Since Jan. 1, 2020, 50 new U.S. Marine Corps recruits joined the force from Rogers County.
Among the recently enlisted are Claremore graduate and 2020 Mr. Claremore winner Ethan Shires and Collinsville graduate Gage Tacker.
Shires said he signed up to serve his country because of the many long-term opportunities military service provides.
“School was never really for me. I’m more of a hands on learner, and the military was going to pay me to learn a trade,” Shires said. “I figured if I’m going to join the military I might as well go all out and accept the challenge of the Marine Corps.”
“If you don’t challenge yourself to learn something new every day or improve yourself every day, it’s just a waste of a day in your short time on this world,” Shires said.
Tacker said he joined the U.S. Marine Corp because it was God’s calling on his life.
The summer before his freshman year of high school, Tacker was at church camp.
“The preacher was talking about God’s will for your life,” Tacker said, and in his heart he felt tug he couldn’t quite place.
In football practice, military jets would fly overhead regularly, and the tug would return. But it was a marine corp helicopter, the first and only he’d ever seen take that path over the field, where the tug on his heart crystalized into a clear sign.
“Alright, that’s what He wants me to do,” Tacker said.
Tacker leaves for basic training in September.
Looking ahead at his future as a marine, Tacker said he’s hoping for, “A good experience, an adventure, and growth as a man.”
For those considering a military career, Shire said, “It’s a great alternative if you don’t want to go to college and sit in a classroom for four more years. They give you a place to live, food to eat, and they teach you a trade.”
Shires also challenged what he believes to be a common misconception, that joining the military is just a death sentence.
“All the branches train you and give you the proper tools to go out and fight for your country, without getting harmed,” Shires said. “Keep an open mind. College isn’t the only path.”
Although he hasn’t enlisted yet, Claremore Junior Brayden East is seriously considering a career with the Marine Corps as well.
East joined the Navy JROTC program in his freshman year without even knowing what the acronym stood for. But early on, East realized the military was the right path for him. He just wasn’t sure which branch was the best fit.
He visited each of the recruiting offices in Claremore, but “every time I come over here [Marine Corps office] and workout with them and spend time with them, it puts it into my mind more and more and more that I want to be a Marine,” East said.
“The camaraderie, the friendship, it’s really nice,” East said. “And the idea of being the best version of myself is a very satisfying idea.”
And while there is paperwork and background checks, a physical, and the ASVAB exam, U.S. Marine Corps Recruiter Sgt. Raymond Branam said the real requirement to become a marine is, “Heart. Lots of heart.”