U.S. Marine Sgt. Keauntae January stands in front of the Marine Corps' emblem, the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, in the Marble Falls recruiting office, 2511 U.S. 281 North, Suite 1000. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman
As a high school senior, Keauntae January took the pull-up bar challenge from a U.S. Marine recruiter. After graduation, he was lying in his bedroom with nothing to do when that recruiter gave him a call.
“I had an interest in the military already,” January said. “He asked me if I wanted to meet today, and I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Do you have a car?’ and I said, ‘No.’ They came and picked me up.”
A few months later, he was in boot camp. The Marines trained January to be a diesel mechanic, a profession he loves as much as he does being a Marine. With eight years under his white, nylon dress belt, he plans to take it all the way to 20 full years.
“I believe in the Marine Corps,” he said. “I believe in this whole system. I love it. The young recruits, they see that I love what I do.”
Which certainly helps when it comes to recruiting young people to follow in his bootsteps.
The U.S. Marine recruiting office is located at 2511 U.S. 281 North, Suite 1000, next door to Great Clips and just a few doors down from the U.S. Army recruiting office.
Here’s what Sgt. January had to say about his three-year special recruiting assignment in the Highland Lakes.
SGT. KEAUNTAE JANUARY
WE RECRUIT A LOT of different ways. I like to go out on the town to H-E-B, Walmart, festivals, and talk to people. I look for eligible recruits, ages 17-27, men and women, and ask them if they know anyone who might want to be a Marine. I ask parents, too. I usually go in uniform or wear a Marine Corps polo shirt. I get rejections, but in a nice way, not disrespectful. I give them my card and tell them to call me if their plans for the future change.
THE FOUR WAYS TO GET RECRUITS ARE AC (area canvassing), TC (telephone calls), DC (digital communication), and OT (office traffic — someone just walks in the door). For each recruiter, it’s different what works best. I like going out in the public. Some like to sit at a desk and make phone calls. I went to the Bluebonnet Festival, the Marble Falls Rodeo, the Llano Crawfish Open. I plan on going to a lot of football games this year. We also set up at the high schools with our pull-up bars and challenge people to see how many pull-ups they can do.
EVERY THREE MONTHS, we analyze our numbers. We try for two recruits a month, but we usually get more. They are part of DEP, the Delayed Entry Program. We don’t contact somebody and say, ‘Hey, you leave in two months, so come back ready to go.’ We work with them; we keep track of their grades, make sure they are on track to graduate. We keep in contact with their parents; make sure (the recruits) come work out with us twice a week. We prepare them mentally and physically so they are ready for boot camp, so they can be successful and not struggle out there.
WHAT I LIKE BEST ABOUT THIS JOB is seeing progress. When I got here last October, there was a guy who was really out of shape — weighed 240 pounds — but he wanted to be a Marine. He started coming to workouts with us. He couldn’t do a single pull-up. After a few months, he did one. By the time he went to bootcamp, he could do five and he weighed 210 pounds. He got hurt in bootcamp, and they wanted to send him home, but he refused to quit. He went to Wounded Warriors camp, and he ended up becoming a squad leader in a platoon, was promoted from private to PFC (private first class), and now he’s doing 26 pull-ups and weighs 180 pounds. Stuff like that is what I like to see. People getting better and knowing I had an impact on them to be a better person.
MY ADVICE TO ALL RECRUITERS is that a lot of kids don’t know anything about the military. They just see the movies, and they think it’s all just shooting guns. They don’t know we offer 300 jobs or that they can can go to college and get paid for it while they are in the military. Tell them about all the opportunities.
AND FOR THOSE BEING RECRUITED, if you don’t like what you hear, you don’t have to do it. Talking to a recruiter does not mean you have to sign up. Keep your options open, keep your doors open. Don’t just settle for college and racking up a ton of debt. Learn some skills. When I joined, I couldn’t change a lightbulb on a car. Now, I’m a diesel mechanic.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN JOINING, google Georgetown Marines, that’s our substation, and fill out the form. We’ll give you a call.