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Despite world conflicts, locals don't regret military enlistment

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
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Travis McCarty of Jefferson Hills Borough traded independence for teamwork to join the Marines.
Stephen Greiner of Baldwin Borough has traded independence for teamwork to join the Marines.

Since June 23, Travis McCarty of Jefferson Hills and Stephen Greiner of Baldwin Borough have traded independence for teamwork, lived without their cell phones and written letters to family and friends by hand.

As they complete basic training for the Marines on Parris Island, S.C., U.S. troops are still engaged in the Middle East.

“This is what the kids have grown up with, so it's nothing new,” said Sgt. Charles Monbeck, from the Shoppes at Caste Village Marine recruiting office.

McCarty and Greiner joined last year, making them a part of the 32,215 Marine enlistees nationwide. All military branches reached their enlistment goals in 2013, according to the Department of Defense. Through May of this year, another 13,146 have chosen the Marines. That number also is on target.

McCarty, 20, said he wants to repair helicopters and serve in Afghanistan. He tried college for two years.

“Something was missing,” the Chartiers-Houston graduate said. “I stumbled into the office in Caste Village, asked some questions and fell in love.”

Greiner, 18, a recent high school graduate and Pleasant Hills Volunteer Fire Co. firefighter, enlisted before his senior year.

“It's the best way to go. It shapes you. It makes you a man,” he said.

The two men met this spring during physical training in South Park, as they waited for the call to boot camp.

Greiner said he knows his parents, Jeff and Eileen, are scared but supportive of his decision to join the military.

McCarty's parents, Marlana Lewis and Michael McCarty, have been supportive, too.

After basic training, McCarty will have one month of combat training in North Carolina and three to 12 months to learn his specialty in Florida. Greiner will train seven additional months for the infantry.

“The infantry is always the first to go,” he said, although he hopes for stateside duty.

Both men understand the dangers.

“It's a day in a life on the job. Sometimes, you have to defend the good people to settle it,” Greiner said.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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