New Lance Corporal Battles Injury to Become Marine

New Lance Corporal Battles Injury to Become Marine

LCpl London M. Caldwell, Platoon 1041, Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, provides security for his fellow recruits during the 12 Stalls event at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Sept. 24. Caldwell suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and spent nearly a year in recruit training rehabilitating to prove he had what it took to become a Marine. Photo by Cpl Tyler Viglione.

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (Oct. 3, 2014) - Three months in recruit training seems like a long time for some, but for one Marine, he used pure grit and dedication to keep on pushing an extra nine months at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

LCpl London M. Caldwell, Platoon 1041, Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, found that motivation and dedication were the keys that helped push him through nine months of rehabilitation to become a Marine.

Caldwell was born in Casa Grande, Ariz., where he attended and graduated from Casa Verde High School. During his high school years, Caldwell played football and basketball and ran track. As an athletic teenager, he always enjoyed being involved in some kind of sport.

"If I wasn't playing a sport, I felt like something was missing," said Caldwell. "Athletics were always a big part of my life." 

While playing in a football game during his junior year, he was tackled and injured, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. His high school athletic career had suddenly ended.

"Right after I was injured, I immediately began to rehabilitate myself," said Caldwell. "I was not going to let this injury ruin my life, especially because of my love for sports." 

After physical rehabilitation and surgery, Caldwell's injury began to heal, and before he knew it, he was back to normal. Or so he thought.

The young lance corporal graduated from high school in 2013 and made the decision to join the Marine Corps in hopes to follow some of his family members' footsteps.

"Both of my grandfathers served in the Corps, along with my grandmother's brothers," said Caldwell. "It had always been my dream, so I was excited to be able to earn my place among them." 

His injury was cleared and he received a waiver to be able to enlist and travel to MCRD San Diego in October of 2013 when he joined Platoon 2141, Golf Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion.

"Everything started off fine," said Caldwell. "I was passing everything, and nothing was really giving me trouble. I was getting closer and closer to the end of training. I didn't think anything would stop me until it happened again."

While running through the Copeland's Assault course, Caldwell fell down and he immediately he knew what was wrong. The outcome was not good.

"I jumped into a trench during one of the courses and felt a sharp pain shoot through my leg," said Caldwell. "I knew exactly what had happened because I immediately dropped to the ground and screamed in pain."

Caldwell was dropped from Golf Company and was placed into the Medical Rehabilitation Platoon, Support Battalion on training day 44 with a second torn ACL.

Once again, the lance corporal underwent surgery and started the rehabilitation process, He waited for things to get better, but they only got worse.

"After months of strengthening my leg, I got the news that my grandfather had passed away," said Caldwell. "I was supposed to go and visit him after I was slated to graduate with Golf Company. I had never met him, but he was a big inspiration after I had heard stories of his time in the Marines."

Caldwell was allowed to attend the funeral services and to spend a small amount of time with his family before reporting back to MCRD San Diego where more bad news awaited him.

"I was told that I would never be able to go back into training, and they were about to begin the medical separation package," said the young Marine.

Caldwell explained that the news motivated him to push harder and prove to them he had what it needed to defeat the odds and complete training.

"I didn't want to quit. I didn't want to let down my family," said Caldwell.

After almost 11 months on the depot, Caldwell received the news that he would be picking up with a new company, Charlie Company, from the spot he had left off. He explained he was relieved and excited to finish what he had started.

Caldwell successfully completed the requirements to graduate recruit training and will walk across the parade deck with Charlie Company after nearly a year of being in recruit training.

Following recruit training, Caldwell will attend the School of Infantry in Camp Pendleton, Calif., to pursue his Marine Corps career as an infantryman. He aspires to get as much as he can from the Corps and ultimately become a police officer after he completes his service.

"There was not a day that went by that I did not think of quitting," said Caldwell. "If it weren't for the letters from my fiancé and the support from my family, I would not be graduating as a Marine today. I had never quit anything in my life before this, and it wasn't the right time to start."

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