Legal officer attacks work, play with equal intensity
By LCpl. Virgil P. Richardson
| | July 26, 2002
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT/ EASTERN RECRUITING REGION PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Since medieval times, taunting from one's peers can coerce individuals into undertaking colossal tasks that normally would not be attempted. From Shakespearian thumb-biting to the modern-day triple dog dare, no self-respecting individual - this usually applies to males - can say no to a challenge. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anthony J. Hatchett, Depot legal administration officer, is no exception.
"There was a man by the name of Gunnery Sergeant Faivai who was a short Samoan volleyball fanatic. He said if he hit 10 free throws in a row, I had to hit a volley ball the way he did," said Hatchett. "I was a basketball player from the city. Volleyball was a girls' sport to me at that point, but there was no way he was hitting 10 shots in a row."
After the gunny hit all 10 of his "Chuck Berry, granny style" under-handed free throws, Hatchett remembers the next three hours as not only infuriating, but also frustrating.
The experience paid off, however, as Hatchett made the Hawaii Regional Volleyball Team his first time out. Since then, opponents have felt the fury of the basketball player turned volleyball star, both locally and regionally as Hatchett competes throughout the Corps.
Hatchett was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., the oldest of six children, but was for the most part raised by a single mother. At the age of 13, his family moved to St. Louis, Mo. It was there that he harnessed the discipline his mother taught him and excelled academically.
Hatchett recalls gang membership in his neighborhood being more a necessity than the cool thing to do.
"People joined gangs to be protected. I didn't want that. I never saw myself in a gang, so I had to get out of there," recalled Hatchett. The decision to join the military is one that he believes saved his life.
"I would have wound up dead if I would have stayed there," said Hatchett.
While attending a recruiting fair, the opportunity arose for Hatchett to speak with representatives from all branches of the Armed Forces. Choosing which one to join was easy for the tough-as-nails scholar.
"I walked up to them and asked 'Which one of you guys is the toughest?'" Hatchett said with a laugh. " The Air Force guy said, 'the Marines.' So I went and talked to that guy."
Originally joining as an infantryman, the road to becoming a legal officer was a long one. Hatchett was assigned as the administrative Marine of his unit due to his ability to type fast. From there he was sent to Legal Administration School, after which he returned to his unit for more time as an infantryman. After 18 months with his unit, he was sent kicking and screaming to the legal shop on base.
"They sent me and I went. I would have rather stayed infantry, but I didn't have that choice," said Hatchett.
A man with Hatchett's intensity and fervor was meant to be on the drill field. Eight years after leaving Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Hatchett returned for a tour as a drill instructor.
Of the thousands of recruits that Hatchett trained, some stick out above the rest.
"Staff Sergeant [George] Hollingsworth is a drill instructor for 1st Recruit Training Battalion. He was one of my recruits," remembered Hatchett with a grin. "He always looked like he had a smile on his face. We spent some enormous time in the pit together trying to get rid of that smile."
A fondness for the drill field lies deep within Hatchett.
"I always knew I was putting out quality Marines," said Hatchett.
From time to time, drill instructors learn from their recruits. With a sense of pride and respect, Hatchett remembered such a time.
While doing the old Physical Readiness Test, a recruit developed a compound fracture in his leg. He fell to the ground and had a piece of bone protruding through his skin. As help was on the way, he began to crawl toward the finish line refusing to give up.
"[Recruit] Bud had that thing ... that look. I had to literally lie on top of him to keep him down. That's what being a Marine is all about," said Hatchett.
While taking a break from destroying opponents on the volleyball court, Hatchett has other pursuits to keep him busy.
"I love breaking cars and fixing them," said Hatchett
In addition to tinkering with cars, Hatchett and his family stay busy with civic organizations and volunteer work locally and abroad. Doing so is a responsibility, according to Hatchett.
"If you're blessed with health and ability to help, that's what you should do."
While in Okinawa, Japan, another dare set Hatchett up for a career move that would end up changing the rest of his life.
"I put in for the Warrant Officer Program on a dare. I was going to be a first sergeant and sergeant major. A couple of warrant officers said I was afraid I wouldn't make it, and that pushed all the right buttons."
After being accepted, Hatchett's wife, who was in the Air Force, took an early retirement to facilitate the career move.
"We had a deal, and she held up to her end. Without my family, I would not possibly be where I am today. I owe them a lot," said Hatchett.
When moving back to the United States, Hatchett did his part to thank his wife for her sacrifice.
"We live in Richmond Hill, Ga. It is a 62.7-mile trip to work, but when I saw the look on her face when we saw the house, I knew that she had to have it. The drive is a small sacrifice I can make for her."
After 21 years of active service, Hatchett isn't looking to retire any time soon,
"I'm still having fun. It's not time to quit yet," said Hatchett.
While ideally Hatchett would love to be out jumping out of planes and running around with the infantry, he doesn't regret the choice to join the Corps.
"Life has been good to grand ever since," said Hatchett about life since choosing to leave the inner city for the Marines.
Currently preparing to try out for the Regional Volleyball Team, Hatchett looks to impose more pain on the opposition.
"I may be older than some of those guys, but I handle my business. I hope they underestimate me."