Veterans make up 64% our membership family, with representatives from almost every branch. Our Marine Corps Veterans make up 10% of our entire Veteran member base, following the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The Marine Corps has a special place in our nation’s military. Help us celebrate them, and read about one of our own Marine Corps Veteran Members, Captain William Daugherty.
“I was raised in Columbus on the West Side, and I didn’t really know much about the military. I was attending Ohio State when I first became aware of the ROTC programs. At that time, the ROTC programs were mandatory for male students, it was not an elective. You did two years in ROTC whether you wanted to or not.
At the time, there was an Army ROTC unit with about 5,000 people, an Air Force unit with about 3,000 and then there was a Navy ROTC which had about 300 in it. Within that Navy unit, there was about 20 Marin options. That is, those that chose to go into the Marine Corps. I thought, ‘well that’s interesting. Why does this demographic exist? Why do you go from 5,000 in the Army to only 20 in the Marine Corps?’
I found out pretty early on the reason why. For one thing, the Navy was much more demanding with what they wanted you to do while you were in college. They told you what kind of courses to take, for example. They pretty much demanded all of your time. But I was taken by the Marine Corps. For one, they had the coolest uniforms! There was also a movie out around that time called The D.I. and I was somewhat taken by the Marine Corps ever since I had seen that movie. So, I joined the Navy ROTC as a Marine option.
But unfortunately, I was not a very good student and I flunked out. I got the failure notice while at Corpus Christie, Texas for Naval flight orientation. They had told me to pack my bags and that I had orders waiting for me for basic training in the US Navy when I got home. In those days, if you didn’t fulfill your contract with the ROTC, they pretty much put you in active duty right away.
Since my larger goal was never the Navy, I talked with my chief instructor and decided to enlist in the Marine Corps reserves before I could execute the orders to go to basic training. Over the next couple of years, I found myself – for various reasons – actually bouncing around the different branches. I spent time in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and you can’t forget my earlier years in the Navy ROTC program in college. But regardless of what branch I was in at the time, my main objective was always the Marines and my time spent in the Marines was some of the most impactful years of service for me.
While in the Marine Corps, my primary MOS was Air Support Control Officer and I ended up getting assigned first to a MASS Squadron (Marine Air Support Squadron). Their primary mission was the control of close air support. While with the MASS units, I was sent to Puerto Rico and then Vietnam. In Vietnam, I spent 6 months, day in and day out, standing watch and manning the radios coordinating air strikes. The next 6 months of the tour I spent coordinating the withdrawal of the squadron from Vietnam. After the squadron pulled out of Vietnam, and a brief stay in Japan, I went on to serve in various Marine Air Wing units. These 10 years were made up of a 3-year tour at Kaneohe Bay Hawaii, two tours at Cherry Point N.C., and a tour in Futenma Okinawa. I was deployed to Norway, Denmark, Turkey, The Philippines and Korea during this time period.
After getting out of the Marine Corps, I came back to Columbus to finish my education. I had a Master’s in Education, recently earned in Hawaii. Unfortunately, that career path didn’t pan out, but it ended up leading me to one of the greatest decisions of my life. I got a degree in Computer Science in 1980 – a lucky choice.
I bounced around a lot after leaving the Marine Corps and entering the workforce. In 1983 I enlisted in the US Air Force Reserve and served 11 years with the 40th Mobile Aerial Port Squadron at Rickenbacker ANGB. This squadron proved to be one of the most versatile and professional I had ever served with. But there will always be something about the Marine Corps and my time there. The military people are a dedicated bunch, particularly the Marines. They are dedicated to a fault. Even though I spent time in almost all of the other branches of the military, all of my roots lead back to the Marines.
Thank you, William, for sharing your Marine Corps story. We are forever grateful to our Veteran Inaugural Members who continue to share their stories, and to all Veterans for their service.