The journey to becoming a Marine isn’t an easy one, and the teenagers and young adults deciding to join have no way of knowing exactly what lies ahead.
We’re proud of North Dakota and how the Dakota Leathernecks are working to bring down the veil, and share their own stories with new recruits.
Dakota Leathernecks Adjutant Randy Lehmann says, “I think any Marine that you come across in the world nowadays, will say, ‘yeah it changed me and it’s for the better’.”
That’s why these Poolees, or soon to be members of the Marine Corp, were out pushing themselves today.
Poolee Ryan Wojtalewicz adds, “I’ve got a big challenge coming up very soon. I leave for boot camp in nine days now.”
His parents, LeeAnn Smith and Mark Wojtalewicz say, “We won’t get to talk to him for the whole time, 13 weeks that he’s there. So we really won’t get to know what’s going on.”
Today, the Dakota Leathernecks brought recruiters, poolees and parents together to eat and to answer any questions they might have.
Lehmann explains, “They’re not going in with some kind of illusion of what the life is going to be like. We try to be real-life with them, unfiltered.”
Lehmann tells the poolees that joining the Marine Corps can be a culture shock.
He adds, “We have the highest standards of any of the services and most people don’t understand that. So you’ve got to be there physically, but you also have to be there mentally and then you have to give it your heart, you have to give it your all.”
And although they’ve been hosting this event for six years now, this is the first year that the recruiters and poolees are able to meet at their new marine house.”
Mark Wojtalewicz says, “I think that’s what’s changed in the last couple decades, is the communication that they have with parents.”
Ryan says his recruiters taught him to push himself to his limit and as a result, he is excited to begin his life in the Marine Corp.
He explains, “I’m looking forward to traveling the world, meeting new people, studying new cultures and getting to be a better person.”
Which is a big part of life in the Marine Corps.
The Dakota Leathernecks Detachment plan to continue hosting this event annually and to work toward opening communication between the Marine Corps and families of Marines.