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Marine Hopefuls Flock to Fort Sill For Training

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FORT SILL_Hundreds of Marine Corps hopefuls invaded Fort Sill on Saturday in hopes of familiarizing themselves with what's to come at boot camp.

An estimated 400 young men and women who have sworn to become future United States Marines challenged themselves physically and academically.

The participants hailed from as far away as Arkansas and Kansas to places as near as Lawton.

Passion, determination and camaraderie are just a taste of what the nearly 400 young men and women who have sworn themselves to the Marines got this weekend.

Most of them high school seniors, this was a chance for them to get an idea of what boot camp has in store.

"We have to maximize our time with them in getting them prepared both mentally and physically, and this is a key component in that, " said Commanding Officer, Major Richard Robinson.

Each and every Poolee, as they call them, was tested, pulled out of their comfort zones and pushed to their limits to really see if they have what it takes to go the distance as a Marine.

"Becoming a Marine is not easy. We like to think if it was easy probably everyone would want to do it, " said Major Robinson.

From Majors to Lieutenants nearly every rank of the Marines was represented.

Like Sergeant Wesley Brown, a Lawton native, who just a few years ago was a Poolee himself.

"It's very rewarding because you see these kids actually grow. You see where they come from, and then they come back Marines, and you're definitely proud of them, " said Sergeant Brown.

He admits now that he's a recruiter he's got to play good cop bad cop to make sure these hopefuls are prepared, but his number one goal is to keep them motivated.

"The advice you give them is, you just never quit. You never quit on yourself, you don't quit on your fellow Poolees or your fellow Marines, " said Brown.

And it's mission accomplished for Lawton native Tyler Cochran.

He competed with his team on his own turf, and he's never been more ready for what the Marine Corps holds for his future.

"I think it's awesome. I wouldn't trade this day for any other days. I love being out here with everyone else. It's great, " said Poolee, Tyler Cochran.

Bragging rights went to the teams that did the best in competition. Friends were made, tough lessons were learned.

But overall, the most important part of the weekend's activities was to instill in each soul the honor of being one of the few, one of the proud, a Marine.

"Being a Marine is not just like a light switch where you can turn it on and turn it off. It's not a job. It's who you become. It's interwoven into the fabric of your soul and who you are as a person, " said Major Robinson.

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