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County residents hold send off for Marine recruit

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Mar. 19—The Marine Corps echoes through the room of the Elks Club on a Friday afternoon like light reflecting off a fractured glass. The flag behind the podium. Hoodies, T-shirts, bearing the Eagle, Globe and Anchor of the service branch. EGA pins on the soft covers, the logos old and new on ball caps, the ribbon racks on suit jackets with the campaign and merit ribbons — Vietnam, good conduct, Navy-Marine Corps achievement, sea service, national defense, more.

It is an organization that holds its members in its thrall in large and small ways for their entire lives. Here, now, many of those who served gathered to honor one who goes to serve, as attendees give a round of standing applause for 19-year-old Dominik Jerome, who’s about to ship out.

“It’s kind of more I’m ready to go, ready to get this over with,” said Jerome, who ships to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego this week.

Joining the infantry, the heart and soul of the Corps, Jerome said he hopes to go down the scout sniper track during his time in, a famously rigorous and difficult specialty track.

“I want to be a sniper,” Jerome said. “I thought it was always interesting.”

His adoptive father, Richard Smith, said he encouraged Jerome to look into the military as he looked toward the future.

“I’m proud of him. I’m scared for him. It’s something he’s going to excel at,” Smith said. “Since he really didn’t have a direction he was going, I suggested the military.”

Jerome said he looked into the branches, going straight to the Marine Corps for the challenge.

“He’s a special kid,” said Sgt. Antonio DeLeon, Jerome’s recruiter. “The heart and determination he has, he’s just a beast.”

While Smith served as a Navy corpsman, Jerome said he’ll be the first in his family to join the Marines. Smith voiced his pride in Jerome as he charts his course forward.

“He did this all on his own,” Smith said. “I’m very proud of him. He’s got a lot of support.”

Jim Daly, Marine veteran and prolific veteran’s advocate, spoke to the assembled dozens about his experience in the Marine Corps, highlighting the opportunities the Marine Corps offers, from schools to duty stations, and passed on wisdom for Jerome and others headed to basic training.

“I’m very proud of you kid. It’s going to make you grow up. You’re going to be a whole different person when you come back,” Smith said. “See you in June.”

Contact Senior Reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@thedailyworld.com.

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