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military

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Cpl. Oscar Ramirez instructs Marines in riot shield techniques. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photos by Cpl. Isaac Cantrell)

Maricopa native Cpl. Oscar Ramirez is training U.S. Marines aboard an assault ship.

A military police officer with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Ramirez graduated from Maricopa High School in 2015. He instructed the Marines in riot shield techniques aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6).

The Marines learned to work and move together to create formations in order to break up large crowds in the event of riots. America, flagship of the America Expeditionary Strike Group, 31st MEU team, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Ramirez enlisted through Recruiting Station Chandler in 2016, and is now stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

(Official U.S. Marine Corps photos by Cpl. Isaac Cantrell)
(Official U.S. Marine Corps photos by Cpl. Isaac Cantrell)
(Official U.S. Marine Corps photos by Cpl. Isaac Cantrell)

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Pvt. Daniel Rojas (left) and Pvt. Oswaldo Sanchez visited home after boot camp. Photo by Kyle Norby

 

Maricopa has two new U.S. Marines back home after graduation and eager to serve their country. Stationed at the Marine Corps Recruitment Depot in San Diego, California, Pvt. Daniel Rojas and Pvt. Oswaldo Sanchez graduated from boot camp Friday and made the rounds in town to visit some of the people that made their career possible.

Graduating from Maricopa High School in 2018, Daniel Rojas, 19, stopped by to see some of his old teachers as well as kids in the JROTC program. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Rojas has done much of his growing up in Arizona, moving to the state when he was 6 years old.

“I decided I wanted to join the Marine Corps to help me basically better my future in becoming a DEA agent later on,” Rojas said. “I just want to serve my country and make sure that I keep this country safe for not only my family but everybody else.”

Oswaldo Sanchez, 22, is a native Arizonan who has lived in Maricopa since the early 2000s. Attending Casa Grande Union High School and not finishing, Sanchez had a different path before joining the Marines. Working as a truck driver, Sanchez enjoyed the money but did not feel like he had a fulfilling life.

Sanchez said he first felt interest in the Marines when a cousin enlisted around 2010. After seeing his transformation and how sharp he looked in his uniform, Sanchez knew that was what he wanted to do.

“I wanted the challenge and I didn’t like where I was at in life. I lived a comfortable life,” Sanchez said. “I started doing some research into the Marine Corps, you know, found out that’s the branch I wanted to enlist with. So, I went back to online high school and got my diploma.”

MHS Recruiting Sgt. Tylor Henson accompanied the men on their trip home and has seen their transformation.

“Some of the things that they went through in boot camp was a lot of leadership training, physical training and mental training to prepare them for what they’re going to go through later on in their Marine Corps careers,” Henson said. “When they get back, they usually stand a little bit taller and have a little bit more respect for everybody. Hold themselves to a higher standard like we see the Marines as.”

(left to right:) Pvt. Daniel Rojas, Sgt. Tylor Henson and Pvt. Oswaldo Sanchez. Photo by Kyle Norby

When asked what advice they would give to young people interested in the U.S. Armed Forces, both Marines agreed quitting isn’t an answer, and neither is underestimating yourself.

“Don’t quit. Never quit. Quitting is not an option,” Sanchez said. “Like, once you get there, you gotta make it out; you gotta make it through. It’s a one-way tunnel.”

Rojas agreed and stated, “Once you make it out, you just have that feeling of ‘I just accomplished something that most of the population can’t even do,’ and it just makes you feel like you have it. It’s that pride of the Marine Corps.”

Triplets Ian, Hayley and Andrew Mase, pictured with their parents Carrie and Larry, have all enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Photo by Kyle Norby

Carrie and Larry Mase will soon be empty-nesters as, one by one, their triplets depart for service in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Larry Mase said any news of troop deployments has suddenly become much more personal. While proud of her children, Carrie Mase confessed to some anxiety amid uncertainties overseas.

Andrew, Hayley and Ian Mase, 2019 graduates of Maricopa High School, all were involved in the Air Force Junior ROTC program. They also had an uncle who was a Marine and had a major influence in their individual decisions to join the military.

Andrew Mase just finished boot camp in San Diego, what he called “three months of voluntary prison.”

He said 90% of the reason he enlisted was his uncle, who prepared him ahead of time for what he would encounter and sent him encouragement.

“He would just say, ‘Push through it, push through it. It’ll be fine,’” he said.

Haley Mase, who goes to boot camp in February, said she’s in it for the challenge. She is aiming for aircrew.

“It has the hardest physical standards,” she said.

Ian Mase is preparing to head to boot camp in March. He said JROTC taught him to be “a leader, not a follower.”

Andrew said drilling was easy to do, and he was already well versed in military etiquette.

“They drilled a lot of good things into their heads,” Carrie Mase said.

The trio are part of the Marines’ delayed entry program, which gave them up to year after enlistment to report for training. That has allowed them to prepare mentally, physically and emotionally.

Carrie Mase said the various Marine parent support groups on social media “have helped so much.”

“The moderator will ask, ‘OK, what are your highs and lows today?” she said.

The triplets are Arizona natives. Originally from New York, Carrie and Larry Mase moved to Maricopa from Ahwatukee 12 years ago. Their oldest son Nik graduated from MHS in 2017.

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Senior Airman Marquice Brown of Maricopa is now part of the Air Force Honor Guard. Submitted photo

By Francis Trast
MHS AFJROTC Cadet

Senior Airman Marquice Brown is a Maricopa High School AFJROTC alumnus who is currently assigned to Bolling Air Force Base in Anacostia, Maryland, on the firing line of the U.S. Air Force’s Honor Guard. He visited with MHS cadets on a recent visit.

As part of his Air Force duties, he works all through the week. When not on assignment, he is going to the gym or attending drill practices. Brown said being in ROTC four years greatly helped him with his military bearing and precision in drill, which is why he was noticed in basic training and invited into the Honor Guard.

“The job is great, and once you get in you’re gonna [really] love it,” he said. “But you have to be ready to adapt to [your new role]. Take your job seriously, but at the same time, have fun.”

Brown had a few words of advice for anyone going into the military. Firstly, he said to go in with a purpose. If you don’t know why you’re in the military – any branch – then you shouldn’t be there, he said. He also emphasized the importance of being physically prepared; being in shape before you go into the military will make basic training much easier.

His third and final piece of wisdom was that basic training is what you make of it; for those with a positive attitude going in, the experience will be exciting and educational. Brown had been taking a dance class at MHS and therefore had been fairly physically active when he enlisted.

Brown related the contrast in reality from his expectations, starting by explaining what most people expect when they think of basic training — an idea of having your face in the dirt, being broken down, being solitary and alone, and an absolute authoritarian rule of existing within the unit with the sole purpose of doing what you’re told. Brown says all of these things are half-truths; it isn’t quite so authoritarian as people assume, and the instructors are there, more than anything, to help.

Brown also recounted some of his most memorable moments: marching in the Macy’s Parade; promotions and retirements performed in the Hall of Heroes; and the active duty for Prisoner of War (POW) funerals.

Maricopa has a new drill sergeant. Staff Sgt. Bryan Schmid graduated U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy in Fort Jackson, Hopkins, South Carolina, Wednesday. He is coming home to visit next week before being assigned to his new base. He had to leave for school the day after he and his wife Stefanie had a baby boy, Corbin. Bryan’s parents are David and Lisa Durst of The Villages.

Staff Sgt. Bryan Schmid with wife Stefanie and son Corbin. Submitted photo

Cadet Dylan Hill (left) and Corpsman Brianna Barnes visit with Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey (ret.) while back in Maricopa for the holidays. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

Maricopa High School graduates now in the U.S. military dropped in on their former Junior ROTC instructor while home for the holidays.

Brianna Barnes, a Navy corpsman, and Dylan Hill, a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduated from MHS in 2018 and participated in the school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program.

“It’s a lot of training,” Hill said of her experience at West Point, where she often sees MHS’s other cadet, John Blodgett, who graduated in 2017.

“A lot of the training the whole Army goes through with their basic training is the same for us,” Hill said. “The only difference is that during the school year we have military training on weekends. So, that can be anywhere from running 12 miles to going shooting and things like that. It’s pretty cold right now, so that complicates it a little bit.”

Barnes said there are high expectations of those aiming to be hospital corpsmen, a rank that has earned 23 Navy Medals of Honor. “The standards are really high, so we have to be on top of our game all the time,” she said.

Barnes said she chose the Navy because she wanted to work in the medical field, but medical school felt out of reach. As a hospital corpsman she will get training and experience. She is stationed in San Antonio, Texas.

“I have a month left to train, and then I’m off to Cuba,” Barnes said.

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Seaman Brianna Barnes with her proud mother Jennifer Alicoate. Submitted photo

Brianna Barnes, a 2018 graduate of Maricopa High School, graduated from U.S. Navy basic training.

She was a cadet in the MHS Air Force Junior ROTC program. She will be a U.S. Navy corpsman. She is training to be a hospital corpsman.

Navy hospital corpsmen provide medical treatment for Sailors and Marines. They may serve as an operating room technician, operate X-ray equipment, construct dental crowns and bridges, administer preventive care, provide emergency medical or dental treatment to Sailors and Marines in the field including working with Navy SEALS, perform clinical tests and more.

  

 

 

submitted photo

A patriotic display of vintage military vehicles will march through Maricopa while honoring veterans on Nov. 12.

The route for the third annual Veterans Day Military Motor March begins 9:30 a.m. at the Millar Airport in Thunderbird Farms, continues east on Farrell Road, turns north on State Route 347, and finishes for a meet-and-greet with veterans and their vehicles at the Bashas’ parking lot.

Families are encouraged to attend.

“It teaches kids some of the history, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Mike Kerr, motor march organizer and curator of Col. Charles Millar’s Vietnam Aviation Veterans of Arizona Museum.

Last year, Kerr said the march included 10 military vehicles, motorcyclists and “people who follow along with American flags on their cars.”

Military vehicles featured in this year’s event include a half-track, military helicopter, 1942 American staff car, military jeeps, a 1940s-era military fire truck, and other military vehicles of various kinds, Kerr said.

After the meet-and-greet concludes, usually 45 minutes after arrival, the convoy returns to Millar Airport along the same route.

“We go back to the airport and Millar fixes everybody lunch,” Kerr said of the motor march crew. “It’s a fun time for everybody.”


This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Tracy Davis of Blue Star Mothers - Maricopa.

The Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa will be busy Wednesday night packing boxes to send to sailors of the USS Fitzgerald in Japan.

The donated items will benefit the crew of the Navy destroyer that collided with a large, commercial ship in Japan over the weekend. Seven of those sailors died.

Donations can be dropped off at 6 p.m. inside the Maricopa Center of Entrepreneurship.

“We just want to do what we can do to tide that feeling of helplessness,” said Tracy Davis, president of Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa.

Davis said donations of non-perishable snack food items like jerky and granola bars are especially helpful to the grieving sailors who she said often work long days without much time to break for lunch.

The cause is close to Davis’ heart. Her son Blane Davis once served aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in Japan for three years.

“Every time I think about it I tear up because my own kid was there. He sailed those very same waters so there is a kinship. They’re not biologically my kids, but they are my kids,” Davis said.

Letters of support will also be accepted at the donation drive.

“They’re mourning too,” Davis said. “They think of their crewmates as sisters and brothers.”

Travel sized items that can be donated include:

Foot powder, eye contact solution, disposable razors
Lip balm, eye glass cleaner, deodorant (stick; no antiperspirant), Band-Aids
Body wash, (preferably 3-in-1)
Toothbrushes (individually packaged), toothpaste, mouthwash
Coffee (ground, vacuum-packed bags), chewing gum
Rice Krispies Treats, granola bars, Pop-Tarts
Crackers (Saltines), Graham Crackers, Jerky
Power bars, Energy bars, Trail Mix Soup, Ramen noodle dry packages
Pre-sweetened powdered drink packets (Gatorade, Kool-aide, etc.)
Hard candy (no chocolate)

Davis said cash donations are also welcomed. She said those funds will help the organization buy items listed above that they still may need after the donation drive concludes Wednesday night.