|Robert smiles at the Marine Corps recruiting station in Mt. Pleasant.|
|Andrew says goodbye as his little brother leaves for the Marines.|
Robert is now a Marine Recruit.
Note that I didn’t say he’s a Marine. That title is something that Marines earn during their 13 weeks of U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Training, better known as boot camp.
He originally was scheduled to leave for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego on Jan. 6, but a major snowstorm disrupted the civilian air transportation system to the point where his entry was pushed back a week.
Karen and I took him down to Lansing on Sunday night, fed him a steak and turned him over to the organization that will change his life forever.
|Robert expects to spend most of his first year as a Marine in training.|
|Robert, Dad and Karen at the USMC recruiting station.|
I never expected Robert to go and join the Marines, and I’ve struggled to understand the appeal. But knowing Robert, I realized that he’s always been driven to be the best. The Marine Corps makes no apologies for being the best. He also doesn’t like to fail. He’s met Marines, many of them, and clearly came to the conclusion he wouldn’t fail. He’d become one of the best.
|Robert and Karen ready for the recruit's departure.|
|The recruit enjoys his last meal as a civilian|
The plan, as he’s laid it out for us, is not complicated. He’s not leaving his skills behind. After the longest, toughest boot camp of any of the U.S. services, he’ll emerge as a Marine. Every Marine is a rifleman. Initial training includes the most serious marksmanship training in the U.S. military, and after a break, his education continues with another 29 days of Marine Combat Training.
|Recruits from all the services are sworn in|
He’s not headed to the infantry. Robert’s a skilled musician, and his military occupational specialty will be MOS 5534: Musician, Clarinet. That’s not easy to get. Robert scored in the 99th percentile on the ASVAB, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, so he could choose pretty much what he wanted. He underwent numerous auditions, and was judged good enough to be a Marine – and a Marine musician.
After combat training, he’ll have another 30 weeks of intense, formal musical education ahead of him at the Naval School of Music in Virginia Beach, Va. After that, he expects to be assigned to one of the 10 Marine bands stationed around the United States and Japan.
|Recruit Robert Ranzenberger ready to head to boot camp.|
Am I proud of him? What do you think? His mother’s proud of him, too, and that matters to Robert, perhaps even more.
Will I put a bumper sticker on my car that says “My Son is a Marine?” Nope. It’ll go on my door in the Department of Journalism, just to confound the stereotype of the Liberal Media.