MIAMI – A Miami man, Brandon Jones, completed U.S. Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego, California on Dec. 1.

“Boot camp was a lot of fun,” Jones said with a good-hearted laugh. “It wasn't what I expected at all whenever I stepped off the bus. It was really intense, and none of us knew what was going on, so we kind of went with the flow.”

Marine recruit training boot camp is known to be both physically and mentally difficult. Jones said he pushed on through the challenging process, but felt great accomplishment at his achievement.

“They say that you'll quit on yourself before they quit on you,” Jones said. “That's a great thing about the Marine Corps - they don't just really push you, they put everything they have into making Marines.”

Jones said the last hike of boot camp was tough, but still fun for him because it was easier.

“Physically it was challenging, but mentally we had the motivation to get through it because we'd worked that 12 weeks to get this one little eagle golden anchor,” he said tapping the insignia on his hat. “That was waiting for us at the top of the hill. We were all talking each other through it. It was great. It was a great experience. Graduation was an awesome experience too.”

Jones was born in Jacksonville, Florida and moved to Miami at the age of two, and graduated from Miami High School.

“I've grown up here my whole life,” he said. “I played sports at Miami High School, football and I ran track. Right after I graduated I shipped out to boot camp. I didn't necessarily want to go to college yet, but I knew I needed to do something. I needed a job and needed to do something, and I wanted to make a better man of myself, so I decided to join the Marine Corps. I'd always admired the military, so I decided to go ahead and join.”

Jones follows a great-uncle who served in the military in the Army and his grandfather served in the Army in Korea.

“I had some military family members, but not in the Marine Corps, this was new,” Jones said. “I'm the first one in my family to join the Marine Corps. They pride themselves on their values, being honorable, and courage and being committed in whatever you plan to do. The way that they hold themselves to sort of a higher standard, it seems because they want the best out of their men.”

Jones admits being away from his home and family was hardest.

“That was the hard thing, being away from family. That was probably one of the most difficult things about boot camp,” he said.

Jones said local U.S. Marine Recruiter Sgt. Carlos Hernandez's prepared him and supported and helped him through enlistment and encouraged him by sending letters to him in boot camp.

“It helps both ways because he's got the poolies that are waiting to go in, and so we can kind of give feedback and help improve the poolies back here at Miami,” Jones said. “We can tell them what they need to work on before boot camp time to prepare and make them more physically fit.”

Sgt. Hernandez said Jones was a promising recruit.

“He was really self-motivated before he went in, before recruit training,” he said. “He would just push everybody to motivate them and to keep pushing and working out. So, I knew when he went to boot camp he would be fine.”

Describing the changes in his life due to boot camp, Jones said, “It's helped me to mature a bit. Boot camp really humiliates you, that's one thing they do good, in a sense they kind of teach you that you haven't made anything yet. They really humble you. Coming back we're motivated, but we're also humbled by the experience at boot camp.”

After a brief return home, Jones left for Camp Pendleton on Dec. 12 for two weeks of combat training and will return in time for the holidays with family before returning for two more weeks of training. Jones will then be stationed at Pensacola, Florida for further training.

“That's also cool because I was born there and I have family there," he said. “Right now I'm not sure if I want to make a career out of the Marines. I guess I'll just have to see. I like my job, but I could always switch jobs. There are other opportunities in the Marines to consider.”

MIAMI – A Miami man, Brandon Jones, completed U.S. Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego, California on Dec. 1.

“Boot camp was a lot of fun,” Jones said with a good-hearted laugh. “It wasn't what I expected at all whenever I stepped off the bus. It was really intense, and none of us knew what was going on, so we kind of went with the flow.”

Marine recruit training boot camp is known to be both physically and mentally difficult. Jones said he pushed on through the challenging process, but felt great accomplishment at his achievement.

“They say that you'll quit on yourself before they quit on you,” Jones said. “That's a great thing about the Marine Corps - they don't just really push you, they put everything they have into making Marines.”

Jones said the last hike of boot camp was tough, but still fun for him because it was easier.

“Physically it was challenging, but mentally we had the motivation to get through it because we'd worked that 12 weeks to get this one little eagle golden anchor,” he said tapping the insignia on his hat. “That was waiting for us at the top of the hill. We were all talking each other through it. It was great. It was a great experience. Graduation was an awesome experience too.”

Jones was born in Jacksonville, Florida and moved to Miami at the age of two, and graduated from Miami High School.

“I've grown up here my whole life,” he said. “I played sports at Miami High School, football and I ran track. Right after I graduated I shipped out to boot camp. I didn't necessarily want to go to college yet, but I knew I needed to do something. I needed a job and needed to do something, and I wanted to make a better man of myself, so I decided to join the Marine Corps. I'd always admired the military, so I decided to go ahead and join.”

Jones follows a great-uncle who served in the military in the Army and his grandfather served in the Army in Korea.

“I had some military family members, but not in the Marine Corps, this was new,” Jones said. “I'm the first one in my family to join the Marine Corps. They pride themselves on their values, being honorable, and courage and being committed in whatever you plan to do. The way that they hold themselves to sort of a higher standard, it seems because they want the best out of their men.”

Jones admits being away from his home and family was hardest.

“That was the hard thing, being away from family. That was probably one of the most difficult things about boot camp,” he said.

Jones said local U.S. Marine Recruiter Sgt. Carlos Hernandez's prepared him and supported and helped him through enlistment and encouraged him by sending letters to him in boot camp.

“It helps both ways because he's got the poolies that are waiting to go in, and so we can kind of give feedback and help improve the poolies back here at Miami,” Jones said. “We can tell them what they need to work on before boot camp time to prepare and make them more physically fit.”

Sgt. Hernandez said Jones was a promising recruit.

“He was really self-motivated before he went in, before recruit training,” he said. “He would just push everybody to motivate them and to keep pushing and working out. So, I knew when he went to boot camp he would be fine.”

Describing the changes in his life due to boot camp, Jones said, “It's helped me to mature a bit. Boot camp really humiliates you, that's one thing they do good, in a sense they kind of teach you that you haven't made anything yet. They really humble you. Coming back we're motivated, but we're also humbled by the experience at boot camp.”

After a brief return home, Jones left for Camp Pendleton on Dec. 12 for two weeks of combat training and will return in time for the holidays with family before returning for two more weeks of training. Jones will then be stationed at Pensacola, Florida for further training.

“That's also cool because I was born there and I have family there," he said. “Right now I'm not sure if I want to make a career out of the Marines. I guess I'll just have to see. I like my job, but I could always switch jobs. There are other opportunities in the Marines to consider.”

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.