PRESERVING A MILITARY LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
The following Reflections represents LCPL Nick Loye’s legacy of his military service from 1974 to 1976. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The following Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.
Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Marine Corps.
At the time of my decision, I tried college that did not work. I was not ready for more schooling just out of HS. My dad was in the Coast Guard, I was in the Boy Scouts, I always felt patriotic, and it seemed to lurk in my mind to serve. I found my life stagnant after two years out of HS my buddy at the time mentioned he and his brother were joining the Marine Corps. He mentioned his recruiter, and I should talk with him if I was interested. I did, and he explained to me there was a new enlistment experiment for a two-year commitment, and then if it worked out and I thought this was my groove, then I could do a re-enlist. The rest was history. I joined 1974.
Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?
After beginning my service time, I was unsure I had made the right decision. I was separated from my buddies in Boot Camp because of my physical status and not being able to start my boot camp training until I lost weight and would need to retake my PFT (physical fitness test) and score within the required range in order to begin my boot camp, so basically the Marine Corp called it the fat Farm. I learned a lot about myself and saw things I did not want to be a part of, which motivated me to pass that test. I started at a weight of 203, one pull-up, only 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes, and a 3-mile run of 27:10. Not very good for a fairly athletic guy. After two and a half weeks at the Fat farm, I retook the test, lost about 12-15 lbs. scored the minimum requirements to start boot camp training with increasing pull-ups to 3, sit-ups to 70 in 2 minutes, and a run time of 21:10. I made it! After training and working my MOS duties for two years, I just decided that the Marine Corps was not for me; I wanted to be more independent and not so dependent on the Corps or government. So, I decided not to re-enlist.
If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?
My Enlistment was from 1974-1976; during this time, I was first stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. During this time, The United States was in the process of getting out of Vietnam. I was Stateside in California during “Operation New Life.” This was about the refugee placement in tent cities here on base. We were setting up Care packages for the thousands of refugees from Vietnam. We worked 24/7, taking short breaks to assemble packages for so many people. I was driving a forklift, working warehouse duties and assembly lines to put these packages together and get them out the door to these tent cities on Pendleton and other nearby bases, handling the on-slot of refugees coming. I was proud of being able to be a part of hopefully starting new lives for people trying to start over in a free country. I was then transferred in 1975 to Okinawa, Japan, during the last of the war. Saigon had just fallen earlier before I made it to the Rock. I never saw battle like many others before me or even during my time. I guess I feel lucky now, but at the time, I felt I was always ready in case my call came. I have no regrets, but I have a huge respect for those who gave some and all to our Country and the Corps.
Did you encounter any situation during your military service when you believed there was a possibility you might not survive? If so, please describe what happened and what was the outcome.
I never felt I was in danger for my life during my time in the military. There were probably a handful of situations during leave that could have fallen under poor decisions that my buddies got us into, but I was proud that I had a cooler head to make the right decisions, thanks to my parents and my childhood years. This question was hard because I so understand the many men and women who were in the battle I was not. I was on the support side there, ready in case my time was called to action. So lucky, yes, that I did not or do not have to live with many memories of battle and war. My respect for those who have are always on my mind.
Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?
My favorite duty was in Okinawa, Japan, Guard duty Sub Unit One Ammo Co. with Secret Clearance watching over a building on the hill. Some of my fondest memories were of meeting a diversified bunch of guys who worked together and had free time. Great bunch of guys. The Worlds Fair Expo 75 was happening during my time there, and we were able to visit and take in many of the attractions at Expo 75. I was able to do a bit of snorkeling with my Gunny Sgt. in the Red China Sea as well as off Kin township. So beautiful watching the sea life. What a thrill, catching squids in the coral during nighttime. I also got myself into the best physical condition ever. Remember, I started at 203 lbs; well, in Okinawa, I was down to 143 lbs and almost aced my physical fitness missed by two pull-ups needed 20 got 18. Run time 16:13 3 miles and 80 sit-ups in 2 minutes. I ran every day 3-5 miles. I also trained with a couple of my closest buddies who boxed for the Unit in the Marines, and I could throw a few punches, but all too many missed, and I found myself learning and was a sparing doll for them; what a hoot. Thank you, Ricky A Lovely and Marvin Daegre. For the beatings, haha.
From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.
From Camp Pendleton to Tijuana trip, whoa! Walking Guard duty a few times a year around our site, which we were to keep secure, no matter the situation, even during a couple of hurricanes! Okinawa day trip with my guard unit and our Gunny, on a villagers fishing boat on the sea to an island; what a ride, drinking beer and very hot sun, all but Gunny and myself survived without sea sickness, and once at the island, were able to get some great snorkeling in. Diving for Starfish. Fleeing from Sea Snake swimming towards us, Flying fish literally over our boat. It was a trip!
Once, When on Post One guard, I had to put an “officer of the night” on his face with my fully loaded weapon because he came into our secure area. Watching Our Unit Captain tearing into his ass was fun but scary.
Expo, 75 worlds fair, was a very fun couple of days. Went out to the floating city, the Acropolis. Running with my only Mn connection, once across the island, about 18 miles round trip. Interesting seeing and greeting islanders along the way. Rice farms, turtle farms, and many fishermen.
What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?
I had no achievements professionally, but I would say working and living with men from across the US and learning their backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs helped me later when pursuing my medical career and dealing with people.
Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?
My Expert rifle badge during boot camp and my water survival qualify. Well, in my platoon, only a few of us received the expert rifle, and I think only two of us could finish the Water Survival qualification. So, after being so overweight and then getting into the best shape of my life, I was most of all proud of never giving up and reaching my goals that only a few can say they made it as a Marine.
Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?
I would say Ricky Lovely. He was the one who kept me going for my physical fitness goals; he and I could talk about our lives, both being from different upbringings but yet very similar. Ricky, a black man, and myself, white, enduring some racism in the military yet staying friends through the BS. We continue to keep in touch even though we have not physically seen each other since our military time. The other would be my mom, who always sent me encouraging notes, newspaper clippings from our city paper, and just knowing that even though she never wanted me to enlist, she supported me the whole way with unconditional love for her son.
List the names of old friends you served with, at which locations, and recount what you remember most about them. Indicate those you are already in touch with and those you would like to make contact with.
Ricky Lovely is in touch with me; I have already met him in Okinawa, Japan.
Jay Pafko lives here in MN with me and also met him in Okinawa, Japan, and he and I ran almost every day together.
Gary Schick from Syracuse, NY; unfortunately, not sure if he is still with us. Marvin Daegre from Detroit, Mich, also met in Okinawa and boxed my ears off. I also helped Marvin get his GED.
Can you recount a particular incident from your service, which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?
Yes, when I first arrived on the Rock, I would have to change out the ten-gallon water cooler bottles in the guard shack until one day. My buddy and I had a brilliant idea but probably not funny for some. My buddy and I always saw that Third Tanks, who shared our barracks, had a water fountain on their side. We did not, so when they went on maneuvers, we detached the pipes, took the water fountain across the street, carried it with a sheet over it, and hooked it up to the pipe and electricity we already had. It worked great, and I never had to fill that damn water cooler again. The prize was seeing Gunny’s face when coming into the guard shack the next morning and seeing the fountain. The other award was when the third tank unit got back and asked about their water fountain, and we played dumb. Priceless!
What profession did you follow after your military service, and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?
When I first left the service, after trying fence building and misc jobs. I thought about being a police Officer, changed my mind, then signed up to do a physical fitness test for the Fire Dept and decided not to do that. I had nursing assistant experience prior to the service and decided that healthcare would be a better fit, so I became a Nurse. I am currently retired and enjoying every minute. I worked in the healthcare field for 40-plus years.
What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?
In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?
I miss the camaraderie. The travel to Okinawa was beautiful. The military has left me with organizational skills, more confidence, and an understanding of what real freedom means and how I can be an ambassador to our flag.
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Marine Corps?
Think before reacting; your beliefs are not necessarily the same as others, and look for ways to meet in the middle. Never give up on anything you do or set your goals for.
In what ways has togetherweserved.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.
I think just the different sections and the questions asked helped me get my thoughts straight and what path to take to find or just put on paper my experiences, even though mine is very small compared to others who served much longer and had different circumstances. Many others, during my time, now, and before me, have gone through much more human tragedy than I. They watched many of their fellow buddies die during battle and tragic circumstances of war. Even though I had a small part, I guess, lucky not to be in those situations. I always felt I was least ready and willing to do whatever it took.
Reflecting. Using this tool has allowed me to see my experiences, remember them, and leave a little diary for my sons and loved ones. Maybe someday they will read.