Hi, I’m Scott
I am a United States Marine who server 12 years on active duty and this is my story.
In the spring of 1984 it was time to determine what to do after graduation. Do I go to college, go into the military or just get a job? Well I was walking through the mall and ran into the Marine recruiter that had enlisted my brother in 1979. We started talking and the next thing I knew I decided I wanted to be a Marine. I didn’t take this lightly and was truly committed to my decision. In January 1985 I was off to stand on those famous yellow foot prints at Paris Island and attempt to become a Marine. I have to admit I really enjoyed boot camp, was exactly what this smart ask kid needed to become a man. Things went well, I was meritoriously promoted at graduation and on my way to 29 Palms, Ca for school to become a radio operator (2531). At 29 Palms it was hot if you can imagine that, school was fairly easy to me but the best part was I found the love of my life. I first met my future wife DT3 Kimberly Patterson, dental assistant in the US Navy. Once I graduated school I was off to Camp Lejeune and Kimberly was off to the USS Cape Code for her Westpac. I arrived at Camp Lejeune and was assigned to Delta Battery 2/10 or better known as the “Delta Wrecking Crew”. When I arrived late November I found out what a newbie is as I was assigned guard duty the entire month of December, welcome to the suck they said. While stationed here opportunities appeared and I was able to go back to Morse Code school (2533). Needless to say it was a nice break from going to the field but we never used those skills. I was offered the chance to work in the armory and become and unofficial armor which was a lot of fun, really allowed to learn about the weapons and you instantly became everyones best friend.
On Sept 12, 1987 Kimberly and I got married and she moved to North Carolina. Well it didn’t take long to find it was ok for a single guy but for a newly married couple with a west coast wife, it was time to leave. We looked at options and I was offered a reenlistment option to go back to school to become an avionics radar repairman (5945) and a bonus so of course I jumped right on that. Turns out once I signed the papers, promotion numbers came out and I fell into the new MOS 5945 and qualified for promotion to corporal. Off to 29 Palms, Ca for 18 months of school and that lovely desert weather.
January 1998 I arrived at school and was excited for this new career enhancement. Since I had been in for a few years I was the old man of the class and of course assigned the class NCO. Everyone else were fairly fresh out of boot camp with no clue how the Corps functioned. Time flew by, Kim and I now had our 2 sons and clicking along. Where did I get orders to? Well Yuma, Az here we come, someone must have thought I loved the desert. When we were driving through Phoenix to get there it was 112 degrees and Kim asked me if we could quit and go to Canada….hahaha. We made the best of it, created some great new friends along the way and actually the heat wasn’t all that bad. Then the Kuwait was began, our unit deployed on ship however a small group of us were left behind for other assignments and supporting families of the unit. Sometimes I think being deployed was easier, we had duty every 3 days, maintenance on all the equipment that was left behind daily, ensuring illegal immigrants didn’t get into the restricted area and my favorite, CRAZY wives of deployed Marines. I could take a whole website just to the crazy stories from this time. The unit got back, no one was hurt and we were all back as one happy family. Several of us were promoted to Sgt at the same time. This made the older guys not happy us younger CPL’s were getting a stripe with them. Then in 1990 came another opportunity to go back to school to become a radar technician (5948) and of course I took it. What did this mean, back to 29 Palms, Ca for our 3rd tour. It was kind of funny as one of my friends had gotten stationed there just month before our move. In the radar field there are few places to go so you get to know everyone and where they are. We decided on this trip not to drink the water as we didn’t want anymore kids. School went well, I really enjoyed to knowledge even if the technology was behind times. I received orders for Yuma, Az, this has to be a joke right? Well I called the career planner and she said that is what I asked for. Well low and behold I had an instructor that chose to mess with a couple of us and change our requests. So I begged and pleaded with the planner and she said MACS-7 Yuma or MCTSSA Camp Pendleton, CA. We MCTSSA was non deployable unit and I didn’t like that, however after 7 years in the desert I took it and off to sunny southern California we went.
We arrived at Camp Pendleton towing our single wide trailer from 29 Palms full of house hold items. Some how it made it, we watched as they put it into our slot. Welcome to the neighborhood as the driver hit the neighbors car and ripped off his mirror but we were there 500 yards from the beach at San Onofre, Ca which is just south of San Clemente. The weather was incredible, being able to walk to the beach everyday was so awesome and we had some great neighbors. I reported to MCTSSA, was assigned as the crew chief of the AN/TPS-32 radar system. She was old and very old technology but still ran very well. Just a few months later I found out I was up for promotion to SSGT. Things were moving fast in this MOS and I wasn’t about to say no. Opportunity 4 came along to go to Rades school with the 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron at Hill Air Force Base located in Ogden, UT. This was a 12 week school so the family stayed home but I got to enjoy the snow and actually learn to ski on powder verses the ice skiing back in New York. Each year 1 person would get invited from our command to attend this school and we always kicked but and looked good doing it. I truly enjoyed this break yet was able to learn more and further my knowledge base. After school I returned to MCTSSA and was contacted by the project management team. They had a position open and I was 1 of 3 nominated for the position. Well as luck had it MGySgt was too close to retirement, GySgt couldn’t get relieved from duties with the vault so I was selected by default. I had not clue what I was getting into or what needed to be managed but I jumped right in. This ended up being the SPEED project which is a radio communication software platform used to help determine equipment needed prior to a deployment. Well I had the communication background and that served me well. I learned how to manage a project with the mentoring from and ole retired MGySgt who also became a very good friend. I was assigned the title Assistant Project Officer and off to the races we went. I spent a lot of time in Annapolis, MD at the contractors location for oversight and testing. When I was home I was writing manuals, creating test scripts and supporting troops overseas when they were needing support. I was giving the change to travel all over including Okinawa, Japan to deploy systems and provide training. This was a chance of a life time but after 3 years it was time to reenlist or receive my Honorable Discharge. The family was tired of me not being home so the decision was made to move on. I never regret leaving but sure to miss being a full time Marine and there was no chance of being a reservist when I got out.
Life Changing Event
No one ever expect a year after leaving the Corps I would get sick, but it happened. I was diagnose with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and in the weirdest spots, my jaw and my collar bone. I know what does this have to do with being a Marine, be patient.
This was very new to me since I had been healthy all through my military career but we took the news and moved out. Had a very good doctor who immediately identified I needed a stem cell transplant. This was a very new treatment at the time and I was willing to give it a go. Well it wasn’t easy but it was successful and 24 years later I am still here. While recovery is never a true recovery I was doing pretty well and back to work.
Camp Lejeune Justice Act
Recently there have been many ads on tv, radio, social media talking about the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. Could this really be why I am having medical issues? I had a heart failure last year and needed a pace maker, been in and out of the hospital for several different reasons and then the big boom. Something started happening, was struggling to breath and this wasn’t Asthma. Was admitted to the hospital and declared to have congestive heart failure. Not sure where this came from but it sure is no fun. We thought we had it under control and the summer went ok, but the fall hit and it was back again but not as bad. We thought I was on the mend and then the doctors determined in needed stents for my heart. Ok pretty easy surgery and good solution right? Well my kidneys were acting up and not doing very well so it took 2 angio surgeries to complete the process. First one went smooth as silk, three weeks later the second was complete. Recovery from the second wasn’t as smooth, I didn’t feel well and was slowing declining in health. There was this desire to go to my sons for Thanksgiving no matter how I felt and we did. Actually dinner went pretty well but a couple days later when leaving the hotel it hit me and to the floor I went. Chad and Kimberly loaded me up and off to Sacred Heart we went. There were all sorts of things going wrong but ultimately I had a GI bleed and was loosing blood. To keep it simple it took 3 surgeries to get all the bleeding stopped, 5 pints of blood and 10 days bed time. I finally made it home, I am feeling better but it is a slow recovery process.
The point to the story
For years I didn’t go to the VA as I felt their were others with more issues than I had. Well let me tell you, stop with that thought. If you served in any branch do not hesitate to go to the VA as you have earned it. Second is that if you think you qualify for the Camp Lejeune lawsuit you should apply. Do your homework for your lawyer but this is a first for the government to ever compensate disabled veterans with out effecting their VA benefits. If you have questions please drop me a note, I am more than willing to talk with anyone.
Time to Retire
June 1, 2023 – Paperwork finally came through and my medical retirement from the US Army Corps of Engineers has been approved. It was a long 6 months to wait but finally complete. A small reception was held at the district and like that I faded off into the sunset. Now I concentrate on health, physical condition and enjoying time with my beautiful wife…:)