Sergeant Shannon Ihrke: Not Just Another Pretty Marine

22. Finding Another Way

Despite the challenges, Ihrke battled against it all to make her life work. In the quiet moments between the toiling, she faced the mounting dissatisfaction of her life. It seemed she could either work or go to school, but she didn’t have the means to do both. Without money, she couldn’t go to school. The future looked bleak. When it seemed her life couldn’t get any harder, Ihrke caught sight of an enlistment poster. Although she had not considered joining the military, the idea lodged in her medulla oblongata long enough to grow roots. She decided to investigate further.

21. Deciding on a Branch of Service

Big decisions tend to raise more questions than answers so Ihrke set about to gather information. Could she enlist and stay in school? Would she come back if she left? Most importantly, which branch of the service would she join? Ihrke spoke to recruiters from every branch: Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Marines. It was something unexpected about her experience with the Marines’ recruiter which drove her to make a choice. He looked her over twice, then commented how she wouldn’t make it as a Marine. That was all the country girl needed to hear. She immediately enlisted in Marine Boot Camp.

20. Traveling Far From Home

While South Carolina isn’t far for many travelers, for this hometown girl, leaving the state of Minnesota was a big deal. The Marines shipped her to South Carolina to start boot camp. With the words of that recruiter echoing in her head, she pushed up her sleeves, laced up her boots, and got to work. Every time someone looked at Ihrke like she was too delicate to be a Marine, it only steeled her resolve. “A lot of the Marines initially thought that I might not be able to keep up physically, or that I somehow wasn’t as strong as them,” she told the Daily Mail. “So I made it my mission to prove them wrong.”

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