Houston Marine recruit follows father's footsteps

Forrest Dowling follows father's footsteps in becoming Marine

By Bill Balleza - Anchor

HOUSTON - It's marches and marital arts, training and tradition -- a continual mental and physical challenge under the constant watch of a determined drill instructor.

Welcome to United States Marine Corps boot camp, a three-month demanding experience during which each recruit becomes part of a warrior culture that values honor, courage and commitment.

For recruit Forrest Dowling it's a story of following in his father's footsteps.

"I'm real proud because this is what I've always wanted to do," said Forrest Dowling. "Him being in the Marine Corps just made me want to be a Marine."

Before Capt. Bill Dowling was a firefighter hero, he marched the same streets and mastered the same traditions. Forrest Dowling said as he battled boot camp his father was always on his mind.

"Whenever I was fixing to throw up or I couldn't go anymore I just kept on pushing saying this is for my dad. That's really what got me through a lot of things," said Forrest Dowling.

Even though it's been 48 years, the training Local 2's Bill Balleza saw at the boot camp is identical to what he went through, what Forrest Dowling has gone through, and what both of their fathers before them went through.

As Balleza watched recruits perform drills, he said it was clear to him the technology of warfare had changed but also said nothing builds the warrior spirit like the more primitive method of combat.

"We see the change from day one," said a drill instructor. "It's just a different way of thinking. It's a better understanding of honor, courage and commitment."

Forrest Dowling has undergone this transformation, and at his graduation Friday he becomes part of the Marine brotherhood and forms a new bond with his father.

"I feel like he's a hero but he's always been my hero," said Forrest Dowling. "Now me doing this and the one thing I've always wanted to do and talk to him about. I can't, it's definitely hard."

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