On only his second day of boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Desmond Darden received terrible news. His great-grandmother, who, along with his great-grandfather, had raised him, had died. Although filled with grief, Darden did not expect he would be allowed to go home. To his relief, he was not only allowed to go home but his travel arrangements were made and paid for by the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
“I told them I wanted to go home but I was not able to pay for the ticket,” said Darden, now a Corporal stationed at Camp Lejeune. “Next thing I know, a Staff Sergeant walked in and told me, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get you home.’ He took me to the NMCRS office, where I was immediately seen by a very caring gentlemen. Not even an hour later I had a round trip flight to go home to Texas and return to MCRD San Diego. My flight left that same day and I was home with my family that night.” NMCRS also provided Darden with money for necessities while he was home.
Darden’s great-grandmother had been diagnosed with cancer a year before he was scheduled to leave for boot camp. She had been given a grim prognosis, but then appeared to recover. Unfortunately, she began to decline just before Darden prepared to leave for Boot Camp. “She told me before I left that she wouldn’t be there when I returned,” Darden recalled. “She wanted me to do great things. She wanted me to do my best.”
Just 21 years old, Darden had been pursuing a career in law enforcement after high school when he decided to join the Marine Corps. He said his great-grandparents were surprised, but once he convinced them of his commitment, they were fully supportive.
Now Darden gives back to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society by sharing his experience. “Anytime they ask who’s benefited from the Society’s support, I always raise my hand and share my story,” he said. “When I hear about someone in a tight situation I always tell them about NMCRS because it’s a great organization. NMCRS was a blessing to my life and my family. I will always be grateful to the organization and those who work to keep us servicemen and women taken care of.”