Grandfather, friend inspired Chicago native to join Corps

Grandfather, friend inspired Chicago native to join Corps

Pvt Bakari Lindsey-Khalis, Platoon 1015, Company A, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. crawls under cantina wire during the Copland's Challenge event of the Crucible at Edson Range, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, April 30. Lindsey-Khalis joined the Marine Corps in honor of his grandfather, a Montfort Point Marine, and in memory of his deceased friend. Photo by Cpl Tyler Viglione.

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (May 13, 2014) - Pvt Bakari A. Lindsey-Khalis, Platoon 1015, Company A, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, had a different type of motivation to join the Corps than most.

"My grandfather, James M. Lindsey, served in the Marine Corps, and I wanted to follow his footsteps," said Lindsey-Khalis. "He was a Montfort Point Marine."

In 1942, President Roosevelt established a presidential directive to allow African Americans to serve in the Marine Corps. They did not go through recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego or Parris Island, S.C. but at Montfort Point, N.C., where they were segregated from the Caucasians.

"My grandfather was my biggest motivation," said Lindsey-Khalis. "He would always tell me stories, and I knew how big of a part of history he was."

Although he only spent a small amount of time with his grandfather prior to recruit training, the influence from him was pivotal in developing his admiration for the Corps.

"I learned to respect the Marine Corps from my grandfather," said Lindsey-Khalis who felt he wanted to join not only because of him but other things in his life as well.

Lindsey-Khalis, a Chicago native, was under the care of his sister until his first year in high school. Lindsey-Khalis explained his tough childhood contributed to his motivation to achieve his dream of becoming a Marine.

"My parents weren't really around much," said Lindsey-Khalis. "I have two siblings, my brother and my sister. They are both older than me, but my brother wasn't around much so my sister filled that mother roll that I didn't have."

Lindsey-Khalis graduated from Chicago's Thornton Township High School in 2010. After he graduated, he suffered the loss of a close friend who wanted nothing more than to become a Marine.

"He always talked about the Marine Corps; he always wore clothes with something about the Corps on it," said 22-year-old Lindsey-Khalis. "I wanted to join not only in his honor, but also because it was my dream as well."

A year after his friends death, Lindsey-Khalis decided to meet with a Marine Corps recruiter to make his dreams come true.

"I had gained a lot of weight after the death of my friend," he said. "I was 6' 5'' and weighed in at 315 pounds. The recruiter told me that I was too heavy for them even to work with me and told me to lose the weight before I came back."

At this point, Lindsey-Khalis opted to enroll at South Suburban College in Chicago. After his first year, his mom suffered a heart attack, and he was forced to drop out and work three jobs to provide finantial support.

"After my mother recovered from her heart attack, she became disabled," said Lindsey-Khalis. "Social security can only provide so much."

He soon realized that he did not want to be overweight anymore and used that motivation to get on the path to pursue his dream of becoming a Marine.

"I started running, eating healthly and lifting weights," said Lindsey-Khalis. "I needed to do this for myself, no matter how much I wanted to quit, I pushed."

His drill instructors noticed his determination to get through recruit training despite the adversities that he had faced in the past.

"Lindsey-Khalis showed himself during recruit training," said SSgt. Alfred F. Thurlow, drill instructor. "He has a lot of heart, and I know he will do great things during his career."

In a year, Lindsey-Khalis dropped his weight down to 245 pounds and was allowed to enlist in the Marine Corps and during recruit training, he lost another 15 pounds. Following graduation he will undergo Marine Combat Training then will attend his Marine Occupational Specialty school where he will train to be a basic supply administration and operations specialist.

"If you were to ask me two years ago where I would be in two years, I never would have guessed a Marine," said Lindsey-Khalis. "I overcame my struggles and followed my dream, I did it. and I am a Marine."

Marines.mil is the official website of the United States Marine Corps and is maintained by the Marine Corps' Division of Public Affairs.