U.S. Marines – United States Marine Corps

Joining the Marines

PA Poolees Get a Taste of Boot Camp

At  the end of the competition, the future Marines were given a Meal Ready  to Eat (MRE), another facet of preparing them for Marine Recruit  Training. They were shown how to open and prepare their meals and with  skeptical faces but hungry stomachs, they wasted no time in testing out  the Marine Corps? cornucopia of culinary delights. Approximately 400  future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for  Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge. The  purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp  and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.

At the end of the competition, the future Marines were given a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE), another facet of preparing them for Marine Recruit Training. They were shown how to open and prepare their meals and with skeptical faces but hungry stomachs, they wasted no time in testing out the Marine Corps? cornucopia of culinary delights. Approximately 400 future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge. The purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.

Approximately 400 future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting Station Harrisburg’s Annual Future Marine Challenge. The event is a series of physically and mentally challenging obstacles similar to those found in Recruit Training. The purpose is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.

A Marine drill instructor greeted the soon-to-be Marine’s as they exited the busses. The drill instructor then gave them detailed instructions in forming a platoon size formation and keeping their mouths shut.

“I thought it was a good head start for the poolees, said Sgt. Paul Nixon, drill instructor, Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. “It tested them physically and mentally and allowed them to display teamwork and camaraderie.”

After the initial shock of a drill instructor greeting, the young men and women were divided into three groups of 10 teams with 10 to 13 poolees on each team.

Following the obstacle course, a Marine Corps martial arts  demonstration took place coupled with knee and elbow-bag drills.  Approximately 400 future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian  Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine  Challenge. The purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines  with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and  camaraderie.

Following the obstacle course, a Marine Corps martial arts demonstration took place coupled with knee and elbow-bag drills. Approximately 400 future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge. The purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.

The day’s events were broken into three main categories; the Leadership Reaction Course (LRC), field skills, and an enhanced Initial Strength Test (IST).

“We broke all the poolees into three groups of approximately 125 each to keep everyone moving at all times,” said Gunnery Sgt. Derrick B. Jones, program specialist, RS Harrisburg. “We wanted everyone to feel the rigorous physical demand needed to complete recruit training.”

After a safety brief given by Maj. Kurt Mogensen, RS Harrisburg’s Commanding Officer, each group was then directed to one of the three main event areas for the day to begin.

The LRC consisted of 10 mentally and physically demanding problem solving cells. In each cell, the teams were presented a problem, and given 10 minutes to solve it. Problems ranged from transporting a casualty across a cable bridge to creating and crossing a bridge while carrying all equipment needed for the exercise.

“We wanted this event to stress two very important things they will need to successfully complete recruit training; physical fitness and teamwork,” said Jones. “Each team had to quickly decide a game plan and then try to work together to complete each problem in the given amount of time.”

The field skills area consisted of running through a timed obstacle course where teams had to run through several simulated barbed-wire obstacles, tunnels, and traverse through muddy terrain while simulating casualty evacuation along the way.

“Marines take care of their own,” said Sgt. David Watson, supply noncommissioned officer, RS Harrisburg, who designed the course. “We wanted to instill a sense of responsibility and loyalty to their fellow team members.”

Brandy Bross, a Recruiting Substation Bucks County poolee, executes  a hip throw during the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program demonstration.  Approximately 400 future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian  Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine  Challenge. The purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines  with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and  camaraderie. The purpose of the event is to familiarize the future  Marines with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and  camaraderie.

Brandy Bross, a Recruiting Substation Bucks County poolee, executes a hip throw during the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program demonstration. Approximately 400 future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge. The purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie. The purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.

After the obstacle course, a Marine Corps martial arts demonstration took place coupled with knee and elbow-bag drills.

“The martial arts demonstration and the IST were some of the best aspects for them, said Nixon. “Today’s recruits arriving at Parris Island have the hardest time with the physical aspects of recruit training; these events can help ease that burden.”

For the IST each team’s score reflected the effort of everyone.

Each team had two minutes to conduct as many pull-ups and crunches as they could. The run-time for each team was taken when the last poolee crossed the finish line.

“The idea behind the IST portion is to help motivate them to get in shape and build a sense of camaraderie with the other members of the pool,” said Staff Sgt. William Favinger III, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Recruiting Substation Capital City.

At the end of the competition, the future Marines were given a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE). They were shown how to open and prepare their meals and with skeptical faces but hungry stomachs, they wasted no time in testing out the Marine Corps’ cornucopia of culinary delights.
The day concluded with an awards ceremony for the winning teams and the future Marines left the training area.

“Only one team could win, however, all the poolees left the event with first hand experience about what recruit training is like, said Jones. “The recruiters paint a verbal picture for them, but it’s always better to get a real feel for it.”

Dylan Acker, a senior from Dallastown Area High School, York, Pa.,  gets a taste of mud during the obstacle course portion. Acker is one of  many potential applicants who attended the event in the hopes to learn  more about the Marine Corps way of life. Approximately 400 future  Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for  Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge. The  purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp  and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.

Dylan Acker, a senior from Dallastown Area High School, York, Pa., gets a taste of mud during the obstacle course portion. Acker is one of many potential applicants who attended the event in the hopes to learn more about the Marine Corps way of life. Approximately 400 future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge. The purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.
Each Poolee had the opportunity to practice their leadership skills  during the Leadership Reaction Course (LRC). This course is similar to  the obstacles recruits face during the Crucible and is designed to build  confidence in teamwork and leadership. Approximately 400 future Marines  gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting  Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge. The purpose of the  event is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp and to allow  them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.

Each Poolee had the opportunity to practice their leadership skills during the Leadership Reaction Course (LRC). This course is similar to the obstacles recruits face during the Crucible and is designed to build confidence in teamwork and leadership. Approximately 400 future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge. The purpose of the event is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.
Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sgt. Patricia A. Wilson, a Buffalo,  N.Y. native, stands tall as she waits for the safety brief to conclude.  Wilson was one of three Marine Corps drill instructors who were invited  to participate in Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Pool Function  May 7. The purpose is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp  and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.

Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sgt. Patricia A. Wilson, a Buffalo, N.Y. native, stands tall as she waits for the safety brief to conclude. Wilson was one of three Marine Corps drill instructors who were invited to participate in Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Pool Function May 7. The purpose is to familiarize the future Marines with boot camp and to allow them to learn about teamwork and camaraderie.
Sergeant Paul Nixon, drill instructor, 3rd Recruit Training  Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., gives a  poolee some added incentive to do what he?s told. Approximately 400  future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for  Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge.

Sergeant Paul Nixon, drill instructor, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., gives a poolee some added incentive to do what he?s told. Approximately 400 future Marines gathered May 7, 2005 at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pa., for Recruiting Station Harrisburg?s Annual Future Marine Challenge.
1 Comment more...

New Recruits Receive Intense Welcome

Staff  Sgt. Jason Spears receives recruits, fresh from the United Services  Organization, off the bus in an orderly fashion.

Staff Sgt. Jason Spears receives recruits, fresh from the United Services Organization, off the bus in an orderly fashion.

One hundred recruits anxiously stood in four lines waiting for the arrival of 20 others before receiving passage to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to begin their training.

The new recruits began their journey at the San Diego International Airport at Lindberg Field in the United Services Organization, where they waited for a bus to boot camp.

Upon arrival at the yellow footprints, drill instructors rushed the recruits off the buses and lined them up for briefing on proper etiquette during recruit training and important articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

During  the bus ride from San Diego International Airport, recruits are ordered  to put their heads in their laps. Pvt. Louis A. Freitas had problems  following the order.

During the bus ride from San Diego International Airport, recruits are ordered to put their heads in their laps. Pvt. Louis A. Freitas had problems following the order.

?Most of the recruits are pretty locked on to what they need to do by their recruiters,? said Gunnery Sgt. Timothy G. Walker, chief drill instructor, night operations. ?But they always have stuff they?re not supposed to. That?s why they are searched.?

After a motivating introduction at the yellow footprints, the recruits rushed into Martini Hall, where drill instructors searched for contraband such as cell phones and non-religious jewelry or books.

The contraband search took about 45 minutes, and it ensured that all prohibited items were either discarded or put into envelopes with the recruits? name on them, according to Walker.

Drill  instructor Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Walker walks the aisles after new  recruits emptied out their pockets.

Drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Walker walks the aisles after new recruits emptied out their pockets.

Many of the recruits? deepest fears and concerns became a reality by the actions of the surly drill instructors.

?The recruiter who put me in said it was going to be tough and to do exactly what is told,? said John M. Williams from Chicago as he stopped after sprinting down the hall.

?He also said running would be a really big part, especially for heavy-set people,? said Williams.

New  recruits account for their newly-issued items at Martini Hall.

New recruits account for their newly-issued items at Martini Hall.

Recruits began to feel the mixed emotions of excitement, confusion and nervousness from the adrenaline-filled voices of the drill instructors.

?I?m really nervous,? said new recruit John R. Hicks as he stood directing recruits to their next stop. ?I can only think that it is going to get a little bit harder a little bit later, but I hope I?m ready.?

Pvt.  Josiah Gulke anticipates a hair cut from barber Frank Sardina.

Pvt. Josiah Gulke anticipates a hair cut from barber Frank Sardina.

The recruits continued the evening by getting dressed into combat utility bottoms and military issued clothing. They stayed awake, fighting off fatigue, throughout the night as they checked in through the Recruit Administration Branch.

?The Marine Corps is the best, so the intense training is only making me realize my good choice,? said recruit Jacob L. Meyers.

While  recruits wait for hair cuts, those who have already received one wait  for their uniform issue.

While recruits wait for hair cuts, those who have already received one wait for their uniform issue.

The next few days of recruit training were reserved for medical, dental and administrative processing until the infamous first Friday ? when recruits meet their company drill instructors, and the real training begins.

After a  fresh hair cut, Pvt. Josiah Gulke now looks like the other recruits who  joined with him.

After a fresh hair cut, Pvt. Josiah Gulke now looks like the other recruits who joined with him.
Pvt.  Josiah Gulke from Marysville, Wash., was one of the first new recruits  from Platoon 2070 to get his head shaved by barber Frank Sardina here.  Recruits get their heads shaved in training to ensure cleanliness.

Pvt. Josiah Gulke from Marysville, Wash., was one of the first new recruits from Platoon 2070 to get his head shaved by barber Frank Sardina here. Recruits get their heads shaved in training to ensure cleanliness.
Leave a Comment more...

Much-doubted new Marine emerges …

Pfc. Phillip K. O’Neal has grown up taking on challenges and proving to himself and others he can reach his goals.
His friends thought he should have gone the easier route in the military, according to O’Neal.

“My friends asked, ‘Why the Marines?'” O’Neal said. “Why not something easier like the Air Force?”

O’Neal said anyone can go the easy route.

Determined to be the best, O’Neal proved his tenacity to himself and others at an early age. Since he was in fourth grade, coaches and friends said O’Neal was too small for football.

“I was always told I was to small,” said the Atascadero, Calif., native. His goal was to prove everyone wrong.

He proved his critics wrong by playing linebacker during his high school years and he earned a few Most Valuable Player awards along the way.

Continuing to show he was capable of anything, the 5-foot-10-inch slender O’Neal decided to test himself by joining the Marine Corps.

“The Marines looked the hardest and I wanted a challenge,” O’Neal said.

Determined and focused on his decision to join the Marine Corps, O’Neal prepared himself physically.

“I ran to school in the mornings, worked out after school and ran back home every day,” said O’Neal.

O’Neal established himself early in recruit training by showing he was capable of taking charge and was chosen as the guide

“He knew what he wanted, he proved himself and he’s been a strong leader,” said squad leader Pfc. Joseph C. Clemmons, Platoon 3019. “He’s showed me to focus on self discipline.”

O’Neal kept his position through the first phase of training until his competitive spirit got in the way of his drill instructors guidance on the obstacle course.

The setback that resulted in a demotion to squad leader didn’t drag O’Neal down, according to drill instructor Sgt. Hector M. Flores, Platoon 3019.

“From that point on he strived and kept pushing to regain his position as guide,” said Flores.

O’Neal admits he’s had a bit of a problem with authority, and said that was one of the reasons for joining.

Living in a dreary town pushing carts for a grocery store triggered feelings of going nowhere, according to O’Neal.

“If it weren’t for the Marine Corps, I would have ended up in jail,” said O’Neal. “I was disrespectful to authority figures. I didn’t see it that way then, but now I do.”

“He’s come a long way,” said senior drill instructor Staff Sgt. Maxwell J. Williams, Platoon 3019. “He’s locked on with a lot of discipline and bearing.”

Gaining the platoon’s respect was evident after the drill instructors decided to have the platoon help choose a guide.

“The majority of the recruits voted for O’Neal to stay as guide,” said Williams.

“I saw a kid that I felt had a similar background to myself. He came here to make a difference,” said Flores.

“I set the example for the rest,” said O’Neal. “I always wanted to prove everyone wrong. I can do anything.”

2 Comments more...

Marines Recruiting Numbers Back On Track

Since missing their recruiting goals for four straight months from January to April 2005, the Marine Corps is back on track and expected to meet overall shipping goals for the fiscal year.

The increase in numbers may be in part due to the summer months, which traditionally bring in more prospects than springtime due to the influx of new high school graduates, according to Staff Sgt. Marc R. Ayalin, spokesman for Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

In May, Marine recruiters assessed 2,673 enlistees, 121 more than the required monthly goal of 2,552.

June, July and August were all successful months for Marine Corps recruiting as well ? June saw 5,170 enlistees, eclipsing that month?s goal by 105.

July delivered similar results, with 4,319 enlistees, beating the monthly goal by 59.

These numbers reflect both active duty and reserve contracts, according to Ayalin.

August numbers were not available at press time.

Despite three rocky months earlier this year, the Marine Corps is well on track to met and exceed expected recruiting goals for Fiscal Year 2005 by 2-percent, said Ayalin.

?By the end of Fiscal Year 2005, the Marine Corps should have 39,150 recruits signed up and shipped to boot camp,? he said.

Even as other services dangle attractive incentives to prospective recruits, such as shorter contract obligations and tempting cash bonuses, the Corps continues to offer the intangibles of joining the armed forces.

?We try and find out what the person wants out of life, and we show them how the Marine Corps brings extra growth to the table,? said Gunnery Sgt. Gregory S. Gilliam, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Recruiting Substation Nashville, Tenn.

While Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have raised a few more eyebrows of some parents, schoolteachers, and other recruiting ?influencers? in Nashville, the Global War on Terrorism has not had any significant impact on recruiting in his area, said Gilliam.

Offering intangible benefits, such as the pride of becoming a Marine, is what allows the Marine Corps to continue to meet its recruiting goals, said Gilliam, who has been a recruiter for several years now.

Despite commitments to the Global War on Terrorism and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, the Marine Corps is not in the business of lowering its enlistment standards simply to ensure recruiting goals are met, said Gilliam.

?The Marine Corps wouldn?t be the Marine Corps if we lowered our standards to try and pull in more contracts,? he said.

Leave a Comment more...

Marine finds family in the Corps

Pvt.  James Flaurr and his fellow Company D recruits complete recruit training  today.

Pvt. James Flaurr and his fellow Company D recruits complete recruit training today.

After he spent his childhood bouncing from one foster home to the next, one Company D Marine found his permanent home in the Marine Corps.

Private James Flaurr, 19, a Terre Haute, Ind., native, lived a life of instability and neglect from the age of three. He and his siblings were taken away from their parents by his aunt, due to his parents� abusive nature.

Unfortunately, his new home wasn�t much better than the last. After living with his aunt and uncle for three years, a social worker witnessed his aunt strike Flaurr�s brother. They were quickly taken out of the household and put into foster care, where he spent the next seven years in and out of foster homes.

�Living as a foster child was a very lonely life,� said Flaurr. �It was very difficult having to constantly move (to different) homes. I would make friends and then have to leave them within months.�

When Flaurr was 13 years old, he and his sister were adopted into a loving family, but his brother remained in foster care.

�I wasn�t really upset that my brother was separated from us,� he said. �I knew that he was going to a good home and we could still stay in contact. I was just happy to finally have parents who genuinely cared about me.�

His sister married and moved away soon after they were adopted. Flaurr decided to move in with her and her husband after living with his adoptive parents for five years. He admired his brother-in-law who was an assaultman in the Marine Corps and a volunteer fire fighter.

�I wanted to be just like him,� said Flaurr. �He was confident and very physically fit�all of the things I wanted to be.�

Pvt.  James Flaurr, a Terre Haute, Ind., native works on his pull-ups. �He has  undergone an extreme transformation while in recruit training,� said  Sgt. Alberto Moreno, drill instructor, Platoon 1073.

Pvt. James Flaurr, a Terre Haute, Ind., native works on his pull-ups. �He has undergone an extreme transformation while in recruit training,� said Sgt. Alberto Moreno, drill instructor, Platoon 1073.

While attending the Terre Haute Air Show with his friends, he was approached by a Marine recruiter who spoke to him about serving his country.

�I knew that he looked up to me as a role model, so I always spoke to him about my love for country and the Marine Corps,� said Cpl. Bobby Phillips, Flaurr�s brother-in-law. �When he told me he wanted to enlist, I was very excited for him, and I knew he would succeed.�

Flaurr exercised with his brother-in-law and listened intently to his boot camp advice as he waited to leave for recruit training.

�Flaurr was initially very quiet and reserved when he arrived on the depot,� said Sgt. Alberto Moreno, drill instructor, Platoon 1073, Company D. �He was easily intimidated by the drill instructors and lacked confidence.�

Flaurr said the most difficult aspect of recruit training was the stress. He said that he has grown as a person and believes that boot camp has given him the confidence he was looking for.
He also said that the Crucible, the defining moment in boot camp when recruits transition into Marines, taught him the importance of teamwork. His platoon quickly found out that they could accomplish tasks efficiently if they worked together and not as individuals.

�He has undergone an extreme transformation while in recruit training,� said Moreno. �He has developed leadership skills, self confidence and doesn�t have any problems asking the drill instructors questions.�

Flaurr said that he has made lasting friendships here and feels like he has found family in the Marine Corps.

Following graduation, he will return home for 10 days of leave and then continue his training at the School of Infantry, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Flaurr enlisted in the motor vehicle operator occupation, but as he progresses in his career he hopes to move into the Marine Corps Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting occupation.

�I am a firefighter in our hometown, and got Flaurr interested in firefighting,� said Phillips. �With the Crash Fire Rescue occupation he can incorporate his two career aspirations, Marine Corps and firefighting,� said Phillips.

Leave a Comment more...

Marine Ditches Inheritance to Serve

Private First-Class Daniel Lageman stands in formation during  Battalion Commander's Inspection Tuesday. Recruits spend hours cleaning  their weapons, studying knowledge and perfecting their uniforms in  preparation for this final inspection.

Private First-Class Daniel Lageman stands in formation during Battalion Commander’s Inspection Tuesday. Recruits spend hours cleaning their weapons, studying knowledge and perfecting their uniforms in preparation for this final inspection.

At 12-years-old, one Company I Marine faced a tragedy that forced him to become the man of the house.

When Pfc. Daniel Lageman�s, father died from injuries sustained in a work-related accident, he overcame his broken heart and eventually discovered his inner strength within the Marine Corps.

Lageman�s father, a cement truck operator, was driving on the highway when he was blinded by the sun and jerked the steering wheel, causing his truck to flip over. He was hospitalized after suffering from a fracture in his vertebrae and was released a couple of months later.
Not long after being released, a blood clot formed in his artery which traveled to his brain, killing him instantly.

�I was very close to my father and his death came as a shock to our family,� said Lageman, a Denton, Texas native. �I was distraught after the incident because not only did I lose my role model, but I also lost my best friend.�

Because his father�s death was work-related, the government granted Lageman a monthly allowance to pay for his education through four years of college. Lageman said he felt he was not disciplined enough to dedicate himself to college in order to succeed and he did not want to waste the money.

Lageman was in his junior year of high school when he was watching television and a Marine Corps recruiting commercial came on. He said that as he watched the commercial of the Marine rock climbing he thought to himself, �I would love to do that.�

The following day Lageman went to his local recruiting station to consult a recruiter about enlisting. It did not take much to convince Lageman he wanted to become a Marine, but naturally he sought out his mother�s approval.

Connie Webb, Lageman�s mother, said she wanted him to think his decision through and make sure it is what he wanted to commit his life to.

�He has always been interested in the military and was infatuated by the programs on the Military Channel,� said Webb. �His father was in the Air Force and he comes from a long line of service members, but he wanted the pride of being a Marine.�

Lageman said that his father�s dedication to the Air Force and his stepbrother, a currently deployed Marine Corps infantryman, influenced his decision in joining the military.

Lageman realized he would be giving up a lot of money in order to join the Marine Corps, but he wanted to serve his country instead of taking the easy route by accepting the money.

�After his father passed away, his mind wandered and he lacked direction in life,� said Webb. �His decision to join the Marine Corps kept him focused and out of trouble. I think he made the right choice by enlisting.�

After being in the Delayed Entry Program for more than a year, Lageman departed for recruit training where he picked up with Platoon 3201.

�Lageman arrived to recruit training exuding confidence and was very vocal,� said Gunnery Sgt. Jose Molina, the senior drill instructor for Platoon 3201. �His brother had already given him knowledge about the Marine Corps and weapons systems, so during class he would continuously finish my sentences.�

Lageman said that he watched his senior drill instructor and tried to emulate the way he walked, talked and acted. He said his drill instructors motivated him throughout training and although they were hard, they were always fair.

Lageman said the most difficult part of training was adapting to such a stressful environment, but he earned the title of platoon guide, senior recruit within his platoon, for initial drill.

Molina said that Lageman was a good leader as well as a good follower. When he was replaced as guide, he stayed motivated throughout the duration of training. He was eventually appointed a squad leader and the company guidon bearer.

Lageman also excelled when his platoon moved north to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., for field training, said Molina. He was fluent in the weapons systems and never fell back during the hikes.

�The most rewarding part of training was rushing to the top of the Reaper with the company guidon,� said Lageman. �I was the first recruit in my company to make it to the top and when I looked back down, I felt an extreme sense of accomplishment.�

Lageman earned a meritorious promotion to private first class during boot camp because he was an outstanding recruit and performed above average on the tasks he was given, said Molina.

�Throughout the hardships of training I felt my father�s presence,� said Lageman. �Growing up I always wanted my father to witness my achievements but I know that even though he won�t be at my graduation in body he will be there in spirit.�

After graduation, Lageman will return home for 10 days of leave. He will then report to Camp Pendleton�s School of Infantry to complete Marine Combat Training.

Lageman enlisted into the construction utilities military occupation specialty and plans to further his education and attend college while he is in the Fleet Marine Force.

Leave a Comment more...

Future Marines of RS …

Kyle Robertson knew what he was getting himself into when he enlisted this summer – 13 weeks of tough military training, and the chance to earn the title “Marine.”

Image

Staff Sgt. Kian Adyani, a recruiter from Bowling Green, Ky., points to the final destination for poolee Steven M. Anderson during the Dizzy Izzy competition. During this relay, poolees had to run 50 yards, spin around 10 times with forehead touching a baseball bat, and then run back to the starting point.
What he didn’t expect was the opportunity to get a sample of that training prior to graduating from high school or shipping to boot camp.

Robertson joined nearly 300 other enlistees for a day of team building and competition at Recruiting Station Louisville’s annual Poolee Field Meet at Big Bone Lick State Park in Union, Ky.

The field meet is designed to instill a sense of teamwork, pride and esprit-de-corps in poolees before they ship to recruit training. The poolees competed in various team relays and competitions, like crunches, dead-hang pull-ups and close order drill.

It also gives poolees a small taste of what life is like as a recruit at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

To ensure the experience was realistic, two Marine Corps drill instructors were brought in to help ‘motivate’ the poolees.

“What are you looking at? Start paying attention! Oh, we want to play games, do we?” blared a female drill instructor at a poolee a few feet from where Robertson was standing with his fellow Louisville-area poolees during a set of daily seven exercises.

“I’m just glad I didn’t have them in my face today,” said Robertson, a senior at Male High School in Louisville. “They’re not somebody I want in my face.”

Robertson was one of the lucky ones who only had to endure the DI’s intensity from a distance – not up close and personal. But if he had been singled out, he knows it’s all part of the long road to becoming a Marine.

“When I saw that commercial and that guy in the blue uniform with the saber, I was just like, ‘That’s what I want to do,'” he said. Robertson, 18, like many of the poolees, enlisted between his junior and senior years of high school, and ships to boot camp following graduation.

The drill instructors were Staff Sgt. Hector Ortiz, Hotel Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion; and Sgt. Lecia Tienda of 4th Recruit Training Bn., both from MCRD Parris Island, S.C.

Their mission: to turn up the heat on RS Louisville’s future Marines.

Poolee Billy Jo McClain, 22, of Frankfort, who enlisted just day’s prior to the field meet, said she had no idea what to expect at the field meet.

By day’s end her desire to become a Marine had been reinforced.

“I know it’s just a little taste and it’s not going to prepare me 100-percent for when I go, but it’s getting me there,” said McClain, who ships to Parris Island Oct. 15. “This is definitely for me. I’m ready to go.”

While the poolees say the field meet has prepared them for boot camp, the drill instructors know better.

“Forming [at Parris Island] is 100 times worse because there’s always more than one of us,” said Tienda. “It’s fast paced and a lot of moving around. So the more they know now, the less stressful it’s going to be when they get there [Parris Island].”

Following the daily seven, led by the drill instructors, poolees ran an initial strength test – chin-ups, crunches and a mile and a half run.

Poolees also participated in a close order drill competition, graded by the drill instructors and an inflatable obstacle course relay. The day’s competition concluded with the Dizzy Izzy, a relay which requires competitors to race after spinning around 10 times with their forehead on a baseball bat.

In order to win, poolees had to use teamwork and work hand in hand with their recruiters to earn such titles as “Most Motivated,” “Highest IST” and “Best Overall.”

The drill instructors were impressed overall with what they saw from RS Louisville’s poolees.

“They seem really motivated and are really working together,” said Oritz.

Tienda agreed.

“It seems the recruiters out here are really concerned about their poolees performance before they get to the island,” she said.

“I saw [drill instructors] around me, but I was trying to do everything right so they wouldn’t get on me,” said Richard Ceballos, 17, of Owensboro. “I was just trying to pay attention.”

Though he enjoyed the field meet, Ceballos, who ships to Parris Island next June, said he wasn’t pleased with his performance: he performed 75 crunches during the IST, instead of 100.

“It makes me want to work harder,” he said. “I’ve been working out, but not enough.”

By day’s end, the poolees are nearly exhausted as the field meet concludes. Scores were tallied and trophies awarded to the day’s top individual and team performers.

But there were no losers at this competition.

For the hundreds of RS Louisville poolees waiting to ship to Parris Island, the field meet provided the opportunity for them to excel. It also showed exactly why they have chosen to put themselves through 13 weeks of physically and mentally demanding military training.

The same qualities Robertson and the rest of RS Louisville’s poolees strived to show off at the field meet are the exact same qualities they hope to show off while pursuing the title, ‘Marine.’

Leave a Comment more...

Football Scholarship Vs the Marine Corps

Pfc. Tyler Peckham, Platoon 1039, Company D, walks past his squad  as they wait for lunch. Peckham said serving his country is more  important to him than football.

Pfc. Tyler Peckham, Platoon 1039, Company D, walks past his squad as they wait for lunch. Peckham said serving his country is more important to him than football.

A Company D graduate turned down what some people might call an opportunity of a lifetime, to follow his heart instead of his pocketbook.

Private First Class Tyler Peckham, Platoon 1039, Co. D, was offered a full-ride scholarship to play football with the Oregon State University Beavers, but he declined it because he wanted to be part of something more.

�It takes a lot of character in a person to turn down a full ride only to join the Marine Corps,� said Sgt. Christopher Gomez, drill instructor, Platoon 1039. �He enlisted during the middle of a war. You have to respect that.�

Tyler started playing football when he was in the 7th grade. According to Tyler, his peers said he wouldn�t be successful in football because he was smaller and less intimidating than the other players, but they were wrong.

Standing at 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighing in at 155 pounds, Tyler used his small size to his advantage during football. He said it was easier to slip through the defensive line and make the tackle.

�If anyone could get through the line and tackle the quarterback, it was Tyler,� said Jeff Peckham, Tyler�s father. �He was an excellent linebacker who always gave his all.�

Tyler played four years of varsity football as a linebacker for Burney High School, Calif., where he led his team with the most tackles for three consecutive years, and he got the second most sacks during his senior year.

He helped his small town high school football team take first place in their league two years in a row.

Tyler said he had wanted to join the military since he was young, but he didn�t know the difference between the branches. He went to the recruiters from each service, and the Marines stood out the most to him.

�The Army offered me an enlistment bonus,� said Peckham. �But money is not important to me. No amount of money is worth more than having the pride of saying that I am a Marine.�

Money couldn�t buy Tyler�s fulfillment in life. He said if he would have accepted the bonus it would have eventually run out and he would have been be stuck in something that he didn�t have the heart for.

�Every Marine is a rifleman,� said Tyler, �It�s what Marines do, and whatever I do, I�m going to go all the way.�

Jeff said his son always challenged himself. He said he never took the easy way out of things. He also said he is proud that his son made the decision to enlist.

Whether it�s a football jersey or Marine Corps woodland utilities, Jeff said if someone puts a uniform on Tyler, he will do his best.

He enlisted as an infantryman and will attend the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Soon after he enlisted, he found himself at the depot taking on the nation�s most difficult basic training, Marine Corps boot camp. He excelled throughout training, just as he did in football.

�Like all recruits, Peckham made mistakes,� said Gomez. �But what made him stand out from the other recruits was the fact that he put his heart into everything he did.�

Recruits are often hired and fired for the squad leader positions throughout training. This wasn�t the case for Peckham.

He earned the squad leader position early in training and was the only recruit in his platoon to hold on to it during all three phases of boot camp, said Gomez, who is from San Angelo, Texas.

His drill instructor said he was a natural leader who helped set the standard. During down time in the recruit squad bay, he would often take charge of other recruits to practice the practical application knowledge they later tested for.

Just as he did his part to help his team succeed in high school, and his platoon in boot camp, Tyler said he is ready to do his patriotic duty serving his country as a U.S. Marine.

Leave a Comment more...

FL Marine Learns Life Lesson

Franklin E. Martinez knew he wanted to be a Marine when he was in high school. He was in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and loved the tradition and the legacy of the Marine Corps.

After graduating from Deer Field Beach High School in 2002, the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native joined the Marine Corps and would eventually make his second deployment, which was in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 21-year-old deployed to Husaybah, Iraq with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. He was a squad leader in charge of Marines protecting the perimeter of Camp Gannon, a small base bordering the city.

Cpl. Martinez said the first day they relieved the unit before them, they knew they were in a combat zone.

?As soon as the unit we relieved left the base, we received mortar fire from insurgents in the city,? he said. ?They were testing us to see if we would fire back, and sure enough we did.?

During his deployment, the mortarman manned a machinegun on one of the base?s posts.

?It was a little unusual for me to man a machinegun as a mortarman, but it wasn?t that big of an adjustment,? he said.

He explained one story that sticks out in his mind from the deployment.

?We had been fighting some of the local Iraqi insurgents for the first part of the deployment, but our company commander and our other leaders talked with their leader to make peace and they came to an agreement,? he explained. ?Then one night, we were giving them food and health supplies, and I was in amazement that they were finally on our side and saw that we were there to help them.?

The peace was short lived though, Martinez said.

?The next day, the local Iraqis and foreign fighters were battling each other because the Iraqis were on our side,? he said. ?It just made me realize what the Iraqi people have to deal with when it comes to the foreign influence of the terrorists.?

The foreign fighters became more violent toward both the Iraqis and the Marines, constantly attacking Camp Gannon with small arms fire, Martinez said.

?It was an intense deployment, but I think we made a difference by the time we left,? he said. ?I think we showed the foreign fighters that we weren?t going to back down from them and neither were the Iraqi people.?

With his combat experience, the young Marine leader is preparing to return to Iraq this summer. He says he will have more experience to prepare his Marines for their deployment this time around.

?During this deployment, I?ll probably be a vehicle commander and conduct patrols and raids, something I didn?t do the first time,? he continued. ?But, I think because I?ve already been there, I?ll be more prepared myself and better train my Marines.?

Martinez said there are two main things that are needed in Iraq, the ability to observe and discipline.

?With our rules of engagement, you can?t just go around shooting everything, so observation is important,? he said. ?And you need to have discipline, because without it you became complacent and that?s dangerous.?

Although the end of his contract is in January 2007, Martinez said that he will extend it to deploy again to serve his country.

He also said when he gets out the Corps he will take one important quality with him everywhere he goes.

?The fact that I?ve been in combat makes any other situation I?ll face seem less difficult,? he said. ?I appreciate everything the Corps has taught me about life. I always wanted to do this job, and I?m glad I had the opportunity to do it.?

Leave a Comment more...

Elite Swedish Ranger Joins Marines as Infantryman

Lance Cpl. Peter Lang went from being a ranger, an elite special  force in the Swedish Army to being an infantryman in the Marine Corps.  Lang said infantry was his life and he is very content with his decision  to become a part of America�s most elite fighting force.

Lance Cpl. Peter Lang went from being a ranger, an elite special force in the Swedish Army to being an infantryman in the Marine Corps. Lang said infantry was his life and he is very content with his decision to become a part of America�s most elite fighting force.

A former Swedish Army Ranger graduated today with Company K to end his more than 10-month struggle to graduate basic training.

Lance Cpl. Peter Lang, 28, arrived at the depot in February, but was dropped to the Medical Rehabilitation Platoon after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament on training day 39 during field week with Company M.

Lang, who was raised in Norrkoping, Sweden, said he had a taste for the military way of life since he was young and had always wanted to be in the infantry because he loved being in the outdoors. Norrkoping had a population pf more than 125,000 and was famous for being industrial.

To follow his dream and break away from the normality on industry, he joined the Swedish Army Rangers, which is like their Army special forces, when he was 20- years-old, and after more than three years of service, Lang decided it was time to go to college.

He chose to attend Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu, where he obtained a bachelor�s degree with a major in diplomacy and military studies. Lang said he chose to go to college in an American school because he wanted to have a part of the American dream of high-quality education.

Lang had arrived in Hawaii exactly one month before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 took place.

The appalling events infuriated Americans across the country and he said he felt the same shock and disgust even though he wasn�t a native of the United States. Lang said he believed that if he could help the cause in the smallest way it might make a difference.

He obtained part of his inspiration to join from his family�s military history. His father was in the Swedish Navy and his grandfather was in what Lang said was the Swedish equivalent to the Marine Corps.

In Lang�s opinion, the Corps was the best way to go because Marines hold their members to higher expectations. He believed the higher expectations would give him a chance to challenge himself and have a sense of pride.

Lang said he believed basic training was one of the biggest challenges he had ever faced because of how tough it was mentally. He said one of the hardest things for him to do was to adopt the new way of life.

After spending some time as a Ranger in the Swedish Army, Lang said he knew the military occupational specialty he would choose when he joined the Marines would be the infantry. He said his experience as a ranger allowed him to be physically fit enough for the MOS and would help guarantee his success.

Lang credits all his drill instructors for his triumph over his injury and his graduation from training. He said the drill instructors of Co. M laid the foundation for him, and those in MRP kept him motivated and helped him maintain the discipline he needed. According to Lang, the drill instructors of Co. K were able to put it all together and got him where he is today.

Staff Sgt. Ernest Watson, who was Lang�s senior drill instructor in MRP, was in his last cycle of training with Co. M when Lang got dropped. He ended up becoming the senior drill instructor in MRP at the same time.

Lang�s decision to continue training when he could have just quit and gone home showed a great deal of commitment and honor, said Watson. He felt it was difficult to stay motivated for so long, but found a way he could work through his injury.

While Lang was in MRP, he kept his chin up and helped out as much as he could at the medical clinic. He earned the respect of the medical staff and the drill instructors he came across because of his positive attitude, said Watson.

Lang said he refused to fail then and he will continue fighting against any odds he faces in the Corps. Lang said he loves the sense of belonging he gets in the Marines and plans on becoming an officer.

�Lang was always motivated despite the odds that were against him,� said Watson. �The heart, hard work and determination he showed throughout his time on the depot are what got him through. It is what will take him from an outstanding recruit to an outstanding Marine.�

Leave a Comment more...

Drill Instructors Meet Recruits in Iraq

Almost four years ago, in early 2003, three young adults rushed from a bus to the famous yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. On that day, these individuals met their ferocious drill instructors and became a part of Platoon 3069, beginning their struggles to become Marines.

Present day, these three hardened Marines are serving at Al Asad, Iraq, with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 and with one of the first Marines they ever met: their drill instructor.

Sgt. William J. Drips, Sgt. David A. Dillinger Jr., and Cpl. Ernesto Cazares, all three former recruits from Platoon 3069, deployed to Iraq in late August with one of their drill instructors, Staff Sgt. Jason A. Politte.

“The coincidence that we are all here is definitely unusual,” said Politte, administration chief and squadron gunnery sergeant of HMH-363, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). “It’s good to see them out here, especially going from recruit training, because two of them were squad leaders. A lot of my buddies said they have seen their recruits out in the fleet, but seeing three of the Marines I trained in the same squadron � you don’t see that too often.”

Having stuck by one another since recruit training, Dillinger Jr. and Cazares, both flight line mechanics with HMH-363, went through all of their training after boot camp together, as well as to the same squadron upon reaching the fleet.

Sgt. David A. Dillinger Jr. stands in front of an aircraft he's  responsible for maintenance on at Al Asad, Iraq, Dec. 22. Dillinger Jr.  is a flight line mechanic and aerial observer with Marine Heavy  Helicopter Squadron 363, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd  Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). He is a native of Anderson, Calif.

Sgt. David A. Dillinger Jr. stands in front of an aircraft he’s responsible for maintenance on at Al Asad, Iraq, Dec. 22. Dillinger Jr. is a flight line mechanic and aerial observer with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). He is a native of Anderson, Calif.

“We’ve been stationed together for almost four years now,” said Dillinger Jr., a 23-year-old Anderson, Calif., native. “We’ll be together until we get out. It makes it easier for us because we work in the same military occupational specialty.”

Politte followed his two recruits to the squadron in late 2005, according to Cazares, a 25-year-old native of Chicago.

“I think he planned it to pick on us,” joked Cazares, a high school graduate of Farragut High School.

“We both got our email gestures when he came to Hawaii,” said Dillinger Jr., an Anderson High School graduate. “‘Every where you go there is a drill instructor,’ it said.”

Following Politte by only a few months, Drips, who had been stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., received orders to HMH-363 at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, in early 2006.

“I actually got an email from (Politte) before I checked into the squadron, and it said, ‘Oh, so you think you’re going to 363, huh?'” said Drips, a flight equipment technician and aerial observer with HMH-363. “It was a little unexpected for me. I didn’t think I would see these guys again. Then, my orders just popped up, and I was going to Hawaii.”

Staff Sgt. Jason A. Politte stands on the flight line at Al Asad,  Iraq, Dec. 22. Politte is the administration chief and squadron gunnery  sergeant of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363, Marine Aircraft Group  16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). He is a former  drill instructor deployed to Iraq with three of his former recruits from  one of his honor platoons, Platoon 3069, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion,  at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. He is a Papillion, Neb.,  native.

Staff Sgt. Jason A. Politte stands on the flight line at Al Asad, Iraq, Dec. 22. Politte is the administration chief and squadron gunnery sergeant of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). He is a former drill instructor deployed to Iraq with three of his former recruits from one of his honor platoons, Platoon 3069, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. He is a Papillion, Neb., native.

The irony of the three Marines serving in the same squadron on the same deployment wasn’t passed on any of them, according to Drips, a 23-year-old Davis, Calif., native.

“It’s kind of funny, not only that we were all in boot camp together, but me and Dillinger were rack mates together, because we were squad leaders,” said the Davis Senior High School graduate. “Cazares stood right across the hall from us. It is kind of funny because we are rack mates again now.”

Although almost four years have passed since these three stepped on the yellow footprints, what was instilled in them at recruit training is still evident in their actions today.

“You can definitely tell that the intimidation factor is still there, which I think is natural between any Marine and their drill instructors, but there is a sense of respect, both from me to them and from them to me,” said Politte, a 28-year-old native of Papillion, Neb. “They’ve gained that trust and respect. It’s funny looking at them sometimes, especially when they hear me yelling. I talk to them now, as they are Marines. I teach them things, and they teach me, too.”

Serving with the Marines he helped train, Politte says it gives him a sense of accomplishment as the drill instructor of Platoon 3069, the honor platoon of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion.

“Seeing them as corporals and sergeants in Iraq makes me feel that I was more successful down there,” concluded Politte, a graduate from Papillion Lavista High School. “It’s a great experience to go down and train recruits to become Marines at the depot, and it is definitely worth the long hours and time away from family and friends that we spend there.”

Leave a Comment more...

Chance to Travel Attracts Recruit

Instead of just standing around watching Marines from Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, set up antennas for a field-training exercise, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jan Michael V. Miramon decides to help out by pulling stakes out of the ground.

?I think it?s nice to help out people,? said the 21-year-old Vallejo, Calif. native. ?That?s why I chose this job.?
Miramon is a hospital corpsman for 1/12 and has been in the Navy since August 2002.

After graduating Pinole Valley High School, Miramon began college but realized that he did not want to live the life that had surrounded him in his neighborhood.

?I joined the Navy to get away from home,? he said. ?I wanted to get away from the gangs and dead-end jobs that surrounded me.?

After talking with the recruiter, there was no doubt in his mind which job he wanted to do. Miramon chose to be a hospital corpsman because of his love for the medical field.

?When I was going to college, I was taking the pre-elective classes for nursing, because I like to help people,? he said. ?I plan on continuing college while I?m in the Navy and as of right now, I plan on staying in the Navy as a career.?

Miramon said another factor that helped him decide to join was the many travel opportunities in the Navy. So far, he has only been on a deployment to Thailand with an artillery battery, but he hopes that more opportunities to travel will come soon.

?When I was in Thailand I was basically on standby for artillery,? said Miramon. ?I put a lot of my money into the Thai community when I was over there. But I want to travel a lot, and it was exciting for me when I got my orders to come to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.?

Miramon reported to this base approximately six months ago. Since then he has picked up surfing, swimming and riding all-terrain vehicles as hobbies during his time off. He also enjoys going to the clubs around the island.

?I love the atmosphere here when I go out,? he said. ?This place is a very beautiful place. I have been here before when I was like 10 years old, but I was too young to remember anything. Now that I?m older, I enjoy the things there are to do here a lot more. I didn?t get to do any of those things when I was younger, and since I am stationed here I decided to take advantage of them. ?

This is Miramon?s second duty station since joining the Navy. He was previously stationed at Bethesda Naval Hospital before coming to Hawaii.

?There?s not really that much to complain about here,? he said. ?I mean it?s Hawaii. There are many things that people can do out there on the island. And another plus to being stationed here is that it?s really beautiful here. How can anyone complain??

Leave a Comment more...

Words of a True Soldier

I am a marine and have been for about 9
months now. I have been in 3 different states in the
US and 2 countries including Iraq. I enjoy my time in
the corps. Yes you can have tatoos. I understand about
you will miss your family. But also not everyone can
become a marine. Its tough and it takes hard work.
Make sure it is truely what you want to do. Talk to a
recruiter to get more info before you sign up. It will
seem like you life in hell in boot but if you make it
through boot you will be part of the few Americans
that had the courage to take a step higher then their
peers to become a US Marine.

Semper Fidelis
Randy Miller Jr
LCPL USMC

If you have something you would like posted here, contact us.

Leave a Comment more...

Marine Travels the World with Corps

Sgt. Russell D. Bridges, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, base  operations, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe  Bay, has been in the Marine Corps for more than seven years, said his  grandfather -- a former military police officer during Vietnam -- was  only family member who pushed him to join the military. Bridges  describes himself as laid back and very old fashioned. He enjoys  hunting, fishing and all sports.

Sgt. Russell D. Bridges, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, base operations, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, has been in the Marine Corps for more than seven years, said his grandfather — a former military police officer during Vietnam — was only family member who pushed him to join the military. Bridges describes himself as laid back and very old fashioned. He enjoys hunting, fishing and all sports.

As a teenager, problems often occur that must be overcome ? some more than others. Some problems are life altering and can affect the psyche as well as help mold a person?s future.

For Sgt. Russell L. Bridges, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Base Operations, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, the events of his past have made him push to be a better person.

?I?ve been on my own since I was 14, because I was emancipated from my parents,? said Bridges. ?They had their problems and it wasn?t a good environment for me, so my grandmother was given guardianship of me. My sister, Misty, went to live with our stepfather.?
Bridges said that the lifestyle he lived at his grandmother?s had its ups and downs.

?Growing up with my grandma, I was really allowed to do pretty much whatever I wanted, as long as I stayed out of trouble,? said 26-year-old Bridges. ?She worked full-time in order to make ends meat, but did a good job raising me.?

As a junior in high school Bridges decided he wanted to enlist into the military with his friends.

?I originally was going to join the Army because all of my friends were doing it. We were going to do the whole buddy system thing,? said the East Alton Wood River High School graduate. ?One of my friends actually took me to the Marine recruiter, and when I was talking to him, he asked what I was doing next summer. I told him I was going to Army boot camp, and he said, ?No you?re not, you?re going to Marine Corps boot camp,? and that?s how I got to be where I am today.?

Bridges enlisted in the Marine Corps as an engineer, going through boot camp at Marine Corps Recruiting Depot, Parris Island, S.C.

?My family was very supportive of my decision to join the military,? said the Alton, Ill. native. ?My grandma just wasn?t thrilled that I chose the Marine Corps over the others, but still backed me. My grandfather served as a military police officer in the Air Force during Vietnam and retired as a senior enlisted, so he was really the only person who pushed me to join.?

Bridges explained that a lot of his friends ended up being ?grunts,? but he was interested in demolition, which is why he joined as an engineer.

?I didn?t like doing humps; but I loved demolition, so I knew it was for me,? said Bridges. ?I?m glad I chose it because I really like it, and it turned out to be really cool.?

Bridges has been in the Marines for more than seven years and has been to many different places.

?Before I was in the military, the only place I had ever been to was Mexico ? on a church trip,? admitted the self-proclaimed old-fashioned kind of guy. ?Since I?ve been in, I?ve been to Iraq, all over Europe, Spain, Italy, Jordan, Egypt, and a lot of other interesting places.?

Bridges was in Operation Iraqi Freedom and returned to Hawaii in March. While deployed, his job billet was staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge for information operations.

?I volunteered to go to Iraq, so it was awkward. I was scared from time to time, but was never in an actual fire fight,? Bridges said. ?Our biggest threat was indirect fire. You would hear bombs going off in the distance and then they would stop, so you would have no clue where the next one is going to go off.?

He said that if it were up to him, he would not like to be deployed again, but wouldn?t mind if he had to go, said Bridges.

?Everybody asks if it?s a different lifestyle in Iraq,? said Bridges. ?They have their good and bad people there.?

Bridges said that he is unsure as to what the future holds for him, but believes he will want to retire from the Marine Corps.

?As it looks, now I?m going to do my 20 years and retire,? said the self-proclaimed easy-going guy. ?But it?s hard to say what?s going to happen in the future. If I do decide to get out, I?d be interested in being on a special weapons and tactics team somewhere.?

Leave a Comment more...

Immigrant Marines

Pfc. Abel Curicabrera, Pfc. Vladimir Balinovsky and Lance Cpl. Ben  Brobby born in Peru, Ukraine and Ghana respectively, showing their  gratitude to the United States by serving as Marines.Immigrants have been an intricate part in the tapestry of our nation since its foundation.

Because our country is made up of immigrants, our military has its share of them doing their part to defend it.

Lance Cpl. Ben Brobby of Africa, Pfc. Vladimir Balinovsky of Ukraine and Pfc. Abel Curicabrera of Peru are three such examples of Marines not born in the U.S. but proudly serving.

Pfc. Abel Curicabrera, Pfc. Vladimir Balinovsky and Lance Cpl. Ben Brobby born in Peru, Ukraine and Ghana respectively, showing their gratitude to the United States by serving as Marines.

These Marines were born worlds apart, but all agree that the common desire for the American dream has landed them here in Camp Lejeune.

They are on the same base, in the same platoon and in the same military occupational specialty of supply warehouse clerk with 2nd Radio Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

Brobby and Balinovsky are naturalized citizens and Curicabrera hopes to soon be one.

Curicabrera was born in Peru and was brought to the U.S. by his Mother at the age of 10 to live with his Grandfather in Falls Church, Va.

I am proud to be from the bloodline of the famous South American Incas, but I dont miss the hard times of my country, said Curicabrera.

I remember playing soccer everyday in the dirt with no shoes on, said Curicabrera. Most of the houses were poorly built on the side of the hills with a few pieces of bad wood, he continued. My mom worked very hard so I hardly saw her.

Moving to the states was unsettling at first, said Curicabrera. He explained getting involved with the wrong friends that resulted in expulsion from several schools.

In the nine years hes been in the U.S. he has been to six different schools but was eventually able to earn his high school diploma from Chantilly High School in Va.

Influenced to join the military after participating in the Air Force JROTC in high school, Curicabrera remembered always being impressed with the positive change in someone from his neighborhood after they joined the military.

Also deeply affected by the events of 9/11, Curicabrera said he was destined to join the military.

Curicabrera will soon have his chance to get his first deployed experience when he deploys as part of a Military Iraqi Transition Team next month.

Also coming from a difficult background was Brobby, who was born on a continent ravaged with famine and civil war.

Brobby was born in the African country of Ghana which is rich in minerals and agriculture, but due to political struggles, had a weak economy and infrastructure issues during his childhood, he said.

There were no phones in the city of Tema, which made it difficult for my teachers to contact my parents, it was easy to be a troublemaker, said Brobby. When I missed too much school, the poor teachers had to walk to my house to tell my parents.

Brobbys father left his family behind and came to the U.S. in the mid 1980s in search for a better life, he explained. After settling down as a cab driver in Woodbridge, Va., he sent for Brobby and the rest of his family in 1994.

Becoming a citizen in 1992, Brobbys father wasnt aware that he could make his children citizens by adding them to his application, said Brobby.

Brobbys desire to be called a U.S. citizen led him to file on his own application and was officially sworn in as a naturalized citizen one month before joining the Marine Corps in September of 2005.

I made my decision to join the Marines before I was sworn in as a citizen, said Brobby. Becoming a citizen was an added bonus.

Last of the 2nd Radio Battalions immigrant trio was born in a country associated with our enemy of the Cold War era.

Balinovsky was born in Ukraine, a country that became independent from the former Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukraine was also the sight of the worst accident in the history of nuclear power, according to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. In 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was rocked with an explosion that caused a radioactive contamination of the surrounding geographic area. This resulted in the evacuation and resettlement of over 336,000 people.

Two years later Balinovskys father moved to the U.S. with him and his mother in pursuit of a life away from communist oppression, said Balinovsky.

I was only 10 years old when I came here, so I had plenty of time to get acquainted with the wrong friends, said Balinovsky.

Balinovskys unstable upbringing resulted in him dropping out of high school during his 10th grade year. Eventually he realized the importance of an education and got his General Education Diploma.

Still in and out of trouble, Balinovsky did not get serious about life until his father had a heart attack in 2006.

Feeling the need to make his father proud, Balinovsky wanted more meaning in his life and enlisted in the Marines.

Serving in the military is the least I can do to show my gratitude for all the freedoms offered by this great country, Said Balinovsky. The Marine Corps has also given me the opportunity to make something of myself, Im glad for that.

These three Marines are some of the hardest working marines Ive ever met, said Cpl Kevian Weems, the warehouse chief for 2nd Radio Battalion Supply Platoon. I tell them what needs to be done and its done, I never have to repeat myself, they make me look very good as a non-commissioned officer.

There are many more Immigrants serving in the Marine Corps.

Pat Millush, immigration paralegal assigned to the Camp Lejeune legal assistance office, said that she sees about 80 clients a week requesting assistance concerning immigration related matters.

Millush explains that naturalization processing for armed forces personnel is faster than for others. Further, while there is a filing fee for dependents applying for naturalization, the process is free for those on active duty.

Immigrants have been an intricate part in the tapestry of our nation since its foundation.Because our country is made up of immigrants, our military has its share of them doing their part to defend it.

Lance Cpl. Ben Brobby of Africa, Pfc. Vladimir Balinovsky of Ukraine and Pfc. Abel Curicabrera of Peru are three such examples of Marines not born in the U.S. but proudly serving.

Pfc. Abel Curicabrera, Pfc. Vladimir Balinovsky and Lance Cpl. Ben Brobby born in Peru, Ukraine and Ghana respectively, showing their gratitude to the United States by serving as Marines.These Marines were born worlds apart, but all agree that the common desire for the American dream has landed them here in Camp Lejeune.

They are on the same base, in the same platoon and in the same military occupational specialty of supply warehouse clerk with 2nd Radio Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

Brobby and Balinovsky are naturalized citizens and Curicabrera hopes to soon be one.Curicabrera was born in Peru and was brought to the U.S. by his Mother at the age of 10 to live with his Grandfather in Falls Church, Va.

I am proud to be from the bloodline of the famous South American Incas, but I dont miss the hard times of my country, said Curicabrera.

I remember playing soccer everyday in the dirt with no shoes on, said Curicabrera. Most of the houses were poorly built on the side of the hills with a few pieces of bad wood, he continued. My mom worked very hard so I hardly saw her.

Moving to the states was unsettling at first, said Curicabrera. He explained getting involved with the wrong friends that resulted in expulsion from several schools.
In the nine years hes been in the U.S. he has been to six different schools but was eventually able to earn his high school diploma from Chantilly High School in Va.
Influenced to join the military after participating in the Air Force JROTC in high school, Curicabrera remembered always being impressed with the positive change in someone from his neighborhood after they joined the military.

Also deeply affected by the events of 9/11, Curicabrera said he was destined to join the military.

Curicabrera will soon have his chance to get his first deployed experience when he deploys as part of a Military Iraqi Transition Team next month.

Also coming from a difficult background was Brobby, who was born on a continent ravaged with famine and civil war.

Brobby was born in the African country of Ghana which is rich in minerals and agriculture, but due to political struggles, had a weak economy and infrastructure issues during his childhood, he said.

There were no phones in the city of Tema, which made it difficult for my teachers to contact my parents, it was easy to be a troublemaker, said Brobby. When I missed too much school, the poor teachers had to walk to my house to tell my parents.
Brobbys father left his family behind and came to the U.S. in the mid 1980s in search for a better life, he explained. After settling down as a cab driver in Woodbridge, Va., he sent for Brobby and the rest of his family in 1994.

Becoming a citizen in 1992, Brobbys father wasnt aware that he could make his children citizens by adding them to his application, said Brobby.

Brobbys desire to be called a U.S. citizen led him to file on his own application and was officially sworn in as a naturalized citizen one month before joining the Marine Corps in September of 2005.

I made my decision to join the Marines before I was sworn in as a citizen, said Brobby. Becoming a citizen was an added bonus.

Last of the 2nd Radio Battalions immigrant trio was born in a country associated with our enemy of the Cold War era.

Balinovsky was born in Ukraine, a country that became independent from the former Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukraine was also the sight of the worst accident in the history of nuclear power, according to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. In 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was rocked with an explosion that caused a radioactive contamination of the surrounding geographic area. This resulted in the evacuation and resettlement of over 336,000 people.

Two years later Balinovskys father moved to the U.S. with him and his mother in pursuit of a life away from communist oppression, said Balinovsky.

I was only 10 years old when I came here, so I had plenty of time to get acquainted with the wrong friends, said Balinovsky.

Balinovskys unstable upbringing resulted in him dropping out of high school during his 10th grade year. Eventually he realized the importance of an education and got his General Education Diploma.

Still in and out of trouble, Balinovsky did not get serious about life until his father had a heart attack in 2006.

Feeling the need to make his father proud, Balinovsky wanted more meaning in his life and enlisted in the Marines.

Serving in the military is the least I can do to show my gratitude for all the freedoms offered by this great country, Said Balinovsky. The Marine Corps has also given me the opportunity to make something of myself, Im glad for that.

These three Marines are some of the hardest working marines Ive ever met, said Cpl Kevian Weems, the warehouse chief for 2nd Radio Battalion Supply Platoon. I tell them what needs to be done and its done, I never have to repeat myself, they make me look very good as a non-commissioned officer.

There are many more Immigrants serving in the Marine Corps.

Pat Millush, immigration paralegal assigned to the Camp Lejeune legal assistance office, said that she sees about 80 clients a week requesting assistance concerning immigration related matters.

Millush explains that naturalization processing for armed forces personnel is faster than for others. Further, while there is a filing fee for dependents applying for naturalization, the process is free for those on active duty.

Related Story: Fighting to Belong – Immigrants in the U.S. Marine Corps

1 Comment more...

From the Football Field to the Battlefield

Brothers Brad(left) and Scott(right) Stys joined the Marine Corps  together after spending two years playing football in college. The  fraternal twins are both assault men in the infantry and are currently  in the city of Ramadi with Fox Company, 2 Battalion 8th Marine  Regiment.

Brothers Brad(left) and Scott(right) Stys joined the Marine Corps together after spending two years playing football in college. The fraternal twins are both assault men in the infantry and are currently in the city of Ramadi with Fox Company, 2 Battalion 8th Marine Regiment.

Some Marines in the infantry claim those who they work the closest with as their family; even further their brothers. Two assault men with Fox Company in Ramadi have not only the birth certificates, but also the DNA to prove in fact they are brothers.

Fraternal twins, Lance Cpl.�s Brad and Scott Stys, assault men, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment coin the term brothers in arms. The 22-year olds are just two of the many Marines supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and conducting daily infantry operations.

After attending college for two years at Rowan University in New Jersey the brothers decided college wasn�t for them at that time. The Stys brothers then visited their local recruiter�s office with one goal in mind to become infantry Marines.

�We just knew it was the right thing to do at the time,� said Brad. �Our grandfather was a Marine in the South Pacific during World War II and our father was in the 101st Airborne during Vietnam. We were just brought up that way; we knew we were Marines long before we even joined.�

Before the brothers decided to fight together they played together. The Stys brothers, natives of Hunterdon County, New Jersey, were both starting wide receivers while in college and say they compare a lot about football with the Marine Corps.

�We�ll talk about it a lot,� said Scott. �How similar being a football player is to being an infantry Marine. Just like in football if everyone does there job it all comes together as a whole. That goes for an individual in a squad to the platoon and all they way up.�

Although both the brothers belong to Fox Company, Brad and Scott perform very different jobs. Brad, a member of the jump platoon serves as part of the personal security detachment for the company commander.

�I�m a turret gunner in the lead vehicle with Fox Company jump,� said Brad. �We run the mobile patrols as well as go on foot patrols with the company commander.�

Scott who works with a group of Marines embedded with Iraqi Police describes his day�s routine a little different.

�We do a lot of security patrols and make sure the people in our area are safe and are doing ok,� said Scott. �Aside from that we also provide the quick reaction force for our area and stand post protecting where we live.�

Prior to the deployment not everyone knew just how many Stys� there really were in Fox Company.

�Before coming to Iraq we would have people come up to one of us, kinda confused, and say they just saw us on third deck in uniform and shortly after on first deck with PT gear,� Scott said. �I guess they just thought we changed really fast,� added Brad.

For the company, welcoming a set of twins was something most of them were familiar with. The addition of the Stys brothers ensured this was the third deployment in a row Fox Company would embark on with a set of twins in its ranks.

�I could tell these Marines were leaders from the first day I met them, when I picked them up from the School of Infantry,� said 1st Sgt. Robert Williamson, first sergeant, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment. �After I talked to them I knew they were good to go and from that point on it�s been an honor to have them in the company.�

Williamson, who remembers his first set of twins in the company, says the toughest part about dealing with twins is the fact that you want to keep them together, but at the same time you have to keep them apart.

�There was an incident last year with the previous set of twins I had when one of them got shot,� said Williamson. �You just never know what�s going to happen and in this case in showed it was beneficial to have had them separated.�

The separation of the twins isn�t just to prevent damage control when things go bad. Williamson said aside from the leadership they bring to the company they also evoke a competitive side in everyone.

�One of the best things about these guys is they�re very competitive,� said Williamson. �They make everyone want to compete; to be the best. Whether it�s the brothers competing to see who the better of the two is, or their squads competing to see who can get the job done better, they bring that level of competition.�

Making a good impression for anyone who�s new to an infantry unit can be hard, but both the brothers seem to have figured it out.

�They�re both outstanding Marines,� added Williamson. �Brad is on the commanding officers mobile, and he�s the guy we feel comfortable riding in his truck knowing that he�s doing his job. Scott not only was put up for company Marine of the month, but is also filling in as the Corporal of the guard a month into his first deployment. These Marines are telling guys on their second deployment to fix themselves.�

Although Williamson still has difficult distinguishing them apart, he�s got his mind made up on one thing about the brothers.

�If they keep up with the pace they�re going at, there�s no doubt in my mind that these Marines will be squad leaders after this deployment,� said Williamson.

As for made up minds; Williamson isn�t the only one sure of the Stys� future after this deployment. Both the brothers have both short term and long term goals in the making.

�I�m really looking forward to spending some time on the beach,� said Scott. �That�s something we haven�t gotten to do in a while.�

After the Marine Corps, college is of the utmost importance for both Scott and Brad.

�We both plan on going back to school after our four years in the Marines Corps,� said Brad. �We�re looking forward to playing football again and graduating with degrees.�

Although the Stys� don�t plan on making a career out of the Marine Corps they said they�ll never forget the things the Corps has taught them.

�One of the greatest things about the Marine Corps is the leadership,� said Scott. �You get to see a lot of different leadership styles and from that point pick and choose which ones you like as you mold yourself as a leader.�

Leave a Comment more...

Former NFL Lineman Joins Marines

Giving uPfc. Jeremy Staat, Platoon 1065, Company B, practices rifle manual in his training barracks. p the fame of the football field at 29 years old, one Company B recruit looked for a glory that was more permanent than any trophy.
At age 13, Pfc. Jeremy Staat was 75 inches tall and weighed 230 pounds. It seemed as if he was built for football, according to Staat.

?I really didn?t have to work hard at it,? said Staat.

Starting as an offensive lineman, Staat grew as a football player and saw his first glimpse of the Marine Corps not long after starting at Arizona State University as an offensive lineman.

Fond memories traced back to his first encounter with the Marine Corps.

?I had a buddy who was a combat photographer in the Marine Corps,? said Staat. ?He came back from the desert with pictures of these big C-130s and I said, ?I want to do what you are doing.??

Playing football began losing its appeal. Seeing other men and women around the world in their service uniforms kept Staat thinking about those ?what-ifs.?

Following his time at the university, Staat moved up to the National Football League, playing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams and one year of arena football with the Los Angeles Avengers.

Early thoughts of leaving the league were deflected after college teammate Pat Tillman influenced Staat to stay in until he could get a retirement plan. Staat and Tillman became good friends while sharing a room at ASU. Over time, Tillman decided to leave the NFL to serve in the U.S. Army before he was killed in action in 2004.

?That was the turning point for Jeremy,? said Janet Goodheart, Jeremy Staat?s mother. ?After Pat was killed, he began to dwell on things. He visited me at home and we had a real serious talk. He told me that he was through with football.?

He decided to enlist in the military. Because of his larger-than-life exterior, Staat had to pass a few tests before he could enlist.

His mother said he passed tests everyday.

?He called me and said, ?Mom, you can?t be any more than 78 inches, 29 years old and 261 pounds,??? said Goodheart. ?He was all three.?

There were certain reasons for joining that went beyond the passing of Pat Tillman, according to Staat.

?The big reason was because I was just really disgusted with the amount of money entertainers get and what they pay troops overseas,? said Staat. ?It didn?t seem right that we pay all those entertainers millions to catch a football and we pay our Marines pennies to a dollar to catch a bullet,? said Staat.

Determined to leave, Staat spoke with a recruiter and left as soon as possible.

?I came in two months early, like ?Let?s get it on,?? said Staat. ?I wanted to be a part of something that is going to live forever instead of getting trophies. What are trophies good for ? collecting dust? Most trophies get thrown in the garage. Who knows where they go after that??

Arriving at the depot, Staat did what he could to keep his past under wraps, but within five hours of his landing, his secret was out.

Staat said a drill instructor asked the 77-inch stack of muscle if he played football. ?I played a little in college,? said Staat, who enlisted to become a machine gunner.

The drill instructor kept digging and eventually the truth came out.

?From what I knew of Marine Corps training, drill instructors are extremely professional,? said Staat. ?With all the attention I?ve drawn to this platoon, they have done an awesome job being professional.?

When he started training, Staat took a different outlook on his environment than most recruits do during the first phase of boot camp. To him, playing for a team was temporary; being part of a legend was something people wouldn?t forget.

Since entering recruit training, Staat realized he wasn?t used to the strenuous environment.

?I?ve run three miles four times in my life, once at (Military Entrance Processing Station), and three times here,? said Staat.

Besides the physical training, boot camp is aimed to place stress on recruits to prepare them for stressful situations they may encounter on the battlefield.

Stepping away from the life of an entertainer to enjoy the priceless experience of Marine Corps boot camp, Staat said he couldn?t feel more at home.

?I would wake up every day and smile,? said Staat. ?Recruits look at me like I am crazy, but I am just happy to be here; to be on a practice field as big as Camp Pendleton is crazy.?

According to Goodheart, the letters Staat sent home during training let her know that her son was doing fine in his training. ?He was very happy,? she said.

The only thing that Staat couldn?t grasp about training was the other recruits. He couldn?t understand why 60 recruits would rather have to do push-ups in the dirt than sound off when told to by their drill instructors, though Staat never lost his motivation, according to Goodheart.

?If there was something that gave Jeremy any kind of doubt, he would pursue it until he was convinced,? said Goodheart.

?If you change the mindset of what you are doing, you can turn it into a whole new experience,? said Staat. ?I looked at field training like I was going camping. They are going to pay me to learn how to train and survive in the field.?

Staat said he found it amusing that people pay for the training that Marines are paid to complete.

?They train you to keep in shape. They put you on a diet,? said Staat. ?People pay to do that.?

Staat recalled a day during training when his company ran the obstacle course. There are a number of high walls, logs and bars to get over throughout the course including the rope, which is strung from a high beam of wood to the ground. Staat attempted to climb the rope but failed. He was trained on the proper techniques, he got a second chance.

Staat?s senior drill instructor told him to climb the rope again. One of the many things that are stressed during training is bearing, but when Staat climbed to the top of the rope, he broke his bearing and smiled.

?I asked him what happened the first time and he smiled and said, ?This recruit didn?t have the technique down, sir,?? said Staff Sgt. Miguel R. Saenz, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1065.

?I was just happy,? said Staat. ?I had never climbed a rope before.?

Beyond the training, there were adjustments Staat had to make.

?It was fast,? said Staat. ?The sounding off was difficult because I am not used to yelling and screaming.?

Even the combat utility uniforms took some getting used to, according Staat.

?I looked at them as a new uniform,? said Staat. ?Instead of having a football helmet, I had a Kevlar. Instead of wearing shoulder pads, I wore a flak jacket.?

Departing the depot as a squad leader, and one of many new Marines graduating from Co. B, Staat plans on leaving a lasting impression in the Marine Corps and maybe watch a few football games on his days off.

1 Comment more...

Despite dad’s, best friend’s deaths, recruit presses on to become Marine

Pvt. Evan Plunkett, Platoon 2146, Company G, cleans his dress shoes  Monday for the battalion commander�s inspection.

Pvt. Evan Plunkett, Platoon 2146, Company G, cleans his dress shoes Monday for the battalion commander�s inspection.

Pvt. Evan Plunkett�s eyes welled up and tears rolled down his cheeks when he heard the news during the first week of boot camp.

He was called to the company office for a telephone call from his mother, who told him his father and his best friend were both killed in separate incidents on the same day.

On the morning of July 24, Plunkett�s best friend since the sixth grade, James, was at a park with another friend when he was killed in a drive-by shooting.

Later that day, his father, Thomas, a former Marine, was struck and killed by a car while crossing the street during a business trip in Tampa, Fla.

�Oddly enough, it was him who told me that everything was going to be okay,� said Holly Miles Plunkett, his mother.

Emotionally devastated, Plunkett was allowed 10 days of leave to be with his family. Plunkett remembers spending time with his father, whom he looked up to, less than a week before.

�Before I left for boot camp, I asked my father if he would be at my graduation,� said Plunkett, Platoon 2146, Company G. �He hesitated as if he knew he might not be there. The last thing he told me was that he loved me and was proud of my decision to join the Marine Corps.�

Plunkett turned down several college scholarships to follow his father�s Marine Corps legacy.
He said his father rarely spoke about his Marine Corps career but he always tried to instill a military lifestyle and discipline in Plunkett.

�I felt like I wasn�t mentally ready to come back to boot camp,� said Plunkett, a West Lake, Calif. native. �I came back because of my father. He was a Marine. He was a go-getter and he got things done. I wanted to be just like him.�

His parents separated when Plunkett was young, and his father moved out, which created a barrier between them. Several years later, his parents reunited and he began to rebuild the relationship he had lacked with his father.

Two days after he arrived at the depot, Pvt. Evan Plunkett, Platoon  2146, Company G, received a phone call from his mother, who told him he  had lost his father and his closest friend in separate incidents during  the same day. His loss made boot camp more mentally challenging, but he  pulled through with the memory and inspiration from his father, who was  a Marine.

Two days after he arrived at the depot, Pvt. Evan Plunkett, Platoon 2146, Company G, received a phone call from his mother, who told him he had lost his father and his closest friend in separate incidents during the same day. His loss made boot camp more mentally challenging, but he pulled through with the memory and inspiration from his father, who was a Marine.

He learned that his father was loving and hardworking, and Plunkett wanted to be �the best,� just like his father.

�He is a lot like his dad, who has a lot of positive aspects,� said Holly.

Plunkett was active in high school sports, which made the physical part of boot camp easier, but the deaths of his father and friend made the mental aspects more difficult.

Plunkett said climbing the hills at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif., tired and hungry, took a mental toll on him.

�There were times in training when his mind was somewhere else,� said Sgt. Wade Winfrey, senior drill instructor, Platoon 2146. �But he had a lot of heart and pulled through. He was admirable, and I am glad to say he was in my platoon.�

Plunkett said he was able to pull through boot camp because of his father.

He felt his father was constantly with him, encouraging him to move foward as he struggled through training.

As Plunkett graduates with Company G today, he will continue his Marine Corps career as an aviation mechanic. He believes his father will alwyays be watching over him, guiding him through future struggles.

Leave a Comment more...

Corps Fills Void in Life

Pfc. Joseph M. Harris, from Corona, Calif., inspects his  marksmanship badge on and his uniform for correct alignment in  preparation for inspections.

Pfc. Joseph M. Harris, from Corona, Calif., inspects his marksmanship badge on and his uniform for correct alignment in preparation for inspections.

Becoming a Marine was one of the few things 25-year-old Pfc. Joseph M. Harris, Platoon 1052 hadn�t accomplished in his life until today, as he graduates from boot camp with Company C.

Harris, a native of Corona, Calif., has done everything from being a dominate athlete in sports to saving the lives of several people.

“I�ve done a lot in my life, but I still felt like something was missing,” said Harris. “I have always wanted to be in military, and joining the Marine Corps was the best decision I ever made.”

His interest in the military came after his six-year dominance in gymnastics, where he placed among the top three in every competition and was named the best all-round male gymnast in California.

He also won an international competition and competed on the Southern California all-star team. He said at the age of 14 he began coaching high school cheerleaders the skills that took him four hours-a-day, six-days-a-week of practice to achieve.

As an accomplished gymnast in nearly every event including floor exercise, high bars and vault, he wanted to try something new. During his second year in high school, he decided to join the football team.

At 5 feet, 1 inch tall and 115 pounds his friends said he was too small to be a football player. He started on the varsity team as a strong safety and running back, then became a linebacker when his coaches noticed his ability to tackle other players. He made eight sacks in one game and set a new high school record.

As he played football, he became interested in the Naval Sea Cadet Program after reading an advertisement in the newspaper.

“The program looked fun and it was something new for me to do,” said Harris. “It gave me an interest in the military but it also took me on another path.”

The training Harris received as a sea cadet inspired him to help people. He attended a two-week medical care course at Naval Medical Center San Diego, where he observed Navy corpsmen provide treatment for patients.

At 17 he became a volunteer firefighter with the Riverside County Fire Department in Riverside, Calif. After receiving a degree in fire technology and attending the fire academy at Riverside Community College, he was promoted to crew leader and squad operator and was placed in charge of several other fire fighters.

“After being a firefighter for several years I wanted to get my paramedic�s license so I could help people more,” said Harris.

He went back to school to obtain his license and became a firefighter paramedic.

However, he felt as if he was not being used to his potential since he wasn�t given the opportunity to help many people. He made the decision to transfer to Rural Metro in San Diego as a paramedic where he received an award from the fire department for excellence in patient care.

“It�s always been his nature to help people,” said Nikki, his mother. “It�s amazing how he will go out of his way to help others.”

Harris was on vacation with his parents Steve and Nikki at the Colorado River in Blythe, Calif., when he rescued a child from drowning. He said he was on a boat with his parents when he heard someone crying for help.

They pulled their boat up to the shore so Harris could access the situation. He jumped into the water to help the drowning child.

“When I swam up to the boy, I saw the body of a man floating in the water,” said Harris as he recalled the fateful day. “I told the child to grab onto my neck and hold as tight as he could. Then I grabbed the man and pulled them to shore.”

Harris said the child was in good condition when they got to the shore but the man was unconscious. He performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the man until emergency medical services arrived on scene.

He gave the police officers his story and continued his vacation after the situation was over.

Several months later he received a letter in the mail stating that he was being awarded a Distinguished Service Medal from Riverside County Sheriff�s Department for risking his life while off-duty.

“I didn�t think I needed an award,” said Harris. “I thought I was doing what I normally do, which is helping people.”

During the award ceremony, Harris learned what actually happened during the incident.

The two victims were part of a church group from Palm Springs, Calif.

The young child was having trouble swimming so the church leader swam out to help him. During his rescue attempt, he had a massive heart attack, and later died at the hospital, said Harris.

Several months later he was awarded again for his actions that day. The city council of Corona awarded Harris with a commendation that was presented by the town�s mayor.

As his life veered away from his interest in the military to the firefighter and paramedic field, he began to feel the void in his life.

Many firefighters and paramedics who worked with Harris were reservists or former Marines – many of whom mentored Harris throughout his career.

“I had an uncle and several co-workers who were Marines,” said Harris. “I liked how they presented themselves with confidence and professionalism.”

The influence of the Marines in his life rekindled his interest in the military. He left his current job as a paramedic in San Diego and went on military absence so he could fill the hole he has felt for several years.
Harris again found himself helping other people, but this time it was in boot camp.

“He has helped improve the training for other recruits because he could better explain some of the first-aid knowledge the recruits have to learn,” said Staff Sgt. Marvin Reyes, drill instructor, Platoon 1052 and a native of Chicago.

Whether in Marine Corps boot camp or in the civilian world, it is Harris� nature to help other people. After Harris graduates today, he will continue his training at the School of Infantry, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to become a Light Armored Vehicle crewman and begin his service to his country as a reservist.

Leave a Comment more...

Bold Warriors from Hawaii a Possibility

Lance Cpl. Nicholas K. Guard, a Kamehameha Schools graduate, earned  the title of Company Honor Man when he graduated from Marine Corps  recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Dec. 1.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas K. Guard, a Kamehameha Schools graduate, earned the title of Company Honor Man when he graduated from Marine Corps recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Dec. 1.

Hawaii, a place synonymous with relaxation and laid-back attitudes, is also known for its proud history of warrior heritage. Continuing in this lineage is Lance Cpl. Nicholas K. Guard.

One of the Corps� newest Marines, Guard, a 2005 Kamehameha Schools Graduate, has done what very few have accomplished. By distinguishing himself as a Marine who exemplifies all those things Marines hold dear, he earned the right to be the First Recruit Training Battalion, A Company Honor Graduate.

While many of his fellow Marines who graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Dec. 1 are privates or privates first class, he is one of the few to graduate as a lance corporal.

To be named the company honor man is a mark of distinction bestowed upon only a few.
One Marine out of the 450-550 in the company will be named the company honor man.

Not only did Guard earn company honor man, he also obtained the title Iron Man, which is awarded to the Marine with the highest physical fitness test score. Guard performed 27 pull-ups, 164 crunches in two minutes and ran three miles in 17:40. The Marine Corps only requires 20 pull-ups, 100 crunches in two minutes and an 18-minute three-mile for a perfect score.

Guard is now back home in Hawaii on recruiter�s assistance. While home he has had a chance to visit with family and friends who are extremely proud of him.

�I am the first Marine in my family,� said Guard a native of Kuliouou. �It meant a lot to them to see me graduate.�

Being back home after the intense, three-mont training has been an interesting experience for the 19-year-old Marine.

�Everything here is pretty much the same. The place is the same but I have changed,� said Guard. �My mentality, the way I carry myself and the way I look at things have all changed.�

While Guard�s mentality may have changed, his recruiter Sgt. Tobin Q. Teruya, Recruiting Sub Station Honolulu, had great expectations for him.

�At first I was surprised to see someone from Kamehameha Schools come out to join the Marine Corps, considering they push so hard for their students to attend college first,� said
Teruya. �Even so, with his attitude, I knew he would do well.�

Guard considers himself disciplined. Even before joining the Corps, he set strict guidelines for himself and said he always strived for success.

�I joined the Marine Corps for the sheer challenge,� said Guard. �It ended up being far more than that, though.�

Once Guard started training, he began to realize what makes the Corps one of the most elite fighting forces on the planet.

�It�s about the camaraderie and being a part of something greater than yourself,� he added.

According to Guard, the training he went through was exactly what he expected from the Marine Corps. Even so, he is looking for something more.

Guard�s next challenge will be the Marine Corps Reconnaissance Indoctrination Program.
He will leave Hawaii to attend the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton. After graduating from SOI he will come back to Hawaii and join the 4th Force Reconnaissance Company.

�I want to become a Recon Marine because I know it is one of the hardest programs the Marines have to offer,� said Guard. �I joined the most elite branch of service and now I want to be a part of the most elite unit.�

Guard has prepared himself mentally and physically for his future career. For him, this career will not be a short one, either.

�I believe the Marine Corps will be a part of my life for a long time to come,� said Guard.

Those who have had the chance to meet and work with Guard, like his recruiters, know that the Corps is better off with a Marine like Guard in its ranks.

�I know he will do well,� said Teruya. �It�s good for Hawaiians to have one of their own do so well. It shows them that they have the opportunity to do well and succeed in the Corps.�

Leave a Comment more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!