Oregon native pushes through tragedy, becomes Marine
By Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane
| Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | April 25, 2013
SAN DIEGO --
Young men and women from different walks of life go to recruit training with one common goal–to become a U.S. Marine. During their 12-week journey, recruits are expected to focus all their physical and mental strength on training to earn their Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
That was the case for Pvt. Jeremy Starner, Platoon 2103, Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, until he learned that his mother had one week to live while he was in training.
The 19-year-old Grant Pass, Ore., native, always believed that the best way for him to be successful in life was to serve his country. He chose the Marine Corps over other branches of service because he felt the training was above standard and he admired Marines’ physical strength and endurance.
Starner left home and shipped to recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Jan. 22.
“Everything was fine when I left; my mother was perfectly healthy,” said Starner. “I came to training with no worries but to make it through and become a Marine.”
Starner originally started recruit training with Plt.1022, Co. B, 1st RTBn. He was on his second phase of training at Edson Range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., when he was taken to the chaplain’s office March 1.
“I didn’t know what was happening; I thought I was being dropped from training for no reason,” explained Starner. “I was then told that there was a family emergency and the worse went through my mind.”
A number of scenarios played out in his mind, from car crashes to freak accidents, but even those ghastly images couldn’t prepare him for what he was about to hear.
“I was told that my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that was spreading quickly; doctors only gave her one week to live,” said Starner. “I was in shock and disbelief.”
The following morning, he was on a plane to Oregon. The confused, heartbroken Starner received 10 days of emergency leave, spending every moment he could with his mother at the hospital.
“My mom didn’t even want me to come home, she wanted me to focus on training and becoming a Marine,” said Starner. “She told me how proud she was that I was starting my life; she told me to keep doing what I was doing.”
On March 6, Starner’s 49-year-old mother passed away. Once his 10 days expired, Starner was on a plane back to the depot. Although Starner was grateful he was able to see his mother before she passed, he was discouraged by the fact that he wasn’t going to complete training with his original platoon.
“It was really hard at first, but I knew my mom wanted me to move on from this,” explained Starner.
Starner picked up training where he left off, during grass week aboard MCB Camp Pendleton, Calif., with Plt. 2103, Co.E, 2nd RTBn. Despite the adversity he faced, Starner continued with his training, keeping his mother’s encouraging words in the back of his mind.
“We knew about his mother’s death and I made sure to tell him that if he needed to talk about it, that I was here,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Mast, senior drill instructor, Plt. 2103, Co. E, 2nd RTBn. “He never let it affect his performance in any shape or form; he knew what he wanted.”
The transition of training with his new platoon wasn’t as difficult as he thought it was going to be. Starner’s drill instructors still treated him like a recruit, pushing him to his limits, but allowed him time to grieve.
“Coming back to training really helped with keeping my mind off of (my mother’s death),” said Staner. “I knew I had the option to speak with my senior (drill instructor) if I wanted, which was comforting.”
Starner pushed through training and now holds the title Marine. His courage and commitment to finish training, despite his loss, made him stand out to his superiors.
“Even with the adversity that he has gone through, he still completed tasks with little to no supervision making him an above average performer,” said Mast. “He wanted the title and wanted to make his family proud.”
315 days ago
Thank you for sharing Pvt. Jeremy Starner's story. I'd like to congratulate him on becoming a Marine and to wish him all the very best in life.
315 days ago
Wonderful story of courage and commitment on the part of Pvt. Starner and his mother. As the mother of a Marine, I understand her pride in her son. May she rest in peace.