For most Marines, their decision to enlist is one made in high school, or was a dream they have had since childhood. The majority of recruits in recruit training are fresh-faced teenagers, ready to embark on what is their first “real life” experience. However, for Pfc. Eric Suminski, he had almost a decade of post-high school life experience under his belt before joining the Marine Corps at the age of 27.
Suminski, confident and well-spoken, grew up in Greenville, Wisconsin. After graduating high school in 2014, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a marketing major. He then transferred to Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Throughout his studies, Suminski worked part time. However, during Covid-19, Suminski took a break from school and pursued his job as a pool store assistance manager full time. Although he wanted to return to school, financial reasons did not allow him to do so.
Suminski had multiple family members who served in the Marine Corps, including his grandfather who served in the Vietnam War. This sparked his interest to join the military. Additionally, financial stability played another factor – Suminski knew that his enlistment would open the door to financial and educational opportunities he wouldn’t receive otherwise.
Although cautious about enlisting at an older age, Suminski took the leap and spoke to a Marine recruiter at Recruiting Substation (RSS) Clarksville, Recruiting Station Nashville. He stepped aboard Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, as a recruit April 17, 2023.
The next few weeks would be unlike anything he had experienced – physical and mental challenges that would push him to his limit. However, as time went on, Suminski grew in confidence. He cites the crucible as his proudest moment during training – the 54 hour culmination event, where recruits complete various physical and mental challenges as a team while under extreme stressors. After accomplishing the crucible, recruits officially earn the title of “Marine”.
“It felt so rewarding,” Suminski said. “Afterwards I felt like I could do anything physical or mental – I could handle almost anything after that.”
Suminksi graduated recruit training July 14, 2023. He then reported back to RSS Clarksville as a recruiter assistant Marine with the command recruiting program. This program allows new Marines the chance to return to their hometowns and assist the recruiting mission. It also serves as a “reset” between recruit training and the next stage of their career; Marine Combat Training.
Suminski explains that no one day is the same as a recruiter assistant Marine. It varies from tasks around the RSS, to interacting with those in the delayed entry program, to local mall and high school visits. Every opportunity that Suminski is presented with, he seeks to recruit.
“I’ll recruit at the gym,” Suminski explained. “Because it’s a more natural environment to recruit. I’ll wear a Marine Corps t-shirt to start a conversation. Sometimes people will come up to me, sometimes I’ll go up to people.”
Suminski recently graduated from Marine Combat Training in Camp Geiger, North Carolina. He is currently attending his military occupational specialty school in Camp Johnson, North Carolina, as a logistics specialist. He plans to become a Marine Corps officer in the future.
“I think people should join the Marine Corps to serve their country and get out of their comfort zone, which will prepare them for life,” Suminski states. “As someone who has experienced a lot of life, [the Marine Corps] prepares you for life because it gives the mindset of being able to get through difficulty. Confidence levels will go up, and you will feel like you can achieve anything.”