My son Christopher

He makes old school woodland cammies look good.

Eight weeks ago Christopher came to Tabitha and me, asking if he could join the Young Marines unit here in Nashville. I wasn’t surprised as most of the men on my mother’s side of the family have served in the Navy or the Marines and I was no exception. I asked him to consider the Air Force JROTC or the Navy Sea Cadets, but he was dead determined to do the Young Marines.

The Young Marines Nashville chapter is the one of the hardest in TN and we knew that going in. Having gone through Parris Island myself I knew what would be required of him and I tried my best to prepare him for it. It wasn’t enough.

Chris (second squad last recruit) is trying to use his heat vision on the back of that recruit’s head.

My going through boot was one thing, but sending my 12-year-old son to something that primes you for the Island is another. Older members that have completed the course act as drill instructors and yell and scream at the new recruits much the same way as my drill instructors did to me. I have to thank Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Leon and Drill Instructors Staff Sergeant Davis, SSGT Colon, and SGT King for giving me the tools to somewhat prepare my son. Even with what those men did for me, it was gut wrenching to watch my son go through it on the first day. All that was missing was a night-time ride, yellow foot prints painted on the deck and the absence of parents. Needless to say he was in tears at the end of the day.

See? Yelling, yelling, and more yelling. You have three choices for answers: Aye, sir, yes, sir, or no, sir. Other possible responses are unprintable.

It tore Tab and I up to urge him forward that day, but we, Tab, Chris and I, made a commitment to see his 13 weekends through to completion of “boot camp”. Life after school will get hard and we’re preparing him for a life of pushing forward even when things get difficult.

As I said, it’s one of the hardest chapters in the state and there is a lot of physical training (PT), drill, and learning of Marine Corps history and the history of the Marine Corps League, its sponsor.

Chris (5th from the right) and his recruit platoon, standing by for formation.

 There were 30 young men and women when the platoon first started almost 7 weeks ago and now there are only 11. The first three weeks were difficult for him, but he’s found that it gets easier with each week he attends.  And make no mistake, I am with him and these kids as they go through the PT aspect of training.

I haven’t run anything longer than across the front yard in almost 20 years. I’ve grown soft myself and I’m paying for it, and I can’t tell Chris that a 3 mile run and doing push ups until your drill instructors or company commander is tired is good for him and not do it, too. Tab and I are running with Chris and I’m doing the extended formation runs with him.

Chris and platoon mate chatting and hydrating after run.

The first time the platoons did a 3 mile run, I joined them. The company commander and the platoon sergeant were both surprised, maybe even shocked, to see me. In fact, the company commander did a double take when he saw me behind the recruit platoon. Both have told me that never before has a parent run or PTed with the kids. Like I said, I can’t push my son to do something physically taxing without doing it with him. I believe in lead by example. I’m still recovering from runner’s knee in both knees, but I continue to do what I can with him and Tabitha’s doing work with him as well.

We’re coming up on 7 weeks into it and are halfway through recruit training. Chris is still nervous about it all, but it’s nowhere like it was. Past three weeks he’s gotten into the minivan motivated and proud of what he’s achieved. In six weeks he’s gone from being unable to do a mile run non stop (He stopped every 300 feet the first two weeks) to doing two miles nonstop. He’s gone from zero pull-ups to 3, he can do 30 sit-ups before getting tired where 5 wore him out at the start, and he can do his 30 push ups with little effort. Chris has also dropped 15 pounds and the muscle he’s developing is clearly visible.

He understands that even though dear old dad isn’t always right (ask mom and she’ll agree), but he was in regards to it all becoming easier as you go forward.

Chris (the only bald head in a white t-shirt) pushing with other recruits. Week before the male recruits were told to shave their heads and all were to bring personal hydration systems. Only Chris did both. The platoon got push ups for his attention to orders. That’s a good thing. 😉

I’m proud of my son for doing things he thought was hard and accomplishing them. I’m proud of him for learning that things are only hard if you quit and if you quit, you’ll never achieve anything. Hell, I’m just proud of my son for being the best young man that he can be. I love you, Chris.

Chris and his commanding officer, Mr. Westbrooks, hamming it up. Okay, I admit that Mr. Westbrooks always looks like that.

About Jason McKinney

I'm a word slinging, werewolf loving, zombie wrangling, scare master author, husband and father of three. When I'm not writing, I'm blathering nonsense to the world or taking orders from the family. You have my thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the madness and mayhem! Stay delicious, my living peeps!
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10 Responses to My son Christopher

  1. That’s awesome! 🙂 What a handsome lad!

  2. Elizabeth Reichow says:

    I’m pleased that Chris is hanging in there to complete boot camp. I know several parents and registered adults who routinely PT with their kids…what you do and why you do it is admirable. If you ALL can make it to graduation a whole new world will open up. The self-confidence Young Marines instills will last a lifetime, as do the leadership skills they are taught and the physical fitness habits.

    Elizabeth Reichow,
    Public Relations Officer
    1st Florida Regiment Young Marines

    • At this stage of training, I know that all the kids will make it through. I feel such pride for them at the end of the training day at what they’ve accomplished as a platoon and as individuals. Thank you for commenting, stopping by and for reading.
      Semper Fi!

  3. Tom Lassanske says:

    Boot camp at the MCRD 20 years ago was one of the most positively impacting experiences of my life. I hope my own Christopher can have the same experience as yours…fortunately, I have several years to get back in shape!

  4. Tom says:

    Boot camp at the MCRD 20 years ago was one of the most positively impacting experiences of my life. I hope when my own son, Christopher, is old enough, he can share your son’s experience…fortunately, I have several years to get back in shape, myself!

    • I went to MCRD Parris Island in 1993 and his platoon is having their summer camp there in June. If Chris is selected to go, I’ll be going with him. It’ll be odd being there almost 20 years since I was there as a recruit. I shipped in June myself and it was bloody hot as hell!! Black flag days are still a source of touchiness. lol
      It’s was a positive life changing experience for me as well and just being in the Young Marines has made a positive impact on my Christopher as well. I’ve got a ways to go in getting reconditioned myself. In 7 weeks he’s gone from being at the lead and motivating him to him being at rear simply because he doesn’t want to push “The Old Man” too hard. I thought he was fooling until her out ran me in a mile and a half run. This kid’s going to be the death of me. lol

      • Tom says:

        I’ll have to visit your blog regularly – I see a bit of myself in what you write, much of which makes me laugh, sympathetically. My training was at MCRD San Diego at the end of 1986. So, while it was quite hot toward the beginning (especially trying to stay awake in the sun-baked Quonset huts during various lessons), it was freezing in the mountains of Camp Pendleton during field training in December. Perfect for an early morning inspection in nothing but one’s skivvies! However, I don’t believe I would have wanted to trade places with you.

      • lol MCRD Parris Island starts off the same as MCRD San Diego: a late night bus ride and lots of yellow foot prints on the deck. Recruit training is a funny thing. You’re miserable as hell when you’re there, but then you miss it when you leave. I thank you for stopping in, reading and commenting! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Introducing PFC Christopher McKinney – Music City Young Marines |

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