MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (December 2, 2015) - Losing someone to cancer isn't easy for people to deal with. There are many things that can happen in someone's life. One Marine didn't expect for cancer to strike three times in his lifetime.
Private Robert J. Bailey, Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, chose to join the Marine Corps after losing family members to cancer and create a more positive life for himself.
Private Robert J. Bailey, Platoon 3267, Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, executes rear-hand punches after body boxing at Edson Range, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 2, 2015. To keep the rest of the recruits busy while waiting for their turn to fight, the recruits participate in Marine Corps Martial Arts Program exercises led by their squad leaders. After graduating from recruit training, Bailey will attend the School of Infantry to further his training.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angelica Annastas)
Bailey was born in Leport, Ind., and growing up was a difficult feat to accomplish when he lost his sister and mother at a young age. His mother passed from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and his sister passed from Leukemia both around the ages of six and seven.
Bailey slowly started to adjust to his life being turned upside-down, and school didn't make things any easier for him. His teachers were good but he didn't like being there.
“It was weird the next day at school, [after my loved ones passed],” said Bailey. “I remember I was in the fourth-grade and when I went to school, people asked me about it or brought it up. I didn't really want to talk about it at the time.”
Bailey's father began to take care of him after that, but things didn't get any easier living with him.
He and his father had many differences, which caused Bailey to become very independent. When he was 16 years old, Bailey's father passed away from a cancer that spread after enduring heart problems and an infection that spread through his body.
After his father's death, Bailey moved in with his grandparents.
“They had to do all this legal paperwork that put me under their care,” said Bailey. “After my father passed away, I kind of turned to religion.”
Bailey was raised as a Catholic, but he turned away from it after his sister's death. While searching through his father's personal items, Bailey found a scapular medal, which is a religious token that is worn as a necklace.
“I just put it on one day and never took it off,” said Bailey. “I got the inspiration from that to get tattoos in memory of my loved ones. So now I have crosses with their names tattooed on me.”
Bailey started praying again, and he found that he was able to find some type of spiritual motivation through his religion.
“I wanted to get back into my religion again,” said Bailey. “I was reminded that God is ever-loving, and it was something that helped me get through a lot because of everything that happened.”
As Bailey continued to grow up, he decided that he wanted to go off and live on his own.
“I wanted to get a roommate and rent a house,” said Bailey. “Of course my grandparents didn't like it, but it was something I wanted to do.”
When Bailey turned 18 years old, he rented an apartment with his significant other.
As time went on, Bailey wanted something that would allow him to feel more secure and stable with living. A month before he was shipped off to recruit training, his one-year lease expired and he chose to move back with his grandparents.
“I came across a Marine recruiter and we had a long talk about what the Marine Corps could do for me,” said Bailey. “It was clear that it could provide me with a stable income and housing would come with it. It was pretty clear that this was going to be good for me.”
Bailey's family didn't want him to join at first, but he saw the opportunity and he took it.
“My family eventually became supportive, but they were still a little worried because it's the military,” said Bailey. “I thought about being able to have [the security that the military provides], and I thought it's not what your country does for you, it's what you do for it.”
When Bailey was finally sent off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, he thought about what his older brother said to him.
“He thought I couldn't make it, so I used that as motivation,” said Bailey. “I've learned a lot in recruit training and my drill instructors kept me going as well.”
Bailey looked up to his drill instructors as training went on, especially his senior drill instructor.
“He was like the father I never had,” said Bailey. “The other drill instructors always told us motivating stories; we learned a lot from them.”
Bailey slowly realized that everything started to look up for him. The one thing on his mind after graduating recruit training was proposing to his girlfriend.
“She would always send me a stack of letters in recruit training, like every week,” said Bailey. “I plan on using my mother's wedding ring when I propose to her.”
With recruit training over and done with, Bailey will be sent to the School of Infantry to further his training, and then he will go to school to eventually become a motor transportation operator.
“You should never give in,” said Bailey. “You should always push yourself and dig deep. I'm excited for whatever comes after this.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Angelica Annastas
Provided through DVIDS
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