They kept one of Frank Livingston's keys. The drill instructors told him to fasten the other around his neck with a piece of twine. Tight, they said, with no slack. They ordered him to open his locker box without loosening the key chain around his neck. He wiggled and writhed on the ground, angled his neck close enough so that his face could kiss metal, and managed to unlock his belongings. "You just had to do it," Livingston recently recalled over the phone. "I bet I can do it quicker today with the key around my neck than you could with the key around your hand."
More than 60 years ago, boot camp in the Marine Corps featured plenty of challenges like this. Like the time tear gas was tossed into his bunk just minutes after he learned how to properly operate a gas mask. The motto became the mind-set: Nothing's impossible in the Corps.
"They didn't allow us to ever give an excuse for anything," Livingston said. "You thought, This is crazy. But you know what? You wind up doing it. No excuses. If you don't go through life making excuses, you save yourself, your friends, and parents a lot of trouble."
That same mentality helped Livingston as a father and a grandfather. And it aided him when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1995. He still worried that he would never see his grandson, Shaun, become the man he was supposed to be.