The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
What makes an 18 year old teenager chose the military after high school graduation.
For one graduate, Aaron Landers of Biggsville, the United States Marines will give him adventure and travel, and a chance to get out of Henderson County.
"There are no jobs around here," Aaron said as he celebrated his graduation at the Gladstone community building last week.
"I will be able to buy at discount on base and I will receive 30 days paid vacation. Then in 20 years, I will be able to retire with full benefits while I work another job," he said.
Aaron has always been interested in joining the Marines, he said, and he has friends who has enlisted. "Nick Johnson, a 2005 Union graduate of Biggsville," for example.
"I also received a promotion in rank right off," Aaron said, "for being an Eagle Scout."
Landers enlisted in the United States Marines last summer in the "Delayed Entry" program.
He has been meeting monthly with his recruiter learning what he needs to know for boot camp. For instance, the Marine Corps birthday."
In testing Aaron, he replied, "November 10, 1775.”
He has also been learning military time, and "facing movements" to get some heads-up on what is in store for him at Camp Pendleton, in San Diego, California.
Aaron is to leave June 4th for the Marines.
His recruiter will pick him up and take him to Des Moines, Iowa for M.E.P.S. and after a night in the hotel the, he will fly out for his basic training.
Aaron, an athlete and an aggressive basketball player at West Central, says he is ready to meet the challenges in the military, figuring he will go to Iraq. But he sees the military more as an opportunity for travel, adventure, job security and college money.
Aaron spoke highly of his scout master Ray Shafer of Biggsville, who led him to be an Eagle Scout. From him, he learned responsibility in scouting.
"He (Shafer) was one of the biggest influences in my life. He was in WWII and landed on Omaha Beach, fighting during the Battle of the Bulge/D Day. ....Did you see Private Ryan?" Aaron asked.
"Iraq isn't that bad," Aaron said. "It isn't like other wars."
Aaron plans on being in the infantry. Jumping out of a plane doesn't seem to be a problem, and he has experience in hunting and shooting, though he hasn't been practicing of late.
"The Marines will teach me their way of doing things," he said.
"Right now, I am tired of going to school. Some of the things I learned I liked, like upper math classes, but others I have no use for."
"College is so expensive," he said, "but courses I take there will be paid for."
Aaron said after he serves 4 years of college he is given $30,000 with the GI Bill for college. They take $100 out of your pay every month for it, he said.
After 13 weeks of boot camp, Aaron will return home on a 10 day break. He has been lifting weights 4 or 5 times a week and started running again this week.
Besides his parents Debbie and Shawn, Aaron has two sisters at home who will miss him. They are Emilee, age 6, and Jadee age 13. Emilee is a West Central 8th grade graduate.
The above photo was taken by Dessa Rodeffer after West Central's high school graduation with his family. Landers leaves for the Marines in Camp Pendleton in California on June 4th.