PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. — U.S. Marine Corps recruiter Staff Sgt. Daniel McLaughlin, the station commander for Recruiting Substation Gainesville, Georgia, brought his five Marine recruiters and 30 men and women who are sworn into the delayed entry program (poolees), and they all came with the force of Marine Corps enthusiasm to Hall County Habitat for Humanity, on August 13, 2022.
A Marine’s pride in service to the country starts at home; serving the community is part of Marine Corps ethics. As a Marine, McLaughlin served as an active-duty motor transportation operator for eight years before joining the recruiting force for the past year and a half. His role as a canvassing recruiter has progressed into taking charge of the recruiting substation, and he was meritoriously promoted to staff sergeant. McLaughlin wanted to share his devotion to service with the Marines and poolees.
“The goal was to let them see that us recruiters can be normal human beings too and give back to the community,” McLaughlin said. He wanted RSS Gainesville to experience what it means to serve, to help those who need it the most, and to appreciate the value of camaraderie. The Marines and poolees loved volunteering; despite coming in on a Saturday morning and working hard, the spirited young men and women made every moment enjoyable.
Hall County Habitat for Humanity is a volunteer service that focuses on building affordable homes for the community. Aiden Fincher is one motivated poolee who was more than excited to help. Fincher discovered he had a passion to serve starting at a young age. Growing up surrounded by family in the military, it made sense to him that becoming a Marine would fulfill his desire to serve. Eventually, Fincher swore into the delayed entry program with the help of McLaughlin and his recruiter, Sgt. Tyler McCormick, and has since been attending events at the RSS as a poolee, including the volunteer event at Hall County Habitat for Humanity.
“I would one-hundred percent do that again,” said Fincher. “I’ve always just wanted to stick my head out for people — help people, regardless of what they are going through, regardless of what I’m going through. I knew that the Marine Corps did a lot of humanitarian work, but I didn’t expect to do it so soon as a poolee, but I was ready for it!”
Fincher leaves for bootcamp September 6, 2022. He says that recruiters can be the cornerstone of a Marine’s career, and pool functions can promote a healthy future in the Marine Corps by teaching the young men and women who wish to become Marines, what service should look like, and service like that continues for a lifetime.
Supervisors and council members who have made the organization their way of life are often military veterans. In Hall County, the members who consistently volunteer call themselves The Faithful Few. Air Force retired Col. Tom Reiter and Marine Corps veteran Kendrick Dye are two veterans who started out as volunteers and eventually took on more responsibilities.
“It was one of the top three days I’ve seen, in terms of productivity and having the volunteers that had a lot of fun, and we got a lot done,” Reiter said. He was a board member and now leads The Faithful Few, along with other volunteers, in building the houses. “It kind of restored my faith in the younger generation.”
Dye is currently the construction director, teaching volunteers basic carpentry skills to build the houses. “The discipline, the respect, it was all just phenomenal,” he said. “They came out in full force, and it restored my faith in humanity. I miss the Marine Corps and it made me so proud.” Kendrick Dye served as a field radio operator with 5th Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 11th Marine Regiment on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, from 1999 to 2004. Dye felt connected to his roots as a Marine that day. The bond of brotherhood rekindled a spirit within himself that reminded him of why he chooses to serve his community.
RSS Gainesville’s few hours of volunteer service helped expedite the process of building a home by weeks. Everyone involved on August 11 left having learned valuable lessons and new relationships within their community. The Marines felt they had successfully instilled a sense of service within the poolees that they won’t forget when they earn their place within the Marine Corps.
McLaughlin said this was their first time volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, but definitely not the last time his Marines and poolees will be going out to serve the local community. His hope is that he will inspire other leaders to do the same.