For two recent Barbers Hill graduates, a new career is about to begin, as both have completed Marine Corps Boot Camp and are getting ready for the next steps in training.
For Seth Kangas, a 2019 BHHS graduate, a career in the military was a longtime goal. Blake Green, Class of 2018, took a little longer to find out where his path led.
Both came by The Baytown Sun with recruiter Christopher Baez to talk about their own paths to — and through — the training ordeal that creates U.S. Marines.
Green started out on a path familiar to area students, started with a job as a server in a restaurant then on to a much better paying job in one of the plants.
That life, though, felt empty. “The Marine Corps is where I found my purpose.
“I’ve always been a physical and athletic type person,” he said. “People telling me that I can’t do something makes me want to do it 10 times more, so I figured out why not join the hardest and the best.”
Green is an infantryman, he said, but does not yet know what kind of weapon he will specialize in.
Kangas took a more direct path.
He said he wanted a military career since about seventh grade but didn’t settle on which branch he preferred until his freshman year of high school. That first decision, though, was Navy, not Marines.
When his first encounters with the Navy were not what he looked for, he kept looking. At a recruiting event, “They walked in and they were very professional.”
Kangas started going to PT. “Since everybody has the same desire to be a United States Marine, everybody works together so you have a good time whether or not you know these people.”
He shipped out two weeks after graduation, but a training injury took him out of regular training for a couple of months. The injury didn’t send him home, but rather to a special training path that included physical therapy until he was healed and able to rejoin regular training.
He will be in supply administration.
Green said what surprised him was the way Boot Camp completely changes the entire person. “You don’t even get to say ‘I,’ ‘you’ or ‘me’ for the first two-and-a-half months. You’re not even really a person, you’re a recruit.
“They completely break you down to nothing and build you back up into a motivated fighting machine.
“It changes you. In a good way.”
While no movie about the Marines is complete without a screaming, heartless drill sergeant, Kangas said that they were his biggest surprise.
“They’re basically like teachers just a lot more intense,” he said.
When the drill sergeant made you repeat and unpleasant task, Kangas said, “they know that it was hard for you, so they’re telling you to do it again so that it makes it easier the next time you have to do it.”
“It’s not to torture you — it’s to make you better at that certain thing that you struggle with.”
Green said the drill instructors were also different from what he expected.
“They’re not just machines. They genuinely got this job because they want to make the next generation of Marines.
“They’ll discipline you when you’re wrong, but they’ll also tech you how to be right.”
Green said he would encourage upcoming high school graduates to consider the military and the Marines.
“You’re going to make yourself a better person for the civilian side if you decide you’re not going to make a lifestyle of it. Those four years are going to make you 10 times of a better person and worker for the civilian world in the long run.”
Kangas acknowledged that he considered backing out but is glad he didn’t.
“For anybody who really wants to do it and doesn’t know if they can…that’s what they do.” If you pass the requirements to get in, “The rest of Boot Camp is training you to become what you signed up to be — what you aspire to be.
“Five words is all you need to get through something: It is what it is.
“There’s always going to be things in life that you just don’t like, but it’s going to happen anyway,” he said.
Green added, “If there’s any chance that you’re going to look back one day and regret not doing it, do it.”