SAN DIEGO -- The phrase “adapt and overcome” is often used in the Marine Corps to describe the long legacy of Marines who were faced with extenuating circumstances, yet refused to let the challenge defeat them. It's a trait that many Marines work hard for and strive to obtain.
For Pvt. Jeremiah Owens, Platoon 3242, Company L, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, this trait wasn’t something new; it has been his way of life since he was young.
"When I was in middle school, we moved from shelter to shelter, trying to go to school as much as we could," said Owens, a 20-year-old St. Louis native. "We were poor and always struggling to pay bills and keep a home. There were times when we had no food, all we'd have to eat was ketchup packets and we'd have to drink out of syrup bottles. There were months that we'd live off of candles for light because there was no money to pay the electric bills."
His mother’s struggle with drug addiction made it difficult for her to provide for her family. However, when Owens reached high school things took a turn for the better. "When I was about 14 years old we stayed at a shelter with a drug rehabilitation program," said Owens. "Once my mom completed treatment, our life started to get better. We were finally able to pay the bills and I was able to go to school and start playing sports. I played football, ran track and wrestled." Owens started on his high school varsity football team as a freshman and participated in wrestling. His hard work and dedication resulted in sports scholarships to two colleges. Things were finally starting to look up when his life took another unexpected turn. "My junior year I started dating a girl," said Owens. "She told me she was pregnant. I had to quit playing sports so that I could go to school and find a job to support my new family." He sacrificed his dreams and scholarships to do what he believed was right, however after some time passed he decided it was time to chase his dream of becoming a Marine. “I wanted to become a Marine to better myself and our future,” said Owens. Not long after, Owens found himself on the yellow footprints aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. "Owens stood out from the beginning of recruit training. He was one of our most motivated recruits," said Sgt. Brandon Cobb, drill instructor, Plt. 3242, Co. L, 3rd RTBn. "He's always eager to help with tasks and get things done, he assists the scribes with administrative work and when they're gone he steps up and takes their place." Instead of allowing his circumstances derail or defeat him, Owens used it as inspiration and fuel to propel him through recruit training. "He's always putting out, he's never had a day he hasn't given 100 percent," said Cobb. "His good work ethic, personal drive, unselfishness and the fact that he overcame a hard upbringing and wants to better himself says a lot about Owens. I think he'll do great things in the Marine Corps." His excitement and passion for becoming a Marine was transparent as Owens talked about getting so close to his dream.
"I feel like I can taste graduation,” said Owens with a grin. “Nothing is going to stop me."