We’ve talked a lot about the military background in our family. Our Dad, John, enlisted in the USMC, deferring his football scholarship to University of Maryland in order to serve his country. He was sent to Korea during his enlistment.
Our Matt, his grandson, enlisted while still in high school, and just after we went in to Iraq. Great grandfathers and uncles served as well.
There is another member of the family, Matt’s cousin, Drew Francis, another of John’s grandsons, who is also a Marine. Drew was only 9 when his cousin Matt was killed in Iraq. When he was still in high school, Drew also decided to enlist-again, while we were still in conflict in the Middle East.
I applaud all men and women who enlist, but I especially respect those who enlist during times of war.
During his senior year in high school, Drew was also taking classes at the community college and working part time. He spent a lot of time with his grandfather, and they would talk about his plans to enlist. He worked out regularly and concentrated on making it through boot camp.
Drew’s Aunt Cathy hosted a little going away party for him just before he left for Boot Camp. I am sure his Dad-Andy-and his Mom, and all the family had many thoughts and emotions as this young man headed to Parris Island, not the least of which was that we had lost Matt in Iraq and now here was Drew, who would graduate Boot Camp and possibly also be deployed.
Drew had a plan, and the Marine Corps was it. He gave it his all, and he survived Parris Island, becoming a Marine, just like his grandfather and his cousin.
20 months later, Drew was honorably discharged, due to unexpected events. He doesn’t talk about his time in the service too much, because he is very humble. I feel like we should recognize it, though…Once a Marine, always a Marine. He has incredible courage….he enlisted knowing we were still in conflict in the Middle East AND knowing his cousin had been killed there. I would find that frightening. But Drew didn’t let that deter him. In fact, he continues to serve others now in his new occupation in security.
In a time when there is societal unrest, it is encouraging and comforting to know we still have truly impressive young men and women, who are willing to do what others won’t…to stand up for our country and be ready to defend it and its citizens, at any cost.
Thank you, Drew. Your Marine Corps career was cut short, but you are always one of the few and the proud…a United States Marine.