FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. — Approximately 30 young men and women packed into the Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell Ceremony Room to take their oath of enlistment at the Military Entrance Processing Station at Fort George G. Meade, Md., Dec. 2.
They had just been deemed qualified for military service after passing a battery of tests which determine an applicant’s physical qualifications, mental aptitude and moral standards.
Standing among the many qualified individuals in the room was Jorge Estevez.
He stood there with his chest out and a look of resolve on his face as he and 30 other people proudly recited the oath of enlistment. This oath signifies a commitment to service and marks the beginning of a transformation to become a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine. For Estevez, a 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, the transformation to becoming a Marine began almost three years ago.
It was during winter of 2010 that Estevez says he “heard the call” to be a Marine.
“I just woke up one day and decided I wanted to be the best,” said Estevez.
There was just one problem though — Estevez weighed 320 pounds.
“I used to be this fat kid who sat around and played video games,” said Estevez, whose family currently resides in Cambridge, Md. “I knew I was going to get rejected by the Marines with the shape I was in.”
Estevez was right. The Marine Corps’ strict height and weight standards would not allow someone his size to join. He was 140 pounds over the maximum weight allowed for someone his height of 5 feet 8 inches.
Estevez had been obese most of his life, and he tried several times to lose weight ever since he was 10 years old. Unfortunately, lack of direction led to little success. After deciding that he wanted to be a Marine, he had the motivation he needed.
He rose every morning at 5 a.m., ran five miles and worked out at his local gym. He radically cut back on his food intake and ate less junk food.
At first, it was difficult for Estevez to maintain this routine. He was working against years of inactivity and unhealthy habits.
“There were nights where I would not be able to sleep because I was so hungry,” said Estevez.
Estevez persevered and lost 140 pounds, the amount he needed to lose in order to join the Marine Corps. Staff Sgt. Richard Perreault, Estevez’s recruiter, says he has never encountered an applicant like Estevez before.
“The guy was definitely dedicated to losing the weight,” said Perreault, a native of Bangor, Maine. “I have put a lot of people into the Marine Corps, but when I put this guy in I knew I was giving the Marine Corps something special. You do not find many people who have to overcome the obstacles he overcame; let alone have the motivation to overcome them.”
Once he had shed the weight, Estevez was able to join the Marine Corps and was placed in Recruiting Station Baltimore’s delayed entry program. He began attending RS Baltimore’s physical training sessions and eventually started running the sessions himself.
“He was definitely a good asset to have when he was a poolee,” said Perreault. “He didn’t just care about himself — he cared about helping others.”
Until recently, Estevez had been working technical support for the city of Easton. He had been around computers his entire life and could have easily qualified for a job in the Marine Corps’ communications and data field. Instead he chose infantry, arguably one of the most physically rigorous jobs in the Marine Corps.
“Ever since I started working out, there has been a fundamental change within me,” said Estevez. “I want to be more active; I want to stay away from computers.”
Later that day, following the oath of enlistment ceremony, Estevez boarded a bus to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., where he will endure 13 weeks of the most physically and mentally challenging basic training the U.S. armed services has to offer.