Making a Marine: Graduation day -

Making a Marine: Graduation day

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It's graduation day at Marine Corps recruiting depot San Diego.  (Credit: KMOV) It's graduation day at Marine Corps recruiting depot San Diego. (Credit: KMOV)

Our series has taken you inside Marine Corps boot camp, from St. Louis educators trying their hand at the drills to the people who help shape future Marines.

Today, Venton Blandin takes a look into the best day of boot camp.

SAN DIEGO ( -- It's graduation day at Marine Corps recruiting depot San Diego.

Twelve weeks prior, recruiters like Staff Sergeant Reid Trenhile asked young men from the St. Louis area to raise their right hand and defend their country.

"The biggest part about being a recruiter is getting the information into a young person's hands or in a family's hands, " Trenhile said. "Just kind of paint the pictures and how it can better their life."

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Another recruiter, SSGT Jose Gonzalez, keeps in mind the Marines don't want anyone who isn't willing.

"I look for the youngest and brightest out there. I look for the few. That is what we look for," he said.  

Marine recruits must leave comfort zones, take on challenges and want to improve themselves.

"A lot of them feel, mentally, they don't have it,” Gonzalez said.

Whether it’s on day one when racing toward the yellow footprints, the rifle range or further along, the mind is tested.

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Private First Class Matthew Baker made it through.

"It's a feeling I have been waiting for for a long time,” Baker said. “I am proud to claim the title.”

Baker is from St. Louis and found brotherhood becoming part of the Corps.

"The leadership we have seen has helped me become who I am right now."

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Right now, he’s one of the few. His family can count themselves among the proud.

“He's just so grown up. He's no longer the little boy. He's calm," said Baker’s mother Tracy Biere. “It's great. It's been a long time. So, I was really excited. He has an inner peace that wasn't there, so it's nice.”

Baker’s grandfather John can't help smiling as he thinks back to a time when Baker thought about joining the Army like the men in his family before him.

“This is his life. This is his goal. He's been wanting to do this,” John said. “His annual in high school talked about him wanting to be a Marine. He achieved the goal and is on his way."

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