Tributes & Stories


Ranker to Shavetail

Col John C. McKay, USMC (Ret.) '64

[Two articles in the January-February 2022 issue of Shipmate1 piqued my interest. “On the Brink: Alumni
Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis 60 Years Later” because I was a ranker in the military response to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis; and “Prior Enlisted: Enriching the Academy Experience” because I received my appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy from the ranks of the U.S. Marine Corps. Of course, in writing from memory one confronts the riddle of experience versus memory. It can be argued that humans in general are susceptible to this “cognitive trap.”2]

Less than two years out of leaving beloved Perú, aged 17 years, I enlisted in the Marine Corps. The mandatory
parental consent, required of those under 18 years of age, was secured through a bit of skullduggery, in connivance with S/Sgt Kelley, the Marine Recruiter. Patriotism was not a prime impetus. A keen desire to distance myself from my father, strike out on my own, and to gain admittance to the U. S. Naval Academy, were.

Read the full story here.