U.S. Marines – United States Marine Corps

Joining the Marines

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.”

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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??

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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

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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.?

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Immigrant 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.

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 don�t 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 he�s 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.�

Brobby�s 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, Brobby�s father wasn�t aware that he could make his children citizens by adding them to his application, said Brobby.

Brobby�s 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 Battalion�s 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 Balinovsky�s 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.

Balinovsky�s 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, I�m glad for that.�

�These three Marines are some of the hardest working marines I�ve ever met,� said Cpl Kevian Weems, the warehouse chief for 2nd Radio Battalion Supply Platoon. �I tell them what needs to be done and it�s 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.

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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.�

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.�

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Adopted Brothers Become Brothers in Arms

Timothy Hagen, right, and adopted brother Ryan Hagen, Platoon  2101, Company E, experienced rough childhoods, but were determined to  join the Marines. They dreamed of becoming Marines since age 10, and  today they accomplished that goal.

Timothy Hagen, right, and adopted brother Ryan Hagen, Platoon 2101, Company E, experienced rough childhoods, but were determined to join the Marines. They dreamed of becoming Marines since age 10, and today they accomplished that goal.

Individuals emerge from the depot after 13-grueling weeks of recruit training as hard-charging Marines with a common goal; defending their country.

However, before they step onto the yellow footprints, they come here from all over the United States from different backgrounds with their own personal reasons for joining.

Private First Class Ryan S. Hagen and his brother, Pfc. Timothy J. Hagen, Platoon 2101, Company E, joined the Marines seeking a challenge and a place to call home. After a long life of instability, bouncing around from foster homes to group homes and back, they found their real home with the Marines.

Timothy, a native of Mesa, Ariz., had a rough childhood since about the age of six. He was taken away from his parents due to their excessive drug and alcohol use and placed in a shelter for three months. When the day came for him to be placed in a foster home, he was unfortunately positioned with abusive foster parents. He remained there for the next three years before being transferred to a more caring home at age nine.

At this new home, Timothy was unaware of the brother he would soon meet, whom he would one day make a life-changing decision with to join the Corps.

Ryan, also a native of Mesa, went through a similar childhood. His mother and father were alcohol abusers who fought daily. This eventually led to Ryan and his father leaving his mother to start new lives.

After remarrying twice, his father settled with an abusive wife and Ryan was sent to live with his grandmother. His grandmother was getting older and came to the determination that she was too old to raise kids and Ryan, once again, was taken from what he knew as home.

When Ryan left his grandmother�s house, he was relocated to a group home. He had a hard time adjusting to his new way-of-life and dealt with his problems by fighting and running away. He moved in and eventually out of several group homes and placed in a facility for un-fosterable and un-adoptable children.

One day a single mother decided to give Ryan a chance and brought him into her foster home where, coincidentally Timothy resided.

Ryan and Timothy, both age 10 at the time, found themselves sitting in front of the television when a Marine Corps commercial was airing. it immediately caught their attention and their interest grew.

�We always told our mom that we were going to join and she kept telling us she wouldn�t sign the papers,� said Timothy. �When we were 14, the subject came up again and she still said she wouldn�t sign and if we wanted to go we had to wait until we were 18.�

Although she had made up her mind about not letting her boys go, she changed her mind when they turned 17.

�When they first asked me about the Marine Corps, my heart said no as a mother,� said Debra Hagen, Timothy and Ryan�s mother. �These boys have been hurt so much in the past I just didn�t want to see them hurt again, especially being at war.�

Debra said she is proud to see the two boys who were given away by their parents and thrown into chaos, make it in life. After all they have been through, she knows they will do well in the Marine Corps and whatever they set their minds to in the future.

Timothy figured his mother changed her mind because she realized this was what they wanted to do and she was not going to stand in their way.

When they arrived at the depot, they used each other for motivation and inspired one another when thoughts of quitting came about.

�The hardest part of training for me had to be going to the hospital for four days,� said Ryan. �I got pneumonia and had a temperature of 105 degrees during field week.�

Ryan said depression set in being in the hospital room all alone. He felt like he was going to be dropped to the next company and have to continue training without his brother who helped him get so far.

Fortunately, Ryan recuperated just in time to complete the Crucible, a 54-hour training event, and was allowed to finish boot camp with Company E.

�Making it out on time was a big relief,� said Ryan. �It means a lot to me that my brother and I get to graduate on the same day.�

Ryan and Timothy enlisted on the buddy program, allowing them to go through their primary and secondary training together and also serve at the same duty station for their first tour. They will be infantrymen and both plan on doing 20 or more years before retiring.

Today they graduate as basically trained Marines and look forward to receiving their infantry training at The School of Infantry at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. They had little control of how their lives started, but plan on making sure they choose how it continues.

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Marines Inspired by 9/11

Pfc. Nicholas B. Von Koenig (left) and his cousin Pvt. Benjamin E. Von Koenig, Platoon 3034, Company I, said after today’s graduation, they will stand tall and proud like New York’s Twin Towers once did.

Pfc. Nicholas B. Von Koenig (left) and his cousin Pvt. Benjamin E. Von Koenig, Platoon 3034, Company I, said after today’s graduation, they will stand tall and proud like New York’s Twin Towers once did.
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Swedish Native Leads US Marines Combat

Sweden-born, Fairhope, Ala., native Sgt. Michael G. Lyborg, squad leader, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team - 2, stands watch with his squad atop a roof during Operation Steel Curtain.

Sweden-born, Fairhope, Ala., native Sgt. Michael G. Lyborg, squad leader, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team – 2, stands watch with his squad atop a roof during Operation Steel Curtain.
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Punk Rocker Now Marine

Punk rockers have made their mark on society for more than 20 years, entertaining audiences with distorted guitars, brash lyrics and energetic performances; but, one has made his mark in another important way.

Lance Cpl. Ryan M. Eberly, communications center operator, G-2 section, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, II MEF (FWD), was a drummer in a punk rock band throughout high school before joining the Marine Corps in 2003.

“I was part of a band, a punk rock band,” said the Reading, Pa., native. “We played shows at a place called ‘Sound Waves.’ It was basically an indoor skate park and concert hall.”

Eberly said the group made a few demo tapes, and performed at the skate park on a regular basis.

As high school was coming to an end, it was time for the members of “Korey and the Other Two” (Eberly’s band) to go their separate ways.

“I was kind of unsure about what I wanted to do,” said the 2004 graduate of Muhlenburg High School, Reading, Pa. “I had it narrowed down to a few choices.”

Eberly, a quiet, broad shouldered Marine, said the military would give him an opportunity to serve his country, and at the same time receive a college education.

“I figured that [joining the military] would be a way to pay for college,” he said.

Eberly said he chose the Marine Corps for the challenge, and decided to enter the intelligence field when he enlisted into the Delayed Entry Program.

The19-year-old stepped on the legendary yellow footprints aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2004, where he completed Recruit Training.

After completing initial training and Crypto Technician/Signals Collection School in Pensacola, Fla., he was assigned to 2nd Radio Battalion based at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Less than one year after leaving his hometown of Reading for boot camp, he was deployed to Iraq serving with the intelligence section.

Eberly said since deploying, he has gained a lot of useful information in his job field.

“I’ve learned a lot, and in the short time I’ve been here, I’m starting to take control of what’s going on in the shop,” he said.

Even though Eberly is a junior Marine, he was counted on to help arriving intelligence Marines learn the ropes in the office.

“I had to take charge and make sure everyone else was schooled up,” he said.

Becoming a leader of Marines is one of the main goals Eberly hopes to accomplish in the deployment.

“I want to learn as much as possible,” he said. “I want to make my mark.”

Eberly said his parents are very supportive of his career and deployment.

“My dad is all for it,” he said. “He shows how much he cares just by sending all different kinds of stuff in the mail.”

The avid drummer said he is proud to serve, and is prepared to go where the Corps needs his expertise the most.

“If I had to stay out here for a year, I’d do it, no problem,” he said. “[Camp Fallujah] is the longest duty station I’ve had.”

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Never to late to enlist

More than 16,000 chubby, skinny, short, tall, adopted brothers, fathers, cousins, nephews, sons and uncles will come through the depot this fiscal year. Waivers for law infractions, weight problems and sometimes height, might be necessary to send a man on his way to training, but rarely does one need an age waiver.

As the oldest man graduating from Company M, Pfc. David M. Lueck, Platoon 1112, made up his mind, after ten years of doubts and maybes, to join the Marine Corps.

For a man or woman to join without a waiver, you must be between the ages of 17 and 28. Lueck is 33.

Another difference between the Wisconsin native and his peers is his extended education. The Ripon College graduate left school with a degree in biology and education. At 24, he did not know which direction he was headed, but he did like to teach, according to Lueck. Nine years later and still thinking about the Marines, Lueck decided to go for it.

His decision was as much a surprise to a few other people as it was to himself. “We were eating dinner and all the sudden he said, ‘Oh yeah, I joined the Marines,’” said Maureen Wades, Lueck’s girlfriend.

“I thought about it for a long time, probably about eight or 10 years,” said Lueck. “Finally, just one of those days I guess, I realized the desire to do it never went away. Seems like it’s the right thing to do.”

Apart form raw desire, other factors influenced Lueck’s choice.

“Growing up in a small town, you live a pretty sheltered life,” he said.

Lueck graduated from Green Lake High School in 1990. His senior class was made up of 29 people.

In the nine years that Lueck spent in between college and the Marine Corps, he was substitute teaching at middle schools and junior high schools. Even during college he had an apprenticeship with the coach there. He assisted with football and basketball coaching.

When the time came to go, Lueck was expecting nothing. After all the explanations of recruit training, Lueck decided to make his own opinion based on experience.

“You can only prepare so much. You have to live it to understand it,” said Lueck.

Lueck said the physical training wasn’t as hard to him as it was for some of the other recruits, but the change in atmosphere was definitely something that he was not ready for.

“One of the hardest things for me is just that I have been on my own for so long and now everything is regimented,” said Lueck. “For someone who has been independent for so long, it is difficult to adjust, especially for someone who is older and pretty much set in his ways.”

Lueck’s senior drill instructor appointed him as the platoon guide for the first couple weeks of training. Not long after, Lueck realized that there was somebody better for the job. Lueck found that adapting to the boot camp environment would be difficult enough without taking on the added responsibilities of platoon guide.

Things fell into place once the company arrived at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., for field and rifle training, according to Lueck.

“Things became faster paced, but you are used to it by then,” said Lueck. “It makes you tired, but it makes the time go by really fast.”

Second phase of training was over in four weeks, then the company came back to the depot to finish the recruit training.

“I noticed that we are given a little more freedom, but we are also expected to perform at a higher level,” said Lueck.

Seldom were the moments during boot camp when recruits got a chance to catch their breathe. Lueck found himself thinking back to his freer days back in Wis

consin.

“Your schedule is completely set from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep,” said Lueck. “There are times when I miss the life I had, but I never regretted coming here.”

Joining the military was tough decision, but joining the Marine Corps seemed like it was the right decision, according to Lueck, who enlisted with the Marine Corps reserves infantry unit out of Madison, Wis.
“Well, it’s obvious that I will be going to Iraq and clear that I will be going to war,” said Lueck. “It is scary, but my desire to be here helps, and while it is scary, it is also the reason I am here.”

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Poolees Experience Life in the Marines

Sgt. Jason Abel, recruiter, walks between the two squads of poolees and gives final instructions prior to the five-mile infantry patrol. Photo by: Sgt. Jim Goodwin

Sgt. Jason Abel, recruiter, walks between the two squads of poolees and gives final instructions prior to the five-mile infantry patrol. Photo by: Sgt. Jim Goodwin

“If it ain’t rainin’, we ain’t trainin’” – a motto many Marines live by when “toughing” out training in less than ideal weather conditions.

For poolees of Recruiting Substation Clarksville, In., working in less than ideal weather conditions meant spending two-days conducting field-training operations in the cold, rainy and muddy grounds of central Kentucky March 9-10 during a monthly pool function. (continue reading…)

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Day 1: Making of a Marine

Recruits are required to stand perfectly still at the proper position of attention. On pick-up day, drill instructors begin the training process that eventually makes this instinctive in recruits.

Day one of recruit training is a very important day for both recruits and drill instructors. The drill instructors have to establish a position of authority and command respect not only with their voices but also with how they carry themselves. The recruits must give them that respect. (continue reading…)

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