Local man conquers health issues to become Marine
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  1. #1

    Local man conquers health issues to become Marine

    Not only is this an Inspirational story, but it's also a reminder that when going through boot camp/recruit training and you're not feeling well, tell your Drill Instructors. Don't have the attitude of "suck it up" and I'll get through it....it'll go away in a few days, because you just might not. There could be something seriously wrong with you.

    A news article from Southwestern Pennsylvania that I found on Facebook - MCRD PARRIS ISLAND, SC - OFFICIAL PAGE ....

    Local man conquers health issues to become Marine

    Aaron Sitka, 20, of Chartiers Township, proudly wears his uniform after defeating health issues and finally becoming a Marine.

    Marine Aaron Sitka, 20, of Chartiers Township, hugs his mother, Cynthia, after being reunited with her and other family members.

    Photos courtesy of Aaron Sitka

    Aaron Sitka always knew he wanted to join the military. It seemed as if his dreams were well on their way to coming true went he left home three days after his high school graduation for Marine Corps boot camp. But six weeks later, his hopes suddenly came crashing down around him.

    The Chartiers-Houston High School graduate didn’t worry about his cold-like symptoms and persistent cough, because everyone else was sick, too. But things got worse when everyone else got better and he didn’t.

    Sitka was sent to get checked for bronchitis, but instead, he was diagnosed with a mass of calcium inside of his chest. He was in the hospital for a week and a half before they sent him home.

    “I just didn’t want to go home,” Sitka said. “At first, it was cool (because) I could see my family. (But) when I left, I wanted to still be there.”

    As soon as Sitka came home, doctors operated and removed a mass the size of a fist from his chest. “It hurt to walk,” he said. “Anything involved in moving my torso, it hurt.” Before he could even walk straight, Sitka told his recruiter he wanted to try to enlist again. But it would be a long, hard process before he would set foot on Parris Island again.

    Before he could try to become a Marine again, Sitka had to get a waiver approved by the Naval Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. He sent medical documents to them to be reviewed, and in return, he was told to get another physical. He got another physical, but he was disqualified because of his recent surgery and health problems. So he tried again, and he was told to get a chest X-ray and see a heart surgeon. He followed the requirements, but three months later, the bureau told him there was something wrong wit

    Sitka began to get frustrated. He was stuck in his hometown, watching others around him go on and achieve their dreams. “(It) really sucked,” he said. “Kids I graduated with, (their) dreams came true and mine didn’t. They were Marines and I wasn’t.”

    But then Sitka received a phone call that would change his life. After working an overnight shift this May, he was preparing to go to bed about 8 a.m. when his recruiter called. “Sitka,” his recruiter said, “You got cleared. (You’re) going back to boot camp.” It was almost two years after he was first diagnosed with the mass in his chest.

    “None of it seemed real,” he said. “(It) seemed like something always went wrong.”

    Even though Sitka, now 20, had been to boot camp before, things weren’t always easier. In fact, he said the drill instructors seemed to expect more of him. Sitka rose to the occasion, and when it came time to graduate, he was more than ready.

    To officially become a Marine, recruits must pass the “Crucible” – 54 continuous hours of training with little food and sleep. A final test of sorts, recruits hike all the way back to base with a 60- or 70-pound pack on their back. Sitka said his main motivation at that point was the knowledge that when he was done with the hike, he was going to officially become a U.S. Marine.

    Sitka finished the hike, and at the Emblem Ceremony, he received his eagle, globe and anchor insignia. The drill instructors who Sitka and other recruits had previously thought wanted to kill them, shook his hand and said, “Congratulations, Marine.”

    “I was bawling my eyes out,” Sitka said. “Up to then, (I’d) worked so hard. (When you) get the eagle, you feel like you can do anything. (You’re) proud of yourself and what you’re a part of.”

    After the emblem ceremony, Sitka was eventually reunited with his family. “I just remember my mom pushing through a crowd of family to tackle me,” he said. “My mom said she was so proud of me.”

    Sitka returned home for a little over a week before continuing his training. And while the first thing he wanted to do was go to sleep, he worked on making his uniforms even better and getting them ready.

    Sitka said he’s not sure if he’ll be deployed soon, but if the opportunity comes, he said he’s ready. “I want to be proactive and serve my country,” he said. “If an opportunity presents itself, I’ll jump on it.”


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  2. #2
    Glad that this young man got another chance to become a Marine after going through what he did health wise.

    Semper Fidelis Marine Sitka!

  3. #3
    Guest Free Member
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    Jan 2006
    Providence County
    Wow, Great story !!!
    What an inspiration to others.
    Congrats Marine...

    Semper Fi,

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