Semper Fi: Plymouth Iraq War veteran recalls his service
As early as 6 years old, Iraq War veteran Gary DeLawyer knew he wanted to be a Marine when he grew up, and one month after graduating high school in 2000, the Rice Lake, Wisconsin native was off to boot camp.
Initially, training for the job in force reconnaissance, U.S. Marine Corps special operations, DeLawyer became sick with pneumonia, not once, but twice, and was sent to train for infantry battalion, or to be a “grunt” as he referred to it.
Stationed at the base in Twentynine Palms, California, DeLawyer was in training in the middle of the Mojave Dessert. “It’s basically hell,” he said, noting it is a desolate area where nothing grows.
It’s where soldiers go to train for desert warfare.
With blisters on his feet from hiking 15 miles into the desert with a 100-pound pack with everything a Marine would need for a week in the field, “it starts to take a toll,” DeLawyer said.
In January 2001, he was deployed to Okinawa, Japan, which is where he was on 9/11. He recalled being woken up at 2 a.m. by his first sergeant. They gathered in the barracks watching the tragedy unfold.
It was then they were told to prepare their minds for a possible war.