More than 16,000 chubby, skinny, short, tall, adopted brothers, fathers, cousins, nephews, sons and uncles will come through the depot this fiscal year. Waivers for law infractions, weight problems and sometimes height, might be necessary to send a man on his way to training, but rarely does one need an age waiver.
As the oldest man graduating from Company M, Pfc. David M. Lueck, Platoon 1112, made up his mind, after ten years of doubts and maybes, to join the Marine Corps.
For a man or woman to join without a waiver, you must be between the ages of 17 and 28. Lueck is 33.
Another difference between the Wisconsin native and his peers is his extended education. The Ripon College graduate left school with a degree in biology and education. At 24, he did not know which direction he was headed, but he did like to teach, according to Lueck. Nine years later and still thinking about the Marines, Lueck decided to go for it.
His decision was as much a surprise to a few other people as it was to himself. “We were eating dinner and all the sudden he said, ‘Oh yeah, I joined the Marines,'” said Maureen Wades, Lueck’s girlfriend.
“I thought about it for a long time, probably about eight or 10 years,” said Lueck. “Finally, just one of those days I guess, I realized the desire to do it never went away. Seems like it’s the right thing to do.”
Apart form raw desire, other factors influenced Lueck’s choice.
“Growing up in a small town, you live a pretty sheltered life,” he said.
Lueck graduated from Green Lake High School in 1990. His senior class was made up of 29 people.
In the nine years that Lueck spent in between college and the Marine Corps, he was substitute teaching at middle schools and junior high schools. Even during college he had an apprenticeship with the coach there. He assisted with football and basketball coaching.
When the time came to go, Lueck was expecting nothing. After all the explanations of recruit training, Lueck decided to make his own opinion based on experience.
“You can only prepare so much. You have to live it to understand it,” said Lueck.
Lueck said the physical training wasn’t as hard to him as it was for some of the other recruits, but the change in atmosphere was definitely something that he was not ready for.
“One of the hardest things for me is just that I have been on my own for so long and now everything is regimented,” said Lueck. “For someone who has been independent for so long, it is difficult to adjust, especially for someone who is older and pretty much set in his ways.”
Lueck’s senior drill instructor appointed him as the platoon guide for the first couple weeks of training. Not long after, Lueck realized that there was somebody better for the job. Lueck found that adapting to the boot camp environment would be difficult enough without taking on the added responsibilities of platoon guide.
Things fell into place once the company arrived at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., for field and rifle training, according to Lueck.
“Things became faster paced, but you are used to it by then,” said Lueck. “It makes you tired, but it makes the time go by really fast.”
Second phase of training was over in four weeks, then the company came back to the depot to finish the recruit training.
“I noticed that we are given a little more freedom, but we are also expected to perform at a higher level,” said Lueck.
Seldom were the moments during boot camp when recruits got a chance to catch their breath. Lueck found himself thinking back to his freer days back in Wisconsin.
“Your schedule is completely set from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep,” said Lueck. “There are times when I miss the life I had, but I never regretted coming here.”
Joining the military was tough decision, but joining the Marine Corps seemed like it was the right decision, according to Lueck, who enlisted with the Marine Corps reserves infantry unit out of Madison, Wis.
“Well, it’s obvious that I will be going to Iraq and clear that I will be going to war,” said Lueck. “It is scary, but my desire to be here helps, and while it is scary, it is also the reason I am here.”