By Kathleen Swift • Photos by Artistic Expressions Photography

Tanner Marshall

Joplin, Missouri

Marine Recruit


Battalion Commander
JROTC 2018-2019

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.” –Ronald Reagan

Passion for service runs in the Marshall family. Devin Marshall is a retired sheriff’s deputy, and his wife, Alicia, is a critical care nurse. They care about people and about keeping them safe and healthy. These are lessons well-learned by their son Tanner, who, as a recent Joplin High School graduate, enlisted in the United States Marie Corps.

“I’ve always shared the passion for service that runs in my family, and I want to make an impact in the world,” said Tanner.

During his senior year at Joplin High School, Tanner served as battalion commander for the JROTC, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary.

“We are the oldest ROTC in the nation,” said Tanner, “and I learned a lot through our program. Lt. Col. Joshua Rietz and 1st Sgt. Richard Banks let our program be student led, but they taught us a lot about the military and how it operates. I gained knowledge about military drill, ceremonies and practical things like military banks. During our 100th anniversary ball, I had the opportunity to speak with the sergeant major of the Army and with Senator Roy Blunt and Governor Mike Parson. I also read the proclamations from the US House and Senate and from the president.”

Knowing he was not ready to pursue college right out of high school, Tanner chose to enlist in the Marines through its Delayed Enlistment Program while he finished his senior year at Joplin High School. He will head to boot camp this September, where he hopes to test his physical dedication and gain some self-improvement. He had a taste of what it will take to be a Marine during a get-together for those in the delayed-entry program.

“They brought in drill instructors from San Diego and South Carolina who kicked in the doors where we were working out and showed us what to expect. I’m glad I got a taste of it because it was difficult.

“I hope through my Marine training to serve my country and get myself to the point where I will be ready for college,” said Tanner. “After my initial training and taking the ASVAB test, I was able to choose my job in the Marines, and I chose aircrew. I’ve always had a passion for aviation, and the Marines have the fixed-wing aircraft I hope to fly in the future.”

After boot camp in San Diego, Tanner will take MCT, marine combat training. He will then move to South Carolina for aircrew training, which takes one-and-a-half to two years to complete. At boot camp he will hold the rank of private first class, but upon graduation, he hopes to achieve the rank of lance corporal.

“That rank is given to the most physically fit and those with the most knowledge,” said Tanner. “It’s my first goal as a Marine. Ultimately, I would like to be a jet fighter pilot, but my first assignment as aircrew will likely be on helicopters or on Marine Ospreys.”

Tanner goes into the Marine Corps with the full blessing of his parents.

“I’m not surprised at his decision,” said Tanner’s dad, Devin. “He’s always been about service above self. It’s in his DNA. We are beyond proud of him.”

Tanner’s mom, Alicia, agrees. “As a mom, it’s a bit scary, but we are extremely proud of Tanner. He has such clarity of purpose, and I am amazed at the person he is.”

“I visited all of the recruiters,” said Tanner, “and my parents told me to pick the branch of service that I thought would be best for me. We are extremely blessed and lucky to live in America, and I am proud to serve.

“After my first two years, I will be eligible to participate in the college program and would graduate as a commissioned officer. While I’m going to college, I’ll be considered active duty with a non-deployable status. I plan to attend the University of Texas.

“At the end of my military career, I would like to come back to Joplin and serve as a JROTC teacher. I want to make an impact, prove that I can do it and show what a difference the Marines can make.”