A Boot Camp Marine’s First Letter Home

Already signed up for the Marine Delayed Enlistment Program, Jared Agle and his parents, April and Roger Agle, celebrate his graduation from Zephyrhills High School, 2010.

By April Agle, a new Marine Mom

I remember thinking that there was so much that I wanted Jared to know before he left.  I wanted him to remember that even when he thinks he is alone, that God is always, always with him.  I had these fears of the drill instructors tearing down Jared’s self confidence.  I wanted him to remember that no matter what anyone says that he is a wonderful person.  I wanted him to know that he was likely to get home sick and that it was okay.  We would be praying for him and that the separation would only be for just over 12 weeks.

I remember Jared telling me he did not want me to go to the Recruiter’s Office to drop him off on Sunday.  At first, I was crushed and yes, my feelings were hurt.  It took me a bit to figure out why he did not want me to go with him.  It was more than he was afraid I would embarrass him – I figured it out – if I cried he would cry and he did not want to do that in front of anyone especially another Marine or another Recruit. 

Jared Agle the day he was dropped off at the Recruiter's Office, August 8, 2010.

So I told him I was going, all of us were taking him, and I promised not to embarrass him.  I made a point of speaking positive and smiling on our way to the Recruiter’s  Office on Sunday.  I was Miss Positive Attitude with no crying.  We go to the Recruiter’s and only the Recruiter was there.  We all hugged Jared.  I held him tight and told him I was so proud of him and that I knew he would be an excellent Marine.  And then we left him. 

Wow.  I felt a huge weight.  Roger,  Rylee and I were all very stoic and I think we were containing our emotions.  All it would take was for one of us to let loose and we would all lose it.  I guess we were being strong for each other.

The plan was that Jared was to stay in a hotel in Tampa and on Monday morning he would go to fill out his final paperwork and then board a bus heading to Paris Island, South Carolina.

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 11:00pm Roger’s phone rang.  Roger barely said hello and you could hear Jared almost shouting in a shaky voice.  “Recruit Agle has reached destination Paris Island.  Please do not attempt to contact me. Please do not send any bulky packages. …. That is all”.  And he hung up. 

You could tell he was reading a script of some kind.  Wow and that was it.  Roger and I looked at each other almost in shock.  I was a bit upset because we did not get to tell Jared anything, not I love you, not how was your trip, nothing.  No one really prepared me for that. 

High school senior Jared celebrates his last "spring break" with his younger sister, Rylee, on a family cruise 2010.

I spent a good deal of time over his life teaching Jared the importance of calling or texting me so I knew where he was at.  I found out the Marine’s don’t really care what your mama wants.  So I guess this was a reality check for me.  Jared was going to need a lot of prayer and I was going to do that.

 The house seemed different right away.  Jared had been gone before on trips with the fire department for maybe four days.  This time it was different.  The house was quieter and felt less full somehow.  Jared was not due back for quite a while.

And so we waited.  And we waited.  Every day we checked the mail box.  And we waited some more.  We wondered, we prayed, and we waited some more.  No letter.  Yes – I was a bit unrealistic.  I wanted a letter within days of his leaving with his address so I could send him mail.  The day Jared left I started writing him.  A paragraph each day so he would be aware that he was not out of our thoughts.  And so the training of a Marine’s mother began.

The people that I work with are just terrific and they have helped me each step of the way.  I constantly was talking about Jared and they listened.  Everyone has been very supportive.  I work with a lot of veterans and former military.  They would share stories with me and were always available to listen to me. Without this tolerance and support, I think I would have gone crazy.  It was very helpful to be able to talk about Jared.  I appreciate their on-going interest in Jared’s career, it means so much to me.

Finally, one week later, we received something in the mail with Jared’s writing on the envelope.  We were thrilled only to be somewhat disappointed.  It was a form letter.  But,  it had his address finally also, a whole list of what not to send.  The only hand written note was a line that said ‘Can send Cliff bars’.  Okay excellent something to do for the mom who is missing her son. 

The banner reads "See You in Two Weeks." October 2010, Jared's family gathered for a wedding, the first big family event without him. This photo was taken to let Jared know his family was thinking of him.

I had a mission and I was glad of it.  The only problem was that I had no idea what a Cliff bar was, but if my son wanted Cliff bars he was going to get them.  And so I found out that a Cliff bar is a protein bar.  We mailed them to him the next day and I felt relieved that I was able to do something. 

 I now had Jared’s address and another ‘mom to do’ thing which I so wanted.   I made up mailing labels for his grandparents and everyone.  The address is quite a big address so I thought labels would help everyone.  I have some advice for anyone that is sending their child to boot camp – make address labels.  I made up return address labels for Jared’s boot camp address and mailing labels of our home address so he send us mail.  Jared said these were wonderful because he never had much time and he was tired and rushed.  The labels saved him time.  Also, send stamps.  They don’t really have time to buy stamps and who wants to wait on them to get around to buying postage. 
Mail became our link to Jared.  Our family used to go 3-4 days before we would check the mail.  Now, we were checking the mail every day.We finally received a hand written real letter from Jared a couple of days after the form letter.  We all got teary and I think we read and discussed his letter for days.  He had a ‘p.s.’ at the bottom of the letter that said, “Went to church. I look forward to going Sunday.”  I was pleased about this and knew it would help Jared.  I also know that he probably was only going to church because it got him away from the drill instructors.  But hey he was going to church no matter the reason.

April Agle works in WUSF’s business office and among her many duties, she helps me and other staff with Human Resource issues. Her other contributions:

In Training to Become a Marine Mom

A Marine Mom Lets Go a Week Early

Here’s a link to WUSF’s  first story when Jared graduated boot camp.

15 Responses

  1. Sounds good so far! Waiting for more! Thanks!

  2. […] A Boot Camp Marine’s First Letter to Mom […]

  3. […] A Boot Camp Marine’s First Letter to Mom […]

  4. Can I tell you how much your note helps me. I just sent my boy this week and have yet to receive that first letter. For some reason I have not gotten the call either and that feeling of not knowing just kills a mom’s heart! Thanks for sharing!

    • Mrs. Karns – I’m so glad that April’s insights eased your anxiety a bit that was her goal. Military life is new to her – yet her faith and writing about it helped her adjust to having her then 17-year-old at Paris Island. You can contact me directly with any questions. I will pass them on to April or several of the other mothers who contribute to the blog. You’re part of quite a strong community. I also invite you to consider writing something should it interest you. You can reach me directly at bobrien@wusf.org. Thank you for your comment and for your son’s service and now your’s as part of the military family.

  5. My son is leaving October 24th. IF he goes………….I won’t believe it until it happens. But it has been a year and a half of stress for me. (DEP) I have gone nuts more than a few times…..about going in about not going in…..it’s been a hell ride have to say. He got his second choice of MOS as Motor Transport………his first was infantry and they were full…….but he would have put down infantry all three times…..you never know they might change him after he gets in. Very proud of him….and I hate all the negative blogs about Marines being the dumb branch…..my son scored very high on his asvab……he just wants to be the best that’s all.

  6. Thank you to April for posting this my son just left for Parris Island a this week and he’s my only child so I know what you mean about the quiet house, I’ve prepared for months to get the short phone call but it was still to short and impersonal, I’m waiting now for an address or something but mainly a letter letting me know he’s ok…. I didn’t realize how much we talked until I couldn’t call to ask where he was or what he was up to when he wasn’t home. Can’t wait until April…….

    • Sandi – Thank you for sharing your thoughts. The whole idea of this blog is to build a community of military families. I work with April and she will be pleased to know her blog entry helped you. Please consider writing something yourself and sharing it. I would gladly post it on the blog. Also, know there are other military moms – just like you – who are willing to reach out and support you in any way. Email me at bobrien@wusf.org should you want to contribute to the blog. Thanks for reading it and please share it with others. Bobbie

    • Hi Sandi, My son Robert left for Parris Island on January 16th. I received my first letter from him today. I could feel the Love in his words.. He has no idea how much it meant to me..I too received the scripted phone call at 2 in the morning. Even though I was prepared for the scripted message, it still was hard not be able to ask anything. I cried myself to sleep that night. Robert was not a regular church goer until he enlisted. He was in the DEP program for 9 months. Robert told me his recruiter encouraged him to attend church.
      My son is in 3rd BN, India Company, Blt 3028. I would love to know what group your son is in.. I too worry constantly, but writing and shopping for the few things I can send make me feel like I am helping him.
      Take care and be strong.. Our boys are so much stronger than we know.

    • Sandi, My son and I discussed repeatedly this phone call and yet it was still such a shock. The script too short for my mind to wrap around it all….placed at 12.47am. Now I am trying to prepare for the scripted letter to follow. The Marines way of stripping them down and making them all the same. Yes, my job has been finished as a parent, but my heart aches as a mother. I cannot wait until graduation!

  7. My son just left Sunday to parris island, your story sounds so much like ours. The separation anxiety is getting the best of me! I don’t have a emotionally supportive husband. I feel very alone, I do have a big family and daughter and grand baby. I work. It’s not enough! Oddly my son said laughingly said I need to be put on a suicide watch!
    Thanks for your story!

    • Deby,
      Thanks to you and your son’s service because anyone in the military knows – it is not just the Soldier, Seaman, Airman or Marine serve – their families do to.
      You might want to click on the Deployment tab at the top of the page. Another Army mom who has gone through three of her son’s deployments has some sage advice.
      You’re also welcome to contribute to this blog – some parents and spouses have found writing about their experience helps.
      Please know that you are not alone and there are plenty of supporters in the “virtual” world if not in your community. If I can help in any way so you find that support, email me directly.
      Thanks again for reading Off the Base.
      Bobbie O’Brien

  8. […] A Boot Camp Marine's First Letter Home […]

  9. My step-son also left to the Marines on July 4 it was very sad and we all felt very empty his mom was crying for almost 2 weeks, she said she received the phone call and the other day she also received the letter with the address, my husband and I yesterday received a hand-written letter from him we were so excited and emotional to receive it so I called his mom and read the letter to her she was also happy. on Saturday we will be sending him a letter with stamps as well and thanks you the advise of the labels its a good idea.

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