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thedrifter
06-24-08, 08:26 AM
The five, the proud, the Marines

By Jessie Balmert

Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Springfield, Ohio — The five teenagers graduated from Kenton Ridge High School with a common career goal — joining the U.S. Marine Corps.

Tyler Shuman, Ryan Franklin, Jeremy Stollings, Travis Smith and Mike Dustin have known one another since middle school. So when Dustin decided to enlist in January, the rest followed a few months later.

They consulted with one another but made the decision to enlist individually, Smith said.

"It's very rare for five to come out of one high school," their recruiter, Staff Sgt. Jason Streets said.

Shuman's mother wanted him to join the Air Force, but preferred to be a Marine. They are the first to fight and the toughest of all four armed forces, he said.

Dustin said he would prefer a commission in Japan to sitting in another classroom.

The five participate in physical training each week to prepare for their Aug. 18 departure for boot camp in Parris Island, S.C.

They will endure grueling physical and mental training, including rifle and field instruction, for 13 weeks — the longest camp of all the armed forces, Streets said.

After basic training, they will spend 22 days in basic combat training in North Carolina before they receive their four-to-five-year commissions.

The Springfield recruiting station has enlisted 59 people from Clark, Madison and part of Franklin counties since it opened last October. The majority of those recruits came from Clark County, Gunnery Sgt. Jeremy Kindy said.

"This area has a lot of patriotic pride," Streets said.

Marine Corps recruitment has increased in Ohio and nationwide by 155 and 3,500 recruits respectively, said Maj. Christian Devine, spokesperson for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

About 67 percent of Marines are 25 years old or younger, making the Marine Corps the youngest branch of the armed forces. At the Springfield station, most recruits are 18 years old, Kindy said.

Kenton Ridge had 10 graduates enter the armed forces this year — a higher number than usual, principal Chuck Foss said.

"We're proud they chose to make that commitment," he said.

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0283

Ellie