David M. Roderick entered boot camp at Parris Island in 1942, spent three years in the Marine Corps, and went on to become the chairman and CEO of United States Steel Corporation in 1979. The Corps may not be aware of the link, but former Sergeant Roderick says the first prepared him for the second.
When I joined the Marine Corps, I was an aimless, quick-tempered, and decidedly immature kid of 18. Three years later, I came out as a man, with the discipline and work ethic that would take me to the top of one of the nation's largest corporations. It was just that simple—and just that profound.
My stint as a Marine wasn't distinguished. I volunteered in September 1942 after graduating from high school, but the training camps were overcrowded and I wasn't called up until the following December. I spent most of my time in routine jobs, six months on Midway and the rest in Hawaii with the 5th Amphibious Corps. I was a main-gate guard at Pearl Harbor, and later a paymaster's assistant on Maui. I eventually made sergeant, but I never saw combat or earned any medals.