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Final Reflections - Chris Sarno Memoir

Chris believes that joining the United States Marine Corps was the best thing that he ever did for himself. "The Marine Corps put me on a course in life where I look at everything with Marine Corps standards," he said. "People. Situations. It’s probably unfair, but I just can’t delineate when I see situations—this wouldn’t be tolerated in the Marine Corps. How do people do this to themselves? Or, why aren’t they squared away?"

His stints in the Marine Corps and the FMF took him to war-ravaged Korea and exotic Japan, and both gave him memories that he will cherish until he dies. After Korea, Chris settled down to forty years of married life. Now, however, with his children grown and an unpleasant divorce after 40 years of marriage behind him, he has pictures of his Japanese love posted around his house. "They always bring a loving smile to my face when I glance at her image," he said. "She was the girl I should have married in 1959, but it is too late for me now." He is left with a suicide note and a black lacquered album filled with images that haunt his memory even today. "I lost my real life when Yoshiko and I had to part," Sarno reflected. "I had a life, but I waltzed through it for my slice of the American dream. I have to live with the consequences, as I am the one who orchestrated the outcome of my life."

Chris Sarno saw combat in the Far East on his first tour of duty in Korea, and he reveled in it. A year later, the impressionable young Marine saw an uninhibited Japanese post-war lifestyle that had a dramatic and lasting impact on his psyche. "Japan and Yoshiko are imprinted upon my soul to this very day," he said. "Yoshiko opened my prejudiced eyes to her and her Japan, and living and sharing with her hallmarks my second tour of duty in Korea. All else pales by comparison." In post-war 1954, the distance between the customs and traditions of the Japanese prostitute and the Roman Catholic American youth was wide. Sadly, even love failed to bridge the gap. "My bio is so different from the usual type," Sarno commented, "but it is all frank, candid, and true." Star-crossed romance is not always the stuff of fictional romance novels. Sometimes it happens in real life, too. "It happened to this combat Marine," Sarno said, "forevermore."

"My four years in the Fleet Marine Force was the greatest adventure of my life - Semper Fidelis."


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