A Marine Mom “Lets Go” a Week Early

 

April Agle and son, Marine PFC Jared Agle, visited WUSF's studios after his boot camp graduation.

By April Agle

In all reality, I have no decision or choice in this matter (April’s 17-year-old son, Jared, convinced her to sign the papers for the Marine Corps Delayed Enlistment Program.)

Time started to pass.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years came and went.  Jared had senioritis bad.  He could not wait to get out of high school.  Of course all adults know that once high school is over time goes by very quickly.  I told him to stop wishing his life away. 

During the holidays, I kept thinking this could be Jared’s last one at home for awhile.  He could be deployed for next year’s holidays.  Roger and I decided we needed to have a really nice family vacation during spring break.  We wanted some good times to hang onto in the separation that was coming up.  Our family unit was going to change in the near future. 

When your kids are in school you have some control over their lives.  We were realizing that soon we would not even have that little bit of control.  Wow, empty nest syndrome was looming on the horizon.  Once one child leaves the nest then the next one is shortly after that.

Our family went on a wonderful cruise over spring break.  We had some much needed family time.  I desperately wanted Jared to feel the importance of family.  I was starting to feel anxious about him graduating high school and leaving for boot camp.  Time was going by too quickly.  There were times that I just wanted to grab hold of my kids and just hang on tight – to stop the world and just prevent them from growing up.  I knew that once Jared graduated from high school our lives were going to be so different.  I kept thinking I was not ready for different.

The Agle family on Jared's graduation day from boot camp.

I survived prom and Jared’s graduation was quickly approaching.  Jared’s boot camp departure date had been scheduled for July and it was pushed backed to August.  A brief reprieve, but a cloud still hanging over us.

Jared graduated from high school and I was so proud.  I counted this as an accomplishment for Roger and me.  I think we deserve some of the credit.  Another milestone completed.

The summer proved to be a trying time.  I found myself worrying constantly about Jared and his going out.  We argued quite a bit.  He was letting his chores slip at home and was constantly going out with friends.  This was so not how things were supposed to go.  I did not want Jared leaving for boot camp with anger between us. 

Jared was asserting his independence and I was reminding him of his responsibilities at home.  Of course, Jared called it nagging.  I think a lot of the problem was that Jared had a lot of free time.  He could not get a job because it would only be for a couple of months and he had no interest in taking a summer college course.  I found myself thinking that he needed to leave for boot camp soon.  I did not like how things were going at home with us.  I thought he should leave for boot camp before we really had it out. 

As is typical when you hear someone has graduated high school, you ask what their plans are.  When I would tell people that Jared was going in the Marines, I would get a ‘really’ kind of look.  Not too many reactions were ‘good for him.’  I can’t really blame them.  We are at war after all. 

Jared Agle's graduation from Marine Corps boot camp.

I watch the news and think well that’s a hot zone or that could be our next war.  Sadly, there will be lots of places in the world that Jared could end up in. 

The most disappointing conversation I had was with Jared’s best friend’s mother.  She told me how upset she was to hear that Jared had joined the Marines.  She told me she had tried to talk him out of it.  She was adamant that Jared should not go.  I was shocked.  Why would she think she should talk him out of it? 

When Jared first signed up, a lot of my family also gave Jared a hard time.  They questioned his decision constantly.  I felt bad for Jared because he constantly had to defend his decision.  I don’t think he was expecting such negative feedback from our family.  I had to remind myself that they really were concerned with Jared’s well being and they do not want him to go to war.  Jared would get short with them questioning him.  I could not really blame him.  I found I had to speak up to them so they would back off of Jared.  I think Jared’s feelings were hurt and he did not understand where they were coming from.  I tried to explain that they were just concerned for him.

Jared’s departure date was set for August 16th and that happened to be Rylee’s first day back to school.  We had a family graduation party in July for Jared and a lot of family was there.  The party went very well and Jared got to see family that he had not seen a while.  Jared started staying at home more.  He would just come and sit by me on the couch when I was reading.  I think he was realizing he was leaving home soon and things would never be the same.

Jared Agle in his official USMC photo.

And then, the Marines made their presence known in our lives. It became very clear that things were going to be different from now on.  Jared called me at work on Thursday, August 5th.  He had just received a call from his Marine recruiter that his departure date for boot camp had been moved up a week early to Sunday, August 9th.  Jared was asked if he could leave a week early.  As Jared said to me, “ I can’t say no mom.  I need to call him back and tell him okay”.  

I was proud of myself.  I told him to go ahead and call the Recruiter back and tell him that he would be ready to go.  I hung up with Jared. My heart was pounding so fast. I was in a panic.  My eyes teared up. I called Roger at work and told him.  I hung up with Roger and cried a bit.  I knew it was coming – I knew this day was coming.  I thought to myself, “the stupid military is already messing with my plans”. 

I thought I was ready for this and was finding that it was not true.  I knew I had to be strong.  I remember thinking that it is only boot camp, it’s not like he is going to war – At least not yet.  One step at a time, don’t borrow trouble.  Jared needs to do this – I need to let him go.  “If you love something then set it free….”, and all that.  Wow – Jared was really going into the Marines.

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

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

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In Training to Become a Marine Mom

Jared Agle at the Marine Recuiter drop-off on his way to joining the Corps.

On Friday, Jared Agle graduated from Marine Infantry training. This blog is featuring his journey through the eyes of his mother.

By April Agle

In October 2009, I remember Jared informed his Dad and me that he made an appointment for the Marine Recruiter to come to our house to explain the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP).  I was not thrilled and not because I was against Jared going into the military.  My concern was why the Marines? Did Jared check out the other branches?

Jared turned 17 in August 2009 and a senior at Zephyrhill’s High School.  He needed to make plans for after high school graduation, but I wanted him to thoroughly explore all options like college, technical school, and yes, the military.  I asked Jared to pray about his decision and make sure this is where God was leading him.  I already knew he was not going to choose college.  Jared had often talked about the Marines and wore clothing with Marine symbols on his shirts.  I knew he was choosing between the Marines and Fire College. As of October 2009, he decided on the Marines.

What a mother sees and feels as her 17-year-old son chooses to become a Marine.

I remember the young recruiter who came to the house. He was in a Marine dress uniform and I kept thinking to myself that he did not look much older than Jared.  I will say this: there is just something about a Marine in dress uniform. It is impressive.  The recruiter was very nice and answered every question I had on my list.  I had always heard you cannot trust a recruiter and I told him that.  He was not offended and explained step by step what the Delayed Enlistment Program was and the advantages for Jared.  Roger and I were convinced and signed the papers for Jared to be in the DEP.  Jared was so thrilled.  He got what he wanted.

Even before he was in the DEP, Jared participated in the Physical Training (PT) held each week.  How can a mom be upset with her child getting exercise?  There was a change in Jared right away.  He had a plan for his future, something to work towards, the decision had been made. 

Jared Agle at Marine Boot Camp on Family Day, November 2010.

Jared started paying attention to what he was eating.  He cut way back on his soda consumption.  He did crunches at home, pull-ups in the doorway and started running.  It was now mandatory to go to the PT weekly and attend Pool meets each month.  Jared was already a slim guy, but now he was getting fit.  Again, this is what moms want – healthy teenagers.  I think being in the DEP also helped Jared make better decisions in social situations.  We had often discussed with Jared how one little indiscretion could change the course of his life.  Now, Jared did not want anything to mess up his chance of becoming a Marine.

Jared had to take an entrance test, the ASFAB.  The Marines had raised the minimum score to pass making it harder for people to join.  Jared was concerned about it because he knew some guys that had not passed it their first attempt.  I was actually pleased that the ASFAB was a challenge.  This told me that you had to have smarts to get into the Marines.  I had this misconception that the Marines were the brawn and not necessarily the smarts.  I learned early on that this is not the case.

 I was relieved. The Marines actually encourage college education.  They have to take college classes to get certain promotions.  I was happy to be wrong and I apologize to all Marines for believing this stereo type.  Jared was able to pass his ASFAB first time through and he passed his physical and background check.  Jared was going to go to boot camp after high school graduation.

Jared Agle with his parents and sister on graduation day from Marine Boot Camp.

My pleasure was somewhat short lived because Jared had to choose his MOS, Military Occupational Specialty.  Jared chose Infantry.  I admit I had a problem with this.  I asked him all Marines shoot guns why do you have to specifically sign up to shoot guns?  There has to be something else you could do.  This is where the boy/man struggle is evident and I can see the immaturity.  Jared tells me he is looking for excitement and adventure.  And “besides, mom I get a signing bonus.”  I answered, “I know why they offer a signing bonus – it’s because you get shot at.”

Needless to say, much heated discussion took place.  In all reality, I have no decision or choice in this matter.  I signed the papers and Jared gets to decide.  Jared signed up for infantry.  At this point as a mom, I have to be supportive.  Jared really could be a diplomat – he can be convincing that he knows what he is doing.

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

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

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