Confessions from a Woman Marine – A Book Reading

EYES RIGHT Tracy CroweAuthor of the book,  Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine, is the featured guest at a free reading and book signing planned Friday, April 5, at Saint Leo University, 33701 State Road 52, Saint Leo, FL.

Tracy Crow served as a Marine officer and a military journalist and is now a creative writing teacher at Eckerd College. Eyes Right is a book about her military experiences in the 1980s.

Crow is scheduled to speak at 3:30 p.m. in the Student Community Center Greenfelder-Denlinger Boardroom C. She will be introduced by Saint Leo University creative writing teacher Gianna Russo.

The event can be followed live online if you can’t make the presentation. You may view the presentation live at 3:30 p.m. ET. Contact Nikki Collins, assistant director of alumni relations, at (352) 588-8837 or nichole.collins@saintleo.edu for more information.

A Marine Mom: Paris Island Graduation Day

By April Agle, a new Marine Mom

We were allowed on base for family day on Thursday, November 4, 2010, starting at 5:30 a.m.  I was so going to be there and we were.  We were not the only families anxious for a peek at our Marines. 

Paris Island was April Agle's first time on a military base.

This was also my first time on a military base. 

Even though 5:30 – 6:00 a.m. seems early to us, the base was a bee hive of activity.  There were Marine recruits everywhere and in different weeks of boot camp.  They all looked the same.  How were we going to find Jared?  And would we even recognize him?

Jared’s graduating class had a morning run that we watched and we had no idea which Marine was Jared.  Then, we all had to go into this huge metal building where bleachers were set up.  We were told that the Marines would file in.  They would be dismissed, but they had to stay on base and they had to report back by 4:00 p.m.  We were to make sure they were not late. 

The anticipation was killing me.  The Marines filed in and we were all looking for Jared trying to figure out which one he was.  They really and truly all looked the same.  So handsome in their uniforms.  I teared up with pride for them all.  There were hundreds of them and they were all so young.

And then chaos.  The Marines were dismissed.  The families in the bleaches converged on the Marines and the Marines were converging on their families in the bleachers.  People everywhere and everyone looking for their families. 

Marine Mom April Agle with her newly graduated Marine, Jared, and daughter, Rylee.

Jared was able to find us.  I was so proud of him.  He looked absolutely amazing.  We hugged each other and cried.  Everyone’s emotions were high.  I had such a lump in my throat.  My son was a Marine.  How awesome. 

On Wednesday night before family day, a Marine was set up in the hotel lobby for families to ask questions.  He made the suggestion that we might want to bring a picnic lunch because the restaurants would be packed.  We would waste a lot of our visiting time waiting in line and for food. 

It was a great suggestion.  We bought sub sandwiches, chips, sodas, cookies and munchies.  I had asked a Marine on base where there was a playground picnic area on base and he gave us directions.  That worked out great.  It was somewhat away from everything going on and the kids had a playground to play on and run around. 

Marine Graduation Family Day Jared Agle poses with his sister and cousins from New York and Georgia who came to down for his graduation.

My emotions were all over the place.  Jared was so different, but the same.  He seemed very stiff.  He almost seemed uptight, like he was not relaxed.  I thought, how am I supposed to talk with him.  He was not at ease, but almost formal.  I was concerned, but tried not to think about it.  I was thrilled to see him eat. 

We took pictures until I’m sure Jared thought his face was going to fall off.  Jared told us the plan for graduation.  He was going to go directly back to his barracks and get his sea bag.  Roger was to meet him by the flag pole and they would head to the car.  That would allow us to get off base as quickly as possible.  It seems Jared wanted off Paris Island as soon as possible.

April's daughter Rylee stands on the "infamous" yellow foot prints to Marines training at Paris Island.

Friday, November 5th – Graduation Day.  I can’t explain it other than to say – WOW.  Hundreds of Marines marching in formation and all in dress uniform.  It was an impressive sight.  I was so proud of them all.  There were men and women Marines graduating.

We finally got Jared and made our way off Paris Island and to the hotel.  I still felt that Jared was very formal or reserved.  It took another day for Jared to finally start to ‘decompress’ or something. 

The only thing I can think of was that Jared had been under a microscope for 12 weeks.  He was judged each and every minute of every day.  I guess maybe he had to figure out that he was not being judged anymore.  He had to maybe tell himself it was okay to relax.  As the days went on, he became less reserved and formal.  He started to joke around and argue with his sister.

Rylee and my niece Madilyn had used car chalk on all of our vehicles for Jared’s graduation.  The cars now proclaimed USMC graduate Paris Island.  On our drive home, it was so great, cars would pull up next to us and beep the horn and give a thumbs up.  Jared thought that was cool.  I think he was still trying to absorb that he was a Marine. 

We were driving down the interstate into Florida and a police SUV started beeping its horn and continued beeping as it passed us.  My guess is that he was a Marine and was letting us know he too had experience with Paris Island.  Jared was now part of a brotherhood that only another Marine would understand.

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

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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