The call of duty: Hoffman learns valuable lessons at sea cadet training

BCLUW sophomore to be Carson Hoffman (left) and his father BJ (right) pose for a photo after the former completed sea cadet training at Camp Dodge earlier this summer. Hoffman hopes to join the Marine Corps after graduating from high school. (Photo courtesy of BJ Hoffman) 

When Carson Hoffman ships off to basic training in a few years, he won’t harbor any illusions about what he’s getting himself into: after completing sea cadet training at Camp Dodge in Johnston in late June and early July, he’ll be well prepared, to say the least.


“I knew it would be hard, but I’m up for the challenge,” he said. “And that’s kind of the main reason I did it.”


Hoffman, a BCLUW sophomore-to-be, spent 12 days over the summer performing various duties from about 4:30 in the morning to 11:00 at night. He hopes to eventually join the Marine Corps and perhaps even attend a service academy if he can garner an endorsement from one of Iowa’s federal politicians, and if his current course and grades in school are any indication, he’s definitely on the right track.


The fact that most of the camp attendees are teenagers doesn’t mean the officers go soft or ease them into military life: quite the opposite, actually. As it turns out, the famous drill sergeant portrayed by actual Marine Corps veteran Lee Ermey in “Full Metal Jacket” isn’t a far cry from reality at all. Even an infraction as minor as improperly folding and putting away laundry won’t go unpunished.


“They start yelling at you right away,” Hoffman said. “The drill instructors, I thought they would all be older, like in their 20s or something, but they were 15, 16 or 17 (years old), and they were very mature for their age. And they’re very, very loud.”


Thanks to the service of his grandfather Bill, who lives in Grundy Center, and the rigor associated with the branch, Hoffman has always held a special place in his heart for the Navy and specifically the Marine Corps. And his father BJ, a GCHS graduate and current Hardin County supervisor, couldn’t be more proud—for his son’s commitment to service and uncanny independence for his age.


“When you drop your child off there, it’s ‘Don’t call us to find out if everything’s okay. We’ll call you if something goes wrong,’ and you have to trust it,” BJ said. “It kind of sorts the followers and the leaders.” 


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