Memorial Day Ceremony 2024 - May 27, 1:45 PM

A Marine's Story: Part 1

This Marine's Story is the Story of Many Marines

Do you ever wonder who this young man on our web site is?

He’s one of so very many that signed that blank check, for up to and including his life,  for my and your freedom!  He grew up in Texas in a family with two sons of very modest income: one generation away from a farming life.  He loved America, John Wayne, and apple pie!  Like many young men of that day, he played outside a lot, sold donuts door to door, went to church, and honored his mother and father!  After high school (’64) he went to college and got good grades, but halfway thru…Rather than being drafted he joinrd the Marine Corps (’67)!  He wanted to serve his country and fight for freedom for others around the world.

His father was upset with him because his father had been a Sgt in the Army in WWII.  His uncles were in the Army in that war as well.  His father’s attitude intensified when the second son joined the Marine Corps months later!  His brother’s joining would greatly affect decisions made later in his tour of duty.

This photo was taken after “ITR” at Camp Pendleton.

Boot Camp: 1967

This Marine’s tour in the Marine Corps began with boot camp – of course!  Those iconic yellow footprints.  Remember the day you arrived?  He was in the “Fat Platoon”!  Later, he said it was one of the best things to happen as it got him in shape for what was to come!

Upon completing those 8 weeks of training you were so proud, and everyone has a photo like this if you are a Marine!  The pride beaming and hopes of a great future.  This young man thought he might spend his entire career in the Marine Corps!  He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink much at all, he had a sweetheart at home.  Sound familiar?  His parents were both very proud of him and his younger brother, who had always looked up to him, wanted to be just like him…

Then he was off to “ITR” (Infantry Training Regiment) school at Camp Pendleton…

Infantry Training Regiment

ITR (Infantry Training Regiment) school was several weeks long in Camp Pendleton and most Marines went to this school for combat training.  Our Marine is in the middle here.  There was time for fun along the way and these three Marines look like they were really enjoying their time in California!  Still smiling!  A brotherhood forming! 

After ITR this Marine went home and this photo of he, his brother, and grandma shows the love they all felt for each other!  Our Marine cared for his brother when they were very young.  At 10 years old their mother had a breakdown, daddy spent his time at the hospital, and the boys at 10 and 8 fended for themselves.  The brother hadn’t joined the Marine Corps, yet!

After ITR School

After ITR school our Marine travels to Camp Lejeune for MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) school – supply was where they told him to serve.  While there he enrolled in an accounting correspondence course.  That’s what we did before computers – remember that?

As the MOS school ended our Marine volunteered for a Caribbean Cruise and wound-up training for two weeks in Panama with the Green Berets!  They repelled into the jungles, ate alligators and monkeys, and learned a lot about jungle warfare.  He felt that would help prepare him for the battle to come.

While on the cruise his brother enlisted in the Marine Corps.  Our Marine had looked after him from the time he was born and was very protective of him.  Still, he was proud of his “little” brother – 6’4” tall and very big!

He also received the dreaded “Dear John” letter!  How many of you got one of those?  His beloved “Betty” had found someone else.  Broken hearted he persevered, just not as happy as he had been.

Upon returning from the cruise our Marine is stationed at Millington NAS, Memphis, TN in the supply office located on “MAD alley”!

Picture of Paula Sarlls, President of  the USMC Memorial Foundation

Paula Sarlls, President of the USMC Memorial Foundation

Paula Sarlls served in USMC ’67-’71 as an air controller at Quantico, VA MCAS. Paula worked for over 30 years for the VA, IRS, US Customs Service and DHS, and retired 2004 with numerous awards. The programs she created have been used nationally for decades. Her enforcement operations resulted in the seizure of over $1 million in illegal merchandise.

Paula owned two businesses, PS Tax Service and P & T Candles. She is a veterans advocate, President of the Women Marines Association CO-1 and former national President ( ’05 – ’08). She is a member of the Marine Corps League, US Marine Corps Memorial Association, Aurora Defense Council, United Veterans Committee of Colorado, American Legion, and is an Honorary Board member of the Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation, and Honorary Commander of 140th Wing – Colorado Air National Guard ’15 – ’16.

She was the SW Region and Colorado “Daughters of the American Revolution” Veteran Volunteer of the Year in 2020. She received the Colorado Veteran Volunteer of the Year in 2015 and many other awards including the Civilian Marksmanship Program Patriot Award in 2013.

Paula is the mother of one daughter.

She is a Gold Star widow and sister-in-law.

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