Updates for our Members, Family & Friends - April 22, 2020
Former Marine Finds "DI" on MCRD
by Cpl Jessica Simonson MCRD San Diego
Tim Stanton 2/1 Echo Company 1970
"I would of made him eat it if I ever caught him with it," joked retired Sgt Maj E.L. Thompson of Tim Stanton′s "illegal" diary that chronicled his time as recruit and guide of platoon 2043. Thompson a former Drill Instructor here, had no idea about the diary or the impact he′d made on Stanton until a recent reunion instigated by Sgt Maj Ira J. Lott, Sergeant Major Marine Corps Air Bases, Western Area.
While Stanton was on the phone in his office, Lott came in and began rifling through Stanton′s book collection when he came across a 1970 Platoon Book. Flipping through the pages, he spoted a picture of his old friend Thompson. After he had Stanton′s attention, he immediatly hung up the phone and called Thompson. "He was one of the recruits I would never forget," Thompson said. "Do you remember Platoon 2043, Lott asked." Thompson said yeah, thats one of the best platoons I had-the one with Stanton. There was just something special about him.
It was clear Stanton and Thompson were eager to meet again and share their stories. 30 years after graduating recruit training here, Stanton MCCS Family Advocacy Program Manager at MCAS Miramar, was reunited with the Drill Instructor that left an impression that has lasted for decades. "A recruit has to be something special to remember him like that," Thompson said. "You have to think, I would like my son or my brother to be like that, I was very impressed with Stanton."
Than Staff Sgt Thompson was looking for the opportunity to "fire" the platoon guide and put Stanton′s leadership to the test. The time arrived at Edson Range, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California. "That moment was a defining moment for me," Stanton said. "He looked challanged and respected me. I knew I could do it, not only because (the will to succeed) is part of my makeup, but to prove to him that he was right about me."
Stanton lived up to the challange and 5 weeks later graduated recruit training as the platoon and series Honor Man. Stanton believes he owes Thompson more than just gratitude for his part in turning the 19 year old Stanton into the man he is today. He is convinced he is alive today because of the role Thompson played in preparing him for war. Though he hadn′t yet been drafted. Stanton accepted that chances were great he would be called to serve his country in Vietnam. With that knowledge, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. "If it was going to happen, I wanted to go with the best prepared," he said. "I was going to be with the Marines."
Thompson, who′d just returned from Vietnam after participating in the Tet Offensive, knew the dangers his new Marines faced and instilled values and knowledge he knew would help them in combat. "I wanted to make sure I′d given them everything I could to help them survive," Thompson said. "I wanted to give them mental and physical toughness."
It didn′t take long for Stanton to have put his strength and courage to the test. Stanton was hit in his left leg-a wound that Stanton is sure would of killed him had he not received Thompson′s training. "There is no doubt in my mind-I′m alive because of the training," the San Gabriel, California native said. "I should of bled to death."
"I willed myself to stay concious, remembered when I got hit to assess the situation, thought about what I could do to keep from going into shock. Boot Camp is where you learned it." Staying calm and evaluating the situation saved his life, but the severity of the wound eventually cost him his leg. After returning from Vietnam, Stanton had the opportunity to return to the Depot to visit Thompson, who was still serving as a Drill Instructor. Thompson, MCCS Fitness Center assistant manager here, said he often repeats the story of their first reunion. He was impressed with the man he′d seen transformed to Marine just a year before.
Since that meeting the two had lost touch with one another. Stanton married the woman to whom he sent his diary to and went to work for MCCS, than called Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Thompson retired from the Marine Corps as a Sgt Major after 31 years of service.
Though their lives took different paths, today the two have more in common than a mutual respect for one another. Working for the same organization and living nearby, both Stanton and Thompson look forward to continuing a relationship that started three decades ago.