18-year-old Silver State student returning to Marines after graduation
June 4, 2007
The top of Chris Pittman’s crewcut has grown out a little and he wears a T-shirt and jeans. His forearms are lean, but not thick, and he talks about how his friends miss the person he used to be.
Before he left for boot camp, he showed them a U.S. Marine recruiting video.
“My friends watched that, and they’re like, ‘You’re fricking nuts.'”
Pittman got back from training Saturday and graduated Silver State Charter High School on Monday.
He said he isn’t like his friends anymore.
Next week, he leaves for more training.
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“It’s not something a normal person looks at and says, ‘I want to do that.'”
Tami Pittman, Chris’ mother, said he listens to her more now. He doesn’t sag his pants anymore, and he makes his bed.
Pittman, who was in boot camp 13 weeks, said he doesn’t know exactly why he’s in the Marines. He just knows he’s wanted to join since he was 8.
“But when you get there, it’s still a whole different story. It’s a whole new thing.
“You may know everything that’s going on. You may have seen it a million times in a video. But living it is a whole different thing.”
“His dad,” Tami Pittman said, “was really into the military.”
Chris’ father was in the U.S. Army. Chris said he could have finished Army boot camp when he was 15.
But in the Marines, “There’s always a drill sergeant following you around (and) telling you not to talk, not to move, not to look around. You can’t go here, you can’t go here. You can’t do this, you can’t do that.”
Chris said the worst day was near the beginning of boot camp – it’s called Black Friday. Sergeants yell, scream and toss around anything the recruits own.
As time went on, he got more freedom. He said he also learned to push and discipline himself.
In April, he had to put on his full gear and climb a California mountain.
“You get to the top and you didn’t even think you could do it – with all that weight on you and everything like that. Then you get up there and it’s just like you can see the whole valley.
“Then you get down from there and you get your food and every thing like that. And you’re like, ‘I can do anything.'”
Chris is more mature and focused now, his mother said. He’s not like his friends who complain “Oh, I got to go to work today.”
Initially, she didn’t want Chris to go, but he was determined. His 15-year-old brother wants to go into the military now, she said.
Chris said he hasn’t decided if he will stay in the Marines once his four-year contract expires. He’s said he’ll have to think about while he’s training, maybe in jungle warfare.
As far as going to war: “I’m not going to put on my wish list, ‘Hey, I want to go to Iraq.’ But if they send me, you know, I’ll do it.”
He said he knows he likes the Marines now, at least, because it’s the only place he can go to work and throw a grenade.
“I was never really a school person,” he said. “I never really worked well in the work force … I don’t know, I didn’t like the way it was run. So unorganized.
He said he doesn’t know how to explain it.
“Everyone complains about everything.”
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at email@example.com or 881-1212.