PRESQUE ISLE, Maine --
Marine Corps recruiters often have to overcome incredible obstacles to do their jobs that their peers in other parts of the country would never believe.
For one recruiter in Presque Isle, Maine, local realities require a slightly different approach to accomplish his mission.
Staff Sgt. Keith Lagasse has a massive area of operations – bigger than some states.
But Lagasse’s obstacles don’t end there.
“The high dispersion of towns coupled with a low population can make it a challenge,” he said. “If you don’t plan accordingly, one change can significantly affect your weekly and monthly plan to find that qualified applicant.”
Lagasse has been working out of Presque Isle since December of 2010 and has enlisted five individuals into the United States Marine Corps; all high school seniors.
“Having a staff noncommissioned officer who is motivated, has a good, solid work ethic and an understanding of the logistics of recruiting in his area is a good thing; he is an asset,” said Maj. Ken K. Goedecke, commanding officer of Recruiting Station Portsmouth, N.H.
“It’s largely an untapped market, it was previously a gapped sector,” Lagasse said, referring to the fact that there was no Marine recruiting presence before his arrival last December.
With 19 schools, Lagasse’s area has the lowest senior male population in RS Portsmouth’s area of operations.
“The kids up there get two weeks out of school in September for potato picking season,” Goedecke said. “He’s further north than Montreal and Quebec City. It’s likely there are more moose than high school seniors up there.”
Lagasse spends little time in his office and most of his time on the road. He has driven more than 15,000 miles in his government vehicle in just over five months.
“Logistics are always a top notch priority in your planning,” Lagasse said. “I have a six-hour round trip drive to Bangor (the recruiting substation Lagasse falls under), so I schedule prospecting en route and coming back. I have to maximize my time.”
The weather is another hurdle Lagasse must overcome over to make sure he meets his recruiting goals.
“The weather is unpredictable,” he said. “While most were getting April showers to bring May flowers, we were getting eight inches of snow.”
Despite his many challenges Lagasse understands that his commander’s expectations will remain high and that standards won’t be lowered for him just because of his unique situation.
“We as a command have to remember although his area is different we can’t treat him differently,” said Goedecke. “However, a day in the life of a recruiter in Boston and a day in the life in his area are not even close to being the same.”
Lagasse is not someone who seeks the limelight. He just wants to do his job and considers himself lucky to be where he is.
“I am a modest man,” Lagasse said with a smile. “I’m just the guy who got what he wanted; to go back home and bring opportunity to those who wouldn’t have had it otherwise.”