Philip Caputo spent his life acquiring the skills of killing, learning how to fieldstrip and assemble and M-14 rifle blindfolded, how to face death, and how to cause it. This was the normal lifestyle of Caputo's time, war. Caputo knew nothing about the everyday lifestyles we lead today. His life was delayed from marriage, careers, and family life. .
Caputo joined the Marines in 1960 as a volunteer. Caputo wanted to live heroically. He had a desire for danger. He wanted to live in violence and challenge. He was sick of his childhood. It had become dull and he felt that there was nothing left for him in the safe and secure town he grew up in. Caputo also wanted to prove himself. He wanted to prove his manhood, a common characteristic of young men. He felt as if his parents thought he relied on them. He was sick of the fact that his parents thought him to be irresponsible.
Caputo was raised in Westchester, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago that was created as result of World War II. He spent his freshman year at Purdue where he couldn't afford to continue, as he was unable to find a job as a result of the bad economy. Caputo then transferred to a commuter college in Loyola. Here he found the opportunity he had been waiting for. There was a Marine recruiting team set up at the University. Caputo was convinced the answer to his problem was war. .
Caputo enlisted to the Platoon Leader's Class. This was the Marine's version of ROTC. He would attend basic training during his break from school for 6 weeks. The intense training was a physically as well as psychologically tough experience. Training was torture, but Caputo was able to withstand the hardships because of an overwhelming desire to succeed. He figured nothing could be as bad as telling his family he had failed. Caputo made it through and started his advanced training course two years later. Here they not only had physical training but were brainwashed to thinking that killing was good.