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High School Athlete Finds 'Brotherhood' In Marine Corps
by USMC Sgt. Cristina Noelia Porras - April 10, 2012

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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
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 greater.

“I was really devoted to football,” said York, a native of College Station, Texas. “That was my passion in high school.”

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.

“In 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 potential.

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.

“York 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 like him.”

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 more mature.

“They've honed little details of my life that didn't mean as much before and made me better,” said York.

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 commissioned officer.

“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.

“Mentally and 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
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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