Marine hopes book helps recruits avoid life altering mistakes

By: Victoria

NEWPORT NEWS, VA. (WCIV) -- Do you remember the freedom you felt when you first went off to college? You were away from you parents, there were plenty of parties and of course there was the freshmen 15 (the weight gained from too much drinking and those late night munchies).

Now think of that time again, only this time, you're joining the military where there is discipline, discipline, discipline. Do you think you'd make the same mistakes?

"I just want to tell them they're about to be tackled," said Marine Donte Sams.

Sams says yes, young people joining the military do some really stupid stuff.

"I was actually on the phone with my mother talking about a cousin going into the Army," said Sams. "I said he's going to do some stupid things and I started to list them."

That's when his book, "Stupid Things People Do When They First Join the Military" wrote itself.

"I just started thinking about everything I'd seen," said Sam. "At first I had 32 mistakes, but I narrowed it down to 21."

So how did he narrow it down?

"Based on the longevity of the problem. How long it would take to clean up."

The mistakes range from getting married too young to buying a brand new car.

"Military members are trained for combat, deployments and their job. But they aren't prepared for that car dealer or $5,000 credit card limit approval," said Sams.

Sams wanted to come up with the manual he didn't have when he signed up.

"The brand new car one I did," said Sams. "A lot of the guys I was in with are divorced now."

Sams believes many of the bad decisions are based on not only being young, but lonely.

"You're away from home, getting yelled at, training. You think these girls really like us for us. It can get you in a world of mess."

The book is 92 pages with 21 topics. Each topic has a potential problem and a solution.

"I wrote it simply, like a friend,giving advice. I wrote it as if I was the Sergeant talking to your child."

Sams says the book can be read in roughly 30 minutes and that half of it is illustrations based on two characters.

"The first character is Brofus Collinbean, who represents a person who never gets anything right in the military. The second character is Lonely McKnightus who represents loneliness."

Sams says he's gotten a lot of feedback since the book came out more than a year ago. Most of it, he says, has been good. He says some training bases even carry it for new recruits.

But there's been negative reaction too.

"They tell me, you're depicting our military members to be stupid," said Sams. "But I tell them no, I had to write a book like this."

Donte Sams joined the Marines in 2005. He worked as a{} small arms repairman{} and was never deployed. Today he lives in Newport News, VA. where he works as an investor.

If you would like to learn more about Sams or his book, just go to his web site,


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