Don Hinman, of Waterville, in his words, was "lacking direction in life." It was the early 1960's in rural Oneida County. His father had a large, prosperous farm in the Deansboro area, and he was well-provided for. His family's prosperity, Don said, created a sense that he had no responsibilities. He roamed around without a care and got in trouble.
One day in 1964, he talked to the local Marine recruiter. When he told his parents, his father was not happy. Don's place was on the farm, in his view. The farm foreman had been in the Marines years earlier, so Don's father asked him to talk Don out of enlisting.
The foreman took Don for a ride, but he did the exact opposite of Mr. Hinman's wishes; he told him that it was the best thing for Don, at this point in his life, and would instill a sense of purpose and discipline in him. So, Don Hinman enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Because he was only 17, his parents had to sign for him, and they eventually relented.