It’s not easy to go through the training at Parris Island, the South Carolina military installation that turns recruits into Marines.
It’s a process that is too intimidating, if not actively terrifying, for many of us even to think about. But there are some physically and emotionally brave, gifted 18-year-olds who try it, and many — although not all — of them come out, 12 isolated, grueling, character-forming weeks later, ready to fight America’s battles.
Not many of them are Jewish — but some are. Their ranks include David Carr of Fair Lawn, a 21-year-old graduate of the Yavneh Academy of Paramus, Fair Lawn High School, and Parris Island. Earlier this month, Fair Lawn honored Mr. Carr — or to be formal, Lance Corporal David Solomon Carr — on “Lance Corporal David Solomon Carr Day,” and the town’s mayor, John Cosgrove, presented the Marine with a plaque, along with the town’s best wishes.
Mr. Carr is now on his way to the Middle East, first to Kuwait and then to Iraq, to take part in Operation Inherent Resolve, his father, Sam Carr, said. (David is out of touch during his travels, his father added.)
Why did his son join the Marines? “David always has been idealistic,” Sam Carr said. “When he graduated high school, he felt he wasn’t ready to go to college yet.” Instead, he debated joining either the Marine Corps or the Israel Defense Forces. It was a hard decision, his father said, but his son cares deeply about the United States and Israel, and part of his choice was practical. “The Marine Corps is going to pay him $3,000 a month toward college after he leaves,” Mr. Carr said. “And there are a lot of other benefits as well.” Still, his son hopes “to do something in the future for Israel.”
After he left Parris Island, Mr. Carr was sent to California, where he worked at headquarters. “He’s an ammunition technician,” his father said. “He is in charge of inventory — ordering, supplying, and dispensing ammunition and weapons systems. It’s a lot of responsibility.”
David Carr has that job because he acceded to his father’s request and did not pursue joining the infantry. “I said whatever it is that you do, I really don’t want you do that,” Sam Carr said. “The infantry are the guys who knock down doors in Iraq, and so many kids are getting killed. So instead he is behind the scenes, issuing the weapons and weapon systems. He respected my request.”
David Carr will be in the Marines for another 14 months, his father said. (But who’s counting?) After that, he’ll go to college; he hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in business and then maybe go on for an MBA or go to law school. He will be aided in his studies by the knowledge and experience he will have gained in the Marines, his father added.
One thing that Sam Carr found surprising — and reassuring — is that his son has told him that he has not encountered any anti-Semitism in the Marines. The family supports their local Chabad, and David went to the Chabad shul in Teaneck with his father before he joined the Marines. “David makes very clear that he is Jewish, and that he is a proud Jew,” Sam Carr said. That has gotten him nothing but respect in the Marine Corps.
Both father and son feel strongly about the United States. “We as Jews are very fortunate to live in this great country,” Sam Carr said. “David is protecting our country. We take it for granted — we are so big, so prosperous, and we don’t always have to keep looking over our shoulders.
“I went to Madrid recently, and there, in order to go to shul, you have to come the day before with your passport. And then, at shul time, they have policemen with machine guns escorting you out and back to the street. That’s no way to live.
“Here, we have a great life, with peace and prosperity,” he continued. He’s proud of his son for working to protect it. His father was in the Air Force, he said, as were many of his uncles, and “I’m proud that my son is continuing in that tradition.”
Still, he added, he knows that it’s not what Jews usually do, and he doesn’t mind teasing them a bit. “Usually, when I tell people that my son is a Marine, they expect the word after marine to be biologist,” Sam Carr said.