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Milwaukee News
Buddy Program Ships Childhood Friends

By Sgt. Emma Norris | 9th Marine Corps District | September 20, 2018

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MILWAUKEE, Wisc. – Ethan Homala and Reuben Honkala, Recruiting Substation Green Bay poolees, and Ishpeming, Michigan, natives, shipped off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego on Monday, September 17 through Recruiting Station Milwaukee on the Marine Corps’ buddy program.

                The buddy program is designed so that people who enlist in the Marine Corps together from the same area can get sent to recruit training at the same time and be in the same platoon. Once Homala and Honkala heard about the program, they decided to sign up.

                The bond between the two did not start at the recruiting office but extends much further back in time than that. They graduated in the same class from Westwood High School and were childhood friends who lived in the same area. Going through the transformation into United States Marines together is the next step in their friendship.

                “One of the funniest memories I have with Reuben is when we were younger and we climbed up into a pine tree. We were shaking pine needles out,” said Homala. “The branch couldn’t handle the two of us up there and we fell out.”

                From the scrapes and bruises of a childhood full of trees, the two friends grew closer and continued to bond further.

                “That was a funny one for sure,” said Honkala. “It’s crazy how far we’ve come since those days. We trained for boot camp together and now we’re off to make even more memories.”

                Having that bond allowed the two friends to push each other while preparing for recruit training and they will continue to push each other while in San Diego. The buddy program provides them the opportunity to continue on with that motivation and competition with each other.

                “Since they enlisted, both of them have grown and matured,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Francfort, RSS Green Bay Recruiter.  “Not only are they better physically prepared, but they have become more mentally prepared for recruit training by pushing each other at the weekly warrior trainings and monthly pool functions.”

                Honkala said, “It’s always been really fun for us working towards the same goal. I’m glad our recruiter told us about the buddy program. Can’t wait to see how we work together during boot camp and what we look like afterwards”

                After 13 weeks of rigorous training at MCRD San Diego, these young men will have completed the ultimate test to earn their Eagle, Globe and Anchor and become Marines. They will not only graduate with a stronger bond with each other, but with their entire platoon and the Marine Corps.     


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Mission
Midwest Marines are responsible for U.S. Marine Corps recruiting efforts in the upper Midwest, including the states of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Oklahoma. Midwest Marines are headquartered aboard Naval Station Great Lakes, IL. We are formally known as the 9th Marine Corps District.

The mission of Marine Corps Recruiting Station Milwaukee is to supervise and administer the enlisted and officer procurement programs of the Regular and Reserve establishment and to perform such other tasks as may be directed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.