Recruit bases decision to serve on defining moment
By Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane
| Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | October 17, 2012
San Diego --
The choices made in life could all be traced back to one defining moment. A moment that seems to happen in slow motion and can leave an impact so great it can influence someone to change their life’s goals.
For Pvt. JaMarkus Floyd, Platoon 1005, Company A, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, his moment happened when he was 14-years-old. When trying to help his mother, who suffers from a mental illness, he witnessed her being violently thrown to the ground by police officers. While trying to defend her, Floyd struck an officer and was also taken to the ground.
“I just laid there and watched my mom cry,” said Floyd. “I felt helpless. I kept thinking to myself, ‘What can I do? How can I help? I’m just a kid.’”
Floyd was released later that night to his uncle, a former Marine, who took him into his home. The day’s events still haunted him and a sleepless Floyd wandered around the house.
He looked at the many pictures displayed of his uncle during his military career and seeing his uncle’s accomplishments, Floyd knew that he had to do something with his life in order to take care of his mother.
Throughout his youth, Floyd went from wandering the streets of Dallas with his mother to living with his grandmother on and off for years. This caused him to miss more than a year of school.
And after a year of being homeless with his mother, she forced him to go live with his grandmother in Texarkana, Texas. Floyd reluctantly agreed and then dedicated himself to his school work in order for him to get caught up with his studies.
Throughout high school, Floyd’s mother still struggled with her illness. She was in and out of his life and decided she was going to leave the state. Floyd wanted to go with and give her the protection that she needed but soon realized that if he went with her, he’d run the risk of not graduating or being able to pursue a military career. He desperately wanted to take care of her.
Floyd made the heartbreaking decision to stay in Texas. Although he felt abandoned and alone, Floyd knew that it was time to start his life. In 2011, Floyd enlisted in the Marine Corps and joined the delayed entry program.
The constant reminder that his mother was somewhere alone made him eager to leave for recruit training. While waiting to graduate high school, Floyd began to take accelerated classes to help him graduate six months early. He eventually arrived at recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego June 23.
Once aboard the depot, Floyd began to feel homesick, constantly thinking about the condition of his mother. This robbed him of his desire to train.
“He had problems when he first got here,” explained Sgt. Pastor Aguirre, senior drill instructor, Plt. 1005. “He didn’t have any confidence and clearly didn’t want to be (here).”
The thought of quitting lingered in his mind. As he went on with training events, he did not put forth any effort and soon began to develop an attitude.
Floyd’s thoughts and feelings toward training changed after a talk with his senior drill instructor. Since Floyd lacked a father figure in his life, he respected his senior’s words and took them to heart.
“He explained to me that things happen for a reason,” said Floyd. “That we all go through this transformation and use our experiences to become a better person.”
Floyd looked back on his childhood and realized the only way to be successful was to move on. He turned himself around and began to give recruit training his all, said Aguirre, a 27-year-old Modesto, Calif., native.
“He became more confident and began to stand up for what was right,” explained Aguirre. “He applied himself and became successful.”
Floyd now proudly claims the title Marine. He will move on to Marine Combat Training aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., then to Motor Vehicle Operator Course aboard Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he will learn to be a motor transportation operator. He wants to make the Marine Corps a career and plans on supporting his mother.
Although he doesn’t know her whereabouts, his feelings for her never changed and continues to hold hope that he will be able to provide her with the care she needs.