Out of more than 300 recruits, a 2013 graduate of Bishop McGann-Mercy High School recently finished boot camp at the top of his class.
Marine Corps Pfc. Kevin Thomas, 20, of Jamesport earned the honor after he graduated from the Parris Island, S.C., Recruit Depot earlier this month.
Sgt. Pablo Abad, a Riverhead-based Marine Corps recruiter, said Pfc. Thomas was selected because of his high grades and leadership skills.
He also described Pfc. Thomas as very motivated, driven, physically fit, and said he “has a good head on his shoulders and scored above his peers on the armed service aptitude exam.”
“It’s not just being smart and strong,” Sgt. Abad said. “We want the whole package — someone who possesses all the qualities of a Marine. You have to go before the board and be selected. That’s how you become an honor grad. It’s pretty tough.”
Although becoming an honor grad is a difficult task, the accomplishment didn’t come as a surprise to the Thomas family.
“We were extremely proud, but we were not surprised because he went in with a goal of becoming an honor grad,” said his mother, Dawn Thomas. “He’s a very strong willed young man and if he decides to do something he generally gets it done.”
Pfc. Thomas, who wasn’t immediately available to comment for this story, was in charge of leading 60 new recruits and was the platoon’s guide through the entire duration of boot camp, Sgt. Abad said.
Pfc. Thomas is now training in California to become a Reconnaissance Marine, which Sgt. Abad described as “the elite of the elite.”
“He has the qualities that it takes to actually lead Marines,” Sgt. Abad said. “He will be remarkable at whatever he does. He has an enthusiasm for life.”
Ms. Thomas said her son always knew he wanted to join the military and described his accomplishments as impressive.
“If we don’t have people like Kevin and other young men and women serving in our military, then we don’t have anything,” she said.