Me? A Marine??

When my husband joined the Marines, my father-in-law said that I would end up being as much in the Marine Corps as Wayde. I thought he was crazy. Looking back, I can see what he meant. Having spent a childhood traveling around America with my family, I looked forward to the “adventure” side of military life. (I also think that I must have gypsy blood running in my veins.) Anyway, while some Marine wives were hesitant or even fearful about the future, I was ready to embrace it! Meeting other wives from my husband’s company, there was a group of us with similar personalities and we began to enjoy our new lives together. The CO’s wife liked to make baskets, so she put together a few parties where we learned to weave. (Never done that before, but it was fun!) The Officer’s Club was heavily investigated—for breakfast as well as evening entertainment—as was The Brickskeller in Georgetown. We took turns hosting gatherings in our new military-issued housing, celebrating holidays or just allowing the guys to blow off steam on the weekends after intense weeks spent training. We explored Potomac Mills Mall (Huge!) and went to command-sponsored events with our Marines, often traveling with them in “cattle cars”—essentially big trailers without real seating.

One of the favorite command sponsored events was “Jane Wayne Day.” All of the participating wives were issued their husband’s gear—helmets, flak jackets, utility belts and deuce gear—and for a day we experiences something of what our husbands had been doing. Our husbands offered to cammie us up (most of us refused) and we were off! Along for the fun was one wife who was eight months pregnant; it took some work, but we managed to convince the CO to let her participate, too.

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(That's me, second from the right)

We ate MREs, rode to different training areas in Humvees, shot 9mm pistols at one range, M16s at another and even got to shoot the M60 machine gun before our husbands did. (Although… we had to shoot in teams of two, with one girl manning the gun and the other lying on top of her because none of us weighed enough to handle it alone!) The young lance corporal who was in charge of the 9mms watched me shoot a perfect score and let out an astonished, “Nice shootin’, Ma’am!” I smiled and laid down the pistol and simply told him I was a Texas girl!

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We also fired grenade launchers and had a class on all things that go “BOOM!” including the many uses of Det cord! We were inside tanks, worked our way through a land nav(igation) course with a terrain map and a compass and even ran the obstacle course—running, jumping, climbing and even weaving our way in and out of these parallel bars about 8 feet off the ground. Our husbands joined us later as “guides” for the land nav and obstacle courses, presumably to ensure we found our way through. Still, I think there was a couple or two who took quite a bit longer than the rest of us to find their way out of the woods, but they didn’t look too upset at having gotten “lost!”

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(Me, weaving my way in, out, over, under and through the bars, with my Marine's guidance)

Looking at the photos I have of that day, they reflect the fun we had. Of course, the flak jacket and pack were heavy; the water was warm and rather stale coming out of the canteens. The sunny warmth of the day left us sweaty by the end of it all, and we had to live with the “French hooker” smell of Avon’s Skin-So-Soft to help avoid ticks (and, honestly, it was rather creepy to be inspected for ticks later that evening when I got home!). Most disappointingly, we didn’t get to ride in a helo! But, for us, living the life of a Marine! was only for a day; for our husbands, the “fun” was tempered by the day-after-day routine which was much dirtier and more difficult. Still, it gave us an appreciation for what they were going through and some idea of what they were talking about out of the field! What a marvelously crazy day in the life…

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After our men had equipped us with their gear, we thought we were ready for anything! They just

laughed, knowing better...) Me, right, front.

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