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A new generation joins the US Marines

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Pictured, from left, are Staff Sgt. Ruben Madriles, Tyler Harcrow, Joshua Cordova, Tim Hartwell and Robert Aragon. (Amy Lignor Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Amy Lignor
Special to the Daily Record

A quartet of young men from this area are excited for the future.

Their long-term goals may be different, but when it comes to the group they are joining — the U.S. Marines — their common goal is to be the best Marine possible.

Tyler Harcrow is a 2019 graduate of Dexter High School. With a father who served in the Navy, Tyler is beginning his legacy with the Marines. Joshua Cordova — currently a senior at Goddard High School with a father who served in Vietnam — will be shipping out Oct. 4. Tim Hartwell, his classmate, is following in the footsteps of his father, brother and sister as a Marine. And, rounding out the quartet is Robert Aragon, a Goddard senior who will be the first in his family to join the armed services.

Sitting down with their recruiter, Staff Sgt. Ruben Madriles, they spoke about their futures.

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Madriles says the focus of his job is “spreading the gospel of the Marines,” and he loves being able to educate.

“There’s a passion that begins in high school and can build from even the smallest of things. Such as, Tim welded a tiny spear for me with a bell on it, and believed that he could hone his skill in the Marines. Problem is, there’s confusion out there. People believe that the Marines don’t have those types of jobs, yet I can assure everyone they definitely do. We literally offer what all the other services do, from educational opportunities to career choices.”

Spelling it out in layman’s terms, Madriles shows that all of the services are much like the legs of a chair — all necessary to protect land, air and sea.

The only difference, he states, is that “the Marines specialize in all three.”

If there’s a crisis, the role of the Marines is to make sure they can be there in 24 hours. “If we cannot fulfill that role, then we haven’t done our job,” he said. The Marines’ 244-year legacy speaks for itself.

Although traveling is not mandatory, when it comes to the young men, each has his own hope.

Tyler is very interested in traveling to Okinawa, Japan. “I think it would be cool to see the culture there and learn more about that area.” Joshua wishes to see Okinawa, as well, but added: “I would definitely also like to see Vietnam, because that’s where my dad fought.” Tim and Robert are definitely interested in seeing the world: “I would go anywhere in order to check out the cultures, learn various customs,” Tim said. And Robert agrees: “I think it would be extremely interesting to see all of the different scenery out there, and learn how others live.”

Being a force of 187,000, the tagline “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” makes a great deal of sense. And although the group assembled were men, the number of women enlisting in the Marines is on the rise. With all of the services promoting themselves to the female sector, they are dispelling the belief that only men are up to the challenge, so to speak.

Becoming a Marine is tough. Starting out as an applicant, they must go through a strenuous screening process. The fitness test involves a myriad of high standards that must be met in order to move on to “poolee” status, which basically means they’re entered into a “pool” waiting to be shipped out. Other standards must be followed, as well; from no drugs and alcohol to no trouble with the law, these add another layer of accountability.

Once seniors graduate, young men living west of the Mississippi head to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego; males living east of the Mississippi, as well as all females, head to the MCRD on Parris Island, South Carolina.

When it comes to how more recruits could be brought into the fold, Tyler said, “I think it’s more that people are afraid to put weight on their shoulders. We want to carry something with meaning, and we don’t have anything to be afraid of.”

Madriles nodded: “With my experience, I know the best thing recruits can do is come in with no expectations. When you walk into the Marines — job school, basic training, etc. — I tell them to learn along the way, because everyone’s experiences will be different.”

When looking forward, Tim would like to make the Marine Corps his career. Although Joshua hasn’t decided as of yet, Tim is definitely hoping that welding will be his career, while Robert hopes to perhaps become a Marine recruiter one day.

In the end, Tim just wants to make it clear to everyone that “people shouldn’t be afraid to serve. I, personally, want this ultimate challenge.” Joshua agrees: “I think when we tell our friends and they look at us like we’re a bit crazy, it’s more so that they’re afraid we’ll get hurt. But I want this challenge as well.”

Collectively agreeing that people expect them to take an easier path, Joshua went on to say that, “Being a poolie, when you’re around others, any fear you might have goes away. The Marine Corps is not just you carrying the burden, it’s you and all of your brothers and sisters.”

Tim added, “There’s also a belief that the military doesn’t have a place for them,” Tim adds. “But it doesn’t matter what service you go into, they’ll have a place. You can find the job you want, and I would like people to know that.”

Robert continued, “I got the motivation from these guys telling me I could do it. I want to set challenges to better myself, and knowing I can do what a Marine does, helped. Forming the bonds we have does take away the fear. We can trust one another. And that’s something I always wanted; people by my side and me being able to trust them.”

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