Lakewood, Ohio --
Honor. Courage. Commitment.
To the average person those three words can have different meanings. For a United States Marine those three words mean everything. It is the foundation of Marine Corps’ ethos and it is used as a guiding light, keeping the institution among the most revered in the world.
The deeper meanings of those words are taught to applicants the moment they make the decision to become a Marine. It is reiterated with immense consistency while earning the title Marine aboard either recruit depot. It then becomes a part of who they are during their tenure as a Marine and long after that time ends.
For one applicant from Recruiting Substation Lakewood, those vital traits and attributes were on display long before having the opportunity to become a Marine, but more importantly, when faced with adversity that may have kept her from realizing her dream.
Abby Thomas always knew that she had a calling to serve, however she was not sure what that service would be.
“While in high school I never really had a good grasp on what I wanted to do with my life,” said the 18-year-old, Cleveland native. “I knew that I probably would not be happy with just going to college right away, but there was no real commitment elsewhere.”
When she finally made the decision that the military was for her, the Marine Corps was not her first choice. It was not until her senior year at James Ford Rhodes High School that she became interested in the Marines after other students in her class had made the decision to join the Corps.
It was the first time she had chosen a career that she was committed to, but the journey was almost cut short just as soon as it began.
Excited about her decision, the then 17-year-old, wanted to share the news with her family and friends. It is however, a requirement that those under the age of 18 receive parental consent before joining.
Thomas did not receive that consent.
“I was upset that they were so against it,” Thomas explained.
Not getting parental consent to join the Marine Corps would simply mean that she would just have to wait until she turned 18 and then go forward with the process. Unfortunately, it is not always that simple.
A lot can happen over the length of almost a year. No one would have judged her if she had decided to contact another branch of the military, try her luck out in the work force, or try college life straight out of high school.
However, that is not what she wanted for her life. She had committed herself to becoming a Marine and it felt good. She was going to see it through, even if it meant delaying it for a little while.
Thomas stayed with it. She continued to communicate with her recruiter, showed up to every pool function and prepared so that when it was her time, she would be ready.
“She is one of the hardest working I have,” said Staff Sgt. Donald Roberts Jr., staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of RSS Lakewood and Thomas’ original recruiter. “(Early on), she could not (exercise) very well, but continued to show up and now passes everything.”
Thomas, who will ship to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. in April, said that what made it easier for her to stay committed and motivated was the fact that throughout everything that went on, the recruiters stayed committed to her and continued to work with her on her goal of becoming a Marine.
“I told her and her (family) that I would do everything I could to give her a chance because she committed to becoming a Marine,” said Roberts.
Her hard work has paid off and she will get that chance to earn the title Marine because she held true to the attributes and traits that make United States Marines.