September 29, 2016
By Chris Randall, Fellowship Program Specialist
Why I Wanted to Serve
From the time I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to be a Marine. Growing up in North St. Louis, my father was my role model – a standout in a tough neighborhood. He was determined to not let anything, let alone age requirements, get in his way. He enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 15 — before he could drive, vote or buy a beer — and served during the Korean War.
I wasn’t exactly a great student as a kid, but I was dedicated in other ways, and most important, I was dedicated to my dream. More than anything, I wanted to be part of the military like my father. So I started early. I joined the Young Marines Program when I was 8 years old, and attend Cleveland Jr. Naval Academy in St. Louis for high school.
In many ways, just like my father, I didn’t want to waste any time. I felt ready, more than ready, to achieve my dream as soon as possible, so much so that I made sure to graduate high school ahead of schedule so I could enlist at the age of 17.