Late in U.S. Marine Corps boot camp, Pvt. Taylor Fredrickson suffered a major setback.
It was November 2010, with only four days of training left, and he was sent to the Medical Rehabilitation Platoon after suffering a stress fracture in his left tibia.
“I got dropped, I was angry I couldn’t finish with my platoon, and I was all unmotivated and mad,” said Fredrickson, 18, a 2010 Moffat County High School graduate.
“I went to my company’s graduation (on Dec. 3), I saw the graduation. As soon as they got dismissed, I don’t know why, I was just motivated instantly. I watched and was like, ‘That’s going to be me … that’s going to be me.’”
On Jan. 28, it was Fredrickson’s turn going through boot camp graduation, despite the stress fracture that hasn’t completely healed.
Fredrickson spent five months training at Camp Pendleton and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, two months longer than a typical boot camp.
He arrived back in Craig on Jan. 29, and will return Feb. 8 to California.
Upon his return, he will go to the Broken Marine Platoon for an estimated 4 to 6 weeks while his injury continues healing. Once healed, he’ll start Marine Combat Training, which will last a month.
For Fredrickson, the Marine Corps is part of a journey that started early.
As a child, he had military influences.
Two of his uncles served in Vietnam, and his grandfather was a World War II veteran. All three served in the U.S. Navy.
Growing up, he was involved in multiple sports, including wrestling and football. But, he didn’t continue to play at the high school level, instead opting for weights and snowboarding.
During that time, his first thoughts about the future didn’t include the military.
“I was always thinking about college,” Fredrickson said. “I didn’t think about (the military) too much. Then, I got a call from an Army recruiter and I went and talked to him. That got me more interested in the military.”
His friend and classmate, Pfc. Paul Collins, recommended he look into the Marine Corps, instead.
“I talked to the Marine recruiter and everything he said was, like, better. He convinced me about the Marines more than the Army,” Fredrickson said. “I wanted the hardest training and the best, you know?”
Along with Collins and Fredrickson, classmate Devon Enochs also joined the Marine Corps.
“I wanted the discipline,” Fredrickson said. “I wanted to know that I did something useful, you know? I didn’t want to go to college and have to worry about paying for it and have to worry about all the bad parts about college. I figured I could just join the Marine Corps and get educated in the Marine Corps.”
Fredrickson enlisted several months before high school graduation, although his mother was worried about the choice.
“We butted heads about it,” said Lisa Molison, who now describes herself as a “gung-ho Marine mom.”
“We never argued, but he wanted to go and out of my own selfishness, I didn’t want him to go. I said, ‘I don’t think you know what you’re doing, I think you might be making a mistake.’ He said, ‘If I am, it was my mistake.’”
Fredrickson was scheduled to leave for boot camp in October 2010, but jumped at the chance to leave a month earlier.
Although he’s always been active, he said boot camp was not an easy transition.
“It was really hard at first,” Fredrickson said. “The way they do everything, it makes the easiest tasks hard. Making your bed is hard in the beginning because it has to be perfect, has to be their way, and they’re yelling at you the whole time.
“By the time you’re (in the) third phase, towards the end of training, it doesn’t even matter anymore. It doesn’t even bother you.”
After the injury, it took Fredrickson eight weeks before his leg was healed enough to finish boot camp.
The final days were spent in a 54-hour team exercise known as “The Crucible,” in which meals and sleep are limited.
It’s designed to use all skills taught over the course of boot camp.
Over the course of the exercise, he said he got seven blisters on each foot, all while his injured tibia continued to bother him.
“I just toughed it out because I knew if I dropped out of ‘The Crucible,’ there’s a good chance they’d send me home,” Fredrickson said. “Quitting never really crossed my mind. It was just something that I knew I had to do. I had to tough it out and just finish.”
Once he finished, he graduated. At his graduation, his mother couldn’t help but cry.
“His attitude has always been really good, but as soon as I saw him (in uniform), I knew this is what he was supposed to do,” Molison said.
Fredrickson is also proud of what he’s done.
“It’s the hardest thing I ever did, but it was definitely worth it,” he said. “Every minute was worth it, all five months.”
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