“You have to look at the brighter side of things and keep pushing forward,” said Pvt. Joseph A. Pratt, Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. Pratt, while staying determined during challenging times in his life, has remained optimistic in his efforts to push through it all.
The new Marine grew up in San Francisco, Calif., a big city with plenty to do and see.
“We lived more inland, so not right in the middle of things, but I would still visit the livelier parts every once in a while,” said Pratt. “My childhood was good.”
Pratt has always been close to his family, and they have supported him since the beginning.
“I was a spoiled kid,” said Pratt. “Family life was good, and we didn’t really have any problems. We were happy. My family always knew how to put a smile on my face.”
After completing high school with average grades, Pratt attended Diablo Valley College, but only stayed for year and a half. College wasn’t enough for him. He knew there was more for him to do in life than to sit in a classroom all day long.
“It was my 21st birthday,” said Pratt. “I was still in college, but I wanted something more. I wanted to better myself in some way. I wanted a stable career and more opportunity.”
That’s when he decided to join the Marine Corps and sought out a recruiter.
“The only thing that held me back at that time was that I was extremely overweight,” said Pratt. “I weighed in at 326 pounds.”
If he was going to join the Marine Corps, he had to lose the extra weight to qualify.
“I trained as much as I could with the other poolees,” said Pratt. “I also ran 16 miles every day.”
After several months of training and absolute determination, Pratt left for recruit training weighing 212 pounds. He secured his spot in Alpha Company and started his journey to become a United Stated Marine.
“Recruit training was tough, but bonding with [the other recruits] made everything better,” said Pratt. “They helped me get through a lot of what was going on. The most challenging part was the first phase and being away from my family.”
During recruit training, Pratt received a letter from his father with bad news.
“My mother, who was battling cancer for the past 4 years, got worse,” said Pratt. “My chief drill instructor let me call home to check on my mom and my family after I got that letter. It was good to hear from them. My mother told me not to worry and to keep going. She said, ‘I want you to finish.’”
The next day, Pratt’s mother passed away.
“My chief drill instructor let me call home again after I found out,” said Pratt. “[My family] was supportive and they wanted me to continue on. I knew I had to keep going for my mother, but for myself as well.”
Pratt decided to push through and finish what was left of his training, and he managed to lose a little more weight.
“I now weigh 192 pounds,” said Pratt. “I went from 326 to 192 pounds. It felt good to have all the support [from my family and the other recruits] through everything.”
Even after enduring all of the unexpected hardships, Pratt remained optimistic.
“I just [couldn’t] wait to see my family,” said Pratt. “[I planned] out what I want[ed] to do with them after I graduate[d]. I don’t know what I’d do without them.”
Following recruit training, Pratt will report to the School of Infantry at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and then to his military occupational specialty school to become a motor transportation operator. Alpha Company is scheduled to graduate April 22.