Corps Vet: More Than a Secret Mission-A Life-long Tour of Duty is a story of hope, determination, and courage. Dick Hrebik was born to first generation Czech immigrants who worked the coal mines in southern Illinois. His story provides insights into a recent by-gone era of what it meant to achieve the American Dream. Dick’s inspiring personal story demonstrates how one can overcome adversity and embrace life changes to create a happy and fulfilling life. His core principles of putting family first, accepting everyone regardless of their ethnicity or religion, and loyalty to God and country were entrenched by age 12 when his mother died. Joining the Marine Corps at age 18 expanded Dick’s family and became the beginning of a life-long tour of duty. His 23 year tenure with the Corps was simply the start of a life of service to his country and helping others. His military adventures took him on many secret missions during the Vietnam War, and he had the opportunity to serve with many influential military figures. There is much to be gleaned from this member of the Silent Generation. His experiences, knowledge, and commitment can serve as a bridge in fostering understanding between different generations. Corps Vet allows one to peer into the window of the military and better understand the making of a Marine. It provides insight into the motivations, courage, pride, and grace of a soldier that still ring true for young men and women who choose to proudly serve our country today. Dick has and continues to live a life of honor. He’s always faithful.
“Book Excerpt – Coming of Age”
I was 16 years old and Pop and I were having an argument. As he raised his right hand to hit me, I moved to his left side grabbing his arm, and from behind him grabbed his right arm. I locked my hands around him and pinned both arms against his body. “Pop, I can’t let you hit me.”
Pop had done some boxing as a young man, but I was a wrestler. He tried to loosen his arms from my grip, but when he realized he couldn’t he grudgingly said, “Guess you think you’re pretty strong — does that make you feel good?” It didn’t. As a matter of fact, it made me feel awful. But I couldn’t turn the other cheek then, and have never been one to do so since. It is just not in me to let anyone hit me. What’s more, Pop had never attempted to strike me. Hell, he seldom ever raised his voice to me. I was his favorite son — the one who could do no wrong. On the other hand, Pop never appeared to be pleased with my brother Billy, who was six years older than me. He never took Billy hunting or fishing as he did me. Billy was not the athlete or sportsman I was. Whatever Billy did, Pop hollered at him, threatened him with his razor strop, whipped him or locked him in the hall closet. I made sure I didn’t do what Billy did. So, whatever I did do, Pop was pleased with me. Perhaps those early years were the beginning of the Marine in me.
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