Marine recruits continue training

For the past two years young men and women following the dream of military service in the US Marine Corps have had a unique opportunity to excel from their very initiation.

Today, those young Americans still have dedicated recruiters locally to help them get started, but they no longer have access to the program they have enjoyed at the Sky Manor community in Fort Denaud.

The Delayed Entry Program allows young people to get a strong dose of the reality of a Marine’s world, but LaBelle area recruiters took it further. Way further.

Former Marine Gary Striker and his wife, Kim, opened their home to a unique Marine physical training program with the local USMC recruiter in 2014.

The accelerated physical training program hosted at Sky Manor prepared young recruits from this area for basic training. The training they received from local recruiters put these young men and women light years ahead of others just coming into the Corps.

The PT program at Sky Manor was exemplary, according to the recruits and their families.

Carolyn Kerns said, “My grandson has been going to Marine PT at Sky Manor since August 2015. He looks forward to training every week. He has grown physically and mentally under the supervision of Mr. Striker at Sky Manor. It’s a great place, a safe place for our future Marines to train.”

She was concerned that if training was discontinued at this facility it would be very discouraging to the young men and women recruits who enjoyed coming to practice very week. She hoped they could keep these future Marines training, but it was not to be.

After two years, this unique program has been terminated. The Marine recruits are again doing their physical training at the recruiting station. Adequate, but by no means with the amenities that gave the recruits such a huge boost.

Sky Manor Homeowners Association President Lin Hough said the invitation to train was retracted because members felt it wasn’t a good fit for the private residential community.

“We think the world of the Marines, as everybody else does,” he said, but HOA members feared that the invitation to the Marines could open the door to other groups. It could get out of hand, he said, and several official complaints were made by association members. Complaints revolved around the fact that the program brought “unknown” people into the private community. Mr. Hough noted that no incidents had been alleged against the recruits, who had been “perfect gentlemen” the entire time. Still, members were concerned about keeping it a strictly residential community.

He added that the original agreement with the Marines expired and was not renewed and the board unanimously decided to rescind it.

Mr. Hough also said the program was “excellent” and he initially wanted to give it a try, but HOA members ultimately felt the community was incompatible with it.

The Marines have been forced to take a step back. They’re again doing physical training in the parking area behind the recruiting station.

But as always, the Marines continue to move forward, into the unknown, with bravery and dedication. OooooRah!

Patty Brant, can be reached at

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