Gerald W. Wilcoxen, PFC
U. S. Marines
Dates of Service: 06/15/1967 - 06/27/1969
Rifleman, 3rd Marines Regiment
Whether its called basic training or boot camp, eight to nine weeks of tough regimen, both mentally and physically, sculpts the minds and bodies of U.S. service men and women. It certainly did for this Shreveport veteran, in which boot camp strengthened both mind and a 130-pound body. Drill instructors were among the most hated men early in the lives of Marines (as well as those for airmen, sailors and army soldiers). With the maturity of later life, Mr. Wilcoxen, discovered his deep respect for these once-despised denizens: "Oh, I thank them for making me the man I am today. I mean, to a large degree, they gave me a can-do attitude, instead of I-cant attitude. In there, you dont tell them you cant. You figure out a way to solve problems, and you have to do it sometimes as a unit, together, you know, the guys and everything. Because they'd have you out there and they'd put you in a sand pit or something, having you do, like, jumping jacks, and they'd say, Make it rain, so you had to reach down and grab sand and throw it in the air, and sands going on down around your collar, you know. We had a guy that he got caught smoking and we had to bury the butt, and then the DI decided that was the dumbest thing he ever heard of, and we had to dig it up. And we kept coming up with cigarette butts but it wasn't the right one. (Laughter) It was an experience." For Mr. Wilcoxen Marine training and the lessons of drill instructors not only served him well during his 13 months of combat in Vietnam, but also has guided him throughout his personal life and business career.