I wanted to be an MP, military police.  It was required to wait three months in the delayed entry program.  This was out of my control and more of a procedural thing with the United States Marine Corps. But, after the summer cottage disaster, I needed to pick myself up off the ground emotionally and get my ass in gear.  So, roughly mid-September 1989, a few weeks after getting my heart broken and confidence stomped on by my family, I went back to my recruiter and requested to be sent out on the next shipment.  I lost my bid as an MP, and I went in open contract waiting anxiously for my new job.

Before I knew it, there I was at Marine Corps Recruit Training Parris Island, South Carolina.  Female recruits were to report to Parris Island to receive their initial recruit training.  This training is typically a thirteen week process with physical and mental challenges designed to adapt the recruit to the Marine lifestyle.  The training promotes and emphasizes physical fitness as well as combat readiness and effectiveness.  Recruits are expected to maintain the highest of standards in cleanliness, physical fitness, in addition to weapons training and other United States Marine Corp standards.  I gave it 110% – mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I truly felt respected by my peers in terms of intelligence and physical fitness testing.  I was intensely focused on making everyone at Parris Island know that I was a force to be reckoned with.  I gave me a ton of confidence, albeit from strangers.  I was not the best in my platoon but that wasn’t for lack of effort.  I remember my “bunkie”, Straub and I competed against each other, motivating each other to what the Marine Corps would be proud of.   I few years back in 2013, I had the opportunity to meet up with some of my Marine Corps sisters 24 years later as we competed in the Fenway Spartan race.  I was undergoing radiation treatments at the time and my fellow Marines were right there with me again, just like at Parris Island.  Although we had gone our separate ways and had different lives at that point, it was truly inspirational to have them with me at that Fenway Spartan race. I will never forget the cadence to the finish with some of my platoon.  It will never be forgotten.

Monique Pichette in the Marine Corps

Physically, I was in the best shape of my life.  Emotionally, I was still searching, weak, and ultimately unsure of myself – who was I really, who am I trying to please, does anyone care?  My father was silent in my life for some time.  He didn’t talk to me, even when I left for boot camp.  But, slowly but surely, I started getting mail in boot camp every day.  In the end, my father was proud of me, attending my graduation with my mom.  His letters were like a tall drink of water after a 10 mile run.  His letters were a small glimmer of hope that he felt I was someone.  I think about those letters often.  If only they could have made me as emotionally strong as I was physically at that point in my life.

I excelled on the many math tests at Parris Island and it was decided that electronics would be my step as a Marine.  When I completed my recruit training at Parris Island, I was assigned to Twentynine Palms, CA. This site is the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.  I was slated for electronics school, not military police training, which was my first choice.  My fitness and intelligence scores were so high, they kept pushing me to get into electronics, so I did what I was told.  I referred to the Marine Corps as the most male dominated branch of the service earlier.  Well, talk about a male dominated organization – the ratio at 29 Palms was 10:1, male to female. This ratio never intimidated me, in fact, it continued to fuel my desire to be the best.  I turned to what I did best – fitness.  I trained every single day.  Hard.  I would mountain bike every day.  I was in the Mojave Desert so I had plenty of landscape to traverse.  I would go to the gym. Fitness was my drug and I inhaled it deeply every day.  I was so fit that I was awarded a meritorious mast.  I was in such good shape that I was asked to lead the morning runs.  Believe it or not, I actually trained my major and several other men.  The perception on the command center of Nique Pichette was “Marine is 1/3 gym rat, 1/3 dike, 1/3 whore.”  Well, at least they got the 1/3 gym rat correct.