WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kevin Tisdale’s time in the Marine Corps started with a bet. The youngest of five, one of Tisdale’s older brothers told him he couldn’t handle joining the military. His response was game on.
The next thing Tisdale knew, his father was signing the waiver for him to go into the Delayed Entry Program.
“Ain’t nobody thought I could, you know, but they didn’t realize that after you get beat up every day, and you just start getting immune to it, you know, it just doesn’t affect you, and I know good and well that I can,” Tisdale said.
In 1978, Tisdale would begin his training to become a Marine—heading to sunny San Diego.
“I’m a Hollywood Marine,” Tisdale said with a laugh.
Tisdale would go into telecommunications at Camp Pendleton, but he wouldn’t stay in that role long.
“And there was a, I guess it was a time where it was racial, I, I didn’t know that when they stuck me there, and I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Tisdale said.
Tisdale recalled a night he says gives him nightmares to this day—a fight that started outside his room quickly turned into an attack.
“They was coming out the windows and doors and everything with sticks and shovels, and, hey, I just wasn’t dying tonight. I didn’t feel it,” Tisdale said.
Despite being hit in the head with a shovel and suffering a broken nose as a result, Tisdale reported for duty the next morning, where he would be immediately reassigned.
“I went from where I was at to a camp to Japan, Okinawa, Japan,” Tisdale said.
There, Tisdale took a corporal’s place and became the NCOIC of the Guard.
“It was fun to tell you the truth,” Tisdale said. “You know, it was busy, I hardly ever slept on the guard itself. I was in charge of 21. Every one or two hours, you gotta walk to make sure everybody’s still up and doing their job.”
Tisdale also became the NCOIC for the Color Guard at Camp Hansen as well.
“On certain weekends, me and my color guard, we also had to do guard at the front gate,” Tisdale said. “I don’t care who you are: a captain, a colonel, a general—you don’t come through that gate unless we wave you through.”
Tisdale would remain in charge for roughly four years until the day he learned a two-star general was coming to the base. Realizing he had left one of his uniforms in quarters he no longer occupied, he went to retrieve it.
“I never lived there. All I did was come to get a uniform, then then they wanted me to clean up there. ‘Why should I clean up here, I got other things I gotta take care of?’ they didn’t seem to understand that,” Tisdale said.
Tisdale says the sergeant who gave the orders then started to leave in a huff when suddenly, he fell.
“When he fell, he fell kind of like in my locker, and it was open, so I shut the locker. That’s all I did,” Tisdale said.
The sergeant was shortly freed thereafter, but Tisdale would be sent to the brig for 30 days of hard labor as a result.
“We busted a big ol’ rock from sun-up to sundown, and I tell you, it was sun-up to sundown,” Tisdale said.
After his time in the brig, Tisdale would be sent to 29 Palms in California, where he would finish his military career.
“This is a person they made,” Tisdale said. “They made me, but they found out they couldn’t break me. But hey, you know, it just made me more wiser, that’s all. I’ll put it like this, I was a lot stronger when I came out. It’s been a wild ride.”
If you would like to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Hannah Adamson at email@example.com.