Birthdays, Weddings, A Mom Misses Her New Marine

Boot camp Marine Jared Agle's sister and cousins send him a photo message from their October family gathering.

By April Agle, a new Marine Mom

(My Marine son) Jared is blessed with a wonderful family.  Someone was always sending him a letter or card.  Parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and both sets of grandparents. I know it was important that he have some mail almost every day.  I kept thinking what if he has a really bad day and that is the day that he does not get mail.

I have a whole new appreciation for the military families from past wars.  The time when the only communication was via letters.  Our generation is quite spoiled with our ability to instantly contact one another with cell phones, email, and skype.  Boot camp only allows letters – snail mail. 

It is amazing what you can pick up in letters.  You can really get a sense of the person’s feelings, whether they are happy or down.  Over the weeks Jared’s letters were up and down. 

Roger Agle (left) and 17-year-old son, Jared, August 2010 just before reporting to Paris Island boot camp.

It was frustrating writing to encourage him knowing that his mood would probably be over before he received my encouragement.  I found I had many questions for Jared after reading his letters and it was frustrating not being able to ask and get the answer right away.

Jared’s birthday is in August.  He was going to have his 18th birthday at Paris Island.  This was a hard day for all of us.  Jared was down in the dumps as his birthday was getting closer. 

I joked with him writing that this would be the only birthday that he would remember everything about.  He would always remember where he was and what he was doing on his 18th birthday.  Something he could share with his own children some day.

It was the first birthday of Jared’s that I was not with him.  No cake and no special dinner.

I heard from an acquaintance of mine, Jenny, that her husband was being deployed to Afghanistan.  They have two young children.  She is such a positive upbeat person and a true inspiration.  Jenny was encouraging me, when she was and is going through so much herself. 

Now part of the "military family," April's friend Jenny shares this photo of her children and husband before his deployment.

Jenny and her children stopped at work to see me.  Her children made Jared a Thank you card and asked for me to send it to him.  It was the sweetest thing.  Their dad is deployed and they took time to make something for Jared.  I was so touched.  I was starting to see what a close knit group the military is.

A family event was coming up and this would be the first time Jared would not be with us.  My brother was getting married on October 23rd.  My husband, Roger, and my daughter, Rylee, were going to be standing up.  Family came in from out of state.  My brothers and sisters and their spouses and children all were at the wedding.  Jared was the only one not in attendance. 

This bothered me quite a bit.  I dreaded the family picture of us all because Jared was not there.  The whole time spent with family I felt something was missing, Jared. 

Jared’s graduation was quickly approaching.  Jared had written me at one time, “time seems to be going by quickly and yet so slowly at the same time.”  I know exactly what he meant. 

I wanted to be at Paris Island as soon as possible.  It was going to be awesome.  We had a large group of family that was going to meet in South Carolina for Jared’s graduation.  I was so excited that so much family was doing this to support Jared.  We received our pass to go on base in the mail.  YES – it was almost over.

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:

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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.

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.

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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