Marines spike up recruiting in Ventura
| 12th Marine Corps District | September 25, 2003
RECRUITING STATION LOS ANGELES --
Recruiting Substation Ventura discovered a new recruiting experience July 9 as they participated in their first concert event in years; the 2003 Vans Warped tour at Seaside Park, Calif.
The concert was host to over 15,000 screaming, rocking punk and heavy metal fans most around the ages of 15-25 and recruiters were host to all those who passed by the huge red booth and eye-grabbing District Humvee.
Many concert fans were interested, according to LCpl. Mary Bartlett.
"They were lined up filling lead cards from the minute the gates opened until we closed up at the end of the day," she said. "My arms are feeling it now after a full day with so many people. I didn't realize how much work we did until it was over; we were having so much fun just talking with everyone."
There were many people who just walked by and checked out what we had to say while more than 300 stopped to take the Marine Corps Chin up Challenge. One female who, "couldn't have weighed more than 90 pounds," according to GySgt. Alfonso McCray Jr., canvassing recruiter, Recruiting Substation Santa Clarita, performed 12 dead-hang pull-ups. The only thing McCray could get out was "you motivate me," as he handed her a well-earned T-shirt.
Not everyone was skilled enough to earn the highly sought after black "Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body" T-shirt, however, they did not go home empty handed. Marines gave out other incentive items like lanyards, D-rings, water bottles, posters and CD-cases.
Although there were times when the crowd around the booth thinned, recruiters were able to enjoy more than 40 bands that performed throughout the eight hours they were at the event.
While Marines took turns manning the recruiting booth and area canvassing the crowd of young people, they were also invited backstage to meet the bands. Meeting Sum-41, Pennywise, Dropkick Murphy's and Pink was a highlight for some recruiters throughout the day.
"I thought it was nice that the bands interacted with the crowd, by going down into the crowd and hanging out with the fans. Pink was pretty cool with the Marines. She took pictures and everything with Marines who were backstage. We tried to get her to come over to the booth but she didn't want everyone to know she was at the concert," said Sgt. Marc A. Blount.
Even though the Marines mingled with the crowd, listened to music and met members of the bands they were there with a purpose and at the end of the day the stations benefited from their efforts.
The recruiters from RSS Ventura set up two appointments and one interview, who, according to GySgt. Norman K. Zimmermann, noncommissioned officer in charge, "looks like he might be a contract for us."
Although some recruiters went into the event with a raised brow, according to Blount who works at RSS Santa Clarita, "I was concerned when we first showed up. I thought most of the kids were going to be disqualified because of the new tattoo policy, but I was able to make an appointment and there were many who were interested in learning more about the Marine Corps."
While future participation with VANS Warped Tour is yet to be determined, local recruiters are excited about the possibility in prospecting at other shows.
"Concerts are beneficial to recruiters especially if we know the majority of the crowd will be qualified. We could set up at concerts that have more mainstream performers such as hip hop, alternative and metal," Blount said.
Recruiting Station Los Angeles is already looking at future concerts and researching demographics for different types of music lovers for upcoming prospecting events.