The Marine Corps

Overcoming Rejection

"The world stood still for a moment."

"When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the world stood still for a moment. What are we going to do? And I thought, well, everybody is supposed to be doing something. So I decided I'm going to analyze the major armed forces. Army, Navy, Air Corps, and Marines. When I looked at the Marine Corps, I thought, 'The units are very small, very efficient. This has to be my way.' And so I tried to join the Marine Corps, but I was turned down. Doing all the farm work and sawmill work and so forth, I had injured this right foot and this calf of this leg [points to right leg]. It was about half the strength of what it should be. So they turned me down, and I was quite disappointed.

So my Sunday school teacher was a doctor. I went to visit him and he said, 'Let me check a clinic that might be able to help you.' And so he did, and he lined me up with a clinic in Atlanta that I would attend Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday. It would take a year for me to redevelop all these muscles. And that went on for almost a year, and my right leg and foot was as strong as my left one, and I felt that everything was just fine. So in 1943 I volunteered again, and I was accepted into the Marine Corps at that time."

Editor's note: Between 1942 and 1943, Alton Cadenhead traveled to Atlanta for therapy three days a week and attended college classes four days a week in LaGrange, Georgia.