Serving the country
Seven members of the R-S Central High School Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers Training (MCJROTC) have signed up and are preparing to leave home to serve their country in the military.
Four of those members are cadets Michael Murphy, Quincy Edwards, Mitchell Salicky and Mark Davis each spent their high school careers as members of the MCROTC and have decided to continue on that path. They will each be leaving in the near future for basic training in their specific military branches.
Davis leaves July 29 for basic training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma with the United States Army Reserves. He originally wanted to be in the Marine Corps but changed his mind when he learned of his red-green color blindness.
"I originally wanted to be a mechanic in the Marine Corps but they won't let you do it if you are color blind. So I decided to go into the reserves so I could stay here and go to school," Davis said. "I will be a medic in the Army Reserves after I finish school."
During basic training, Davis said he will learn land navigation, first aid, customs for the army and basic knowledge every soldier needs. He said the hardest part has been learning the differences between the general orders for the Marines, which he learned during MCJROTC, and the general orders for the Army. But he said being a member of the group during high school has helped him learn about leadership and respect which he will need when he starts basic training.
"My father was in the Navy and my grandpa was in the National Guard. Every man I know in the family has been in the military," Davis said. "It feels like the right thing and what I should do."
Salicky also comes from a military family, which is one of the reasons he chose to join the United States Army. He leaves for basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina on Aug. 18 and will learn to be an aircraft electrician.
"I chose that because it's a good job and I can use it when I get out and into the real world," Salicky said.
He said he is looking forward to basic training and he has been preparing for a while. He lost 100 pounds last year by training.
"Basic training will help me get physically better and mentally ready for it (the army)," Salicky said. "I'm ready to start throwing live grenades and shooting."
Murphy and Edwards are heading to Parris Island to join the Marine Corps.
Although Edwards was accepted to East Carolina University, he decided to go the other route after talking to a friend who was already at boot camp and a recruiter. After Quincy learned he could still go to college and receive tuition assistance from the Marines, he said the opportunity was too good to pass up.
He leaves for training Nov. 17.
"Right now I'm excited. I know for sure it will start hitting me soon," Edwards said. "I'm my momma's youngest son so it will be tough leaving."
Murphy, one of the stars of R-S Central's rifle team, said he has always wanted to join the military.
"When I was in grade school I would slip to my grandma's house and put on my uncle's and grandpa's uniforms," Murphy said. "Being in the MCJROTC encouraged it a lot because for a while I was wishy-washy."
Murphy leaves for basic training Sept. 8. He says his family has been very supportive and it hasn't hit him yet that he is really leaving. He plans to go into aviation mechanics.
"I always liked planes a lot and always had that connection," Murphy said. "Then last year on a trip we went to a aviation museum and they had cockpits you could sit in and it felt like you were there. It hit me that it was what I wanted to do."
Gunnery Sergeant Eric Currington, Marine Corps instructor at R-S Central, said he tried to prepare the cadets for what they will face in upcoming boot camps.
"As a former drill instructor I tried to get them prepared but it's nothing like going through it. The first three weeks will be miserable with the yelling and screaming. It's to build your discipline up and mental toughness," Currington said. "Being away from home will be tough but what helps you through is the friends you make in boot camp. Physically and mentally they should do pretty well."
All of the cadets hope to stay in the military for many years or until they can retire.
"My goal is to stay in at least 16 or 20 years and then I want to be a ROTC instructor," Murphy said. "That would be a good reason to come home. To come back and do what somebody did for me."