Richmond, Va --
On Sept. 11, 2001, American economic and military power was attacked by Al-Qaeda in what would become the deadliest terror attack on American soil.
Shortly after the attack, the United States and several allied nations entered into the Global War on Terror, America’s longest war and one which is still being fought today.
On the 13th anniversary of that infamous day, seven young men and women from across Virginia swore the oath of enlistment at the Military Entrance Processing Station at Ft. Lee, Virginia. Together, they promised to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
The meaning of the day and its significance was not lost on the Marine Corps applicants.
“It definitely takes an emotional toll,” said 17-year-old Michael Gambino, a native of Goochland, Virginia. “I almost lost my father on 9/11. In fact, the building in New York that he worked in went down. He stayed around to make sure everyone got out, and I was told the building collapsed not long after he got out. Since that day, many people have joined the military because we feel the need to serve our nation.”
Service can take many forms and the reasons behind that service can be just as varied. For some of the applicants, joining the military is as a way to connect themselves to an American legacy.
“It feels historical, like something I can look back upon and tell my kids about someday,” added 19–year-old Travae Jefferson, a native of Newport News, Virginia. “It feels very patriotic to be here on the anniversary of 9/11.”
It is not solely the new applicants that feel the significance of the day, however.
“I was enlisted prior to getting my commission, and I was at my military occupational specialty school when 9/11 happened,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Jason Doan, the MEPS operations officer who administered the Oath of Enlistment for the applicants. “It means a lot to be able administer the oath and knowing that people are still willing to take that step to serve our great nation. It is extremely rewarding to be able to be a part of that process.”
When answering the call of their nation, Marine Corps applicants chose to accept the greatest challenge available to them.
“The Marine Corps is unique in that every Marine is a rifleman first, and not many people can be a part of it,” said Jefferson. “I have two friends that have become Marines, and I felt that if they could do it, I could too.”
Prior to leaving for Marine Corps Recruit Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, the Corps’ newest applicants will be a part of the Delayed Entry Program, where their recruiters will help them prepare mentally and physically for the nation’s longest and toughest boot camp. Upon graduation and earning the title Marine, they will undergo Marine Combat Training, where they will learn the skills to become a proficient combat Marine, before continuing on to training in their specific military occupational specialty.