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Tired of changing her major every week and drinking 40s in Harvard Square, Lisa Cordeiro leaves Boston to embark on an adventure. She enlists in the Marine Corp—a decision that profoundly changes her life.
After graduating from boot camp, she trains in the California desert and meets a Marine she could never befriend back home. Then, she deploys to Okinawa, Japan—a beautiful, tropical island where a nightmarish twist unfolds.
Lisa grew up in the Corps, as a woman struggling in a world of "A Few Good Men." After the Marines, she embarks on a solo adventure through Europe, settling in Paris, trying to leave painful memories behind and discover who she really is.
Join Lisa on her worldwide adventure with love, travel, and self-discovery. And see why sometimes, it takes a journey around the world to find what you’re looking for right where you began.
I was now a Marine. Fresh out of boot camp, I was still on my toes, convinced that drill instructors dotted the landscape like Big Brother, ready to attack me for the slightest infraction.
But the drill instructors were gone. I was no longer a scumbag recruit, but Private First Class Minassian reporting to Communications and Electronics School in Twentynine Palms, California. Unfortunately, it was July in the Mohave Desert.
In the Palm Springs airport, I bumped into Rawlings, who was in another platoon in boot camp. It was great to see a familiar face even though we’d never spoken before. A couple of Marines drove five of us newbies through the desert to the base at Twentynine Palms.
Dressed in our spiffy Service Charlies that included a khaki blouse over an olive skirt, we asked around the barracks for the Sergeant we were to report to.
“He’s in the Rec Hall.”
We opened the door to the Rec Hall and I almost gasped. Guy, guy, guy, guy, guy. Where were the women? In boot camp, we trained in all-female platoons. Although we knew the Marines were ninety-five per cent men, it was overwhelming to witness it firsthand. Dozens of men stopped playing ping pong, pool, or whatever else they were doing, as if we walked into a bar when the music stops playing and all heads turn towards you. They stared, checking us out, not even inconspicuous about it.
Welcome to the Marine Corps.
Sergeant Jiminez, a slightly paunchy Marine with a dark mustache, brought us to his office to process us in. He introduced us to Sergeant Fernandez, a thinner Marine who also had a mustache, and a couple of Marines who were watching TV. Since we were trained separately from the guys in boot camp, this was our first real interaction with male Marines.
“Great movie,” he said.
“What is it?” I asked.
“The Flying Leathernecks,” Sergeant Jiminez said, looking at me with suspicion. “You must have seen it.”
Every Marine in the room turned to stare at me with eyes wide and mouths half-open.
Sergeant Fernandez said, “You’ve never seen The Flying Leathernecks?”
“No,” I repeated.
“I’ve never seen a John Wayne movie.”
They looked at me as if I just announced I was a double-agent.
“How can you be a Marine and not watch John Wayne movies?”
“Sit down,” the Sergeant said. “We have to break you in.”
I sat down and watched for about five minutes, my mind wandering to everything else I should be doing. I didn’t think my first moments in the fleet would involve a forced induction into the John Wayne fan club.
“I should probably unpack,” I said.
How I could turn down the chance to watch John Wayne was obviously beyond them, but nevertheless, Sergeant Jiminez gave me a key to my room.
Rawlings and I were assigned to a room together and I had to wonder if we were assigned by height. I’m only five feet tall and Rawlings was only an inch taller. What were we—the mini Marine club? Two other women—note they were of average height—were assigned to a room a few doors down. The other Marines in our class were men. We were in the Communications Center Operator course for the summer where we’d learn to transmit and receive classified messages. Classified messages. It sounded very mysterious. Maybe we’d be trained on James Bond-like more-than-meets-the-eye technology…
Whatever stereotypes I had about how a Marine should look and act were quickly dispelled. The Marines were all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of personalities. Tall, short, overweight, skinny, outgoing, shy, sweet, mean, rude, polite—they were all there.
My first weekend there, one guy lived nearby in Oceanside and he invited a few of us to his apartment. The only things in our sand pit were a bowling alley and movie theater that only showed one film for days at a time. There was no way I’d stay on the base when I didn’t have to.
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 434
Paper Weight (lb): 17.8