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A veteran-to-veteran storytelling project designed to let Miami Valley veterans describe their own experiences, in their own words with a special focus on stories of re-entry into civilian life.

Veterans' Voices: The Myth And The Reality Of Being A Marine

Mellissa Clancy and Greg Adams
Mellissa Clancy and Greg Adams

Greg Adams joined the Marine Corps in 1977 because he wanted a military career like the ones he saw in the movies. But he struggled during his service with drug abuse and the stereotypes of Marines as bad boys. In this edition of Veterans’ Voices, Marine Corps veteran Greg Adams of Springfield talks to his daughter, Mellissa Clancy, about the Marine he was then, and father he is today.


Mellissa Clancy (MC): Tell me, Daddy, why do you think you joined the Marines after high school? Was it because of a sense of obligation from, you know, Grandpa being in WWII, and your older brother served in Vietnam? Do you think it was a sense of, I must carry on, or what?

Greg Adams (GA): I'd watch all kinds of John Wayne movies, and stuff, so… Well, I was just watching, you know, watching the war movies. And then I wanted to be, I guess, like those guys in the movies, like a hero.

MC: A hero.

GA: A hero. Yeah.

MC: What was your experience in boot camp like?

GA: That was rough. A lot of the guys did drugs when I was in. And full disclosure, I was using drugs before I went into the Marines. In fact, I did my first hit of acid just a couple days before I went into the Marines.

MC: Oh, wow.

GA: I was smoking weed before we went to chow in the morning. We would smoke one or two joints, go to the chow hall, come back. And as we're walking back, we'd smoke one or two joints, go to first formation, get assigned to where we was going.

MC: How is it that you would be able to smoke that much and still be able to perform your duties accurately?

GA: We probably could have done it a little bit better during that time. But that's just the way it was for me anyway, and quite a few of the guys I ran around with.

MC: Wow.

GA: So, was I a good Marine? Not like these guys today. No. But was I good Marine in the legend, so to speak, or the myth of a good Marine? Yes, because I was a troublemaker. You know, I'm not I'm not particularly proud of my service in the Marines because of that. Because the drugs and alcohol did absolutely destroy a dream, a childhood dream of mine.

MC: Yeah.

GA: But the Marine Corps, once I quit drinking, and once I quit smoking dope, and taking the pills, and all that stuff, made me into the man that I am today. So, I'm very proud of what the Marine Corps did for me.

MC: Nobody is a perfect dad. But you tried everything in your power to instill in my brother and I a sense of honor and discipline in what we do. And being the daughter of a Marine, even a bad Marine or an okay Marine, is better. And it has made me into a better person. So, I want to thank you for that.

GA: Well, darling, I love you both very much.

Marine Corps veteran Greg Adams and his daughter, Mellissa Clancy spoke at WYSO as part of StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative which visited the Miami Valley last summer. Veterans’ Voices on WYSO is presented by Wright-Patt Credit Union with additional support from CareSource. This story was edited by Will Davis and created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.