The Island

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

More than 2,000 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since president bush declared mission accomplished in May 2003. Despite these statistics, and the almost certain prospects of serving in a hostile region, young people are still volunteering for the military. So who are these young people so eager to serve their country in a time of war?

September 11, 2001 gave many Americans a renewed since of patriotism. The terror attacks were also the genesis for the current war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.s. Marines have been in the thick of those battles, but before they can call themselves Marines they must make it off the island.

Parris Island, South Carolina: young civilians arrive here daily to be transformed into Marines. Drill instructors bark out the same monologue to every new arrival. They're ordered to stand on the yellow footprints, call home and follow the script exactly as it's written, no I love yous, or miss you. Just let your family know you've arrived on the island and that they'll hear from you in a few weeks.

Their name may have been Bob, John, or Suzie in the real world. Here, they're known as "recruit." For twelve weeks drill instructors push the recruits physically and mentally. They learn the skills of war, like hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship.

Josh Cuellar is from Valdosta, Georgia. He and fellow Valdostan Cody Milicevie both realize they could be sent to the front lines of the battle. Josh and Cody left their families as boys, returning 12 weeks later as men and Marines.

Over 21,000 new recruits pass through Parris Island each year. The Marine Corp spends $11,000 to recruit each young man or woman, and another $14,000 to train them to become a Marine.


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