Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton -- “I used to be an angry little boy,” said Private First Class Justin P. Rainey. “I gained confidence and learned a new way of dealing with problems. I learned to step up and be mature.”
The Jacksonville, Fla., native left his comfort zone at home to flourish as the guide for his platoon during recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
Rainey spent most of his early childhood traveling. His mother served in the Air Force, which prevented him from having a consistent place to call home with friends and family. In addition to his mother’s military service, which included multiple deployments, his parents were separated making it hard for him and his siblings to have both parents constantly in their lives.
Moving around every couple of years made it difficult for him and his two brothers during their elementary and middle school years. Speech impediments, exacerbated by a changing environment, made him even more self-conscious.
“It was hard to make friends,” said Rainey. “We were bullied a lot.”
The constant bombardment of ridicule made Rainey angry and only made it more difficult to break out of his social anxiety.
Shortly before starting high school, his mother retired from the military and the family moved to Coventry, Wash. This is the first time the new Marine was able to stay in one school for all four years.
During his freshman year, Rainey made new adjustments to better himself and gain more confidence.
“Once I got into high school things changed,” said Rainey. “I got involved with the JROTC program at my school, and that’s where I first gained real friends and confidence.”
Finding a group of people his age that accepted him the way he was made Rainey feel more welcome than he had been any other time in his life.
He soon found work helping local cub scouts and the Boy Scouts of America. He got to help kids and made more friends in the process.
During his senior year, Rainey hadn’t decided what he wanted to pursue after high school. He always wanted to join the military, but was unsure of himself.
Finally, at the last minute, Rainey met with a local recruiter and signed up to go to the Military Entrance Processing Station just three weeks before graduating from high school.
He decided to enlist in the Marine Corps so he could travel, become independent and make his family proud.
Rainey arrived at the depot on September 19, 2016, and picked up training with Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion.
One of the more difficult times of recruit training for Rainey was receiving week.
“I was just sitting there and thinking to myself ‘I can’t believe I’m going to be here for 13 weeks and not talk to or see my family for weeks,’.”
Rainey served as his platoon’s guide, its leader, since the second week of training. When he got to recruit training, his ambition was to be the best recruit in his training cycle.
“At the end of the day you’re in charge of the recruits in your platoon,” said Rainey. “If you make it to the end you get to show everyone you’re the best recruit in your platoon.”
He excelled physically with perfect scores on both the Combat Fitness Test and Physical Fitness Test. Rainey also performed well on the rifle range earning an expert qualification.
Rainey’s newly found courage helped him form new bonds while aboard the depot.
“Bootcamp brought a lot of us together,” said Rainey. “At the end of the day we are all there for each other and if someone needs something, we step up.”
A key motivational factor for Rainey was his family. Many of them have served in the military, and he wanted to honor them.
“I think it’s important to take pride in what I do, said Rainey. “I want to say I surpassed others with the pride in my work and my name.”
For Rainey, recruit training was something not to be taken lightly.
“It’s a challenge I think not a lot of people can do,” said Rainey. “It takes a great deal of confidence, and physical and mental endurance to get through it. I know when I get out of here I’ll put my best foot forward no matter if the task is big or small.”
Following recruit training, Rainey will report to the School of Infantry at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and then the Infantry Training Battalion to become an infantryman.