PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. – One small town girl joined the ranks of our nation's newest Marines Oct. 24, 2014, after battling several life hardships and overcoming the challenges of Marine Corps recruit training.
Pfc. Madihah Tomoney, 18, a native of Jasper, Fla., has spent her life helping others and wanting to be a positive influence for her three sisters and younger brother.
Tomoney grew up in a troubled household. Her mother struggled with substance abuse for as long as Tomoney could remember, and her sisters became mothers at an early age.
As an escape from her troubles at home, Tomoney took up sports, which included track, softball, basketball, soccer and cheerleading; this is where she met her teacher, coach, mentor and youth pastor, Ruben Perez, and his wife.
“They were my role models,” she said. “They taught me everything about how to be strong.”
They also helped her play volleyball, which was her real passion, and fueled her desire to be part of something more than herself.
As a prior sergeant in the Marine Corps, Perez lived by the Corps' core values and carried them into the civilian world by teaching Tomoney and other kids the importance of honor, courage and commitment.
Tomoney graduated from Hamilton County High School this year and initially planned to go to college until she heard about her options in the Marine Corps.
Tomoney wanted to prove to her family that it's never too late to change, she said.
“We knew she wanted a challenge, and I told her she should join the Marine Corps,” said Perez.
Her mind was finally made up when one of her close friends took her to meet with a recruiter, and immediately, she fell for the passion and love the poolees and Marines had for the Corps.
Tomoney arrived to Parris Island for recruit training July 28, 2014, and was assigned to Platoon 4036, November Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion.
Her first few moments were nothing but culture shock after stepping off the bus and onto the yellow footprints.
“I asked myself, ‘Why didn't I choose something easier?' but I knew this is what I wanted, and I was ready,” she said.
While in training, Tomoney said the hardest thing for her was just trying to prepare for the next day. As a recruit, she lived one day at a time and responded to each challenge out of necessity rather than desire.
After completing several physical fitness sessions, arduous hikes and the Crucible, Tomoney is on her way to start her Marine Corps career as a legal administrator.
“It's not about what the team can do for you. It's about what you can do for the team,” she said, quoting one of Perez's team speeches. “The Marine Corps requires you to sacrifice yourself for the needs of others. I just want to help people, to give, to save a life and, if need be, provide the ultimate sacrifice.”
Article and photo by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. David Bessey
Provided through DVIDS
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