New Marine refuses to settle for average, achieves honorman goal
By Cpl. Christopher A. Raper
| | May 17, 2002
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Carrying the red guidon with the numbers 1059 emblazed in gold, Lance Cpl. Sean R. Patereau marched across the parade deck today with his platoon.
Patereau accomplished every obstacle set before him and led the way while doing so during the three months of recruit training.
"Graduating is good enough for most," said Patereau. "I came to boot camp wanting to be the company honorman. It was a choice I made and something that I wanted to do. I couldn't have settled for anything less."
Staying true to his goal, Patereau achieved his dream and was recognized as the company honorman for Company D.
The path to the finish line was far from the straight and narrow. Patereau had to overcome challenges of the body and the mind.
"Recruit training wasn't physically tough just draining," said Patereau. "It was mentally frustrating to have to do simple things over and over again. Something as simple as putting on your socks in the morning could be repeated five or six times until everyone got it right."
For the 21-year-old Tacoma, Wash., native, recruit training wasn't the first rocky obstacle he had to overcome. Growing up with just his mother and two sisters, Patereau lacked a father figure.
"I grew up learning to respect hard work," said Patereau. "My mom supported all three kids and provided the things we needed. I learned that hard work will get you something even if it isn't always the best.
"Things got rough every once in a while," said Patereau. "Life was pretty good growing up, though."
Patereau applied his skills at hard work to the playing field. He played football, soccer and baseball while attending Wilson High School.
After his graduation, he tried his luck with the college books for a criminal justice degree. Patereau headed off to recruit training after spending two years at the college.
During the beginning of training, Patereau suffered a period of shock and adjustment while being brought into the military lifestyle.
"Patereau was lost during the first few weeks of training," said Sgt. Dwayne R. Yunker, one of the honorman's drill instructors. "He was a stress case. After a while he started to take charge and stand out."
After facing and completing all of the obstacles set before him, Patereau has gained much more than just muscle and endurance. He has gained some intangible qualities that will stay with him for the rest of his life.
"You learn a lot of discipline to do the right thing in recruit training," said Patereau. "You also learn to appreciate the little things in life."
Discipline and appreciation aren't the only things Patereau hopes to get out of the Marine Corps. From the day that he walked into the recruiting office to sign the dotted line, he has also been looking forward to the respect that comes with wearing the eagle, globe and anchor.
"One day I just decided that I wanted to be a Marine," said Patereau. "I went into the recruiting office and before long I was ready to go active duty. I wanted the respect that comes with being a Marine."
Walking off the parade deck with the air of respect he wanted and deserves, Patereau will head home for 10 days of well earned leave before completing his training as a basic Marine and assuming a position in the military police section.