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AHS alum graduates from U.S. Marine Corps boot camp

AHS alum graduates from U.S. Marine Corps boot camp
Posted on 09/08/2021

Even at an early age, Drew Gallaher showed signs that a career in the military was part of his destiny. Both of his grandfathers served in the Vietnam War and were affected deeply by what they went through oversees. Drew’s grandpa on his dad’s side, a combat veteran, took a more or less open-book approach when it came to sharing his war stories through the years. Drew latched on to each of those stories in fascination. They inspired him so much, his 5th birthday party was Marine Corps theme – his costume donned with his grandpa’s personal Vietnam-era Kevlar helmet.

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Jase Gallaher at 5

His grandpa’s almost blockbuster-like stories, such as the time he hid out in a fox hole for days on end to avoid capture, have almost become rooted into the family history tree. To Drew growing up and now still, his grandpa’s stories have become generational tales of heroism and pride, brotherhood and sacrifice. It’s those stories and his own experiences, like attending the Marine Military Academy at ages 12 and 13, that have brought Drew to Camp Geiger in North Carolina. Although now, he’s called Private Jase Gallaher.

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(Photo: Drew at the Marine Military Academy as a young teen)

Jase at Military Academy

Private Gallaher, a Class of 2020 Arlington High School alumni, recently graduated from the United States Marine Corps Boot Camp, located on Parris Island within Port Royal, South Carolina, with an added designation as "Expert" Rifleman, the highest of three possible ranks for marksmanship. The thirteen-week boot camp is considered the longest and one of the most rigorous trainings in the Armed Forces. The Marines train more than 17,000 recruits at Parris Island yearly. To graduate, you must pass the final challenge: the infamous Crucible, a 54-hour training exercise that “validates the physical, mental and moral training they’ve endured throughout recruit training,” according to the Marine Corps website. The Crucible journey – and journey is putting it lightly – includes more than 45-miles of marching and negotiating several obstacles that require strength, agility and problem-solving strategies all while facing sleep deprivation after running on less than eight hours of sleep and little food. Of those in Gallaher’s platoon, about 1/3 of them didn’t graduate from boot camp.

Due to very limited phone time, Gallaher couldn’t interview with ACS, but he was able to send us the following quotes. “During bootcamp, I learned how that if you just push a little harder, you can do so much that seems impossible,” he said. “Especially during the Crucible when the heat index was 110º and people were dropping constantly, the main thing that got me through were the guys on my left and right. We were taught to never let each down and to always work as a team. It seems odd, but in some of the hardest time, we would look at each other and just laugh.”

In many ways, Gallaher has already experienced the same kind of brotherhood his grandpa always told him about. And guess who was cheering him on as he crossed the line into becoming a Marine? None other than his grandpa, retired Sergeant Robert Gallaher, who himself graduated from the same boot camp on Parris Island nearly 60 years ago in 1962.

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(Drew and his grandpa celebrating at the Marine Corps graduation)

Jase Gallaher & Grandpa

“It was very emotional watching the two of them reunite,” said Carren Marvin, Drew’s mom. “His [Drew’s grandpa] military service is a huge part of his life and just getting to see his grandson do what he had also done meant so much to him. I’m glad Drew has such a good example to follow, someone who took the role seriously and really represented the spirit of the Marine Corps.”

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(Photo (L): Drew's grandpa, Robert Gallaher at his
Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation in 1962)

Jase & grandpa

Gallaher is now completing a 9-week infantry school program at Camp Geiger in North Carolina and will be assigned to a unit in the fleet once complete. Long term, he hopes to one day serve as a U.S. Marshal.