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U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Wesley O. Hayes, a chief drill instructor with 1st Recruit Training Battalion, poses for a photo at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, July 29, 2021. Hayes became a drill instructor after joining the Marine Corps as a musician. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tessa D. Watts)

Photo by Sgt. Tessa Watts

Influencing future generations: Staff Sgt. Wesley Hayes

23 Aug 2021 | Sgt. Tessa Watts 12th Marine Corps District

Marines are known as the Few and the Proud for good reason. The Marine Corps isn’t an easy organization to get into. It requires grit, integrity, courage, and more to earn the title of United States Marine.

Not only did U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Wesley O. Hayes, a chief drill instructor with 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, earn the title, now he trains other young Americans to become Marines as well.

“When I was a child, I wanted to be everything,” Hayes said. “I wanted to be an inventor. I wanted to be a policeman. I wanted to play football. I wanted to do everything.”

Before he became a Marine, Hayes graduated the University of Mississippi in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. He became a band director, teaching music to children between grades 6 and 12.

“I enjoyed being a teacher,” Hayes said. “I enjoyed influencing young lives.’’

Hayes decided to join the Marine Corps in order to provide more opportunity for him and his family, despite how much he loved educating future generations about music.

“Becoming a Marine was a big moment in my life,” Hayes said. “It was bigger than graduating college because when I went to college, I thought, ‘everybody can do this.’ Not everybody can become a Marine.”

Hayes joined the Marine Corps through the Musician Enlistment Option Program and became a Marine musician, continuing his passion for music. As a musician, he wasn’t planning on becoming a drill instructor. He actually wanted to become a recruiter. Regardless, Hayes is still able to educate future generations outside of schools and enjoys the influence he makes on recruits during their journey of becoming United States Marines.

“I wanted to be a recruiter because I wanted to get back out into the schools and give back, but it has been a very rewarding experience being a drill instructor and a part of future Marines’ education and training.”

Not only has Hayes influenced countless new Marines during his time as a drill instructor, but the Marine Corps influenced him just as much.

“The Marine Corps taught me to lean on people,” Hayes said. “It taught me to not see the world as something I have to conquer myself. It’s a brotherhood. We’re all family and all Marines depend on each other to get things done.”

There are countless benefits and opportunities for those, like Hayes, who decide to join the Marine Corps.

“The Marine Corps is a good opportunity for a lot of young people coming out of the school system,” Hayes said. “Most of the kids graduating high school today are going to be pushed into going to college first, and they think they have to get a college degree to do anything; however, the Marine Corps is an excellent option for anybody.”

By joining the Marine Corps, Hayes has been able to follow his passion for music, continue educating and influencing young Americans, and better himself and the brotherhood and sisterhood of Marines around him.