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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

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Meritorious promotion puts two Marines ahead

By Sgt. Scott Whittington | | March 04, 2005

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Two former poolees now Marines from Recruiting Sub-station Louisville North graduated boot camp March 4 with a little extra weight on their sleeves.  Neither one had any referrals.  They received their promotion the hard way.

Pfcs. Donald Shaw and Damon Starks, both 2004 graduates of Central High School started boot camp together on the buddy program.  Neither of them expected to receive meritorious promotions.

“I knew it would be a challenge [to graduate], and I thought if I can do this then I can pretty much do anything,” said Shaw.

“I didn’t want to stay around here doing nothing.  I wanted to make something happen for myself,” added Starks.  “It still hasn’t hit me yet … I’m a Marine.”

Shaw, who used to stack shampoo bottles on shelves before the Marine Corps, proved he could do just about anything scoring the highest physical fitness score in the company at 293.  That’s 20 pull-ups, 100 crutches under two minutes and a three-mile run just over 19 minutes.

“I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I pushed myself to do it,” said Shaw.  “I had to prove something to myself and my drill instructors.”

Boot camp has been known to push some people further than they thought they could go.  One aspect of boot camp that drives recruits is others around them pushing them with motivation.  It’s not always drill instructors.

Starks, a former fiberglass factory worker, was meritoriously promoted for being the most motivated recruit throughout the entire training cycle.

“There wasn’t anything that Starks didn’t give a 110 percent on,” said Staff Sgt Michael Hake, drill instructor, Platoon 3018, Company M, 3rd Battalion.  “He was the smallest guy in the platoon but never let that slow him down.”

“Shaw could have been the honor graduate but something held him back,” said Hake.  “We wanted him to be guide, but he wasn’t ready for it.  He’ll be one to watch.” 

Most Marines have boot camp stories, and when they tell them, they can usually laugh about it.  Some of those stories include challenges they overcame. 

“The hardest thing was getting used to the routine of waking up, the yelling and paying for other recruits who kept messing up,” said Starks who will soon be in the administration military occupational specialty.

“My biggest challenge was going to the rifle range when it was cold,” added Shaw, who is headed for the supply military occupational school.  “The rifle was so cold and my finger ached but I knew I had to do it, so I did.”

To close the book on boot camp, these two meritorious recruits had a few more obstacles to overcome.  They’ve overcome so much so far.  Now only the Crucible stood in their way of graduation.  The 54-hour event through obstacles and challenges pushed both of them.  As it pushed them, they said they pushed back.

“Boot camp is not impossible,” said Starks.  “It may seem that way, but with enough heart and focus anyone can do it.”

Their recruiter Staff Sgt. Conrad Carter was proud to see them return home.

“I saw a big change in both of them,” said Carter.  “Starks has more confidence, disciplined and focus.  Shaw has a lot more drive.”

Getting meritoriously promoted is a big challenge for any Marine.  These two young Marines met that challenge at boot camp.  Starks and Shaw recently left for Marine Combat Training.  Now the Corps will see what other challenges they face and overcome.

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