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Why I Serve: Marine Recruit Learns Discipline, Leadership Lessons

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C., Nov. 8, 2004 – "I wasn't disciplined enough for college," said Marine Corps recruit Joseph E. Solinger.

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Marine Recruit Joseph E. Solinger, 19, said Marine training has taught him discipline and valuable leadership skills. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

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The 19-year-old Columbus, Ohio, native said he realized in high school about a year ago that his self-indulgence and spotty grades were taking him nowhere. He said his attitude and study habits were exceptionally poor.

After talking things over with his father, a former Marine officer, Solinger elected to join the Marines' Delayed Entry Program in October 2003.

Fast-forward to today. After completing 12 weeks of intensive training, the young recruit was slated to graduate on Nov. 5 and become Pfc. Solinger, U.S. Marine.

The Marine Corps, Solinger discovered, is "the place to get discipline and to work on my leadership skills."

Assigned to H Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Solinger learned his lessons well at Parris Island. He was selected as an honor recruit for his leadership, attention to detail, and other skills.

As a soon-to-be Marine, Solinger said he gained new perspectives on how people from different backgrounds can cooperate to accomplish difficult tasks. His Parris Island experiences, he said, also taught him "how to work with people from all over the country."

And, embracing teamwork "is essential" to becoming a Marine, he said. "There's not one recruit that can make it through recruit training," Solinger said, "without the help of another recruit."

Joining the Marine Corps, he observed, would be a good decision for many of today's young people who "are walking around in sloppy clothes."

The Marines, he explained, extol responsibility, good personal hygiene, manners, and proper posture.

Recruits who seemed to lack self-confidence and direction when they arrived at Parris Island, Solinger observed, are transformed by Marine training to embrace self-discipline and responsibility.

And discipline, he noted, "is something that you need in life."

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