Football Player Joins Marines
(October 1, 2010)
Marine Corps Pvt. Bernard D. Lueken, Platoon 3246,
Company L, eats an apple after tackling an obstacle course during boot camp
training at Edson Range, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 14,
2010. Lueken played college football for two years before he joined the Marine
||MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN
DIEGO, Sept. 28, 2010 -- Marine Corps Pvt.
Bernard D. Lueken said his departed mother's
military service and his inner voice caused him
to give up a promising football career and
enlist in the Marine Corps.
Lueken, 21, graduated from boot camp here, along
with 482 other newly minted Marines, on Sept.
23. The St. Louis, Miss., native previously
played football for four years as an offensive
tackle at Chaminade College Preparatory School
in Creve Coeur, Miss.
“I tried out for the [Chaminade] football team
as a freshman and was advised by the coach to
pursue an athletic career in football,” said
Lueken, who later was awarded a full athletic
scholarship to attend the University of Kansas
in Lawrence, Kan.
Lueken said he owes much to the strong character
of his mother, who died of breast cancer seven
years ago. She was one of the first women
Marines to graduate from boot camp after it was
designed to replicate men's training, he said.
She served six years in the Marines.
“She would tell me, ‘Once a Marine, always a
Marine,'” Lueken recalled. “She taught me
principles, traits and aspects of the Marine
Corps like dedication, loyalty and to be good to
the people around me.”
After his mother died, Lueken channeled his
emotions and energy into sports.
Lueken said he was “physically and mentally
ready” to play college football at the
University of Kansas, noting he played for the
for nearly two years. The intensity and dedication required to play
college football, he said, is similar to the intensity and dedication required
for the Marine Corps.
“There were many days we got up at 4 a.m. and would physically train, have film
sessions where we studied the opponent, and position meetings, which are like
small-unit meetings similar to having fire teams,” Lueken said. “We would also
take college classes, [and] have tutors for classes, which were required because
we often wouldn't be finished until 10 p.m.”|
Despite his athletic accomplishments, Lueken said he eventually realized he
didn't want to be a football player.
“I was playing at the highest level and I felt like I was wasting my time,”
Lueken said. “My years of youth could be spent for a better cause. I figured you
only have your body and health once; I wanted to put it to good use.”
Lueken said he couldn't ignore the fact that he was just playing a game.
“The Marine Corps is not a game. It deals with real issues,” he said. “College
football is pure entertainment. It's what people watch to get their minds off
“Lueken understands the [Marine Corps] core values because he has known them all
his life,” said Staff Sgt. Levi K. Fajardo, senior drill instructor, Platoon
3246, Company L. “He had them in him when he got here. He came with a good
foundation and he was well prepared.”
“What's so appealing about the Marine Corps is that it's a group of people that
can get together and strive for a better cause,” Lueken said. “I am a big
believer in the ripple effect — you do something and it carries to another
Lueken said he made the right choice by joining the Marines and doesn't regret
“I don't want to wake up one day and look back and say, ‘I wish I would have,'”
he said. Football “was exciting and fun, but we weren't helping anyone.
Article and photo by USMC Cpl. Rebecca A. Lamont|
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego
American Forces Press Service
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