SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A day after President Donald Trump announced a renewed effort in the war in Afghanistan, 270 Marines gathered at San Diego International Airport to head to training at Camp Pendleton.
“We have been at war for 16 years and these men are going to face it as soon probably as they leave here,” said Carlos Cuellar, who helped organize a free lunch for the Marines before they left.
“We need to acknowledge and we need to honor them for that,” he added.
Cuellar is a Navy veteran who now works as the chairman of veteran’s affairs for the Knights of Columbus in California. He said they hold lunches like this whenever a large group of Marines comes through before their School of Infantry training at Camp Pendleton.
“We try to welcome them as a family, to let them know there are people that care here,” he said.
Ezekiel Rodriguez, a recruit from Phoenix, Ariz. said it wasn’t until he went through boot camp when he realized why he truly wanted to be a Marine.
“When you get to boot camp it gets very hard. You want to go back to your old style of living and be comfortable in making your own decisions and do what you want,” he said.
“I’d rather sacrifice my ability to do that to protect this nation and let others have the ability to do that.”
Riley Kennedy had his own reasons.
“I wanted to go to war and fight for freedom. I hate ISIS and I hate North Korea. They deserve to be beaten,” said Kennedy.
President Trump’s plan to increase the United State’s presence in Afghanistan did not deter Rodriguez.
“One thing they say in the Marine Corps is ‘adapt and overcome.’ So whoever is in office, opposing the military or not, we’ll adapt and overcome,” he said.
(correction: A previous version of this story referred to the Marines as 'recruits,' but they have finished boot camp and have thus earned the title of Marine.)