Like many of my posts, this is about my novel. I had a source for information about Marines, but as he is no longer available to me I’m turning to the Dope.
One of the novel’s two protagonists, Andy, is a 13-year-old boy whose dead father was a retired Marine gunnery sergeant. Andy wishes to follow in his father’s footsteps and considers himself a future leatherneck, as his father was a former leatherneck.
In a pivotal chapter in the story, Andy sees his stepfather, also a retired Marine, with a rifle in hand, about to attack another character. This, incidentally, is the moment that Andy sees most inescapably that his stepfather is not the honorable man he, Andy, has believed him to be. As originally written, Andy thinks of the weapon in question as simply a rifle; but, as I look over my manuscript that seems unsatisfying. It would be good for the story, I think, for the stepfather to have taken the rifle with him when he left the service, and for Andy to recognize and name the specific weapon, as he seems likely to immerse himself in Marine lore.
Which brings me to my questions:
Is it reasonable for the stepfather, a career officer, to have taken such a weapon with him when he left the Corps? He was, incidentally, forced to retire because he wasn’t promoted, though Andy does not know this.
Assuming the stepfather could have reasonably taken such a rifle, what would it have been? He retires as a major in 1984 or so, and served in Vietnam.
Is it reasonable for the stepfather to have been a platoon commander in 1968 but to have been a pilot later?
When Andy realizes that his stepfather has betrayed his family, he stops thinking of him as a former Marine; from that point forward, he emphasizes that he’s an ex-Marine. I wrote this because my former source for Marine lore told me that, in the Corps, he’d call only someone who left the Corps in good standing a former Marine; someone in disgrace would be ex. Is this right?