Marine Recruiting The Next Generation
by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jorge Rosales
October 8, 2020
As a child, Staff Sgt. Absalom Johnson moved often. When he graduated from Hercules High School in 2010, he was finally able to plant roots and become part of a community. He became a bank teller while also coaching high school basketball. He was happy, but he yearned for something more.
Johnson had witnessed his siblings join the Army, Navy and Air Force. He thought the military might fulfill his calling, but the more he spoke to recruiters from familiar branches, the more discouraged he became. Then he met the Marine recruiter.
August 21, 2020 - Staff Sgt. Absalom Johnson, a canvassing recruiter with Recruiting Substation Port Richey, Recruiting Station Tampa, helps young men and women join the Marine Corps at Port Richey, Florida. RS Tampa is responsible for finding and preparing young men and women for the rigors of recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Calvin Shamoon)
“When I saw the Marine recruiter, I thought to myself ‘I want to be him,'" said Johnson. “The Marines looked hard. I wanted a challenge. Not just any challenge. I wanted to be the best, so I had to become the best.”
Johnson decided to enlist, and now ten years later, he finds himself filling the same shoes of the person who helped him find his path -- a Marine Corps recruiter.
Johnson enlisted under the primary military occupation specialty of 0612, filed wireman. He didn’t have any prior cybersecurity or software knowledge, but the Marine Corps gave him with the skills and knowledge he needed to succeed in his occupation and eventually become an 0639 network chief.
After successful tours at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, MacDill Air Force Base, Fort Bragg and Camp Pendleton, Johnson decided to volunteer for recruiting duty. In November of 2019, Johnson received orders to Recruiting Substation Port Richey, Florida.
“I love the fact I can make an influential impact on people’s lives and one day have the honor of serving with them,” said Johnson.
Johnson thinks of people like John Vo, a first-generation Vietnamese American he met while calling recent graduates from Gulf High School in Port Richey. John, whose father is a successful investment banker and mother is the owner of several nail salons, wondered what he could do to become successful like them. He had enrolled at Hernando Community College to study mass media, but was discontent.
Through a series of conversations with Johnson, John realized that he was seeking a greater challenge and sense of purpose, said Johnson. When John came to the recruiting office for his first interview, his palms were sweaty. He simultaneously lacked of confidence while realizing it was a weakness he had to overcome. After a series of conversations over a month, the realization crystalized into a desire for challenge, and he enlisted.
Today, John is on the verge of completing the Crucible, the 54-hour culminating event of Marine Corps recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.
“It’s a humbling experience that I can make a huge impact on an individual to become a part of a team that only a few people can become a part of,” said Johnson. “I’m even more proud to be Marine because I can help individuals like him.”
Johnson one of 65 canvassing recruiters at Recruiting Station Tampa. RS Tampa is responsible for finding quality young men and women and preparing them for transformative training held at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.
“The Marines isn’t for everyone,” said Johnson. “If it was, we wouldn't be the Marines. Challenge is what separates us from the rest.”
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