The United State Marine Corps has a history of being at the forefront of many wars that have paved the way for the freedom of our country.

That legacy is what drew Stillwater High School senior Colten Ley to join the Marines, into which he was sworn in on Tuesday. He said it was when his uncle returned from Marine boot camp when the thought first hit him that he wanted to join the Marines.

“I’ve wanted to do it for as long as I can remember, since I was 5,” Ley said. “My parents raised me to work for something if I want it. When my mom’s brother got back from boot camp, he gave me is Eagle, Globe and Anchor. When I got older and learned what it stands for, I wanted to go out and earn my own instead of having one just handed to me.”

Ley is enrolled in a vocational school welding program, which is one aspect he will continue to pursue once he is in the Marines. He said he wanted to continue metal work, as well as a desire to join the infantry.

“Metal worker’s just basically welding, and with the Marine Corps you can get a lot of qualifications with different types of welding,” he said. “And I can put that toward getting a job as a civilian once I get out of the Marines.”

Ley said once he got older and better understood the significance of the Eagle, Globe and Anchor given to him by his uncle, he decided he wanted to go through the process of earning his own. He also said one aspect of the Marines that drew him to that branch was the fact it is known to be more of a challenge than training for traditional branches.

Colten’s mom, Karrie Ley, said her son joining the Marines was something that provides both pride and worry for their son.

“We’ve been down this road before,” Karrie Ley said. “Sometimes I don’t know if if would be easier not knowing and just going in completely blind. His dad and I, we’re very supportive and proud of him, but we’re also concerned. We’re not really sure if he understands the full impact of what he’s doing, but we’re very proud and excited for him.”

Karrie Ley said another aspect of Colten joining the Marines is that he will be going with a friend who he has known since elementary school.

“He’s going in with the buddy system. His best friend, Hunter, and him are going together,” Karrie Ley said. “That makes me feel a lot better knowing he will have somebody from home with him. There’s only so much letters can do. We will write every day, but letters aren’t family, they aren’ t friends. So having Hunter going with him really helps.”

Colten said he was excited to finish school and begin what has become a dream for him is now a reality, and he said he is excited to begin the next step of his life.

After graduating from SHS, he will head to boot camp in May to begin his path toward achieving his dream of being a Marine.

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