November 1975, when I was a young and eager 18 year old, I was selected by vote of the platoon to receive the Molly Marine Award. This award was given to the recruit which best exemplifies the spirit of Molly Marine and was the best example of a United States Marine. At the time, I likened it to the “Miss Congeniality” Award. I was liked, fair, caring and motivated. My spirit in Boot Camp was always high. I spoke the truth and shared my willingness to listen to other recruit problems and issues. I helped out where needed and consoled those who were feeling down. When I graduated from Boot Camp I also received the honor of being selected for the “Dress Blues” Honor Graduate award for BOTH platoons. My experience in Boot Camp was truly a very special time of my life.
What do I think about the award and why I was selected?
Boot Camp happened over 35 years ago for me, and I can still go back to Parris Island in my mind like it was yesterday. I loved it. Really. Every minute spent in Boot Camp was so different and exciting to me. I was 17 years old and had graduated from High School the previous June. Joining the Marine Corps was something I had decided to do during my senior year. While all my friends were being accepted to college, I decided on the Corps; no one encouraged me, I had no role models to follow, or relatives (I knew of) that served. I wanted to join the “Elite Force”. I had the drive and determination to be the best that I could be, to excel, to learn, and to have ADVENTURE. Each day I did my very best and put my best foot forward. My main objective was to BE positive and STAY positive. When situations went wrong for the platoon, I tried to lift up everyone’s spirits and get the platoon back in the right direction.
In one example I can recall the low morale our platoon had after a really poor drill practice. I vividly remember Gunny Carter screaming at us, saying how bad and pathetic we were, telling the platoon he was “Through with us.” The whole platoon felt the lowest of lows and that we were doomed. After we headed back into the squad-bay, I remember telling everyone that we shouldn’t give up, and to keep working on it and get it right on our own. I remember trying to make everyone laugh about it and think on the bright side, trying to turn the negative into positive. I also recall helping out the girls who couldn’t remember their right foot from their left in the the laundry room and squad-bay, in the head, practicing “about face”, standing at attention, saluting and “snapping to”. “Snapping to” was a concept not many of the girls understood, the idea of being crisp and sharp wasn’t working. So we practiced over and over, until, as a platoon we finally worked it all out. After demonstrating to the Gunny that we had “conquered” the hurdle, in his own grumpy Gunny voice he told us how surprised he was of “the Herd”. I think he was being nice?
To what do I account for my motivation and positive outlook?
I really think it was my upbringing. My family was supportive and a positive force in every aspect of my life. I always had a sense of humor and would find the bright side to everything. Being a part of a group or association like Girl Scouting, working as a team, team building and sharing helped as well. Another positive aspect was my creative side, being able to see and create with an imaginative mind. Being able to “see” the picture, looking at the positive aspects and making them come to fruition, not just in shape and form, but imaginative.
How do I feel about the Molly Marine Award today?
My Molly Marine statue stands about 12 inches high, is ceramic, with a black pearl glaze. Typed in gold states: “Molly Marine Award for Noteworthy Achievement presented by The Women Marines Association”. On the back is a bronze nameplate that says: “Heidi J. Larson Platoon 9B”. The statue is much more than a statue. It represents an honor far beyond anything I have received in life. To be selected by your “sisters” as being the BEST example of a United States Marine is the highest honor one can imagine. My immediate thought at the time was not about ME…but all the girls. My platoon, my sisters who worked together, drilled together, PT’d together, breathed the same air together. We became ONE. One platoon. We thought as one. It is an example of sisterhood, and long lasting bonds. I didn’t stand out in my own mind. I was part of the ONE. This, to me, is what the Molly Marine award means.
Today I am a happy, healthy, and creative 53 year-old woman. I teach Art and Design and love my job. I have a wonderful family and I hope to pass on the same true positive spirit on to my son. Thank you to the platoon members from 9B 1975. I have not forgotten you, nor have I forgotten the honor you gave to me.
Heidi (Larson) Hurley