South Side Chicago High School Students
Get A Taste Of Corps Life During Marine Week
(May 13, 2009)
|CHICAGO (5/11/2009) — Adam Martinez was awed by the 21� foot
long, 8� foot high war machine, but surprised by the cramped space of the
all-terrain, all-weather vehicle designed to transport Marines into battle.
“I'm just a short 18-year-old! Imagine all these big dudes
in there,” he said.
Martinez, a senior at Marie Curie High School, was joined by several hundred
classmates to experience several of the Marine Corps' warfighting vehicles as
part of the inaugural Marine Week Chicago, a weeklong event which includes
static displays of Marine Corps vehicles and weaponry such as the one here May
Marie Curie High School students got in and around the
Marine Corps' Light Armored Vehicle-25A2 armored personnel carrier during a
static display at Marie Curie High School May 11. The static display at
Chicago's second largest high school was one of the first events of the
inaugural Marine Week Chicago. Marine Week Chicago, which runs from May 11-17,
is an opportunity for Chicago citizens to meet the men and women of the Marine
Corps and learn about its history, traditions and value to the nation.
“Established to recognize the contributions of local Marine
heroes, their families and the cities from which they came, Marine Week also
showcases the rich history and traditions of our beloved Corps,” said Gen. James
T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, in an official statement regarding
Marine Week Chicago. “This is the first of many celebrations honoring country
and Corps in cities across the nation.”
The students had the opportunity to man the turret and climb in and around the
light armored vehicle, which is capable of maxing out a land speed of 62.2 miles
per hour. The armored personnel carrier can also provide firepower for Marines
in combat, with the M242 25 mm machine gun as its primary weapon.
The LAV came from the Program Manager's Office for LAV, based out of Warren,
Mich. An accompanying 7-ton truck and Humvee came from Marine Wing Control
Squadron 48, Marine Air Control Group 48, based out of Great Lakes, Ill. The
reserve unit is responsible for providing communication for the aviation combat
element of a Marine expeditionary force.
Chicago's vibrant atmosphere and rich diversity made the city the Corps' top
choice for launching Marine Week.
Joining the students was their principal, Phillip Perry, who was instrumental in
making one of the first events of Marine Week Chicago possible.
“I thought it was a good concept. There's a task of being able to get a positive
image of the Marines out there, and one way to do that is through the displays
of various equipment,” Perry said.
The information provided by the Marines can help students make an informed
decision on their future, whether they attend college or enter military service,
“We'd like all of our students to go to college, but the reality is that not all
students go to college immediately. Today provides an opportunity for students
to ask questions about the Marine Corps as a post-secondary option,” Perry said.
Perry, a 1971 graduate of what is now known as Simeon Career Academy, couldn't
imagine a Marine Week possible during his teenage years.
“As a country, we are very different now than we were during the Vietnam era.
There were many things going on socially and politically,” Perry said.
Marine recruiters from the local recruiting substation, Recruiting Substation
Chicago Lawn, Marine Corps Recruiting Station Chicago, were also on hand to
answer any questions the students had about opportunities in the Marine Corps.
“Having different kinds of Marines here helps open the doors for the Marine
Corps to explain that there are more jobs available than just infantry,” said
Gunnery Sgt. Mardo Caceres, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of RSS Chicago
Lawn, RS Chicago.
Marie Curie High School, located on the intersection of Archer Avenue and 49th
Street on Chicago's South Side, is the second largest high school in Chicago,
with about 3,460 students matriculated. The student population is 75 percent
Hispanic, 15 percent African-American with a small Asian and Caucasian student
Nearly half of the Marie Curie High School student body is currently enrolled in
its Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, Caceres said.
The JROTC is a federal program sponsored by the United States Armed Forces in
high schools across the United States. Chicago currently boasts the nation's
largest JROTC program in terms of the amount of cadets enrolled and total
Eight students from Marie Curie High School are currently in the Marine Corps
Delayed Entry Program, keeping their physical fitness and level of Marine Corps
knowledge up as they prepare to ship to Marine Corps recruit training at Marine
Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, for males, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot,
Parris Island, S.C., for females.
As the students wandered throughout the parking lot and shared their backgrounds
with the Marines, some Marines were surprised at the contrasting lifestyles
between themselves and the high school students.
“Everyone comes from different walks of life. I was born and raised in the
country,” said Sgt. Jared B. Waddle, a 25-year-old ground communication and
electronic repairman from Rockwell, Texas. “Seeing how these kids grew up in the
city life, it's almost night and day.”
No matter the spoken language, music preference or clothing style of choice, the
students still appeared to be in awe of the United States Marine.
“It's nice to know that there are people defending our country,” Martinez said.
Article and photo by USMC Staff Sgt. Luis R. Agostini
Recruiting Station Chicago
Reprinted from Marine Corps News
Comment on this article