View Full Version : Loss helps McDonald see new path to future goals

03-19-06, 08:46 AM
Lance Cpl. Timothy P. McDonald, company honorman, will walk across the parade deck today with 1093 emblazed on his platoon's guidon and marching to the tune provided by Marine Band San Diego.

McDonald graduated from Vista High School, Oceanside, Calif., in June 2000. During his high school career, McDonald played his favorite sport, baseball, for the high school's varsity team. His love for the game stemmed from early childhood and a fond memory of his father.

"My dad, Mike, played ball," said the second-baseman. "He got me into the game when I was younger. It's a mental and physical game. It just clicked with me. My father died of a heart attack shortly after. I continued playing in memory of him. I grew to love the sport over time."

With the loss of his father, McDonald was without a solid role model. Later in life he latched onto his neighbor, Tom Fidel.

Fidel is currently a civilian police officer and served as a military police officer for the Marine Corps. He took the young McDonald out with him in his cruiser and showed him a little about police work. Seeing his neighbor in action sparked an interest for the occupational field in McDonald's mind.

McDonald was working a full-time job at a warehouse and hitting the books just as hard in college.

Driving the forklift, stocking the shelves and cramming his brain soon became too much for him to take. Enjoying the job and liking the money became more appealing than his grades and education. McDonald soon let himself into a pattern leaning more towards work and less toward higher learning.

McDonald faced two choices in his head, a degree or the Marine Corps. "It came down to one decision for me," said McDonald. "I either had to stop working so much and concentrate more on earning my degree, or join the Marine Corps."

McDonald decided to strive for the coveted title, Marine. With the interest of upholding the law stemming from his neighbor, he decided to become a military policeman.

"Tom was a captain in the Marine Corps and was also an M.P.," said McDonald. "He is the main reason I wanted to be a cop, I decided to follow in his footsteps. I want a job that is different every day. Of course there is going to be paperwork involved but I didn't want to be tied down to a desk all day."

On June 13, McDonald left his home in Oceanside and headed toward Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. He and a few others from around the immediate area arrived at the Depot for recruit training early that afternoon and were assigned to a working party.

"I heard everything that was going on when the other recruits arrived but I was on a working party and was really involved in it," said McDonald. "Even though I was passing out gear and detached from the rest of the group, I still found myself wondering what I had gotten myself into. I could hear things being thrown around and the drill instructors yelling, I was terrified."

Much like every recruit that enters recruit training, McDonald found himself bewildered and confused. A short time after pick-up, during the first day of actual training, an action or response from the recruit kindled an interest in his senior drill instructor's mind.

"He was a little timid at first," said Staff Sgt. Scott L. Chapman, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1093. "Around training-day one something about him caught my attention. Even though it was early in training, he responded without hesitation to a drill instructors question. I saw a spark in him and that he was quick to pick up on things. I made him the guide and worked with him from there."

Throughout training, as is custom, McDonald lost his billet and gained it back several times. He didn't let the loss of the guidon and leadership get him down.

Even though he no longer wore the platoon numbers, he continued to push the platoon.

"We switched back and forth between guides," said Mark A. Baird, scribe, Platoon 1093. "McDonald was the best at motivating the platoon. He always pushed the most."

It took a little gentle persuasion from his senior to convince McDonald that he had it in him to lead the platoon.

"He wasn't that confident," said Chapman. "He didn't seem like he felt that he was up for the job. I used a little persuasive means to show him just what he was capable of. He got confused at times and was overwhelmed by others, but he fought through it and picked up on the things that were thrown at him.

"He also showed a little intelligence," added Chapman. " Once he realized what I was looking for in him, he started looking for the same in the squad leaders. He was already developing a level of leadership."

"The platoon was tired, drained and hungry during the Crucible," said the company honorman. "Everyone was moving slower than usual. The drill instructors still expected the same pace from us. Once we reached the top of the Reaper, I knew it was all downhill from there."

McDonald leads his platoon and his company across the parade deck today for their graduation and 10 days of well-earned leave.