Why I decided to join the Marines


Senior year is when people start thinking about the next stage of their lives. For most people, it means applying to college, but I didn’t go that route. Even though I applied to my dream school, Humboldt State, and got accepted, my goals changed. 

During this quarantine, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my life and thinking about where I will be five years from now. I felt that I hadn’t accomplished much and that I’d been pretty mediocre with the things I had tried – art, music, designing a clothing line (though I haven’t given up on that). I was looking for discipline, confidence, and purpose, which I found in one of my favorite pastimes – movies.

While binge-watching movies online, I stumbled upon Full Metal Jacket and decided to give it a watch. Full Metal Jacket is a movie that shows what Marines experienced during the Vietnam War. Watching this got me thinking about joining the military.

Out of all the military branches, the one that stood out to me (thanks to Full Metal Jacket ) was the Marine Corps.  I did research and found out it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. The United States Marine Corps is the toughest, most elite fighting force in the world. Their core values are honor, courage, and commitment. The Marines don’t just accept anyone; they actually have the least amount of people enlisted out of all the military branches. They also have the nicest uniforms, in my opinion, being the dress blues. One of the Marines’ mottos is Semper Fidelis, which is Latin for always loyal. Marines are the first to respond in times of crisis all over the world. They are held to the highest standards and I thought if I am going to join any military branch, it has to be the Marines because of what they stand for.

While the focus is on preparing for fighting, I realized that being in the military doesn’t mean you get to see combat first hand, there are many jobs in the military. For example, the main character in Full Metal Jacket, Joker, was a journalist. Although I don’t want to be a journalist (kind of ironic considering I’m writing for the newspaper), there are a lot of other jobs that are available such as cooks, computer programmers, mechanics, and communications, cybersecurity technician, and air traffic controller.

After requesting more information at the Marines’ official website, I got introduced to a recruiter. Sergeant Williams, who contacted me by phone and gave me more information about the Marines.I learned that I have two options available for me: I could either go into Active Duty or the Reserves. Active Duty is where you’re in the military with a regular job, and the Reserves are for you to go to college and pursue a career. I decided to go the Active Duty way because I want to travel the world and get job experience as soon as possible.

In order to become a Marine, there are some requirements you must meet – be a U.S citizen or resident alien, pass the ASVAB test, have a GED or a high school diploma, and meet the physical and mental standards. I knew I met (or would meet two of the three) and I got a 44 on the ASVAB, which is a good score. Your ASVAB score determines what jobs you are better suited for. I was surprised that there were over 350 jobs in the Marine Corps, obvious things like infantry and field artillery, but also things like communications, combat camera, and even music.

As for the physical and mental parts, I had to find out. My experience with going up to the MEPS (Military Enlistment Process Station) in San Jose was surprising and interesting. After staying at a hotel the night before, we were taken by bus from the hotel to MEPS. As soon as we entered the building, we were told to refer to everyone in the building as Sir and Ma’am. While in the building, we had to confirm our ASVAB test scores and pass drug tests, vision tests, and physical tests. We had to do something they call the underwear Olympics and perform certain movements to see if our body was capable of doing everything before they sent us to boot camp. For example, we had to duck-walk back and forth with our heels to see we were able to because in Bootcamp we were going to be carrying 90-pound backpacks and were going to recreate staying low with our backpacks on. I passed all of the qualification tests and was sworn in. 

I have five months to prepare for Bootcamp until I leave on October 7th, and so far everything is going great. I am in the best shape of my life, working out every day, running, and staying hydrated. I plan to keep progressing every week making and breaking my goals. I have made a lot of commitments to stick with a diet and workout routine every day. I am confident that I will keep getting better and make it through boot camp. I signed up for four years of active duty and am considering being in infantry or a mechanic/operator. A mechanic/operator’s job is to inspect all vehicles, repair them, make sure all vehicles are well maintained and in top condition even in combat situations, as well as drive them. An infantryman’s job is to secure and defend important terrain by forcing enemies assault by fire, maneuver, and close combat.

Some people may ask, “What are you looking for to get out of the Marines?” I want to learn how to help people, I want to travel the world and learn about different cultures, and I want to develop self-reliance, self-direction, and self-discipline because I believe these three are the keys to a happy and successful life. I see it as a challenge and I’ve learned that everything is mental – if you think you can do it, you can do it – and I think the Marines are going to help me achieve my goals.