By LCpl. Elliot Flood-Johnson
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, CA–Few Americans raise their right hand and decide to serve their country. Some people might know a Marine, but friends of the Grove family now know four.
Pvt. Samantha M. Grove graduated with Golf Company, Second Recruit Training Battalion, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego on Dec. 2. She is the fourth child in her family to march across the parade deck and earn the title ‘Marine’ in the past year.
Completing recruit training is a major accomplishment that less than 1% of the population will achieve. For the Grove family, they are four for four: LCpl Blake Grove, LCpl Brandon Grove, LCpl Bryce Grove and now Pvt. Samantha Grove. Even more notable is that all four graduated from MCRD San Diego.
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego has been making Marines for 99 years, but until this past year, only male recruits had been trained there. Female recruits began to be trained on the west coast in 2021, mirroring the integrated training that has been conducted at MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina.
“It’s very exciting and it’s very special that not only my three brothers graduated here, but that I did as well,” Grove said. “Not only was my family here to see me graduate, but I also graduated with my family because my platoon is my family, too.”
Being the only sister with three brothers in the family can be difficult, but it was a great way for Grove to prepare for the trials of boot camp. Grove used some of the lessons that her brothers taught her both growing up, and from experiencing boot camp themselves, to get herself through.
“They gave me some tips on what I needed to know, but they let the things that should be a surprise when you’re going through boot camp surprise me.”
Before any of the Grove siblings got to boot camp, though, they had to talk to a Marine recruiter. Gunnery Sgt. David W. Cox was more than willing to help them achieve their goals. Cox, who worked from Recruiting Substation Weatherford, Texas, understands the uniqueness of the Grove family.
“To them, family is important, they’re very tight-knit, they’re very supportive, they do everything together,” said Cox. “Growing up in this environment resulted in a common path amongst the Grove siblings. You very rarely hear about even two siblings joining, much less an entire family of four.”
Having four kids join the military has been a unique experience for Billy and Shannon Grove. They were excited for each of their kids and the opportunities that joining would afford them. They also saw that there might be a little bit of sibling rivalry involved, too.
“Samantha wants to go to college,” Shannon said. “Plus, she is very competitive and wanted to show her brothers that if they can do it she can do it better.”
For Samantha, becoming a Marine like her brothers wasn’t enough – she had to outperform them at every turn. She wanted to prove to them, and more importantly to herself, that she could do everything that they could do.
“I had to be better than my brothers,” Samantha said. “If we were doing an obstacle course or a CFT I was thinking, well, I have to beat their time.”
Cox witnessed, first-hand, the qualities that helped Samantha earn the title “Marine.”
“She’s an extremely hard worker,” said Cox, “physically fit, mentally fit, the whole nine yards – they all are.”
Cox has seen the close bond the Grove family has, too. From a parental standpoint, he has seen over the years how well the Groves have raised their kids to be successful in both the military and in life.
“They are hands down just amazing, phenomenal people that are supportive of their kids and what they do to be successful,” said Cox. “It’s really humbling, to be honest, to be their children’s recruiter.”
Now that all of their kids have graduated the only thing left for the Groves to do is to keep up a family tradition that they’ve been doing for years now after a big event – get some ice cream.
“We are a funny family….we have traditions,” Shannon said. “We plan to go to Cold Stone after graduation…because we have done that three other times now.”
Following graduation, Pvt. Grove will be granted a short leave period before continuing on to Camp Pendleton where she will complete Marine Combat training and then follow on to her Marine Occupational Specialty School.