Marine recruits frame Habitat house

John Hacker

In the near future, the 30 teenagers who spent Saturday at a Carthage construction project will leave this area to defend our nation.

On Saturday they were performing a community service and learning teamwork, a skill they will perfect as they become United States Marines.

A group of 30 Marine Corps recruits spent seven hours framing the walls and installing floor joists under the watchful eye of project manager Gary Kyger and four Marine Sergeant Majors.

'Everything you see above the concrete was finished today," Kyger said at about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. "There's a lot more to do too. I think we'll get the joists for the sub-floor installed before we're done today."

Kyger said this was the first time anyone has worked on the house since the basement was finished. He also said this was the first home with a basement Habitat has built in this region.

"That's because of the size of the family, Lori has five kids, teenage sized kids, not just little kids," Kyger said. "The layout of the lot had something to do with it too. We added a safe-room too. I didn't draw it into the original plans, but when we got into construction, it didn't cost that much more to give her a tornado shelter."

Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Jose Gonzalez, said the recruits working on this house came from across the area and were sponsored by the recruiting station in Joplin.

He said some of these recruits only recently signed up and are still seniors in high school, while others have graduated and are just waiting their turn to go to boot camp.

He said recruits are routinely formed into teams to work on community projects across the area. Gonzalez said the teams participate in different activities each month to help build teamwork in the recruits.

He said once a year the teams volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

"This teaches them that the Marines are about more than just war," Gonzalez said. "We do a lot of humanitarian work around the world, and someday, these recruits might find themselves doing this same kind of work somewhere like Thailand or somewhere else."

Andrew Ellis, Neosho, said he was scheduled to ship out to boot camp on Aug. 12, but for now he was enjoying his volunteer work.

"We're just giving back to the community a little bit," Ellis said. "I've done a little bit of construction work in the past and I took a couple of classes in it in high school. This is also preparation for boot camp. Teamwork is very important in the Marines, you've got to work as a team to get anything done."

Carthage Press