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Training & Education Command (TECOM)

United States Marine Corps

Pro surfer swaps surfboard for rifle

By Pvt. Lauren Stehwien | | March 11, 2010

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Hawaii places fifth in the top ten states tourists visit in the United States.  It offers the clear, blue ocean, where tourists flock to surf, snorkel, and soak up the beauty of the island’s culture. So why would anybody want to leave this paradise?  Pvt. Shane L. Barela, Platoon 3246, Company L, a native of Kamuela, Hawaii, left the tropical oasis to pursue his dream of becoming a United States Marine.

Growing up with a dad as a professional surfer left Barela with a similar love for the sport.  Barela started surfing at the young age of 8 years old, and over time, he entered and won many competitions around Hawaii.  Eventually, Barela honed his skills and became so recognized for his talent that he got a partial sponsor from the surfing company, Hurley.  But during his junior year of high school, Barela decided to take a different route in life than his father. 

“I wanted to benefit others, and wanted to be the best,” he said.  “That’s why I joined the best of services.  When I think of the Marine Corps, all that comes to mind is ‘first to fight,’ so I joined the infantry.”

On “Black Friday,” the day in which all of the recruits first meet their drill instructors, Barela realized the seriousness of the Marine Corps and the 100 percent dedication that it would take.

“Throughout recruit training, Barela had confidence problems, which caused him to be quiet and timid,” said Sgt. Christopher R. Thaxton, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3246, Co. L, “Now that has changed, and his confidence has boosted.”

Barela said that he knew before boot camp how much he would miss Hawaii and the ocean, which is one of the reasons why he chose to become a reservist.  He plans on switching to active duty shortly after arriving in his unit, but wants to stay in Hawaii.

Looking back, Barela noticed how similar the surfing competitions are to recruit training.  In both, you have people to whom you look up to, admire and strive to be like. They both need extreme amounts of commitment and dedication as well, said Barela. 

Throughout boot camp, Barela and his superiors have noticed a significant difference in him.  In the beginning he said he was just a goofy kid who was always laughing, but in a short time, Barela feels he has matured into a more disciplined man. 

“Barela always had a good work ethic and lots of drive, which is definitely going to add to his success in not only the Marine Corps, but also in life,” said Thaxton.

Upon completion of recruit training, Barela will be attending the School of Infantry, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he will train to become an infantryman.            


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