John Dybdahl, U.S. Marine Corp, 1988 – 1992

John Dybdahl served as a Corporal in the 4th Marine Airwing and the 3rd Force Service Support Group

John Dybdahl joined the U.S. Marines right out of high school- he chose the Marines because, he said laughing, “My Dad was in the Army, he was a drill instructor, so I had to, you know, go one tougher!”

Every summer and every chance he got he would go over to, and stay in, Hoonah, even after his parents came back.  He was a “nomad” staying with uncles, aunts and cousins.  He still does. He thinks growing up in Alaska gave him stronger mental fortitude and made him more self-sufficient than many others who signed up to be a Marine. 

He said that at the range they had to learn to hit a man-sized target at 500 yards and that, “you could watch the round travel down and hit your target...”

One time in Okinawa while doing guard duty for the barracks a super typhoon came off the ocean.  Corporal Dybdahl was walking the rounds and “heard a ruckus coming from one of the activity rooms.” The barracks was built on a hill, one side had a parking lot and the other a slope of about 300 yards.  He witnessed his fellow Marines with sheets tied to their arms and legs, jumping out the third story window, catching wind and gliding down the slope.   “I had to put a stop to that- I didn’t want to ruin their fun but somebody was going to get hurt… not on my watch.  I felt like if I weren’t on duty, I’d probably be one of those guys jumping out the window.” 

He called his parents at least every two weeks- pre-cell phones- and would come home on leave twice a year, once around Thanksgiving or Christmas, the other around the 4th of July. 

John Dybdahl is proud of his service with the Marines.  “I did it because my Dad did it (his dad Johan Dybdahl was Army) so for me it was carrying on tradition… my Dad was a huge influence for me, and I looked up to him.”

John Dybdahl