MCRD PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
"Through hell and back for a wounded Marine"are the words etched on Pfc. Shawn Dickens' stomach and embedded in his heart.
On his pale skin lays a mural of his life's true meaning, not given - but earned.
During training or war, he was there for Marines, nursing every wound either as the unit's doc, or just as a big brother.
Now ready to graduate recruit training, this private first class has a different story. For more than four of his last six years, he served in the Navy, and was embedded with the Fleet Marine Force. During his tenure, he lived as they did, looked like they did, but still was not one of them.
"All the guys that I served with were kids, but they didn't act like it,"Dickens said. "Somewhere along the line, these high schoolers turned into these professional young men and woman, but as an outsider, you could never possibly understand what they could have been through to reach that point."
Through tough times and great smiles, Dickens learned to love the Marine Corps from the Navy ranks, but he wanted more.
At the age of 24, and the rank of E-4, Dickens decided to turn in his crow for a chance to earn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
"It wasn't a hard choice,"Dickens said. "I knew I wanted to continue serving my country and what better way could I do it but with those I have grown to love and respect."
Dickens saw things that were very familiar after entering training. Not only did he know a lot of the training techniques, but he also was familiar with training sicknesses.
As second nature, those in the platoon adopted Dickens as the platoon corpsmen. They would consult Dickens before going to sick call and ask his opinion before they reported issues to their drill instructors.
"I had a heat rash,"said Pfc. Michael Porilio, also a new Marine of Platoon 1086. "Doc, took care of it. We can trust him, and you know he cares."
Almost all the platoon can attest to him helping in one way or another.
"I had a bump on my knee and Doc looked at it for me. He told me it looked like cellulitis and circled it to watch it progress,"said Pvt. Jonathan Flayntos.
Flayntos added that because of Docs recommendation to be seen, his knee was treated before it got worse.
Now fully on the green side, Dickens looks forward to learning more.
Dickens plans to stay in the Marine Corps until his retirement.
"My goal is to be the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, but I'll take first sergeant as well,"he added with a laugh.