“Millions of people have gone into the same thing, and a lot of them had it worse,” Chad Stevens said.
Stevens is a high school graduate who is going to Marine Corps Boot Camp on Parris Island, S.C. in October. He is a former Pepperell resident who now lives in Mason. His father David lives in Townsend.
In January, Stevens signed up for the Marines within a week of turning 18. By June he had finished up school at Twin City Christian Academy. His first visit to Parris Island came early in the summer when he attended his step-brother Dan’s graduation from boot camp.
“That was an interesting experience,” Stevens said.
“It is a very beautiful area, and I got to see where I was going to be.”
Marine Corps graduates are given an ‘on-base leave,’ as Stevens put it, where they can give their families a tour of the base. He got to see the ins and outs of boot camp before his three months of basic even began.
“Seeing the yellow footprints when I visited was strange, I thought ‘I was going to be standing there soon, I am going to be getting yelled at’,” he said.
Stevens says he has been looking forward for this for while. He says he wants to be part of something bigger and looks forward to starting. He has a countdown on his phone he began 180 days before boot camp, which starts Oct. 11. Today that number reads 54.
“I wish I could just go now,” he said.
After signing up last winter he attended a two-day session at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Boston. It was a worrisome process, says Stevens, who spent about 12 hours going through medical examinations where all around him people were getting disqualified.
“I saw a lot of DQs,” he says.
“They were constantly asking about small things, I was worried I would get rejected.”
But after the screenings, he was accepted and put down four choices for jobs. His first choice: Infantry.
“Whatever you do in the Marines, you are supporting the infantry, so it is a good place to begin,” Stevens says, but that’s not his final stop.
“Eventually I hope to get into Force Recon training,” he says.
Marine Corps Reconnaissance forces are tasked with intelligence gathering operations for Marine Command units. Force Recon does do some SEAL-like insertion operations, though on a much different scale.
However, he is still far from Recon opportunities. Stevens needs to complete Marine Corps basic and then apply for Recon during post-basic infantry training.
“I’ve signed up for eight years, four of active and four of reserve,” Stevens says.
“After initial training I want to pursue Recon.”
For that, he says, candidates needs a lot of endurance, and although he feels he has not seen much yet he feels some things in his life have made him ready.
“I love soccer, and I play mid-field so I have to do a lot of running,” Stevens says, adding that his summer job has been a factor as well.
He works for his grandfather, a private contractor named Floyd Stevens; it is work which Stevens describes as ‘general handyman stuff.’
However, despite these Stevens says “I don’t think there is anything that can prepare me.”
“Especially mentally,” he adds.
Over the summer, probably his last around New England for a while, Stevens has done something he hopes to continue in the military: Travel.
“My family and I toured around Ireland, we went to Waterford, which is an ocean side town where our ancestors are from,” he says.
“It’ll give me something to think about when I’m at Boot Camp.”
He and his family also took a trip to Maine. Stevens says he hopes training and deployment takes him to interesting parts of the United States and the world.
“I am really looking forward to it, it is definitely a great future,” he says.
With four years of duty ahead of him, Stevens says he plans to take advantage of any program he can.
“They have all sorts of training in combat things as well as basic trade stuff, I hope to learn a lot.”
With all his excitement, Stevens has remained reserved about his upcoming career.
“Some people say I’m not smart for joining up, but if everybody thought like them, we wouldn’t have a military.”