A Marine's Mom
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ryan Hageali
When Paul Hasenfus first stepped onto the yellow footprints at
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, he had already prepared
his body and mind to weather the challenges of Recruit Training.
What he wasn’t ready for was an obstacle that he never saw coming;
one that would change his life forever.
Hasenfus grew up in
Plymouth, Mass. and attended Plymouth South High School. He played
multiple sports including football, wrestling and lacrosse. His
mother Patricia was always there to support him, Hasenfus said.
“She would always be there to pump everyone up; if we were down
by 15 she would still yell at the other team,” said Hasenfus. “My
mom would come to all the games or matches she could, and just
scream her head off.”
Hasenfus said his mother raised all her
kids to be strong and to never give up. She didn't let them make
excuses; if they wanted to do something she would make sure they
Paul Hasenfus (far left) with family
(mother - far right) before joining the Marine Corps. (Photo
courtesy of Patricia Hasenfus)
“I wanted to stop playing lacrosse and my mother
wouldn't let me,” said Hasenfus. “She knew I put so much time into
it and all that time would mean nothing if I quit.”
his senior year he made a decision to enlist in the U.S. Marine
Corps. Hasenfus said it was no surprise, it's what he has always
wanted to do.
RSS Plymouth Staff Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge, Staff Sgt.
Justin Rheaume said Hasenfus was meant to become a Marine.
“Hasenfus played sports year-round,” said Rheaume. “When he came to
our workouts, he was always lifting people up and motivating them.”
When Hasenfus was preparing to leave for Parris Island, he was
already dreaming about earning the title.
“I would always
imagine me coming home and surprising everyone,” said Hasenfus. “I
just imagined doing my dream job and being able to make my family
When he got to recruit training he picked up with
Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. Six days later, he
was told that his mother had passed away on July 28, 2019.
“I was pulled aside by my drill instructors and they told me what
happened,” said Hasenfus. “It was just shock, I couldn't move. I
never thought that would happen to me, never thought it would happen
to my mother.”
Hasenfus returned home to spend time with his
family and come to grips with losing his mother. He had to decide if
he was going to return to Parris Island to achieve his dream of
becoming a Marine.
“All the other recruits were saying ‘It’s
okay if you don't come back, it's a hard thing to go through,’”
Hasenfus said. “But I knew I could do it because that's how she
raised me, and I wanted to make it for her.”
returned to Parris Island he was sent back to training with India
Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. His senior drill instructor
was Staff Sgt. John Loving.
“When we picked him up he was
definitely down about what happened to him,” Said Loving. “But he
kept pushing and became a squad leader and just tried every day to
Hasenfus graduated November 1, 2019 with
eighteen of his family and friends at the ceremony.
November 1, 2019 - Marine
Corps PFC Paul Hasenfus with his three siblings after
graduting from boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
(U.S. Marine Corps
photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Hageali)
“The last thing my mom knew was that I'm going to be a Marine,”
said Hasenfus. “When I got my [Eagle, Globe and Anchor], I just
looked up at the sky and said, ‘Mama, I did it.’”
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