Lejeune Marines host youth on several ranges

20 Jun 2006 | Sgt. Tracee L. Jackson

The nation’s top youth golfers met at Paradise Point Golf Course June 20 for a national tournament sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services.  Anticipation was thick in the air as they strut around the green in ankle socks, collared T-shirts, pleated khaki shorts, and hands in their pockets as college recruiters eyed them during competition.

However, one of the perks about having a golf tournament on a Marine base is the unique opportunity to de-stress and explore another walk of life. 

Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force expanded the competitors’ experience by taking them off the driving range and giving them a taste of the rifle range via the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer.  The courtesy tour of a small part of life in the Marine Corps was a welcome break from the strenuous competition.

45 of approximately 90 putting prodigies received instruction on the ISMT and how Marines use it to further their skills on the battlefield.  The experience, far out of the everyday realm of high school life, may have opened a few minds to military service.

Cpl. Patrick Kidd, 21, from Springfield, Ky., who works at 2nd Marine Division Training Center, gave a quick break down of three major weapons systems: the 9mm Pistol, M16-A2, 5056mm Rifle and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.  After explaining how to load and fire each weapon, Kidd gave the group instructions.

“Since you guys are just here to see what the weapons are like, you can go ahead and go all ‘Rambo’ if you want to,” he said, evoking gasps, laughter and excited murmurs among the crowd.

Students filed into the marksmanship training room taking turns firing each weapon, discovering unexpected enthusiasm.

“This is neat because the weapons are real.  They’re not a water gun or Nerf toy,” said Hunter Kraus, a 14-year-old native of Collierville, Tenn., who ranks among the nation’s best golfers in his age group.  “It gets your mind off the tournament.”

“I wouldn’t have thought about joining the military before this,” said Megan Moir, who, at 15, was one of the oldest in the group.  “When you think of the military, it seems like they’re fighting all the time. But now, I’ve been here and seen how people can be in the military and have normal lives.”

For most golfers, the visit to Camp Lejeune and experience at the ISMT were a first-time experience of the military culture.  The young athletes agreed that while the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, the uniforms definitely are.