Alaska Writing Site
Learning to be mentally tough
By Alexis Brown
Imagine being stripped naked and left in the sun while being attacked by blood thirsty insects. What about spending three days for 24 hours each day in a tiger cage on your hands and knees while freezing water is poured over your sore body. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to stay awake for days, fighting sleep deprivation, malnutrition, and solitary confinement? This is the sort of pain marines endure; in fact, every soldier in the military has to go through boot camp. Jeff Doty was one of these marines.
In March of 1976, Mr. Doty signed his letter of commitment to the marines. Private, private first class, lance corporal, corporal, sergeant, staff sergeant, gunnery sergeant, master sergeant, first sergeant, master gunnery sergeant, and sergeant major, out of those ranks he was lance corporal. While in the marines, Doty trained to endure harsh weather. He was a forward observer for mortar fire, and would watch enemy fire markings for naval gunships. In 1979 Doty was discharged from the marines. Two years later he enrolled in the army. His rank as specialist enabled him to relay classified materials regarding Russia and the Middle East. He would gather information in countries like Iraq and Iran and transfer his findings. This was a very top secret and dangerous task. In 1984 he was out of the army. “The difference between marines and army,” says Mr. Doty, “is that the marines were far more challenging, physically and mentally.” Mr. Doty also encountered many bizarre happenings during his time in the marines and army.
The Hawaiian island Oahu was inhabited by not only pygmy goats, but also by military forces that used the island for bomb exercises. The goats weren’t intentionally blown up, but a few might have been killed. Other crazy stories consisted of gorillas in Alcida, a sniper mutilated a water buffalo because he was intoxicated, and a soldier even jumped out of a three story building window because his girlfriend sent him a “Dear John” letter. It really shows how mentally sound one has to be to involve themselves in the military.
Mr. Doty’s army experience was filled with many strange experiences as well. While playing football for the last six months, a man playing safety died after two wide receivers went up for the ball. He ruptured his spleen, kidney, and liver. After eight hours on the operating table he passed away. He also told the story of when his truck caught on fire. During his last day at Forger the fuel line broke and gas poured onto the engine. Needless to say, the fire rose up through the floor boards. He described it as, “Everything was burnt to a crisp.” The German police wanted to get into the back of the truck but since everything was classified Jeff had to deny their request. Despite many unfortunate events, Mr. Doty met his wife Barb Doty in the Army. Mr. Doty also faced many challenges outside of the military.
His trip from Colorado to Alaska was far from simple. Their water pump broke in Montana and, while driving through Fort Nelson, the hitch broke causing damage to the truck. The days were eight to nine hours long and the rest of the time was spent camping. When a bad snow machining trip went south and he rolled his machine, the final results were a hyper extended upper torso, two elbow surgeries, a herniated dislocated disc, and neck injuries. His advice to others is simple, “Don’t do it.”
Military life is not just something you do to pass the time. It’s a lif style that requires devotion. Jeff’s daughter Mariah says, “He has cool stories and thoughts from traveling all over the world,” It’s safe to say Jeff Doty has lived a life most can’t image; a life of adventure.