Jamesport resident Private First Class (PFC) Kevin H. Thomas completed Marine Corps boot camp on May 8 as an “Honor Graduate,” the top grad in his entire company of more than 300 recruits.
PFC Thomas, who graduated Riverhead’s McGann-Mercy High School in 2013, was an exemplary recruit throughout his 13 weeks of rigorous training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, according to his Riverhead-based USMC recruiter, Sergeant Pablo Abad. “He was Guide from day one until day 90,” Sgt. Abad says, explaining that it’s very rare for a recruit to consistently maintain the Guide position—leading the platoon and carrying its guideon, aka flag—let alone hold it for the duration of boot camp.
“He’s a true leader,” Sgt. Abad says, pointing out that PFC Thomas has always displayed the right character and demeanor for success in the Marine Corps. And it is these qualities, not just physical prowess, that led his senior drill instructors to select him as the Honor Graduate of Platoon 2037, Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion on Parris Island.
During his training in what Sgt. Abad calls “the toughest boot camp this country has to offer,” PFC Thomas underwent weeks of strenuous physical training, while learning martial arts, swimming skills, Marine Corps history, along with its values of “honor, courage and commitment,” first aid, defensive driving, weapons handling, marksmanship and even the dreaded gas chamber training, where recruits must experience the effects of tear gas.
Following the difficult “90-day adventure” and his graduation ceremony, PFC Thomas is enjoying 10 days of leave with his family in Jamesport. He will then begin the hard road to becoming a Reconnaissance Marine, part of USMC Force Recon, a special operations division of the Corps reserved for only the most elite and capable soldiers in their branch. “He is the only one I actually submitted for Reconnaissance,” Sgt. Abad says, revealing his belief in PFC Thomas’s abilities. “They are highly trained individuals…the guys on the posters.”
On his road to Force Recon, while most of his class remains on the East Coast, Thomas must first travel to the Marines’ School of Infantry West for combat training at Camp Pendleton, California. From there, he will continue training for the “amphibious reconnaissance environment” at Coronado, California.
Once he becomes a Recon Marine, PFC Thomas will be part of one of the world’s most elite fighting forces and carry out special missions around the globe. Marines are typically considered the tip of Americas spear, the United States’ first responders, and Recon Marines are the best of this already great brotherhood. Throughout what could be a very long career, PFC Thomas will never stop training, learning increasingly specialized skills as he progresses.
“This young man is someone for others to emulate,” Sgt. Abad writes of his recruit. “I’m very proud of his accomplishments and proud that there are still young man and women in our community who defend our country.”