He’s at the Army’s service

Marine is giving the military another shot, leaving for boot camp at age 37.

May 26, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

Every morning Wes Migletz fires up his ’72 Chevy pickup and drives the 30 miles from his home in Burbank to work at Toyota’s U.S. sales and marketing headquarters in Torrance, he feels something missing in his life.

It isn’t family. No, that’s purring along like the engines of classic cars he bought and sold — the ’55 Thunderbird, ’62 Corvette and ’71 Super Beetle, the car he drove when he took his wife on their first date to Bob’s Big Boy.

It isn’t location, either. A native of Raytown, Mo., population 30,000, Migletz knows what small-town life is supposed to feel like. He takes comfort in the fact that his son, an 11-year-old student at Walt Disney Elementary, coordinates play dates in their tranquil Magnolia Park neighborhood.


And it isn’t work. Migletz parlayed his job at Fujitsu Ten Corp. of America into a career position at Toyota. Along the way he worked on alarm design and remote engine starters.

“Here I was, getting fat, living a life of gravy,” said Migletz, 37. “It was comfortable. It was what most people want.”


But it isn’t everything he wants. For nearly a decade, the U.S. Marine who enlisted out of high school and took a medical discharge after suffering neck injuries from an automobile accident, has been plotting his return to the military.

“As I drove through the gate for the last time, after deciding to leave, I knew I had made a decision that I would always regret,” he said. “It’s not about whether we should or shouldn’t be in Iraq or Afghanistan. I know America is worth fighting for. And all along I’ve wanted a chance.”

He knew it would not be easy. In high school, where Migletz lettered all four years, he wrestled at 98 pounds before moving up to the 119-pound division. By the time he joined the Marines at 17, 100 push-ups, along with a deeply ingrained sense of “God, Country, Corps,” came naturally, he said. He would leave by the end of 1991, before enrolling at Los Angeles City College to study Japanese history.

Five years later, after learning that his father’s kidneys were failing due to a bacterial infection, Migletz arranged to become a donor. They had the surgery at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“It was family first,” he said. “I couldn’t worry about anything else.”

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