Staff Sgt. Joe I. Moran, an RSS Overland Park, RS Kansas City recruiter, stumbles to his bathroom and groggily shuts off his alarm clock, increasingly aware a new day has started. "It’s too early," he grumbles.
Despite Moran’s morning resentment, he’s showered, shaved, dressed, out the door and at his desk by 8 a.m. "Things usually kick off at 8:30 a.m., but I like to get a jump start on things. We usually get a morning brief at 8:30 on everything we need to accomplish during the day and then I’m off to the KCK (PCS Kansas City, Kansas) office.
Across the country, more than 2,600 Marine canvassing recruiters go through similar morning routines, although others have wives and children to kiss goodbye, and many must begin working far earlier. Still, Moran’s substation is "mission plus one" (surpassed the monthly contracting mission by one) today, and his SNCOIC, Staff Sgt. Tony Housell, set a time to appear for work.
This morning, they are running. By mid-morning, Overland Park, Kan., summers are hot and humid. Often the case at substations, a few last-minute setbacks push the run time back to 9 a.m. Moran and his four fellow recruiters use the time to check back over their administrative paperwork – waivers, missing documents, Scheduling and Results Book and generally streamline the day’s operation.
Run time comes. The sweltering heat evokes frustrated mutters and curses from the recruiters as they stretch before they set out on a four-and-a-half mile jog. A nearby bank’s thermometer reads 86 degrees. There’s not a cloud to be seen.
Forty-five minutes later, they wrap up, shower, change clothes and are ready to prospect and sell. "I’m always working," Moran said. "Even if I’m not at the office or in front of someone – say, I’m in the shower or something – I’m always thinking, ‘Who can I put in the Corps next?’"
"It’s not that stressful out here, though," he insists. "The biggest enemy we have out here is TV. All you hear about are Marines and people dying in the war all the time on the news. Whenever I talk to kids, that’s what they think they’re going to do – go off to war and die. I’m not going to tell people they won’t go to war.
"Basically, I have to overcome that idea by showing them how many Marines are actually in a combat zone and show how many Marines actually die."
Perring over his government vehicle’s steering wheel, the 5-foot-4-inch tall Moran sheepishly grins. "I still get lost around here." He is headed to the Kansas City, Mo., courthouse for a police check on an applicant.
And he’s a little lost. Close, but lost.
A few minutes of driving and some common sense leads him to the courthouse steps. Once inside and past the metal detector, he slides a folder across to a distracted secretary behind a set of black iron bars. "Yes, ma’am, I need records on this young man here." She types in a computer…and types…and types. "There’s nothing on him."
"Are you sure," Moran politely asks. "He said he’s had a drug charge before." She continues to tap on her keyboard, then calls her supervisor. Moran steps aside to take a call on his cell phone. Next to him, a sniffling, obviously-nervous man asks another secretary for his court date.
"Got it," the secretary says. "You had his name spelled wrong on here." He takes the printed paper from her hands and walks out. Smiling, he says, "She could have typed in his social security number instead of looking him up by name."
Delays like this can throw a recruiter off schedule. It’s important to stay flexible, but still keep your set appointments, Moran said.
Next, he heads to Kansas City Kansas Community College to pick up transcripts on two brothers he’s enlisted. Scanning over them to ensure the enlistees have enough college credit, he says, "Good. This will get both of these guys automatically promoted to (private first class)."
After picking up a Greek take-out lunch, Moran is back at his desk, going through PPC cards and writing boot camp letters. His fellow recruiter, Sgt. Dustin Schellenger, sits at another desk next to him, also reading letters from recruits. "Some people might write form letters back to their guys. I never write form letters back. Never do. When I take the time out to write how I actually feel, it lets them know that I care about them." Moran writes letters to recruits in longhand.
In the middle of writing and eating, Moran gets a phone call. There’s a problem at MEPS with an applicant – he wants to change his shipping date. Moran settles the predicament quickly, telling him he’ll ship in January, then resumes writing.
"If he makes it, he’ll be my fourth contract this month, maybe."
Moran has to pick up his applicant who enlisted in the Delayed Entry Program. Rush hour is just starting up, and the 24-mile trip seems longer than it really is. "A lot of my time is actually taken up driving. During a normal week, I’ll drive about 200-300 miles, I guess."
After stopping quickly for the applicant and checking his substation’s mailbox, Moran is back on the road. "Hey, can you drop me off at my apartment," the applicant asks, explaining he locked himself out the day before. His apartment manager can let him in, but the office closes in 10 minutes.
"Sure, no problem," Moran replies and sets an appointment to give his DEP-in brief for the following day.
"I’ll have to give his brief tomorrow," he says. "He has to work tonight, too, and it’s probably better if we talk after he’s had some rest anyway."
Moran sits in his office, waiting for two poolees whose physical fitness isn’t quite up to par. He trains with them at a local gym three times a week. "We usually spend about 45 minutes doing cardio work and about another 30 minutes lifting weights." In the meantime, he catches up with the day’s events with the other recruiters in the office.
His poolees show up about 45 minutes later. Just before they leave, along comes more interference: This time, a poolee from another substation received referral credit for one of Moran’s poolees. He’s visibly agitated, but contacts the other recruiter, settles the matter, and heads to the gym with his poolees.
Afterward, he plans to go home and rest for the evening. Admittedly, not all recruiters are able to go home as early. Even Moran works until 9 or 10 p.m. some days. "It just depends on where we’re at for mission," he said.
Even though the days may be strenuous and long, Moran is glad he came here. A food service specialist by trade, Moran was training on the job as an imagery specialist and preparing for a lateral move. Instead, he was screened and chosen for recruiting duty. Looking back, it was one of the best days of his life.