The wall of Staff Sgt. Vetch's recruiting office in Norfolk, Nebraska, is covered with pictures of the men and women he put in the Marine Corps. Absent from the collection, however, is the photograph of the first young man Vetch put in this month. It sits, framed, on his desk next to the other family pictures.
He is Luke Vetch, the staff sergeant's 17-year-old son.
Luke was 15 years-old when the Vetch family moved to Nebraska, where Staff Sgt. Vetch works at Permanent Contact Station Norfolk, Recruiting Substation Sioux City, Recruiting Station Des Moines. At the time, Luke's post-high school career was unknown, but that changed when he started to attend the monthly RSS Sioux City poolee functions.
Luke told his father he wanted to see what happens at the functions, so his dad started bringing him.
“I asked the sergeant major if I could bring my son to the events,” the ever-so-proud staff sergeant said. “He had no problems with it whatsoever. He, in fact, encouraged it.”
Some fathers who want their sons to follow in their footsteps work hard to groom the boys for their future. Staff Sgt. Vetch said for Luke, it was a calling.
“My children, Luke in particular, have always received great grades in school, never been in trouble with the law or anything like that,” said Billings, Mont., native. “But one thing we have always told them, have a plan, either college or military. My wife and I didn’t want our children to delay what’s in store for them right after high school. Luke wanted to be a Marine because he knows it can open a lot of doors for him.”
Luke’s reason to join the Marine Corps could be in part because of his father’s service, but the Vetch name has a long history with the military.
“My grandpa, some of my uncles have all served or are serving right now in the military,” the Norfolk Senior High School senior and Billings, Montana native said. “But after thoroughly doing my research, and my dad serving, I just found the Marine Corps to be the most disciplined and respectful out of them all. I want to be a part of the best.”
Depending on who it is, Vetch usually takes a couple of hours to get all the paperwork right before sending an applicant to MEPs. Jokingly, he said Luke’s package has been by far the fastest, easiest to work.
“Sometimes when we have a kid that is 17 years old, we have trouble getting the parents signing the parental consent form, because they are so worried about their son or daughter,” he said. “Me, I wasn’t pushing my son to join the Corps. I waited for him to come to me and once I put that parental consent form in front of my wife and I, it didn’t take but five seconds.”
By trade, Vetch is a wire chief and Luke signed up to be an infantryman. According to Luke’s armed services vocational aptitude battery test scores, he could have picked any job he wanted, but the humble lad had a good grasp of the infantry from listening to his dad’s stories from when he was with the grunts.
Since dad spent most of his time with the infantry, both hope their jobs could land them at the same place.
“I think it would be awesome to be stationed close to my dad, because then I can always just stop by the house for a good meal or just hang out from time to time,” Luke said.
When both were asked the question, “Is it going to be dad or rank in public?”
Vetch drew a parallel from the pool functions, “I treat him as I do any other poolee, which means it’s sir now and my rank after you become a Marine. It’s only different if we are not in a work situation.”
For now, the Vetchs are working together a lot more closely to make sure Luke is fully prepared before he takes off for recruit training next summer. Running and studying Marine Corps knowledge are just some of the things Luke and his father are doing together.
Asked whether Luke should expect any “surprises” in the mail during recruit training, dad simply replied, “Well, he shouldn’t, but you never know. I want him to focus the whole time, but it’s pretty funny when someone gets a letter in the mail and the drill instructor notices something different about it. Maybe later on towards the end he might.”
Vetch is due to change duty stations before summer starts and doesn’t know where he will go, but he plans on being there for his son when he becomes a Marine.
“Currently, I am working on to stay for an extra month to see my son graduate high school,” he said. “And I don’t care if the Marine Corps sends me to Camp Pendleton or Camp Lejuene. Nothing will prevent me from seeing my son walking down the same parade deck that I did.”