I don't really know how it happened, but I  somehow was the outstanding Marine of Platoon 2043, and also the Series Honorman for the four platoons. 

I was told moments after arriving that I would not make it through this training. They told me I could not send my clothes home like everyone else, because I was going to need them to escape Parris Island. They also gave me a detailed pencil map on how to sneak off of the island and get to the bus station. There were three $5 dollar bills in an envelope too, for the bus fare.

When the graduation day came 9 weeks later, and all of the other Marines' parents were there, I was all alone. I spent the day with Private Harold Curtis and his family, went to lunch with them and had a great afternoon with my first black family before moving on to Camp Geiger for Advanced Infantry Training.  After that, I was sent to 2nd Recon Battalion, without having to wait the usual two or three years to apply to become Recon.  Heck, I didn't know what it meant it all meant. But it changed my life. When I got on the bus with everyone else, as the Honor Man, I was the last one to board for the trip to Camp Lejeune. It was that moment when I stopped to shake the hands of the Drill instructors: Staff Sgt. Zarn, Sgt. Okraska and Sgt. N.W. James. They then told me they tried every possible way to break me mentally and physically. They sent me twice to motivation, multiple guard duty, all of it.

They all told me that I was going to be a good Marine, and that they were proud to have been a part of my experience. They wished me Fair Winds and Following Seas.  All these years later, it's still hard to believe.

Maybe, that is why I am what I am. 

One of the proudest days of my life:

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS | This is to certify that PFC Gerald A. Flowers has completed his course of recruit training in a most proficient and satisfactory manner and is awarded this certificate as the outstanding Marine of his platoon.

O.W. Van Den Berg Jr. LtCol USMC Commanding Officer Recruit Training Battalion
Richard H. Smith Col USMC Commanding Officer Recruit Training Battalion
CLICK HERE for some pictures of myself and other veterans at various events throughout the years.