COLBERT, Okla. — When he shipped off to boot camp for the U.S. Marine Corps in October, Colbert, Okla., native Trevor Cole did not expect that, in addition to learning what it means to be a Marine, he would receive the surprise of a lifetime.
Cole graduated from Colbert High School in May of last year, and immediately enlisted in the USMC. He was inspired by his uncle, Chad Reese, a chief warrant officer who has been a Marine since December of 1994.
“I wanted to better my future, and I wanted to follow in my uncle’s footsteps,” Cole said of his decision to enlist.
Cole left for boot camp on Oct. 21, thus beginning a 13-week crash course in military life. During the final weeks of boot camp, recruits are sent through a grueling 54-hour test known as “the Crucible” in which they must apply their newly-learned skills. Recruits go through battle simulations, test their marksmanship and engage in teamwork activities. The end of the Crucible is marked by a steep march up a mountain called “the Reaper.”
After reaching the top of the Reaper, Cole’s fellow recruits were congratulated by the drill instructors and received their Eagle, Globe and Anchor insignia. Cole confusedly noticed that no one was congratulating him. Suddenly, a drill instructor pointed behind Cole and asked, “Do you know that Marine?”
Cole turned around and saw his uncle, Chief Warrant Officer Reese.
“I was excited, exhausted and surprised,” Cole said. He did not know whether to salute his uncle or give him a hug. Reese hugged Cole, congratulated him and welcomed him into the USMC. He presented Cole with his Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
At the time of Cole’s completion of the Crucible, Reese was stationed at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan, but was in California briefly because of a delayed flight. As it turned out, Reese had formerly worked with a master sergeant at the base, said Cole’s mother Sonya Cole. Reese came to Camp Pendleton and asked if he could see his nephew. Although it was virtually unheard of, the master sergeant granted Reese a 10-minute time slot to congratulate Cole at the end of the Crucible.
“It was orchestrated by God,” Sonya Cole said.
Cole graduated boot camp Jan. 14. On Feb. 4 he will return to Camp Pendleton for Marine Combat Training. Afterward, he will learn his role as a 1341 Engine Vehicle Mechanic. He plans on serving as a Marine until retirement, he said.