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The Flash asked me to write a biography a few weeks ago, and I kind of sat on it. I kept thinking, who would want to read about me? Everything that I do for the Veterans Objective Initiative of Texas, is for my community, my town, and my fellow veterans. I would much rather shine a light on the cause, then on myself, and hope that after I put pen to paper for this article, we can band together and bring the focus back to the effort of bringing a VA Center and Clinic to Erath County.
Adopted at an early age, and raised by an incredibly gifted, and caring family, my life, by chance, started out on the right foot. My father, David Weiss, was blessed with musical talent, which he pursued through multiple endeavors, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was also a caring and compassionate person, who constantly went out of his way to teach, help, and care for those around him. He showed me that the measure of a man is not what he can take from this world, but what he can add to it.
My mother was just as talented musically, but chose to stay home and raise her three children. Between my mother, father, and extended family, we were constantly encouraged to explore, learn, and grow in the arts. We were pushed in the areas of science, and mathematics, and went to school year round, as education, in their mind, should be an ongoing effort.
Throughout my childhood, certain things became self-evident, including my love for all things military. It started with the little green army men, which I would take into the back yard and pit against one another, in some imaginary, far away, war. Moving the men around strategically, and learning basic tactics, was fun for me. As I grew, cub scouts, and then boy scouts, became the next adventure. There was so much to learn, and they showed me how to apply that knowledge quite well. Camps were also important, and I attended many different ones, focused on everything from wilderness training, survival, skiing, surfing, and ranching.
As I grew in age though, my desire for independence outgrew my years, and by my mid-teens, I left home, and flew to the land of Aloha. Hawaii was a beckoning place for a young man, who sought adventure, and extreme challenge. From big wave surfing, mountain climbing, kayaking, to living out of an old dilapidated green AMC Hornet, I focused on pushing my limits. While learning from surfing masters like George Downing, and Mark Occhilupo, honed my athletic abilities, my mind was challenged by two twins, Milton, and Michael Willis. These amazing brothers, who had served in the military, brought me back to self-discipline, and encouraged me to seek more from my life.
Coming back to the West Coast, I started college in Santa Cruz, and then Oakland, where I rode a mountain bike 25 miles, each way, to this little place called the Icecreamery. Working as a soda jerk, sandwich maker, and ice cream man, I helped to put myself through the first few years of college. But, in the back of my mind, I knew that this was not the direction my life was supposed to go.
MCRD San Diego sits alongside the tarmac of the major airport in San Diego. Flying in, you get a great view of the Depot, and of Marine Corps recruits going through first, and third phase, of boot camp. When I landed in San Diego all those years ago, this was where my eyes were glued to. Trying to fathom what the next three months of my life were going to be like, and wondering if I really had what it takes. As I got off the plane, and put college life behind me, I was both apprehensive, as well as excited, but regardless, I knew I was finally following my calling.
Platoon 3111 India Company was my family, and my parents were Sgt. Dickerson, Sgt. Stanley, and SSGT. Rinn. The latter was what they call the senior DI, and he made it his mission to transform me. For three months, he never let up, and by third phase, standing there where that kid had been, stood a lean, mean, fighting machine. On graduation day, after being dismissed, he came over, shook my hand, and paid me the biggest compliment of my life; “Good job Marine, well done.”
Advanced training started after boot camp. First with Marine Combat Training, held at Camp Pendleton, along the hills named appropriately The Grim Reaper. Then, after graduation, I was put on another plane, and sent off to Intelligence school on the East coast. This would be my favorite duty station, and where I would hone my operational skills.
Arriving at Ayer, I debarked from the train, picked up my seabag, and walked through the brick gates of Fort Devens. One of the premier military MOS schools, and shrouded in secrecy, I felt honored to be there. From the moment my top secret clearance was granted, there was not a free hour in the day. When we were not at school, in the windowless brick buildings, we were drilling, or engaged in some kind of physical activity. We also trained in the art of repelling, extraction, fast roping, and spy rigging, under the leadership of the most intense Marine I have ever met, SSgt. Bellis (Now Ret. Sgt. Maj.).
From Massachusetts, I was on another plane, and headed towards North Carolina. A Taxi ride later, I was standing at the gate to Camp Lejeune. I was trained, eager, and ready to begin my career.
The years that followed are hard to talk about, for many reasons. These years spent defending my great country, are what finally molded me into the man I am today. Though most of what I did was classified, I can say that I served my Country, and my Marine Corps, with honor, dedication, and integrity. Those who know me, have heard random stories, here and there of the few events that I can talk about, but most of the time, I try not to bring it up, think about it, or dwell on it. There is a lot of pain there, and I prefer to leave most of it where it belongs; in the past.
There is no place like Texas. Though I was born here, I had been gone for a very long time, but after moving back in 1999, I swore I would never leave again. Starting in DFW, where I lived near Grapevine, then out to Cleburne, where I enjoyed living in the country, and then finally, Stephenville; my home, my town and my community.
Down the road from our home here, is my place of employment, and around the corner is where my kids go to school. Across the road there are friends, the initiative we started grows daily, and every night, my wife, Maggie, and I look up at the night sky, and thank God for the many blessings which have been bestowed on our family of eight.
What will tomorrow bring?