From Polio To 1st Lt

In early June, 1941 I had me tonsils nearly rupture and I had to have emergency surgery. Ten days later I was back at the hospital with paralytic polio (it was the wrong time of the year.) By 1942 I was totally paralyzed and the doctor told my mother I would more than likely die soon.

It was at this time I heard on the radio that the 1st Marine Division had landed on Guadalcanal. I was only six, but realized that I wanted to be a Marine, even though I had never seen or heard of one (I lived in the blue Mountains of NE Oregon.) I also decided the Corps would not take me if I was in bed. I then spent the next 11 years learning to walk and building up my strength. 

In 1953 I enlisted in the Marine Corps Active Reserves in Philadelphia, PA. I was attending Villanova University at the time and my Recruiter told me we need officers as much as anybody. I attended OTC in my summers and drills each week, raising from Pvt. to Sgt. (E4) In June 1957 I had the proudest day of my life when I graduated in dress whites and pinned on the bars of a 2nd Lieutenant. We had lost 56% of those who had originally started training with me.

Next came 3-57 Basic School and then on to Del Mar for Tank School. Then back to Lejeune and Bravo Company of the 2nd Tank Battalion. I was lucky to get a Platoon Sgt. named Gunny John Harrington. The first day I took him aside and told him he had two jobs, one run the platoon, and second to train me to be a d*mn good tank officer, then when I felt ready, I would take over.

He did a great job and soon I was ready. We were on independent duty, assigned to various Infantry Battalions, for the next 14 months and I was gone overseas. Then it was to several schools and finally our Battalion XO, Maj. Malcom, USMC, went to DC to check and make sure I would be around for a while since I had been gone so much. With the assurances of at least another year, he returned and I was assigned as CO of H&S Co., 2nd Tanks.

About then Cuba started heating up with Fidel threatening to cut the water off to Gitmo. Our entire Tank Battalion shipped out, just before I received orders to the 3rd Tank Battalion, 3rd Mar. Div. (HQ, USMC said I had been Stateside long enough and needed to see some overseas duty even though I had actually been aboard the Base for less than 90 days.) I had just finished my inventory and signed for the gear of the Company, when the orders arrived. We loitered off Cuba’s coast for a few days, then went on to Viegas, PR to unlimber stiff muscles. I was there but a short time when I flew out on an R4Q back to Lejeune and then on to Okinawa on a DC6 with stops in Hawaii, Wake, Guam and finally Okinawa.

In June, 1959, I arrived at the 3rd Tank Battalion and was assigned as XO of Alpha Co. The Battalion Commander was Lt. Col. David M. Foos, USMC. About 6 months into the assignment, I was transferred to the 3rd AT Battalion as their Maintenance Officer. Here, my CO was Lt. Col. Guildo. S. Codispotti III, USMC. I was in this capacity for the rest of my tour of 22 months (Yes, not 18, but 22 thanks to Sec. of Defense McNamera). Then it was back to Quantico where I was assigned as CO, HQ Company Main Side. I was released from active duty in October, 1961. I then learned how to fly and spent the next 20 odd years flying until 1988 when I was diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome. The Dr.s said I would be back on crutches or in a wheel chair within 2 years. One thing the Corps taught me is perseverance, and that you never give up. It has been 21 years, but I am still not giving in and I walk several miles a week with my wife and my Siberian Husky.

I am proud to drive a car with a front bumper plate that says I am a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and my back license plate holder says US Marine Corps and on the back windows are the stickers of the 2nd and 3rd Div. I also proudly wear a hat that has the emblem and emblazoned on the brim is “The Few, The Proud.” I also have a vest that displays the patches of the 2nd and 3rd Tank Battalions. I cannot count the number of men who have approached me and said, “Semper Fi” and I reply “Ooorah.” Then we exchange units we were in and share the pride of belonging to the proudest and greatest brotherhood in the world, THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS.”

A very proud former Marine.
1st. Lt. Edward L. Dodd, USMC 073558

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5 thoughts on “From Polio To 1st Lt”

  1. I loved your story, shows the real grit of a Marine. I grew up without a father, mostly raised by my grandmother. Had lots of chances to get into trouble, but God kept me on the straight & narrow. I decided to join the USMC when I graduated from H.S. & found it was the best decision I ever made. It got me straightened out & pointed in the right direction for the rest of my life. I spent my all-expenses paid Asian vacation in Viet Nam in 1968, 3rd Marines & returned home. I got out of the Marines and soon missed it so much, I joined the local police dept. Basically the same kind of outfit, just exhanged uniforms. I even was a private investigator for awhile after that. I’m always proud of my time in the Marines. Now I’m long retired from the P.D., but as my life shows I’m still out there helping people & volunteering with all kinds of causes. I wear my Marine hats, shirts, etc., my car has USMC decals & my golf cart is a walking advertizement for the Corp. My cart is red with black trim, with decals, license plates & USMC flags all over it. It’s name is “Marine One”. I’m in a veterans club & of course assigned to the flag detail, where I carry our flag. Everyone knows I’m a Marine & I love the feeling of respect you get from your peers. Some might tease you, call you a “jarhead” or something similar, but they’re either jealous or just teasing. You never see any of the other branches talking or bragging about their time in the service, only Marines. Whenever I pass another Marine either young and still active or an old war dog like me, I go out of my way to say”Semper Fi” to them. We’re a brother hood & part of the greatest outfit ever created. Take care Marines, I’ll see y’all in Valhalla somewhere in the future, where we can guard the gates together!

  2. Col. Morrill- thank you for going out of your way to recognize and acknowledge Marines anywhere you encounter them. I try to do the same. A couple of years ago my wife and I were having lunch at a nice restaurant in Orlando. Seven Marines walked in and sat down across the room. No idea why they were there. Doesn’t matter. Told the young lady at the bar to give me their check but don’t tell them until I had left. She asked why. Told her they asked to wear the uniform and to serve. She started to cry. Couldn’t under why I was buying for stangers. Maybe she began to understand a little about our brotherhood. Semper Fi. John Foltz MABS-33, El Toro 1966,11th Motor Transport, 2nd CAG Vietnam 1967–1968

  3. Was diagnosed with stage 4 tonsiler throat cancer in 2009 and given a 20-25% chance of survival. When they gave me the prognosis I looked my oncologist in the eye and said…. “If Viet Nam couldn’t kill me forty years ago, this GD cancer has no chance!” Went through 16 chemos and 36 radiation treatments. This year will mark my tenth year in remission. I can understand and relate to how you feel Lt. Dodd. Semper fi to you sir !!!!

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