Marine Overcomes Troubled Past


San Diego -- Like those who choose a path, the young men and women who join the Marine Corps do so possibly because of influences they have encountered.  While some of those influences are more impacting than others, each one is important in shaping their futures.   Pfc. Pierre A. Washington his decision to join the Corps was out of necessity and a realization that he needed to support himself.   While growing up, Washington did not have the support that many kids do as a youth.   Before Washington joined Platoon 1051, Company C, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, his family life was almost nonexistent.   “My mother gave me up at birth,” said Washington, 20 years-old. “I lived with my aunt until she gave me up when I was thirteen. I won’t lie, it’s not like she just gave me away. I was a bad kid always getting into trouble.”  

Without a real solid foundation, Washington regularly got in trouble at school and home. Between the ages of 13-to-17 he bounced around from one foster family to the next. Not having direction or anything to be proud, Washington could have gone down a dangerous road. However, the tide changed when Washington found a passion.   “When I was in my freshman year of high school I saw this boy playing piano. It was tight. All the girls surrounded him,” said the Minneapolis native. “That’s when I knew I wanted to learn to play the piano.”

Unaware of his natural musical talent, Washington was surprised when he quickly taught himself to play piano.   “I would stay after school and use the school’s piano until the janitor would come in and say it was time to close up,” said Washington.   By his sophomore year of high school, the school’s band members wanted him to play with them. 

“When I was sixteen, maturity started to kick in, no one was going to take care of me, so I would have to do it myself if I wanted to get anywhere in life,” said Washington.   Soon he was playing for charities and was even able to play solo at a state governor’s inauguration during his senior year.   Although Washington was accepted into a college music program, he did not have enough money to attend.

Washington had to get a job in order to support himself and to cover any expenses his foster home didn’t cover.   He decided to join what he believed was the hardest service — The Marine Corps. However, a speed bump slowed down the process.   “It took me a year-and-a-half to be able to go to court and clear up all the legal issues I had built up so I could enlist,” explained Washington.   Despite the legal issues, Washington made it to recruit training.   Alone, recruit training is 13 weeks of mental and physical challenges but Washington encountered another obstacle he couldn’t have predicted while at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. He received a letter in the middle of training, informing him his foster brother he’d been living with for the past two years had died.   Unaware he had a new brotherhood he could lean on, Washington kept the tragedy to himself. Recruits of Platoon 1051 quickly realized their fellow brother wasn’t himself and informed their senior drill instructor.

“My senior drill instructor brought me into his office and asked me what’s wrong. I didn’t understand what he meant at the time,” explained Washington. “Once I told him though, he asked me why I hadn’t already told him. But I’ve never had anyone to tell things to. I usually just try to get through it myself.”   Throughout the remainder of recruit training, Washington leaned on the support of his fellow recruits and small talks he had with Sgt. Alfonso Torres, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1051, Company C, 1st Recruit Training Battalion.   Now, Washington will walk with his head held high come March 15, with his fellow new Marines of Co. C as they graduate recruit training.   “Now I want to give back to Sergeant Torres by reflecting what he instilled in me during my Marine Corps career,” said Washington.   Next, Washington will go to Marine Combat Training and combat engineering school. His primary goal is to use this as a stepping stone and to tryout for the Presidents Own.   “I want to share my gift,” said Washington.

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