Graduation Day; "Marching Orders" - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Graduation Day; "Marching Orders"

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San Diego, CA (WXOW) When you ask a Marine to name the best moment of boot camp many will say it was either receiving their eagle globe and anchor or being dismissed after graduation.

350 Marines crossed the graduation parade deck in May, including Tomah native Private Timothy Gilpin Junior. Private Gilpin almost didn't graduate-making the ceremony even more special for Tim and his family.

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The young men walking across the graduation parade deck are not the same men who arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot 13 weeks ago. They stand a little taller, their chests are a little broader, and above their brow they proudly wear a pin only bestowed upon a United States Marine. "I have a better sense of pride about myself.", say Pvt. Gilpin.

At one point during boot camp, Private Gilpin didn't think he would graduate. Shortly after arriving in San Diego Tim got pneumonia. Thousands of miles from home, the Tomah native wanted to quit. "I had planned on leaving, but it didn't happen. They wouldn't let me leave."

Looking back, Private Gilpin says forcing him to stick it out was the best thing his Drill Instructor did for him. "He asked me if I was going to thank him now for not letting me go home, and I was glad he didn't".

Pushing himself through illness, as well as the physical and mental challenges of recruit training, changed Tim. The pride he now carries in his heart is as striking as his swagger. "Everything is different. He walks different and his mannerisms are different", says Tim's mom Gina. 

Like the thousands of young men who stood on this parade deck before him, Private Gilpin is now a member of an elite class of warriors. "I feel I can accomplish just about anything that comes my way." Tim is proud to wear the uniform and proud to be a Marine.

Private Gilpin told us the first thing he planned to do after leaving the Depot was get a slice of sausage pizza. Tim headed back to Wisconsin after graduation to visit family and friends.

He returned to San Diego 10 days later to begin motor vehicle operator training.

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