Morris American Legion hosts signing day for graduates joining the military

Nathanial Evans, of Minooka (left) shakes hands with Marine Corps. League Commandant Jeff Alexander. Evans leaves for basic training in the Marines in August.

The Morris American Legion, John Martin Steele VFW, Coal City VFW, Disabled American Veterans, the Marine Corps. League and new military recruits gathered Saturday afternoon to announce which branches of the military the recruits will join.

Skylar Milinkovic, a Coal City High School graduate, will be joining the Navy to work in air traffic control. Nathaniel Evans, from Minooka High School, will be joining the marines in a combat support role, and Cailey Danek, from Morris High School, will be joining the Coast Guard.

Cailey Danek, from Morris (right), with American Legion Commander Ken Buck. Danek leaves for basic training to join the Coast Guard in July.

American Legion Commander Ken Buck said the idea for this came up when they saw high schools doing signing days for their athletes that is intended to continue their athletic careers. A signing day, he said, is important to recognize the new recruits that are heading into the military.

“Basic training is a unique experience,” Buck said. “You’re a small part of American society that’s done anything like it. What we do is dangerous, but also very rewarding. Training is an opportunity for you to learn who you really are, what your physical and mental limitations are.”

Buck joined in the Army in 1988, and now works with the Grundy County Veteran Assistance Commission. When these new recruits finish their military service, Buck said he’s the first person they should be contacting to get everything set up for their future at home.

Skyler Milinkovic, of Coal City (right) with American Legion Commander Ken Buck. Milinkovic leaves for basic training to join the Navy in July.

James “Hoppy” Phillips, the head of the Coal City VFW, said it’s important that the recruits don’t give up and remember that training isn’t anything personal.

“They push you right to the end,” Phillips said. “They do that because they want you to fail here in the states, not overseas where they need you.”

Jeff Alexander, the Commandant of the Marine Corps. League, said military life is very different from everyday life.

“Once you get out to civilian life, the relaxation will be short-lived,” Alexander said. “There will no longer be anyone around to tell you when you’re going to get up in the morning, when you’re going to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, how you’re going to walk, and what you’re going to wear.”

Alexander said, though, those who are patient get to travel the world for free, and come back without student loans to pay and free medical insurance as long as they make the call to Buck.

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec covers Grundy County and the City of Morris, Coal City, Minooka, and more for the Morris Herald-News