A group of young men had their graduation aboard the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton at the School of Infantry parade deck last week; however, last Friday night a ceremony was held at Sally Tomatoes to receive certificates and so proud parents and friends could attend. The color guards posted the flags and the pledge of allegiance was said.
Devil Pups is a non-profit organization which purposely helps boys and girls from all types of backgrounds to gain self-confidence and learn how to take on a new set of responsibilities. Many have notions that the program these young people do for 10 days is a Marine Corps recruiting organization. The youths generally are given an assignment before they are accepted. On their own they must go out and raise $100 which is the bus fee to get to Camp Pendleton. It is a program that demands physical and academic good citizenship for the young men and women. This program is more mental than physical and as each graduate told of their experience, it showed that the mental part was more demanding then the physical aspect of the program.
Before the pups can graduate on day 10, they must conquer the most challenging obstacle Camp Pendleton has to offer…Ole’ Smokey. It is the tallest peak on the 125,000-acre Marine Corps Base; the same peak that the new marines hike to the very top at the end of boot camp. In a surreal sunset ceremony on top of the mountain, they were officially christened as Devil Pups with a gift of a challenge coin being awarded with a firm handshake by their instructors.
Each graduate gave an account of their 10 days of, as one young man put it, “hell.” A few said that on the second day they were ready to give up and go home, but they were always reminded of perseverance and pushed through it. Some received nicknames which will probably stick with them for years to come. Some had a fear of heights and falling. One young man was so scared that he refused to jump, but the instructor called his mom and she told him and reminded him that when she went back to school, he had told her she had to stick it out. His mom even told the instructor that if he doesn’t jump he has her permission to push him off the 25- foot structure. He jumped on his own and now is so proud of what he accomplished.
One of the recruits said his proudest moment was when he received his challenge coin, something he will carry in his pocket the rest of his life. It made him a better person and not to be awkward but he will put his hardest work into whatever he does. Sonoma County should be proud of young people that show they have what it takes to become good citizens and also be proud of the gentleman, Clint St. Martin, who takes such an interest in these youngsters becoming young people who can be proud of themselves.