Marine Recruit Rejoins Company Six Years Later

MCRD San Diego -- After high school, everyone makes a choice on what to do next, for Pfc. Ben Pack, Platoon 3221, Company K, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, college was a no brainer and began taking classes at University of Oregon.

Although happy with his choice, Pack couldn’t help but feel like he wanted something more, knowing his best friend Sgt. Gabe Spires went into the Marine Corps. In 2006, he decided to enlist as a reservist and go to recruit training between his junior and senior year of college.

Pack began training with Company K but after sustaining a stress fracture in his right leg just before Phase II, Pack was sent home unable to complete the training.

“When I got out the first time there was an initial shock. I couldn’t believe I was getting dropped,” said Pack.

A few days later Pack was sent home and returned to school where he completed his undergraduate degree in business with an emphasis in communication and a minor in economics. He also decided to complete his master’s degree in teaching.

He then went on to teach at an alternative school for 18 to 21 year olds for two years before starting at Daimler in the electrical engineering department. Although he looked forward to continuing his civilian career, he couldn’t help the feeling of wanting something more.

“It’s interesting that he didn’t make it but chose to come back,” said Sgt. Enrique Mendoza, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3221. “He felt like he needed to finish what he started.”

Pack decided he wanted to give recruit training another shot so shipped off again, in-between work projects with Daimler. When he found out he was going to pick up with Co. G, he asked his recruiters if he could delay a week to rejoin his old company.

“The age difference was tough but it gave me an opportunity to take a leadership role,” said Pack, 27, a Portland, Ore. Native. “It felt good to come back.”

He has been using his experience to help guide the platoon, but still lets them learn things on their own.

“He’s really mature and knows how to play his role,” said Mendoza, 26, a Chico, Calif. native. “A lot of the recruits go to him for help and look up to him.”

The recruits hoped to learn all they could from Pack’s previous trail at recruit training, but he only helped to guide them and understand there is a purpose for everything they do.

“He wanted to make sure everyone had their own recruit experience,” said Mendoza. “He helped them with what he could but didn’t give them all the answers.”

Although he knew his old friend, Spires, was now a drill instructor for Co. K, they had planned it so they would not run into each other.  So when Pack arrived, he was then surprised to find Spires was his drill instructor, however they were able to inform the commands quickly and get Pack switched to another platoon.

“He didn’t want anybody to know that one of the drill instructors is his friend,” said Mendoza. “He doesn’t want other people to think he’s getting special treatment, because he’s not.”

This time Pack has pushed through and is looking forward to his career in the Marine Corps reserves, not letting anything stand in his way. After completing his training, Pack hopes to join his reserve unit and pursue an officer commissioning program.

“I want my career but I want the Marine Corps as a separate career,” said Pack. “I’d like to stay in as long I continue to see the benefits.”

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