Dan Bullock was 14 when he signed up with the Marines using doctored documents—and 15 when he died in Vietnam in 1969. (Bettmann / Corbis)
Yesterday, The Daily Beast posted this story; the story is too good not to post … on the day after Memorial Day, 2012.
“Among those we should remember on Memorial Day is Dan Bullock, who was just 14 on the September day in 1968 when he strode into a Marine Corps recruiting station with an altered birth certificate.
“At a time when the nation was stunned by the Tet offensive in Vietnam and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, this teen from Brooklyn retained a very clear goal.
“‘He wanted to make his mark in life,’ his father, Brother Bullock, later told reporters. ‘He wanted to be something.’
“The surrounding streets offered only trouble. The neighborhood schools seemed to promise little more. And the younger Bullock was so audaciously eager as he set off for boot camp that his family said nothing to the Marines of him really being four years shy of the minimum age of 18.
“‘He was all excited when he was in uniform, talking about getting up in rank,’ his stepmother, Jewel Bullock, would recall to the press. ‘He said, “When I get back, I’ll have my stripes.”’
“Bullock was strong and fast, but he still had no more than a 14-year-old’s stamina. He got his first sense of what resides at the core of the Corps when his fellow recruits at Parris Island had to carry him at the end of the long runs.
“In April 1969, five months after his 15th birthday, Private First Class Dan Bullock arrived in Vietnam. He was assigned as a rifleman to Fox Company, Second Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment. Nobody in the unit guessed his true age, but there was a general sense that he somehow did not belong.
“‘Everybody who met him either wanted to protect him or push him around,’ recalls Lance Cpl. Steve Piscitelli.
“Piscitelli was one of those whose impulse was to protect this kid from Brooklyn who kept to himself. Piscitelli tried to draw him out.
“‘He wouldn’t talk,’ Piscitelli says. ‘He wouldn’t open up. But he was 15. He wasn’t going to tell me.’
“Piscitelli came to feel like a kind of older brother.
“‘The others just sensed he wasn’t supposed to be there,’ Piscitelli recalls. ‘It was, “What are you doing here?”’ To read the remainder of this article from The Daily Beast, click here.
“God bless the dead.
“God bless United States Marine Corps PFC Dan Bullock of Brooklyn, NY who is gone but not forgotten.” (SOURCE: The Washington Syndicate)