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Julie Cohen Avatar

Mother

Parris Island ~ 02/27/12 ~ Ben's Journey to becoming a Marine.

Posted By: Julie Cohen 02-28-12

 

On The Way to Boot Camp!

Ben came home almost a year ago and asked me to sit down. He had something to discuss with me. I am the single parent to two children. For the most part, I have raised these boys alone and really... They have been my entire life.

"Mom, I have made a decision. I am joining the Marines."

"Ben, no you are not joining the Marines!" "I am the Momma and I say NO!"

Background: I work for an NGO of the United Nations. My job is to work with educators and children around the world, promoting peace and hopefully getting arms out of the hands of kids. Primary focus is third world countries.

How is it possible, my youngest is having this conversation with me? Memories of his life flashed before me and all I could think of was... He did not have a full time father. I was not a disciplinarian. I completely totally messed up. I offered to send him to a Life Coach. Offered to send him anywhere in the world. A life journey to Peru perhaps.

"Mom, this is my decision and my journey." "You always taught me to live my dreams, and that is what I am doing." WOW - He was taking my advice. And I was crying because of it.

On Sunday, February 26, 2012 - we drove him to his recruiting station in Kingston, NY. I hugged and kissed him and whispered in his Ear... "I am so proud of you Ben. You are going to be amazing and brilliant and we are all going to be fine." I will see you in May."

Last night came the phone call he arrived, at 11pm. "This is Recruit xxxxx, I have arrived at Parris Island. You will hear from me within 7-9 days. Please do not send food or bulky items. Thank you for your support." CLICK. After I heard the dial tone, I just sat there and laughed. Seriously laughed. An hour later, I was crying uncontrollably and then this morning woke up angry. Angry that I did not even get a chance to say, I love you and am so proud of you. Not angry at my Son, but angry at the Marines. Now, I am okay. I completely get the reasoning behind it. But it does play a psychological game on some of us parents.

All I can say is this... I am so proud of this child I raised. This young man who is living his dream and following his journey. No matter what his Momma said and no matter how I tried to bribe and talk him out of it, he followed his heart. He is going to be an amazing Marine and he is my son. My Son!

I shared his story with a young man I know who lives in Nigeria. I was at a conference with him in Morocco and he really helped me. In Nigeria they do not have the protection and the rights we have. They do not have a country dedicated to keeping them safe and protected. He said, I should be so proud and honored that my son is willing to protect not only America, but even him in Nigeria and others around the world, who are threatened daily. In his eyes, my son is a Hero, as are yours.

Julie (Mom to a soon to be Marine).

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Comments (31)

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Jonia Johnson Avatar

Mother

My son is at Parris Island, he also left February 27, 2012. As a mother this was not my plan, I sent him to college, he has 61 credit hours, and at 28 decided he wanted to be a Marine,x his father and my father were Marines. Heath,s last letter was encouraging and now I cannot wait till graduation. I am so proud of him.
I did say I love you when I got the phone call at 12:42 the early morning of February 28, I could not sleep until I got the call to say I have arrived at Parris Island.

Posted by: Jonia Johnson on 04/09/2012

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Kathy Boti Avatar

Mother

Julie I am so glad I found this website and can read stories from other parents in the same situation. My son Derek came home from college last summer and announced he was not going back to school but was joining the Marines. We were shocked and surprised to say the least. I too tried to talk him out of it. All I could think of was him fighting a war in the Middle East. I knew nothing about the USMC until i started reading these websites and realized it is so much more. He left for boot camp to Parris Island last Sunday 4/1/12 and I too got the phone call around 11:00 pm Monday night announcing his arrival. It lasted about 10 seconds and was over before I realized what was even being said. I think of him all the time and it is so weird not to be able to pick up the phone and just call or text him. I can't wait to get my 1st letter so i feel like I have some contact. I know this is the right path he has chosen and I am so proud of him. I am so happy to read everyone's comments and stories about the amazing sons & daughters we have raised who have chosen this path.

Posted by: Kathy Boti on 04/06/2012

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Darrell Farley Avatar

Former Marine

Just don't be like my mother was, When I came home from Boot Campway back in 1983, my parents were at the airport waiting for me. My father was a Marine, as was my grandfather. I came down the jetway expecting my mother to be a blubbering mess. I waited until all the rest of the passenger had left the plane, as I walked into the terminal there was mom looking at everyone trying to find her "baby". She walked right past me! Mind you now, I am the only Marine in uniform and she walks right by! My father had that look of, "" I don't believe you" in his eyes. She starts sniffling, my dad said "Why are you crying?"
I don't know where he is! "For the love of GOD woman, he is three feet from you and the only Marine in uniform in the whole terminal!" She ran to me threw her arms around me and said"My baby boy!" I said "Hi mom! Wanna see my tatoo?" Dad and I had to carry her out to the car when she fainted! Just Love him unconditionally don't lay your fears and concerns on him, he will have enough on his plate during his first 6 to 9 months with Recruit Training, School of Infantry, then his primarry M.O.S. training. This board and his recuiter should be able to answer any concerns or question you will have. Good Luck and God Bless you and your Son. P.S. Tell him to keep a diary of his daily life and activities.There has been many a great novel or movie that came about from this method.

Posted by: Darrell Farley on 03/23/2012

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Caryn Potucek Avatar

Mother

My heart as a mom is joined to yours, not only did my oldest son just go through a successful mental and physical challenge with OCS, Respectfuly now he is called Lt. James Potucek. He is now away at TBS, still in Quantico, VA. My youngest son is finishing Law School, and after attending the OCS graduation ceremony in Quantico, VA, he decided that he is pursuing a career as a JAG attorney. My heart use to say "NO" all the time, but now that I see the pride, the love, and the purpose, I totally get it!
Good luck to your soon, and say a few prayers that my youngest son's dream of JAG with the Marines, or Air Force comes true.
God Bless, from a very proud mom!!!

Posted by: Caryn Potucek on 03/22/2012

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Adele Connolly Avatar

Mother

Julie, I am so glad to hear that others are feeling the same anxiety about our sons becoming Marines. My youngest son left for Parris Island on February 13, 2012. Our house is so quiet now. I know he is pursuing his dream, but we miss him so much. His letters are our lifeline to him - whether they are the kid I remember ('send protein bars, and lots of them!') or the thoughtful adult he is slowly becoming ('I want to use the college benefits while I am on active duty' - this from a kid who couldn't wait to get out of high school and away from books)! I know that I will not be seeing the same boy who left home when we go to his graduation in May, but will be seeing a responsible young man who will proudly wear the title of United States Marine!

Adele (proud Mom of my soon to be Marine)

Posted by: Adele Connolly on 03/22/2012

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Lea Sorrows Avatar

Mother

I am a mom to a Marine Reservist.....he returned TODAY (3.21.12) from his final stage of training (ITB/MOS) He is my oldest of two (turned 20 while @ Camp Pendelton, Ca. just last week) He told me in Feb of 2011 that he had def. made up his mind and he was "gonna do it".......he's been telling me this since he was a Jr in High School & I dismissed it over and over telling myself he'd change his mind! What a year it has been.....he left Oct 11, 2011 for Boot @ MCRD/San Diego - we flew out for his graduation in January (the Marine graduating class of 2012!) He was then home 10 short days and left again Jan 17th for Camp Pendleton again. But today was the day - he's home until he finishes his college degree @ a state university a couple of hours away....and i am thrilled to have him back. I feel like i have aged 20 yrs since he left 5 month's ago! It was a pretty sad scene around here for months as i cried, pleaded, begged, bribed, threatened - anything you can think of - to try to get him not to do this. But I finally realized a couple of months before he left that he was going to do this - with me or without me! I can tell you a year later - I am still not OVERLY thrilled that this is the path he chose - but it was his to choose and i have respect for his determination and the young man he became during those months of BASIC and MOS/ITB. I am so very proud of him & am so glad i was able to come to terms (somewhat) with his decision before he left. I did not want him to worry about me while he was gone - even though he did - and wanted his full attention to be on keeping himself safe and well and being successful in reaching the end of his 12 wks of Basic in a good place. He is so happy that he did this and has matured so much.....this is not the end I know. But for now - he is home & I could not be more thrilled that the past few months are behind us - it was a loooong stressful, trying time for this momma thru the holidays w/out her baby boy. For any of you just beginning this journey - don't hold your breath for phone calls - you won't get them. Treasure the letters - you'll get a couple of month. Stay strong & keep busy - occupy your hands and your mind w/something you enjoy - it will help. Whine, cry and complain all you want - it will irritate everyone else = but you just tell them you are entitled & to suck it up!! LOL Stay strong - let us all pray for one another's sons out there, ok?? I do so nightly and I know that just as my son has made those brotherhood life-long friendships - i am sure i would feel equally the same about their moms given the opportunity to meet them, too! :)

Posted by: Lea Sorrows on 03/21/2012

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JODY CANFIELD Avatar

Former Marine

I had that same "I joined the Marines" conversation with my mom back in 1976. In 2007 I retired from the military as a First Sergeant. I would do it again if I could!

Posted by: JODY CANFIELD on 03/21/2012

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Melissa Chase Avatar

Mother

Julie,
I am on day three of my son in San Diego's boot camp and also a single mother of two. I have pondered the same thoughts of no father, etc and came to the same conclusion, we need to "Trust God". I will continue to read your son's journey and pray for 'our' boys who are becoming men with the guidance of the United States Marine Corp!

Posted by: Melissa Chase on 03/21/2012

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Debbie Scally Avatar

Mother

Hi Julie, I too am a single mom. My son, Matthew, left on February 13, 2012 for Parris Island. He left from MEPS in Niagara Falls, NY....maybe our sons are friends down there.

Hi Amy, Our sons left together (I think). You are right...the phone call was hard.

I remember getting his first letter from Parris Island...I went to the mailbox and saw the envelope. I sat in my car and read it....and cried! Then I went to my sister-in-law's house and read it to everyone there...and cried again!!!

I am very proud of my son for the decision he made. I pray daily for his safety. I miss not seeing him or being able to call him.

May 10, 2012 (Family Day) can't come soon enough. I've already made my hotel reservations and driving plans.

Posted by: Debbie Scally on 03/21/2012

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Kris Wolf Avatar

Mother

I was just as surprised last may when my daughter joined the marines. She left for boot camp Oct. 17 2011 and graduated from Parrish Island jan 13, 2012. I am so proud of my marine. She is now in Monterey CA studying to become a crypto logical linguist for the USMC.

Posted by: Kris Wolf on 03/21/2012

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Kendra Silva Avatar

Mother

Dear Julie,
This letter could have been written by me 2 years ago. I tried everything to not have my son become a Marine! [Its a Mom thing... I think WE should get a medal when they do sign up, because its feels like you just drop kicked a Mom's heart!] I was ALSO very upset with the Marines when my son was in boot camp!
"Why couldn't he just call home on CHRISTMAS?" I was UPSET!! Now... 2 years later as my son is currently on deployment... I understand... You will too... The Marines are taking your son, and making him a man he never would have become on his own or with us. A man with honor, courage, and so thankful of all you have done also!
I would just like to tell all you Mom's out there what it is going to be like, IF your son becomes a Marine! To me... it feels like taking all your feelings and magnifying them a 100 times! Your JOY is greater, Your pride is greater, you miss them more than you ever thought possible, your hugs are tighter... EVERY Mom emotion is AMPLIFIED!
Anyway, I hope you get what I am trying to say... It's a journey they want to be on... and get ready because like it or not... your going on it with them! So support them, write lots of letters, make reservations for family day and graduation... and get ready to be an expert calender counter... LOL Do yourself a favor... sign up with the Marine Corp. websites... did you know there is a webpage just for your sons unit? There is and you know what else? The Marine Corp has been unbelievable in keeping us updated with photos and all kinds of information while he has been deployed...
You are not alone! Other Marine Mom's are here too!!!
Hugs with Love,
PROUD Mom of a Marine,
Kendra

Posted by: Kendra Silva on 03/21/2012

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Mary Anderson Avatar

Mother

My name is Mary, I think every mom feels the way you do right now!!!! I didn't talk to my husband for a week after Charlie left for San Diego but I made it through that and two deployements to Iraq. I am how ever a few pounds heaver, but I have never been so proud of anyone in my life. The four years flew by and he has been out for three years this month and has a really good job on the railroad. He grew up so much during that four years. There was no greater feeling as seeing him get off the buses after his deployements. Thank Your sons for their service and God be with you and them. Mary mom of CPL Anderson

Posted by: Mary Anderson on 03/21/2012

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tracey sampson Avatar

Mother

Thank you Julie for raising such a fine young man. Your story really touches me! After three years of college, my next to oldest decided to join and then right behind that, his younger brother decided to join straight out of high school! Double whammy! One left in August, other left day after Christmas! Still adjusting to it, haven't quite slid into that "military mom" mode yet, kind of easing into it! Very proud of them both, ss you are, and all we can do is support them and what they have chosen to do! One graduated from Parris Island and camp lejeune, other from Lackland AFB...

Tracey (proud mom of Marine and Airman!)

Posted by: tracey sampson on 03/21/2012

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Tonnie Heckathorn Avatar

Mother

Hi Julie,
My name is Tonnie. I have lived the same experience as you have with your son. Our oldest son chose to follow in his dad's footsteps and become a Marine. My husband served in Vietnam. We also tried to talk him out of that choice, but he had made his decision. That phone call was hard to take because the reality of it all hit home. His letters from basic training tore out my heart as he shared his physical, emotional, and mental struggles. Upon completing the crucible he cried and cried to know he had accomplished his goal of becoming a Marine. He has matured so much and we are so proud of him. We begin a new journey with him as he leaves on an eight month deployment in five days on a MEU to the Mediterranean.
When you attend graduation take the biggest, brightest sign with his name. When you see him in formation on the field hold it high, proudly waving it. He will see it and will have no doubt of your support, love, and pride you have for him.
We are proud of all our Marines.
From a Marine Mom

Posted by: Tonnie Heckathorn on 03/21/2012

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Paul Zimmer Avatar

Father

To all you new parents of a Marines: My wife and I have personally been through it twice. My oldest just got out after a 4yr tour which included 2 tours to Afghanistan. I can still remember the 10 second call home in which Geoff screamed into the phone from Parris Island. I answered the phone at 2:30am, not knowing what to expect. I remember hanging up the phone and muttering to myself "good luck boy"
My second went through a little over a year ago so we were prepared for the call. He is now getting ready for his first half of OCS this summer. By 2014 he will have completed his college 4yr degree and OCS and he will be 2nd LT.
Words of wisdom?.....................hang tough. What your son of daughter is doing is very important to them. My wife and I are VERY PROUD of what the boys have done.
When writing them in boot camp make sure to SUPPORT THEM FULLY. Keep all letters positive and supporting. My oldest had no problems and we heard from him very little at Parris Island. Our youngest,John, was very upset while at boot camp since he had just lost his grandfather days before leaving (my dad) to cancer. He was very upset and for a small amount of time he actually doubted himself. I kept bombarding him with letters along with other members of our family. You are going to be their only lifeline to the outside world so keep them upbeat and positive.
I commend all of your parents who are supporting your children in this decision.................it is a decision that you as parents should be very proud of. Semper Fi to you all one and all...............

Posted by: Paul Zimmer on 03/21/2012

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Ryan Quinn Avatar

Friend

Three years ago, I went through the same thing with my buddy Jarrett. Jarrett was always more like a little brother to me than anything. I watched out for him, I did what I could to keep him out of trouble, and even used to help him with his homework when he was younger. Like you, I had my fears, but I'm not afraid for Jarrett anymore. He's become a bigger and better man than I could ever be, and I'm proud of that. He has a six year old nephew who thinks of him as a super hero because "Uncle Jarrett stands up to the bad guys for people who can't."

I'll be honest when I say this, but it's not going to be a journey for only Ben, but one for your whole family and all of Ben's friends back home as well. It's not going to be an easy journey either, but as time goes on you will only be even more proud of your son. Thank you Julie and thank you Ben!

Posted by: Ryan Quinn on 03/21/2012

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Ranae Townsend Avatar

Mother

My son also left on the 27th for Parris Island. I cant believe the last time i heard his voice was that night.

Posted by: Ranae Townsend on 03/21/2012

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Jonia Johnson Avatar

Mother

My son also left on the 27 of February from Louisville, Ky, I received a letter Saturday and it was so encouraging, I promised myself I would write him everyday, I do not want him to go a day without hearing from home. I encourage him with every letter, I cannot wait till graduation!
Jonia

Posted by: Jonia Johnson on 04/09/2012

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robert austin Avatar

Father

Being a single dad when my oldest told I was very proud of him but scared at same time he's been in since June 13 of 2011 and still in training we were talking about a,month ago and I ask if he,was lonely and he said no I am with 212000 of my brother and sister could use a little alone time I started laughing the hardest part was basic he only got one call home in week 11 for about two minutes his you will cry at his family day and graduation its so awsome

Posted by: robert austin on 03/21/2012

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Catherine Beil Avatar

Mother

Hi Julie,
First of all, congratulations to both of you. I have a very similar story. My son Chris always wanted to be in the Air Force from the time he was in 7th grade. Well we had a situation where they told a lie & it didn't sit well with me. So I told Chris that we will go talk to all the other branches. After all was said & done he decided to join the Marines. I cried & cried when we signed those papers. After a few months of PT, his twin brother Joe went with him & he came home & said he was joining. That is where I said exactly what you said. NO WAY! I was already "losing" one son, I was not going to "lose" another one. Well much to my dismay, we signed those papers. Both boys left at the same time for boot camp. They would go through it all together. I got the same phone calls a few minutes apart. I cried & cried once again. Well after 2 days, I get another phone call from Chris saying that he was being released because of an eye condition. It should have been caught at MEPS but it wasn't. I was both happy & devastated because it was all Chris ever wanted. It took about 2 months for him to actually get to come home but I got to talk to him at least once a week. I hugged him so hard when he came home. Then a month later we headed to Parris Island to Joe's graduation.

You will love the graduation. Be prepared to not recognize your son. Hug him tight & he will do the same. It is such an amazing roller coaster of emotions & just treasure it all. Good luck with everything. Thank you & Ben for making the right decision. Once again, Congratulations!

Posted by: Catherine Beil on 03/21/2012

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Renee Snell Avatar

Mother

Julie,
Your pride is going to continue to grow over the next few years!
I am also a single mother. My oldest is going into his 3rd year with the Corps this summer. The phone call from bootcamp was the funniest and most heart wrenching call I ever had.
My son deployed last week to Afghanistan. My heart is crushed. Not being able to pick up the phone to call him whenever I want is difficult. Not that we talked every day, but the option was there. My point in telling you this is simply...your pride in your Hero will continue to grow. You will find that you are the biggest advocate for our troops. You will be disgusted with media that does not put our Marines in the headlines. But above all of that will be pride. Your son is a Hero. To join the Corps, during wartime, is a strong statement. Stay strong, always show them your smiles. They know we cry, but they don't need our tears.
Congratulations to you, and welcome to the family!!!
Renee

Posted by: Renee Snell on 03/21/2012

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Apollo Morelos Avatar

Family

I am proud of your Marine.

Posted by: Apollo Morelos on 03/21/2012

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Patricia McCabe Avatar

Family

Hi Julie,
I know its hard to let them go. My son is in Navy Boot and graduates April 13.....it was so difficult to get his box of dirty clothes that the Navy sent to me. His identical twin leaves for Marine Corp Bootcamp, Parris Island...and I get to do this all over again :(. I am so proud of my boys as well you are proud of yours.......Its just that loss of innocence I guess that makes me sad.....but I know they are serving a cause greater than themselves and we, as military families, can be so proud!! Congrats to your "almost" marine..Semper Fi!!

Posted by: Patricia McCabe on 03/21/2012

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Debra Wolford Avatar

Mother

Hi Julie,
My name is Debi, my son Walter is leaving for Parris Island on Oct. 15, 2012. I too am a single parent to only him. I dread the thought of being alone and not seeing him every night come barreling in the door. I know it's going to be a rough transition. But I pray that God will keep him safe always. He's all I have. and i could never picture my life without him in it. Help me get through this when he leaves. I'm so proud of him. He's currently still in High School and will gradluate in June. I've already been making plans for the graduation in Parris Island. I was forwarned about that phone call when he arrives.Please stay in touch with me, ill be there for you as well.

Posted by: Debra Wolford on 03/19/2012

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Benjamin Fay Avatar

Other

ill be shipping out on the 8th! hope i see your son there!!!

Posted by: Benjamin Fay on 03/21/2012

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Catherine Beil Avatar

Mother

The phone call is hard along with the first letter they send home. It is the most amazing feeling when you see them at graduation. My son Joe is due to come home from his 2nd tour in Afghanistan in May & it will be bittersweet as well. Always be proud of your, son. Be proud of yourself as well for raising him to make that decision. Congratulations to both of you. Semper Fi

Posted by: Catherine Beil on 03/21/2012

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Kendra Silva Avatar

Mother

Hi Debi,
I am a Mom of a Marine currently deployed... If you have any questions about anything... I will help answer them if you want?
Hugs Kendra

Posted by: Kendra Silva on 03/21/2012

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Justin Guyer Avatar

Other

Benjamin, I ship the 8th too. I'll see you there.

Posted by: Justin Guyer on 04/14/2012

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Aimee  Lord Avatar

Mother

It's a hard thing to wrap your head around sometimes, the choices they make. My son is at Parris Island S.C, he left February 13th. That phone call was the hardest part of all. At that moment I knew my baby boy was gone. It physically hurt my heart, I was not prepared for that.
I go back and forth between sadness, missing him, being proud and anxious for graduation. I can't wait to meet my "new" son.
Hang in there, it's going to be all fine. You did a great job.

Posted by: Aimee Lord on 03/12/2012

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Catherine Beil Avatar

Mother

Congratulations, Aimee. Wear comfortable shoes & clothing. You will be doing a lot of walking & running to your boy. I remember it as if it was yesterday. It has been 5 years already. Semper Fi

Posted by: Catherine Beil on 03/21/2012

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Adele Connolly Avatar

Mother

Aimee,
Our sons left the same day; they may even be in the same platoon! You're right, that phone call was difficult, but at least his recruiter warned us about it, so I was prepared for the robot voice. I am going through the same anxiety you express, and can't wait for May 10th to get here when I can see my young man again!

Posted by: Adele Connolly on 03/22/2012

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