Master Sgt. Rick St. John welcomed the families of poolees, the men and women who have have enlisted in the marine Corps but have not yet started boot camp, from Clermont, Hamilton, and Brown Counties to an information session Friday night.
The annual Family Night is an opportunity for parents to meet several current and former Marines and learn just what their son or daughter can expect in boot camp and beyond.
“Tonight is an opportunity to inform parents about the decision their son or daughter has made,” St. John said.
Proud said he had the opportunity to visit the Marine Corps training center at Parris Island, S.C. for a week and even had the opportunity to participate in several training exercises.
"I have seen the training first hand and I can tell you your son or daughter will be in great hands," Proud said. "They will tear you down, but only to build you back up bigger, better, and stronger. You will come out a better person."
Proud said he was very grateful for the commitment each member of the Armed Services has made to their country.
"I thank God that men and women like you are willing to stand in the gap," Proud said. "To the parents in the room, I want to thank you for raising heroes and instilling in them honor and courage. They would not be successful without you."
O'Hara, who retired from the Marines in 2003, said the Marine Corps prepares men and women for success both in the Corps and in civilian life. He said the most important thing to remember about boot camp is the drill instructor is on your side.
"They don't hate you," O'Hara said. "You've got to remember, your drill instructor's mission is not to torture you. They are there to train you."
Just before dinner Master Sgt. St. John called several poolees to the front of the room and turned them over to Drill Instructor Sgt. Tracy Brown. Sgt. Brown gave the poolees a sample of the "incentive physical training" they will receive in boot camp.
After dinner the parents were given the opportunity to ask questions about boot camp and what it is like to be a Marine. Master Sgt. St. John said he and his men will sit down with each parent one on one just before their son or daughter leaves for boot camp for another question and answer session.
"These men and women have to have their parents' support," St. John said. "Thirteen weeks of intense training and no letters from home can be pretty tough."
In addition to the Family Night, the poolees meet weekly for physical and mental fitness preparations. They also meet one weekend a month for an extended run, team building exercises or a visit to Wright Patterson Air Force Base to learn more about military life.
"We want them to get down there with one thing on there mind, becoming a Marine," St. John said.
Poolee Dave Caudill, a senior at Live Oaks High School, said he has wanted to be a Marine ever since he was five years old.
"My grandfather was in the Corps and I've always looked up to him," Caudill said. "I want to serve my country and be one of the few."
Caudill, who ships out June 28, said he cannot wait for boot camp and that he appreciates the mental and physical training he has received so far. He said Sgt. Brown's demonstration was a good one.
"The drill instructor wasn't being mean," Caudill said. "It was just a little sense of what we'll have to deal with when we get down there."
Gracie Lemar of New Richmond said she is very proud of her son's decision to join the Marines.
"It's a good opportunity for him," Lemar said. "I think it's really neat he decided to do this."
The poolees in attendance Friday night will ship out for boot camp sometime between June and November of this year.