Ceremony takes place before run

9 Nov 2000 | Cpl. Valerie A. Martinez

In the Corps' efforts to promote 'Stay Marine,' 80 Marines from 2d Marine Division here re-enlisted today on the 8th Marine Regiment physical training field.

The ceremony was part of the division's on-going commitment to increase retention. In the past five weeks, more than 380 division Marines have re-enlisted.

After swearing in to serve the Corps' for an additional tour, the re-enlistees fell-in with the rest of the division for a three-mile motivational run. Maj. Gen. Robert Blackman, the division commanding general, led the Marines to Julian C. Smith Hall where he spoke to them in a brief ceremony.

"There was a lot of motivation to be running behind the commanding general," said Cpl. Paul Wood, a Marine with 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. "I feel honored that I was chosen to be a part of this."

"It was a unique experience to be a part of this re-enlistment," said Cpl. Brandon Blankenship, a Marine with Headquarters Battery, 10th Marines. "It feels great to know we are the ones keeping the traditions alive."

After addressing the crowd of families and friends, Maj. Gen. Blackman took time to shake the hand of each Marine.

"I feel it's a privilege and an honor to be recognized by the commanding general of the division and to have my family here to see this momentous occasion," said Cpl. Lindsey Willis III, a radio operator with 10th Marines.

Willis' parents traveled more than 500 miles from their hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., to watch their son re-enlist.

"We would not have missed this for the world," said his mother Emma.  "I love him and that's why we're here."

Willis' father, Lindsey Willis Jr., said he is proud of his son and the decision he made to stay in the Corps.

"He has an inside toughness that I never knew about," said Willis Jr. "It makes me very proud of him."

The young Willis remarked this was one of the most memorable experiences of his life - one he will never forget.

"It meant a lot to the Marines in the division that the commanding general took the time to recognize and honor them," said Master Sgt. James Miller, the division career planner.  "He is setting the standard for the Marine Corps."