A mother’s love for her son, a persistent future sailor
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – If you’ve ever had basic military training, most of us receive support from our mothers through letters and prayers they recite at night.
19-year-old man from St. Petersburg currently in Marine training camp receives extra support from his mother in his final hours of the 54-hour melting pot that every recruit must endure before earning the Marines emblem and title Americans.
The crucible begins on a Thursday morning at 2 a.m. and ends on Saturday morning. Marine recruit Douglas Collins, son of St. Petersburg mother and third degree Kinney Karate black belt instructor Sonja Leone, 44, is in the middle of his melting pot at the time of writing. Recruits walk over 45 miles during this challenge and sleep very few hours. They also have limited meals.
“He always wanted to challenge himself physically and mentally,” Leone told Patch. “He went back and forth with different ideas, but ultimately he wanted the physical and mental challenge, and he felt the Marines were offering it.”
Leone created “Walk for Douglas Crucible” here in St. Pete to send strength to his son and fellow rookies when their minds and bodies are in the last hours of finishing. The walk takes place early Saturday night at 5:30 am She and Collins supporters will meet in the parking lot between Northshore Waterpark and Gazelle Park just before 5:30 am The plan for Leone and the walkers is to walk the Last 5 miles from Le Creuset with Collins company spiritually.
One of the personal challenges that Collins first faced at training camp was repetitiveness. He wrote in a letter to his mother that he found it boring. Collins is a second-degree black belt, so he’s already trained with the kind of listening mentality that some rookies lack early on. It was difficult for him to understand why his fellow recruits pushed away their drill instructors instead of immediately following orders without asking questions.
“He started karate at the age of nine,” said Leone. “It really took him out of his shell. It made him focus on himself. He excelled as an athlete and academically afterwards. He graduated from high school. at Gibbs High School Pinellas Performing Arts. “
The future Marine graduated in May 2020. It was a disappointing time for him and other Pinellas County graduates who were unable to attend traditional ceremonies due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Collins was sworn in to the Marines right after graduating. He was due to leave in August. He continued his training over the summer and Mama Bear Leone continued to prepare to say goodbye to her youngest with a few screams here and there. When they said their farewells to the recruiting post, a change of plan occurred. The recruiter told them they needed additional paperwork for an injury Collins had as a child.
The disappointed Collins and Leone requested the requested medical papers, which took twice as long as usual due to … you guessed it, delays caused by the pandemic. Its next shipping date was scheduled for January 2021. That was it. He was really going to Parris Island, South Carolina, to become a Marine in 13 weeks.
His parents dropped him off at the Navy recruiting station in Seminole to leave. Already seen. The Marines had one of his packages approved, but the other has yet to be approved, according to Leone. Its shipping date was again delayed. The rookies saw Collins’ persistence and determination and promoted him to guide. As a guide, he showed up to the recruiting station six days a week and helped potential recruits exercise and lose weight so they could go to boot camp. He trained them for four months.
“Most people at this point would have given up,” Leone said. “You had to leave twice, and at this point you are taking on more responsibility.”
Leone said, “I kept telling him that God has a reason. Maybe your reason for not coming in is because these people need you. I don’t know why, but in His timing and when His timing comes, it will. ”
The time chosen by God came around May 9. They got a phone call on Saturday morning, May 8, that everything was approved and he was shipping in 26 hours, which was Mother’s Day. Collins and his companies Lima and Oscar spent the first two weeks in quarantine. They will complete their 13 weeks of basic training on August 20.
Collins will be working in communications while on duty, and he would also like to teach martial arts in the Marines. He will also be 20 next week in basic training.
“Last summer was very hard emotionally for me. When January rolled around I choked a few times. But I was fine when he left this time because I knew he was ready since he was had been preparing for it for so long. I soaked in every bit of knowledge I could. Every Facebook page, every Youtube video. By the time it finally happened, I was glad he was finally seeing this. ”
If you would like to support Collins and his recruits, you are invited to join the St. Pete and His Mum group on Saturday morning. Please be early for the walk, because when you are on time in the army you are late. Always early. The walk begins at 5:30 am and will head towards downtown St. Pete. The meeting place is in the parking lot between the Northshore Aquatic Complex and the Gazelle sector.