Young men and women walk into recruiting stations every day. They're here for a variety of reasons: a new direction in life, training a need to serve. Those that sign up face a tough entry into military life training designed to produce a soldier. Most will make it, some won't.
Pvt. Loren Houle, U.S. Marine Corps, " I'm sorry I can't be GI Joe....Gung Ho Marine....the Marine Corps isn't made for everyone."
We imagine Loren Houle felt otherwise when he signed up. We might imagine his recruiter saw the makings of a Marine. He had already turned some corners in his life, moving from a troubled childhood to graduate from high school and community college, working as a firefighter to support himself. He decided the Marine Corps would be a good next step. Boot camp changed his mind.
Houle says he expected it to be hard, he even watched one of his friends die. He says the physical abuse from drill instructors surprised and dismayed him, souring him on life in the service, but he graduated from boot camp. This January while he was in advanced training, his mother's medical and monetary problems worsened. He walked away from his base in San Diego and came home. Three months later he's now a deserter....on the run...always looking over his shoulder.
Houle says it was a instructor in his ROTC class at Carson City High that prompted him to choose the corps. We put him on the phone with Sergeant Major Wayne Baker. A long conversation about rights and responsibility followed. The conversation didn't change anything, but Houle says it helped. Besides he already knows what he has to do. And he's trying to get up the courage to go back and deal with it.
Private Houle is staying with friends while he wrestles with that choice. He expects punishment when he returns. People we've talked with say he faces a court martial, certainly sometime in the brig and some kind of separation from the service. Most of all he hopes to avoid a dishonorable discharge, something that at 19 he knows could dog him for the rest of his life.