Marine Recruiting Numbers Down - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/11/05

Marine Recruiting Numbers Down

For the first time in years, the number of men and women entering the Marine Corps is down. Some say it has to do with the number of Marines who have been killed since Operation Iraqi Freedom began.

The war would seem to be the likely factor, but surprisingly that's not quite the case. In the South, the numbers are good.

It all starts with boot camp at Parris Island. New recruits know that by becoming Marines, they could end up making the ultimate sacrifice.

"This recruit was scared and did think about it a lot as far as this recruit losing his life, but everybody dies at some point," recruit Joe Campoalegre from Miami told us.

This reality check is one of the reasons the number of recruits going into the Marine Corps has gone down.

"It maybe a factor, but I don't think it's as much of a factor as people might think," said Maj. Ken White.

Despite the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, military officials tell us that the majority of the men and women who want to become Marines are under the age of 24.

Their young age has a lot to do with the lingering affects of 9/11. "I was sitting in school actually when it happened and it hit me then that something needs to be done, and I felt like I should serve," said Willard Truckenmiller, a recruit from Fort Myers.

But not all recruits become Marines. Twelve percent of men and 20 percent of the women who come to Parris Island won't make it.

"Where I came from, not too many people wanted to be in the military with the war going on and everything else," said Truckenmiller.

Some tried others careers fist, but gave up good jobs to serve.

"I decided to do finance," said Campoalegre. "That's why I went to college. Before I was a bank manager back in Miami, but every day this recruit found himself looking online, reading up on the Marines. It was Marines, Marines, Marines and I knew it was something that had to be done. I had to do it."

So while the Marines continue to look for a few more good men, they'll have company.

Recruiting numbers are also down for the Army and the National Guard.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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