As the alarm sounds at 3 a.m., an arm jets out to slam the snooze button for an extra few minutes of shuteye. The day ahead of this well-disciplined young man is mapped out to near perfection.
He stands out in the community and is quickly recognized by his sharp appearance and distinct uniform with its blue trousers and red stripe. He is a United States Marine recruiter. His job is to find those few who are good enough to try and become a member of our nation?s finest fighting force.
To make mission, an average week for him is Monday through Saturday and sometimes Sunday. The workday can easily begin at 5 a.m. and end as late as 9 p.m. and beyond. He will drive over 1,800 miles, work in excess of 60 hours, make 500 phone calls, conduct 15 interviews and process two new working applicants at the Military Entrance Processing Station. In the end, he should attain three contracts for the month.
Since the work up and start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, recruiters have had to face some new challenges, however, their mission of finding qualified men and women has remained the same.
"I didn?t think the war would interfere with my job as a recruiter at all," said SSgt. Donald E. Tarver, Recruiting Station Los Angeles recruiter. "Kids today want to be first string, they don?t want to be second to anything. And, those are just the kind of kids the Corps is looking for."
He also stated that throughout the community people have been more patriotic than before the war. This has helped open doors for him.
"I get comments from people thanking me for their freedom and for my service to the country," Tarver said.
Tarver, a Covina, Calif., native, is assigned to Recruiting Substation Thousand Oaks, an area known for middle to upper class families with its own unique recruiting challenges. According to Tarver, 50 percent of the individuals he runs into admit they do not want to serve in the armed forces.
"My greatest challenge is the kids want to be Marines, but they have no sense of urgency," he said.
For a recruiter, this means it can take a kid two or three months before they decide to take the first step in becoming an applicant.
Although a student may be interested in joining the service, sometimes the challenge is getting the support of a parent.
"I have had my fair share of scared parents," Tarver recalls. "They are angry that I call their house or that I want to talk to their 17-year old minor."
Some recruiters had to carefully negotiate work around protesters camped-out in front of their office or in the schools they recruit out of. Proper training and education brought them through those situations without incident, according to GySgt. Albert Delamora, RS LA's operations chief.
The RS has been through recruiting during conflicts in the past and prepared for the challenge this time, he said. Some of our Marines are still assigned here from the last gulf war and were able to give advice to the younger Marines.
Even though some kids did change their minds about enlisting, others did not.
Blaize P. Agudelo wanted to enlist in the Marines since she was a child.
"I'm not scared of going to boot camp or deploying to war," said the poolee from Pasadena, Calif. "Anyone who joins any branch of the service accepts the risks involved. No one is guaranteed tomorrow, even civilians. I just want to be a Marine. It is all I dream about."
In the end, Recruiting Station Los Angeles has made its mission for the past ten years. Recruiters have faced many challenges and will continue to face them. They will continue to make the phone calls, walk the school halls and set the alarm to wake them long before the sun rises.
"During peacetime or wartime they will continue to serve their country," Delamora of East Los Angeles concluded.