They are Marines, the Few, the Proud

Tech Sergeant Michael Schock hadn’t seen his 6-year-old son, Logan, for more than eight months. In April, Logan received the biggest surprise of his life. His daddy came home.

Logan’s Mother, Melissa Shirk, explained to Logan that his dad, Shirk’s ex-husband, would be arriving home Friday. However Shirk knew very different because he was actually arriving on Tuesday as a big surprise – at Logan’s school.

Military homecomings are a common but joyous event in this family. Not only Schock but Shirk’s two older sons, Nathaniel and Shane Kelley, also are in the military. Shane is currently in training with the Marines and Nathaniel is in Afghanistan, also with the Marines. Schock was in the Navy for four years and then continued in the military by joining the Air Force.

On the appointed day, Melissa arrived at Eshelman Elementary early with drinks for the first grade class while Logan’s teacher, Patricia Detter supplied the cake. Logan’s brother, Shane Kelley, was also at the school for the event.

Melissa grew up in a military family herself.  Her grandfather was in the Army, and her mother and father were in the Air Force. Shane and Nathan’s father is also in the Air Force, so they have grown up with military influences.

“My brothers are all military and my sisters (including myself) have all married military men,” said Mrs. Shirk.

Logan and the rest of his first grade class were in the library when his mother arrived.

Logan and His Dad.    Photo Credit Melissa Shirk
Logan and his Dad. Photo Credit Melissa Shirk
Detter had the classroom decorated with red,white and blue Mylar balloons.

When the students arrived back to the classroom from the library, they were questioning why it was decorated and why there was food and drinks in the back.

But Detter just went on with the class routine, inviting the students to sit on the carpet for reading time. She explained the decorations, saying they were having a party with their fifth grade reading buddies.

That afternoon in class, the phone rang, the cue that he was there. With her  video camera ready Shirk walked down the hall to meet her youngest child’s father for the surprise. Schock was accompanied by Logan’s grandmother and his aunt.

Then the moment of truth.  Schock arrived to the class and called out “Is there a Logan Schock in here?”

Logan immediately raised his hand and just stared at his dad in disbelief

Logan's jumping into his dads arms. Photo Credit Melissa Shirk.
Mrs. Detter assured the shocked Logan that he could get out of his seat.

Logan jumped up and ran to his daddy’s arms.

Logan didn’t know what to think when his dad walked into the room.

“I thought it was someone else, I was in shock,” said Logan.

After the big surprise, the class had questions and celebrated with cake and drinks.

Logan said he loved the surprise.

“I was really surprised, It was a good surprise.”

For Melissa Shirk, surprise homecomings and surprises in general are all part of the military life, one she thinks is a good choice for many young people.

“Describing her son, Nathan, Shirk said he did not do that well in high school academically but excelled when he got into the military.

“He is very dedicated and committed,” she said.

Nathaniel Kelley is currently deployed in Afghanistan. He faces life threatening tasks everyday. He paves the  way through combat areas and clears out insurgents in hostile areas. He allows for ground Marines to come through and accomplish missions.

LcP1 Nathaniel Kelley writting a letter with his free time in Afghanistan.

Shirk’s middle son, Shane Kelley, a 2010 Penn Manor grad,  left April 19 for in Paris Island, South Carolina, for his initial 13 week Marine Corps Boot camp. Shane finished high school early to specifically to leave for boot camp. Ten days after boot camp ends, Shane will be allowed home for ten days and then he will report directly to Camp Geiger, North Carolina for Marine combat training.

After Camp Geiger, Kelley will be trained for the “every Marine a rifleman” status, becoming a trained rifleman. After this training, he can be placed anywhere in a variety of different schools across the world to train in aviation maintenance, his specific Military occupation specialty.

“I am happy for him that he is starting his career and following his dreams, but the mom in me, wants him close to home and I am going to miss him very much” said Melissa.

“When Nate was in boot camp, I wrote to him every single day. Sometimes it was just ten lines or it was ten pages.  I was always positive and upbeat and told him how brave he is and how proud I am of him” said Melissa.

Since Nathan has been deployed, Melissa sends him care packages consisting of food, toiletries, etc. Melissa recently talked to Nathan on the phone and he shared that he wasn’t able to shower and change his underwear for 28 days. Melissa went out and bought ten packs of  boxers, deodorant, baby wipes and other stuff for him and his platoon to share.

Despite the hardship, both young men know they are doing something for their country that will be worth the sacrifice.

“I wanted to do something that had a bigger meaning, while everyone is here at college, working or sitting around , I will be out in the field, keeping the home-front safe, ensuring my country stays the free country that it is,” said Shane.

As young as Logan is, he has accepted his brothers and dad’s military goals.

“I’m proud of them! I love them very much and I miss Nate being home and Shane just left and I miss him already,” said Logan.

Nathaniel (left) and Shane Kelley at the Marine training center. Photo Credit Melissa Shirk

“The Marines don’t take anyone, and in order to earn the name Marine, you must earn it with high honors and even harder work. It entails making it through the toughest boot camp and surviving The Crucible, a grueling 54 hour, 9 meal, 60 mile hike with little or no sleep. Only then, once they complete The Crucible, are they called Marines,” said Shirk.

By Steph Herr

One thought on “They are Marines, the Few, the Proud”

  1. Thanks STeph! what a great story, and it made me tear up thinking about that day.
    For and update: Nate is now home, safely. He returned last Thursday May 27 to his home base! We are excited that he is home and he will be visiting his home state of PA next week!!

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