Recruit Harley J. York, a native of College Station, Texas,
completes an obstacle as part of the Crucible at Weapons and Field
Training Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 28, 2012. York
joined the Marine Corps for a challenge, and has displayed a high
level of leadership ability, according to his drill instructors.
Photo by USMC Sgt. Cristina Noelia Porras
SAN DIEGO (4/3/2012) — Recruit Harley J. York seemed to have his
future all planned out as he played on high school football team.
College football scouts took notice of York's talent and his chances
of receiving a scholarship to play at the college level grew even
“I was really devoted to football,” said York, a
native of College Station, Texas. “That was my passion in high
Everything was working in his favor as his dream of
becoming a college football player drew closer to becoming reality,
but in an instant, his world came to a halt.
“I got a bad
knee injury that took me out for the season,” said York, who played
outside linebacker. “As soon as that happened, colleges immediately
lost interest in me – they stopped calling and stopped coming
around. I kind of put all my eggs in one basket, because football
was my plan.”
With his original plan in jeopardy, York
searched for a new one. He had never considered a future in the
armed forces until his mother told him that a Marine Corps recruiter
had stopped by to see him. Although he was reluctant at first, he
gave the recruiter a chance to tell him what the Corps had to offer.
York found many similarities between the Marine Corps and
a football team, and it instantly appealed to him. He knew
the Marine Corps could give him the lifestyle he desired.
He was raised by a mother who emphasized the importance
of a healthy lifestyle, and he carried that with him to stay
in top athletic shape. Because the Marine Corps is an
organization that prides itself on members' physical
fitness, York found that it was a perfect match for him.
“I believe you have to have pride in yourself and the
way you look. If you look good, then you feel good.” said
York. “Marines are very proud from what I've observed. I saw
what the other services look like and they don't come close
to the Marines.”
Along with being part of an
organization that boasts physical fitness, York said he
sought to be part of a brotherhood, where success depends on
how well a team can pull together for a victory.
football you grow a bond with your team, and you have each
other's back,” said York. “That's the same in the Marine
Corps. You become part of something bigger.”
Understanding the importance of teamwork has helped York
since he began the process of becoming a Marine. Since he
arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., his
drill instructors instantly noticed his leadership
Since Forming Day Two, York has been the
guide for Platoon 3221, Company K, 3rd Recruit Training
Battalion, said the platoon's senior drill instructor, Sgt.
Bryce Torrence. The guide is a recruit who is selected by
their drill instructors to lead their recruits through 12
weeks of recruit training. Often a platoon will cycle
through several guides, but York has managed to maintain the
position since the first week of training and will graduate
as the guide, as well as the series honor man.
has had a strong role since we started training. Recruits
look up to him.” said Torrence, a Caldwell, Idaho native.
“He didn't have to berate fellow recruits to make them
follow him and he is always motivated, screaming at the top
of his lungs. That alone encourages other recruits to be
His fellow recruits have also taken notice
of his leadership abilities and desire to become a Marine.
“York always talks about honor, courage and
commitment and the ‘brotherhood' that's the Marine Corps,”
said Rct. Connor Eyssen, 1st squad leader, Platoon 3221,
Company K, 3rd RTBn. “He's a strong leader and he makes it
known that he's there for the recruits. He really cares.”
Torrence said York never hesitated to take charge when
necessary and took it personally when the recruits messed
up. Having proven that he has what it takes to be a leader
and a Marine, York has given his drill instructors faith
that he will continue to be a great asset to the Corps.
“As long as he continues to use his full potential,
he'll definitely succeed,” said Torrence. “I can see him
being a meritorious lance corporal and corporal.”
Reflecting on the last 12 weeks and what he has gone through
to earn the title ‘Marine,' York recognizes the changes that
have taken place. He sees himself as more disciplined and
“They've honed little details of my life
that didn't mean as much before and made me better,” said
York, along with 360 of his ‘brothers' from
Company K, will graduate and officially bear the title
‘Marine', April 6. After completing Marine Combat Training,
where Marines learn the basics of being riflemen, he will
train to become an assaultman and start his career as a
Marine Reservist. York plans to go to college and pursue a
bachelor's degree. Eventually he hopes to become a
“That's my eventual goal – to
become an officer. I'm going to take it day by day and see
what else the Marine Corps has to offer,” said York.
York is proof that many things in life happen for a reason.
Although life threw him a curve ball, he ended up finding a
new challenge and new goals to pursue.
physically, I feel like I was dull when I started (recruit
training), but now I'm sharp,” said York. “I'm always
looking for a challenge and I knew the Marine Corps would
offer that. It has definitely given me (a challenge).”
By USMC Sgt. Cristina Noelia Porras
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