Saturday morning I was pulling out of Ace Hardware’s parking lot when I noticed a couple of dozen people in blue T-shirts doing something unusual on the empty lot across the street. Curious, I crossed Washington Boulevard with camera in hand.
Kayla Kahoalii, 20, of Eureka, does chin-ups during the training Saturday in Crescent City. Del Norte Triplicate / Michele Postal
As I approached the group, I began taking photos of a young woman doing chin-ups on a bar set up in the field. She finished her set strong and was barely winded as she walked to the end of the line where I followed. Kayla Kahoalii told me she was from Eureka, where she had attended College of the Redwoods. At 20, she decided to join the Marines.
A handsome young man with a friendly smile came over and introduced himself as Staff Sgt. Alan Inchaurregui (a Basque name, he offered), the local Marine Corps recruiter whose office was next door.
He explained that he was in charge of the area between Gold Beach and the northern part of Eureka. He and his two counterparts from the south had arranged this day of training exercises to help prepare their 20 soon-to-be-Marines (and 10 guests) for what lies ahead in basic training.
The recruits were from Hoopa, Fortuna, McKinleyville, Eureka, Arcata, Brookings and Gold Beach, and seven were from Del Norte County.
The staff sergeant explained that Saturday’s program of physical challenges and exposure to military protocol was designed to help them overcome any fears they might have about upcoming boot camp.