YORK, PENNSYLVANIA--For Nathan and Michael Wilson the phrase brothers-in-arms is more than just a motivational quote; for them it is the story of their life.
After 13 weeks of training, Nathan and Michael Wilson graduated recruit training on May 8 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.
Nathan and Michael grew up in York, Pennsylvania. They were both home schooled along with their older brother, Jaichin, and as a result the three siblings did mostly everything together on a daily basis.
“It was different from normal,” said 19-year-old Nathan. “Most people fight with their siblings, but we did everything together. We were close. We bowled together in a league Friday and we also golfed.”
The brothers bowled for about 12 years. The brothers became pretty good bowlers to the point where they were competing in tournaments to try and win scholarships for school.
However, for Nathan, the youngest of the three, school was not what he wanted to do. He always knew he wanted to join the military. Coming from a military family he wanted to continue with the family tradition, thus, he chose the Marine Corps. The source of inspiration was his grandfather, a former Marine. Nathan decided to become a Marine just like his grandfather before him. He enlisted on May 8, 2014; six days after his 18th birthday.
He shipped off to recruit training on January 12, but not everything would go smoothly.
During training with Company D, Nathan became ill and was sent to the hospital on February 3, where he spent 6-days recovering before being released.
“I didn’t want to be dropped from training, but I was sent to medical. What I understood from the doctor was that I had a hole in my lungs that was filling my throat with air,” said Nathan. “It seemed like I was having an allergic reaction (the way he was breathing), but it turned out to be pneumonia.”
According to their mother, Cheryl L. Wilson, she cried when she received the phone call regarding Nathan’s health because she couldn’t drive down to Parris Island to see Nathan, but luckily, he was only in the hospital for a few days.
After being released from the hospital, Nathan was sent to Evaluation Holding Platoon for two weeks, where he would be medically cleared for training after passing a physical fitness test. Nathan was ready to continue with his quest to become a United States Marine.
For Michael, the journey to becoming a Marine was a bit different. He graduated high school on March 12, 2012 and began working roughly 50 hours a week at several part time jobs. Michael tried to enlist at the age of 19, but was medically disqualified and needed to obtain a waiver by the US Navy Board of Medicine and Surgery. The process took about 18 months.
“The process was long, but I stayed as motivated as possible,” said 21-year-old Michael. “I started to lose hope and think ‘ok when is this going to happen. ’ I was getting ready to apply for college when I got the call.”
It was in December 2014 that Michael received the news he had been hoping for for more than 18 months; he was approved for enlistment. He recited the oath of enlistment on January 10, 2015 and was scheduled to ship off to recruit training March 23, 2015. However, Michael was in for a surprise.
“Staff Sgt. Rondini (Marine in charge of Recruiting Substation York) called me (February 4, a day after his brother was hospitalized) and said ‘Hey we have a slot open and, if you want to leave next Monday,’” said Michael. “It was a little jolt and it became real, real fast.”
Michael shipped off to recruit training on February 9, just as his brother was being released from the hospital and sent to EHP. Then, during the third week of training something odd happened.
“It was a Sunday and I was outside the church waiting to go into religious services, when I heard someone say, ‘Wilson.’ I turned around and my brother was there,” said Michael. Nathan had recovered and been assigned to Company E just as Michael had. “I knew there was a possibility of him dropping into my company, but I thought ‘yeah right what are the odds of that happening.’”
The brothers were assigned to the same company, but were in different platoons. They did not see each other much throughout training, but they were both motivated to complete training together just like doing everything together as kids.
“I was ecstatic when I found out they were in the same company because we wanted them to graduate together,” said Cheryl. “It would be better for us to only make one trip and better for them to see each other graduate.”
During the “Warriors Breakfast” (the first meal after earning the title Marine), Michael saw Nathan sitting down with other members of his platoon. He wanted to congratulate his brother.
“Congratulations Marine,” said Michael to his brother on May 2, 2015. “Oh and Happy Birthday!”
The brothers graduated on May 8 from recruit training with their family present to greet them. Their grandfather, Clyde Gotwalt, was also in attendance and just said, “Congratulations Marines”
According to both brothers, those words felt pretty good coming from their grandfather.
Now the two will move on their own separate ways. They will both attend Marine Combat Training and then, their respective military occupational specialty schools. Nathan will attend aviation mechanic school in Pensacola, Florida and Michael will attend ground electronics maintenance school in Twentynine Palms, California. Even though they go their separate ways for now, for the two Marines, the quote “brothers-in-arms” now has a special meaning.