By Joseph Hamrick
ROYSE CITY —
With the news cameras recording and friends and family looking on, Steven West and three of his close friends — Zach Romo, Shawn Bentley and Jeremy Harris — enlisted in the United States Marine Corps almost eight years ago in Royse City.
West said the group of friends had always talked about enlisting growing up, and when the first decided he was going to join in July of 2005, the rest soon followed.
“We all had an intuition to go at the same time,” West said.
On Nov. 10, 1775, the Continental Congress established the Continental Marines, making the Marine Corps one of the oldest military branches in American history.
As well as one of the oldest branches, with just over 200,000 active members, the USMC is the smallest, most elite branch of the military.
It is for that reason the friends chose to join the Marines.
“[We joined the marines] because we wanted to be a part of the best that there is,” he said.
West’s grandmother, Fay West, said she vividly remembers the day when they all enlisted.
“The TV crew came out and their recruiting sergeant was there,” Fay said, adding that she was unable to watch him graduate from boot camp because of an emergency surgery.
After that day, West has continued to serve in the USMC to this day, and was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant.
“I’ve enjoyed all of my time in the Marines,” he said.
As a kid growing up in Hunt County, West said one of his dreams was to become a pilot. With the Marines help, that dream will soon become a reality.
“I wanted to be a pilot since I was a kid,” he said. “Now I’m making my dream come true.”
West will soon leave for flight school in Pensecola, Fla.
The Marine Corps motto is “Semper Fidelis,” which is Latin for “Always Faithful.” West and his friends took that motto to heart and are still in contact with each other to this day.
“We do keep in contact with each other all the time,” he said. “We get together and talk about the old days and talk about what we’re going to do in the future.”
When friends enlist and serve together, a lifelong friendship is bonded where the fellow service members often refer to themselves as “Brothers in Arms.” In accordance with that, the families of the service members bond together themselves, making life-long friendships as well.
Fay said she still keeps in friendship with many of the families of her grandson’s friends, speaking with them on a regular basis.
“The Romos live down the street from us and the Bentleys still live in Caddo Mills,” she said.
One of the ways the friends keep in touch is by taking vacations together.
Currently, the friends are about to go on a planned trip to float the Guadalupe River in the coming weeks.