If the 50 pollies that attended the Marines recruit family night on Friday are still sure they'd like to join the Marines, it's likely that there is little that can change their minds.
Friends, family, and pollies gathered at the American Legion Post 638 to listen to several Marine recruiters speak, as well as witness a very rare out-of-boot camp drill by a professional Marines drill instructor.
"Are you nervous yet?" said GySgt. Johnson, who was raised in Jamestown. "You will be."
Marine Boot Camp Drill Instructor
GySgt. Johnson told those in attendance how he joined the Marines because he wanted to be a part of the best branch of the U.S. Military.
"I hadn't done well in sports (as a young adult)," said GySgt. Johnson. "I hadn't really done well in anything. So I decided that I was going to go for what I considered to be the varsity of the military."
GySgt. Johnson had the ears and eyes of everyone in attendance as he spoke about how the Marines got him out of spending a lifetime of working in a factory and presented him with the training and skills to go on to live a successful and enjoyable life.
Above, Eric Peterson receives an award for physical fitness during Friday’s Marine recruiting event held at the American Legion Post 638.
P-J photos by Remington Whitcomb
After GySgt. Johnson was finished speaking, Maj. Grabow approached to prepare the crowd for what they were about to witness next.
"The reason we brought (the drill instructor) here is to dispel the myths around drilling," said Maj. Grabow. "What really happens? What do they do? How do they sound? What do they look like? Before I got into the Marine corps, that's what I wanted to see. I put on Full Metal Jacket and I thought I was getting what actually happens, but it wasn't quite the case."
Next, a shout of, "pollies, fall in!" rang out across the room and all the young men and women who wish to become Marines ran to the front of the room and stood at attention. Drill Instructor SSgt. Dunham entered the room shortly after.
What followed after was exactly what the young Marine hopefuls could expect to do for the first 13 weeks of their stay at Parris Island, SC.
Though the pollies still have a while to go before basic training, SSgt. Dunham advised their parents to start preparing them now.
"I'm telling you right now, if your kid doesn't give you the greeting of the day, if they don't tell you, 'good morning, ma'am, good evening sir, yes ma'am, no sir' we'll fix that," said SSgt. Dunham. "I take pride in that. I find it personally offensive for someone to walk by me and not say something. That's just rude. Especially if they make eye contact, they can open their fat mouth. ... You're the ones that feed them, clothe them, put a roof over their head - you deserve it. Society has ruined them - their peers have ruined them, but I'm going to fix them."
SSgt. Dunham also had advice for the pollies to get ready for boot camp, as well.
"If you're wearing my eagle, globe and anchor, I don't care if you're a civilian," said SSgt. Dunham. "I don't care if you're 16, 17 - I will hold you accountable. If you want to be a Marine, be a Marine. Now you represent more than just yourselves. So men, you better be shaving and keeping the hair (neat and trim). Women, wear some decent clothes. Cover up your bodies - no one wants to see that trash. Female Marines are ladies. You will not be some hot mess nasty garbage, do you understand? Once again, you're representing more than just yourself. If you want to look like a hooker, you will be treated like a hooker and you will not be in my United States Marine Corps, do we understand?"
After the drilling was done, one of the pollies was honored for his diligence in training thus far, even though boot camp is still in the distant future.
Pollie Eric Peterson was awarded a certificate of achievement for physical fitness and a round of applause from all of his peers.
"When they called me up, I thought I was getting in trouble," said Peterson.
Once he realized that he was being awarded, however, he was quick to cite his father as the inspiration for his diligence to fitness.
"I'd have to thank my dad," said Peterson. "As a former Marine he's been all about fitness. We used to play a game called family fitness where we'd do crunches and pull-ups and run. Ever since I've been really into running."
The event concluded with parents of the pollies asking the Marines questions about their children's future. Though many parents said they were still nervous about their children joining the Marines, many of their lingering questions had been answered.
"Your son going off to boot camp is quite frightening, especially if they ever go off to war," said Anne Little. "However, he's very committed to doing this and we stand behind him 100 percent. We're very proud of him."
"This has gotten me really excited for (the Marines)," said Dylan Little. "After tonight, it's everything I thought it would be. I'm ready to go down there and see what happens."