Story by Sgt. Caitlin Brink
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Green Local High School senior skipped prom and received her high school diploma almost two months early so she could leave Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and begin her journey toward the title of Marine at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, April 5.
For most seniors, surviving prom and walking across the stage at graduation are long anticipated moments. Yet for Bobbie J. Applegate, those events were of little merit when compared to beginning her career in the Marine Corps.
With a bright future ahead, Applegate had the world at her feet. Why choose to join the military rather than pursue college or a civilian career?
“I want to belong to something and be proud of it,” said Applegate. “All the Marines that look out for you and care for you… I want that in my life – a whole entire branch of the military to have my back, and I can have their back as well.”
Applegate has been part of the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program for almost a year, building her physical fitness level in preparation for the 13 weeks of rigorous recruit training.
“I’m ready to move onto bigger and better things,” said Applegate. “My high school isn’t offering that if I stay around. I’m just ready to get started with my life as soon as possible.”
Her dedication to joining the military institution has grown with each passing day.
“In the past four months, she has grown tremendously,” said Sgt. Cody M. Baird, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-station Huntington, West Virginia. “The biggest thing I see from her is initiative. She’s getting out there and running on her own which shows a huge leadership trait in getting things going.”
Applegate must pass various qualifications including water survival, Marine Corps marksmanship, martial arts, academics, uniform inspections, and physical and combat fitness tests to graduate recruit training. She will undergo leadership and core values training daily.
“It’ll do her good,” said Howard D. Applegate, Bobbie’s grandfather and Portsmouth, Ohio native. “She’ll grow up a lot. She is opinionated, she knows what she wants to do and she’s ready to do it. She walks about a foot higher ever since she decided to join.”
Joining the Marine Corps is a family affair that originated with Applegate’s grandfather and his four siblings. Her family instilled in her the need to give back and help those who cannot help themselves.
“I wanted to join so I can give back to people as much as possible,” said Applegate. “I don’t think there is a better way than to give back to the entire United States and everyone else that we help in the world.”
Enlisting was not as easy as walking into the recruiting station and signing the paperwork. Applegate had to lose eight pounds in order to meet the Marine Corps height and weight standards. She changed her diet and began running twice a day.
She also had to convince her principal to let her leave school two months early. Applegate held one of the highest grade point averages for her class and had the opportunity to represent them as class valedictorian. A meeting between her recruiter and principal set the ball rolling.
“I didn’t want to see her passion or desire to be snuffed out,” said J.D. Emnett, Green Local High School principal and native of Wheelersburg, Ohio. “She has always been a top notch student, athlete and, person. I felt there was more we could do to help her get to where she wanted to be and achieve her goals. She is a special person. In 14 years of doing this type of work this is one of the greatest things I’ve been a part of.”
Emnett and Applegate met weekly to ensure she was staying on track, often speaking about leadership, life and pursuing her passions.
“He’s very supportive of me,” said Applegate. “He said he always wanted to serve but never did, so he’s doing everything he can to help me accomplish my dreams, and he’s the one that pushed me through my senior year.”
Applegate’s drive to begin her life in the Corps is obvious to those who come into contact with her.
“I knew this was all she wanted,” said Baird, 26, from Thurmont, Md. “I’m proud of her. I know we’re all proud of her and ready for her to get going and start training. I wish her luck. I’m going to miss having a poolee like her. She’s a very strong individual.”
Applegate began recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., April 6 and is scheduled to graduate July 2, 2015, with Platoon 4022, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion.