Dozens of Navy and Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets spent an intense five days at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany for its first-ever summer camp.
More than 40 cadets from five schools in DeKalb County got a week-long taste of basic leadership training.
NJROTC Naval Science Instructor, Steven Thompson said many of the cadets were under the impression they would be spending the week relaxing and having fun, but they were in for a rude awakening.
“When the first sergeant got on the bus and (said) get off the bus, it changed everything,” Thompson explained.
From drills to combat fitness tests, each cadet was given the uncut version of what it takes to become a U.S. Marine.
“Everything that we needed to do … in the Navy program B.L.T. -- basic leadership training -- we accomplished here on this base,” Thompson added.
For Darion Foster, 16, it was the perfect timing after a logistics officer at his high school introduced him to the division.
“He talked to me about all of the stuff he did, and I thought it was pretty interesting. I wanted to do logistics. What a coincidence that we were in Albany at the logistics base,” Foster remarked.
The early hours came as a shock to Miracle Crawl, 17.
“I actually realized how many hours there are in a day,” Crawl explained, “(I can accomplish so much more) in my day by waking up earlier,” Crawl explained.
But for Thompson, the main lesson taught to every cadet was summed in two words: determination and unity.
“They saw the dedication and devotion the Marines have for what they do … when I saw that in their eyes it was like these guys are serious and they really do take care for our country,” Thompson added.
Witnessing the camaraderie among fellow Marines was a motivating factor why Crawl still has her sights on a military branch.
“Realizing how much they do for us. The country outside of a war, (it’s) really inspiring,” Crawl remarked.
Foster says the experience not only brought all of the cadets closer together, but solidified his plans to enter the Marine Corps in the near future.
“It helped all of us to perfect our drill, and it brought all of us together,” Foster said of the camp.
Thompson said several cadets were debating on whether to enter the force, but after a week at MCLB Albany, many have made up their minds to join.
And for that alone, the group will be back.
“There was no better place that we could’ve come,” Thompson explained, “it kind of brought to our attention that this is the place we need to come every year.”