The whole Barringer clan attends Meghan's graduation from boot camp.
The whole Barringer clan attends Meghan's graduation from boot camp.

At some point in childhood, every child is asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Meghan Barringer of Holy Cross parish in Morris knew the answer since she was very young: She wanted to go into the military.

“My grandfather was in the military, and hearing all the stories from all the veterans made me want to be one of the ones to tell stories,” she told The Evangelist. “I always wanted to join the military; I just didn’t know what branch.”

Now, the 20-year-old is a new recruit for the United States Marine Corps.

After 12 weeks of rigorous training, Meghan graduated in July from Marine boot camp in Parris Island, S.C. She went on to complete Marine Combat Training (MCT) at Camp Geiger, N.C., in late August.

Meghan’s mother, Rebecca, said she was “kind of taken aback” when she learned that her daughter was joining the Marines, but wasn’t totally surprised.
“She always wanted to be in the military,” Mrs. Barringer said. “I’m more proud [than scared] of her being in the service. She’s keeping us free.”

Growing up

Long before her training, Meghan had been a volunteer for her town’s American Legion pancake breakfast. She said meeting her town’s veterans “was a big inspiration” for her choosing military service.

“One veteran kept saying, ‘You could be a great leader,’” she recalled.  “Those words really pushed me.”

Growing up, Meghan and her sisters were also kept busy with daily chores on the family farm. Mrs. Barringer said that Meghan “always had a great work ethic” and participant in several sports in high school: softball, soccer, basketball and track and field.

“If it weren’t for sports, I wouldn’t have had a life,” Meghan remarked.  

In 2017, Meghan graduated from Morris Central School and started her first semester at Utica College, planning to enter her college’s ROTC program. But when that plan fell through, she said she knew in her heart that college wasn’t her life's path.

Compared to the hectic schedule she'd kept high school, Meghan felt lazy in college. She knew she could be doing more. She started doing research into becoming a Marine.

Meghan connected with a recruiter and made plans to start boot camp in this spring. At the end of her first semester of college, she packed up the contents of her dorm room and never went back.

No looking back

“I didn’t know how to tell my parents, so I just went home with all my stuff,” Meghan said with a chuckle. “When I told them, it was easy. They were supportive.”

At boot camp, Meghan learned military history and customs, basic warrior training, combat skills and how to handle M16A4 assault rifles, and had to pass a physical fitness test. She said that her time at boot camp felt like a sisterhood with her fellow women recruits: “I made so many friends, they became like family to me.”

Each day started at 4 a.m. and consisted of some kind of physical training: running, pull-ups, crunches, burpees or circuit workouts. Although boot camp is deliberately strenuous, “I loved it,” said Meghan.

Drill sergeants would test recruits' mental toughness by raising their voices or yelling to intentionally cause stress. Meghan said that, at times, it felt “belittling,” but she knew that “it’s really just a mental game. They don’t really feel that way.”

When Meghan entered MCT, she learned basic infantry training, including handling and firing grenade launchers, rocket launchers, machine guns and automatic weapons.

Proud family

Mrs. Barringer said the entire family, including Meghan’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, all went down to Parris Island for Meghan’s graduation from boot camp. Mrs. Barringer and Meghan’s four sisters made t-shirts for the occasion, proudly announcing that Meghan had just earned the title "Marine."

“It was awesome,” said Mrs. Barringer.

Today, Meghan is stationed in San Bernardino, Calif., at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (also known as 29 Palms Base),  waiting to begin Military Occupational School. There, she will study communications.

“As of right now, I want to make a career out of it,” the young Marine declared. “I want to see how far I can go.”