Area youths enlist

March 25, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

Justin Hobday, 18, will graduate from Hancock Middle-Senior High School in June.

Chris Boden and Amanda Manspeaker, both 17, will graduate from North Hagerstown High School in June.

Eighteen-year-old Zachary "Zach" Reeder graduated in January from North High. He says he didn't want to go to school any more and didn't have to. He had enough credits, so he graduated early.

The four already have enlisted in the U.S. military: Justin in the Navy, Chris in the Army and Amanda in the Air Force.

Zach was scheduled to report Sunday for duty in the U.S. Marine Corps in Baltimore. He was slated to fly Monday to South Carolina for 13 weeks of training at Parris Island.


The four signed with the military's Delayed Entry Program, a plan under which high school students can enlist as early as two weeks after the end of their junior year and report as much as a year later, after they've completed their high school education, says Sgt. Matthew Oliver, an Army recruiter in Hagerstown.

They enlisted before the war in Iraq but not before the campaign to root out terrorists.

"I felt I needed to do something with my life," Justin says. "I want to serve my country."

He'll report for duty July 17 and travel to Ilinois for eight to nine weeks of boot camp. He'll have more training after that, but he's not sure where.

Because he worked summer jobs driving backhoes, he considered training in heavy equipment. That wasn't available, so he signed up for a construction and electrician program. He hopes to become a Seabee, a member of one of the Navy's construction battalions.

Justin's been told he could be posted to a naval base in several areas of the country, and he'll be spending time at sea during some of his tour of service.

He saw the ocean once, when he was a young child traveling to Maine with his family.

His original commitment to the Navy was four years, but because of the program he chose, he'll be in for five. His service will earn him money for college when he gets out.

United States involvement in conflict in the Middle East doesn't change Justin's view of his enlistment.

"I just want to help my country as much as I can," he says.

To help people

Amanda has a goal of becoming a physical therapist. She says she wants to help people and can earn a good living in that career. But she says her grades aren't as good as they could be, and she doesn't have money for college now.

She'll head to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for her basic training. She's been on North's varsity softball team for three years, played basketball and still plays tenor saxophone. She's slight in stature but says she's ready for the physical rigors.

Amanda's scared of heights and admits she'd also be scared of combat at first, but she figures she'd get used to it. She says the possibility of her being involved in the conflict in the Middle East is slim.

'You have to step up sometimes'

Chris laughs when reminded that he'll get a haircut when he reports Aug. 20 for Army boot camp at Fort Jackson, S.C.

He's signed up for training in light vehicle mechanics, wanting to learn a skill he can use outside the Army.

Although he's lifted weights, Chris plans to get in better shape before he goes to boot camp.

"It scares me a lot," he says. "I just want to be able to do it physically."

What about the prospect of combat?

"You're a soldier before anything in the Army," he says. "You have to step up sometimes."

Chris is aware of opportunities for college the army will provide. For a while he didn't know what he wanted to do after high school. He says he's happy with his choice and anxious to do something.

"I want to prove to myself that I can do it," he says.

Prestige, honor and pride

The U.S. Marine Corps always has represented something special to Zach Reeder. It's about prestige, honor, pride and belonging, he says.

His grandparents, Donald and Esther Mae "Jake" Sensenbaugh, are both Marine veterans of World War II. Zach grew up hearing his grandfather's stories of Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

He thought for a while about becoming a youth minister, but he says he's not about school right now.

A lineman on North High's varsity football team his junior and senior years, Reeder says he's in good shape. "I'll be in perfect shape," he says, anticipating basic training at Parris Island.

"It's gonna be the hardest thing I've ever done."

Zach has chosen to be trained for Force Reconnaissance, the Special Forces part of the Marines.

He says his grandfather was upset when he told him he's going now. Donald Sensenbaugh is worried about the world situation, Zach says.

Although her parents instilled in her honor, loyalty and patriotism and she taught the same values to her three sons, for Zach's mother, Sally Reeder, this is tangible. This is her son.

She says she is not happy with his decision to serve now. She thought he'd be going in August.

"It's just frightening," she says of the war with Iraq.

Zach was aware of the possibility of war when he enlisted in December. "I feel kind of relieved that it's finally started," he says.

He was expected to look presentable when he reported for duty. He planned to wear a pair of khakis, a nice shirt and brown shoes.

He's been instructed to take no more than $20 to $30. That's all he'll need. The Marine Corps will take care of everything else.

Zach Reeder is ready. He graduated early so he could begin a "whole new life."

"He wanted my father to see him as a Marine," his mother says.

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