Not just anyone can be a United States Marine.
Then Adam McCarthy isn't just anyone.
The 2010 Estherville Lincoln Central graduate joined the Marine Corps Dec. 5, 2010, and has been outside the U.S. since August 2011. The Marines seemed like a good option - rather than racking up debt in excess of $30,000, like a lot of other college students.
Adam McCarthy, 2010 ELC graduate, joined the Marine Corps a little over two years ago and is currently stationed in Okinawa.
EDN photo by Michael Tiemann
The Marines will pay Adam's college tuition and fees while he's on active duty, and once he's finished his four-year enlistment, he can get his bachelor's.
So what does Adam think of the Marine Corps?
"It's an experience, I guess," said McCarthy.
And he's learned a lot.
It's been a positive experience for him, one that's instilled discipline and taught him to deal with any situation.
Currently stationed in Okinawa, corporal McCarthy has been to mainland Japan, Thailand, Korea and will be going to the Philippines in March. He missed being deployed to Afghanistan by a month.
McCarthy's MOS, or Military Occupational Specialty, is Basic Water Support Technician.
"It's something you've got to want," McCarthy said. "You've got to be a certain kind of person to put up with the Marine Corps."
McCarthy speaks in awe of the famed Marine esprit de corps.
"It's definitely stronger than any branch by far."
McCarthy admitted that basic training was a challenge all the way until he received his eagle, globe and anchor. But when graduation day came, he felt more confident than he ever had in his life.
"I never would have been the person I am today without it," McCarthy said.
That didn't mean there wasn't a little fun once in a while. Adam played football with a team for three months in Okinawa.
"It was a stress reliever. I liked it."
McCarthy said his favorite part of the Marines is being able to say he's something not everybody else is. As for family, he thinks it's tougher on them than on himself.
An avid fisherman and hunter, Adam was no stranger to the rifle. He's been issued an M16.
When his enlistment is up, Adam plans on attending Iowa Lakes Community College then transferring to a four-year college, probably something in the area of wetland preservation.
For Adam, the Marines have given him a different perspective. He feels he's far more responsible than before.
"They throw a lot at you at one time," he said.