The Influence of a Duty Station

On St. Patrick’s Day, 2008, my best friend and I engaged in a drunken, slurry worded argument when he expressed a desire to enlist in the Marines. I, along with his parents, though it was a stupid idea that would ultimately get him killed.

So naturally, eleven months later we enlisted together.

And by the following St. Paddy’s Day we learned of our boot camp arrival dates; his the 13th of December, and my date falling six days ahead of his. In the grand scheme of structure, politics, and God knows what else, despite having the same MOS, by the end of that year we had begun on two completely separate paths of military servitude.

My buddy was awarded the pleasures of the Camp Pendleton, one of the Marine Corps’ most highly coveted duty stations. He got married, moved out of the barracks and into an apartment he didn’t have to pay for, where he rode out his enlistment without any deployments or typical worries of the Marine world. I, on the other hand, was treated as an ugly stepchild; one year in Yuma, Arizona where the unbearable humidity is only rivaled by a lack of activities in our eventless barracks and home base. A year in the throes of Afghanistan, and finally ending my torturous duties in the armpit of Okinawa: Camp Schwab.

While my friend was living easy in the surfing capital of the continental United States, I was withering away in Okinawa’s most northern base, which was on constant lockdown due to the ineptitude and misdeeds of prior Marines and Sailors. The black mold that riddled our bathrooms and stairwells was a mere inconvenience compared to the oppressive heat and devastating typhoons that would routinely knock out our supply of cool air, as well as our ability to walk to one of bases two optimal destinations: an overcrowded gym, or the booze section of the dilapidated PX. I’d include the movie theater in our endless list of activities if it wasn’t for the fact that we’d pirate movies on our dial-up speed internet weeks before their release on our forgotten base.

With a 99:1 male to female ratio, a single chow hall that routinely ran dry of milk, eggs, and bread, along with our non-allowance to stay off base overnight (and sometimes not allowed to leave the base at all), my disdain grew to unmeasurable levels. I knew I’d never reenlist.

A Marine’s career is shaped by multiple avenues and isn’t as cut and dry as being stationed in a good or bad place. But I like to imagine that had I been placed on the beautiful shores of San Diego, or the tropical state of Hawaii, that maybe my time in the service would have been just a tinge more bearable.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Gerard Lombardo

Gerard served as a United States Marine from 2009-2013 with two overseas deployments, the first being to Afghanistan's Helmand Province in 2011. After an honorable discharge, he began his pursuit of a bachelor's degree in journalism and is currently working his way up the ranks as a Red Sox writer while administrating and moderating multiple sports writing platforms. His passion for writing is only outdone by the love he has for his pit bull, and his life goal is to eliminate suicidal and mental health issues amongst the veterans of our country.

Latest posts by Gerard Lombardo (see all)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *