By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
While some graduates of the class of 2011 have no clue what their future may hold, others have a well thought out plan as to what they want their lives to bring. Some students will go to a university and get degrees before entering the workforce, others will go straight into the workforce and there are a few proud students who will enter the military to serve their country.
Eric Cortez and Jonathan Meister are two of those brave students who will spend the next several years of their life serving their country as Marines. Jonathan is the son of Brad and Jeannie Meister; he has a sister named Jessica. Eric is the son of Nancy Torralbas and Rony Cortez; he has a brother, Casey Wiggins, and a sister, Aylin Torralbas. Both boys are 18 years old and will be graduating from Madison County High School on June 3.
Jonathan has already begun his Marines career. He has already taken and passed his ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) and has begun his training. He does workouts at the YMCA in Valdosta several times a week to prepare for basic training. Jonathan also meets with his recruiter and other future Marines from surrounding counties to do IST (Initial Strength Test) Training.
Eric has laid out his future plans to join the Marines and hopes to be able to enlist at the end of this month or early June. He still has to pass his ASVAB test but has also begun his training to prepare for basic training. Eric has spent the last several months preparing his self to become a Marine.
Both boys will have to go through basic training camp before being able to serve fulltime in the Marines. Jonathan leaves for basic training on August 8. Eric hopes to leave for basic training in November at the latest. Basic training is a 13-week program that will test the boy’s physical and mental strength. They will be taught how to handle official military situations. They will also be trained to become stronger, faster and how to become better Marines.
While in basic training, they will have little contact with the outside world. They will be able to write letters, but phone calls will be few and far between. When asked what they will miss most, both boys said their friends and their family. Eric told this reporter, “I’ll definitely miss my family, my friends and my dog.”
When asked what made him decide to join the Marines, Jonathan stated, “I always wanted to be in the military. I want to help my country and travel the world. You never know what the next day will bring, but you know it is always going to be something new and exciting.”
Eric’s response to that question was, “I have always wanted to serve. I just want to be a part of something bigger than myself. I want to know that I served my country well and that I did it with pride and honor.”
At first, the boys planned to join the Air Force together on the buddy system. However, due to Jonathan’s eyesight he was unable to serve for the Air Force. So Jonathan and Eric then decided to join the Marines. The fact that Jonathan passed the ASVAB test before Eric also meant that he would qualify to join the Marines before Eric, so they were unable to join together.
“We are just two small town kids trying to make a difference by going into the service. We are just trying to make our friends, family and community proud,” said Eric.