My father was a Marine. Is a Marine, because it is said that once a Marine, always a Marine.
He volunteered as an officer candidate in the midst of the Vietnam War. Based on his abilities, he was selected to enter flight school. There he learned how to fly both fixed wing and helicopters.
In 1968, he was deployed to Quang Tri as a Huey gunship pilot. He served the 13 months and 15 days with no injuries despite being shot down by the Vietcong four times.
I've seen a few films from that time in Vietnam. He and his buddies adopted a pig, which they named Dog. He wrote many letters. Those are stored in a box in my mother's closet. She's only shared the one he wrote after learning of the birth of his first daughter, my sister.
Dad continued in the Marines as a flight instructor. When faced with another deployment to Vietnam or to Saudi Arabia, Dad left the Corps. Later I learned he was unhappy with the changes occurring in the commanders. He left as a captain.
If Vietnam changed him, he learned to overcome the damage. He let go of the anger. He stopped retreating to the woods to hunt many weekends of the fall and winter. My husband says that it was his love of his daughters that saved my father from the ravages of war. Phill understands that. He credits our first child with helping him recover from neurosurgery and the subsequent epilepsy.
Dad was a Marine. To me, he was simply my father. The perfect mixed with the imperfect. A mix of hardness and love that shaped me.