A Marine’s Mom

When Paul Hasenfus first stepped onto the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, he had already prepared his body and mind to weather the challenges of Recruit Training. What he wasn’t ready for was an obstacle that he never saw coming; one that would change his life forever.

Hasenfus grew up in Plymouth, Mass. and attended Plymouth South High School. He played multiple sports including football, wrestling and lacrosse. His mother Patricia was always there to support him, Hasenfus said.

“She would always be there to pump everyone up; if we were down by 15 she would still yell at the other team,” said Hasenfus. “My mom would come to all the games or matches she could, and just scream her head off.”

Hasenfus said his mother raised all her kids to be strong and to never give up. She didn’t let them make excuses; if they wanted to do something she would make sure they did.

“I wanted to stop playing lacrosse and my mother wouldn’t let me,” said Hasenfus. “She knew I put so much time into it and all that time would mean nothing if I quit.”

During his senior year he made a decision to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. Hasenfus said it was no surprise, it’s what he has always wanted to do.

RSS Plymouth Staff Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge, Staff Sgt. Justin Rheaume said Hasenfus was meant to become a Marine.

“Hasenfus played sports year-round,” said Rheaume. “When he came to our workouts, he was always lifting people up and motivating them.”

When Hasenfus was preparing to leave for Parris Island, he was already dreaming about earning the title.

“I would always imagine me coming home and surprising everyone,” said Hasenfus. “I just imagined doing my dream job and being able to make my family proud.”

When he got to recruit training he picked up with Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. Six days later, he was told that his mother had passed away on July 28.

“I was pulled aside by my drill instructors and they told me what happened,” said Hasenfus. “It was just shock, I couldn’t move. I never thought that would happen to me, never thought it would happen to my mother.”

Hasenfus returned home to spend time with his family and come to grips with losing his mother. He had to decide if he was going to return to Parris Island to achieve his dream of becoming a Marine.

“All the other recruits were saying ‘It’s okay if you don’t come back, it’s a hard thing to go through,’” Hasenfus said. “But I knew I could do it because that’s how she raised me, and I wanted to make it for her.”

When Hasenfus returned to Parris Island he was sent back to training with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. His senior drill instructor was Staff Sgt. John Loving.

“When we picked him up he was definitely down about what happened to him,” Said Loving. “But he kept pushing and became a squad leader and just tried every day to better himself.”

Hasenfus graduated Nov. 1, 2019. 18 of his family and friends came to his graduation.

“The last thing my mom knew was that I’m going to be a Marine,” said Hasenfus. “When I got my [Eagle, Globe and Anchor], I just looked up at the sky and said, ‘Mama, I did it.’”

Story by Lance Cpl. Ryan Hageali 

Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island
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4 comments


  • Sgt. Robert L

    There is a big difference between Bad Ass and just plain ASS. We had a MASTER SGT that acted like a bad ass . My best friend was a door gunner and he was on the chopper taking this Master Sgt some where and they started taking fire. My friend said the Master Sgt started crying like a baby. Later he told my friend he had better not tell anyone.


  • raymond edwards, Sgt Maj USMC 1966-1996

    I was a Drill Instructor in early 70’s and had a Recruit who was from Canada and his Dad passed while he was in training. He went to the funeral and returned and was reassigned to my platoon (I was SDI) he was an outstanding Recruit.
    We were not allowed to inform a Recruit of a tragedy in his family, we had to send them to see the Chaplain.
    However, if a Recruit was a total soup sandwich we would say “*&^%$#@
    head did your parents have any son’s to live.”


  • MSgt Edd Prothro, USMC Ret. 1964-1984

    AN “OLD CORPS” STORY: In the spring of 1971 I was assigned to the Comm Center Chief Course at Comm/Elect Schools Battalion at MCRD San Diego, CA. I was surprised and happy to learn that my good friend, SSgt Billy Lear, was assigned to the same class. Bill and I had served together in RVN and had just ended both of our second combat tours in the fall of 1970. The B Company First Sergeant was quite the character, right out of Corps history, as we soon found out. His name was 1st Sgt Rocky Trafolla, a barrel chested, ram rod straight Marine who looked like he ate nails and spit-out barbed wire, and one of the last to openly carry a swagger stick. Each morning at formation he would gruffly pass along any news with the daily routine, never showing surprise or emotion. This one morning after he finished announcements he said, “LEAR, you know your Grandmother?” and Bill answered, “Yes, First Sergeant.” Then 1st Sgt Trafolla said, “Well, she bought the farm. See the Padre after formation.” And that was all there was to it, how it was done in the Old Corps. Semper Fi!!


  • Sgt Ted K. Shimono (59-68)

    Although losing a parent is a trying time for anybody, I am glad that Pvt Hasenfus, completed recruit training and became a US Marine. You can bet his mother was screaming at the top of her lungs as her son received the Eagle, Globe and Anchor in heaven. Good Luck and always remember our motto: Semper Fi.


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