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.
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.”
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.
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
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.”
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
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
“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
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
The U.S. Marines
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