the movie. That was the only unrealistic part of Marine Corps boot camp, everything else was as real as it gets. “The D.I.,” starring Jack Webb in 1957 was the most realistic version until “Full Metal Jacket” came out. “The D.I.” is a very good movie, but it did not show many of the actual things that went on in boot camp like “Full Metal Jacket” did. Nicole Jennings’ experience was more like “The D.I.” version, than the realistic “Full Metal Jacket” version.

My Marine Corps training at MCRD in San Diego was a critical part of my ability to get though a year in Vietnam from 1965-66, and I was glad to read some positive and uplifting words in a newspaper for a change.

Parl Guthrie,


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