BLOOMINGTON, Minn. --
Six aspiring Marines recently removed several downed trees after thunderstorms caused thousands of dollar of damage in Dakota County earlier this month.
The Hastings and Farmington High School graduates volunteered to spend their weekend knee-deep in debris, clearing broken branches and split tree trunks.
"Josh Mann and I were driving home after running a [physical fitness test] when we took in the devastation of the neighborhood," said Sgt. Joshua Draveling, a recruiter out of the Burnsville, Minn., office who supervised the cleanup. "From there we started making calls and a few hours later we were breaking out the chain saws and making a difference."
By noon the aspiring Minnesota Marines had dismantled seven fallen trees that were 50 to 100 years old.
"I enjoy being able to take my life and make a small difference with my actions," said Andrew Morris, an 18-year-old Farmington High School graduate who ships off to boot camp on July 23.
Hastings, Minn., resident Joseph Harris said their hard work probably saved the city hundreds of dollars and countless hours of cleanup time.
"Our entire neighborhood was destroyed," Harris said. "To have these people just show up at your door and say 'we're here to help' was a huge relief."
Several homeowners tried to reward them for their efforts, but the aspiring Marines politely declined any reimbursement.
"We were speechless," Harris said. "How often do you have a group of guys just jump out of a truck and ask if you could use their assistance? For free!"
Draveling, a 27-year-old Milwaukee native, said the coolest thing for him was "seeing these young warriors, half of who are in boot camp right now, display their selflessness and amazing work ethic."
"Once they earn the title, these guys will make stellar Marines," Draveling said. "They're already display our core values of honor, courage and commitment. What more could you ask for."