Phil grew up in a very poor family in a very poor town. It was pretty bad. Sometimes Phil and his sisters didn't have enough to eat and went to bed hungry. That was okay with Phil though because that was his life, and he thought it was just the way everybody in the world lived.
Phil had a lot of fun and had many friends. It wasn't until Phil was about 12 years old that he began to realize that there were better things out there in the world. Phil and his best friend Albert would sit around and talk about getting out of this place to see the world. It was a fantasy, but it was a good fantasy. They really didn't know how they would do it, but they had a dream. Then one day Phil's cousin Ralphie came to visit.
Phil didn't know Ralphie very well. Ralphie grew up in Texas and was about 8 years older than Phil. It had been years since Phil saw his cousin. That day Ralphie changed Phil's life. Ralphie walked into the house wearing his Marine Corp uniform, and Phil knew at that moment that he wanted to become a Marine.
Phil and Ralphie talked all night long. Ralphie told him all about the Corp and Phil was fascinated. Ralphie was wearing his medals and awards, and his uniform was so neat and clean that Phil wanted to join at that moment. Five years later, Phil enlisted in the Marines. He was 17 and needed his mom's permission. His mom said "Where do I sign?"Â Of course she was joking, but she knew Phil was going to do this. It was his way out of this place, so she gave him her blessings. The day Phil left, he promised his mom he would be back. He kept his promise. He came back several times over the years, and helped his family as much as he could.