Making a commitment; Chico’s Payne joins Marines

Published Wednesday, February 14, 2018
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Ready to Serve

READY TO SERVE – Willie Payne takes his oath to join the Marines. Submitted photo

In the past three months, many high school seniors made their pledges to various colleges to play sports.

Willie Payne made another commitment – to serve his nation.

Last month, the Chico senior was sworn in as a Marine.

“I’ve always dreamed of being a Marine,” Payne said about taking the oath.

Signing On

SIGNING ON – Willie Payne is joined by his parents Sheri and Willie Payne Sr. and Chico staff members during a recent ceremony at the high school to commemorate his commitment to the Marines. Submitted photo

Chico High School held a signing day ceremony for Payne similar to an athlete signing with a college. He was joined by coaches and classmates.

Payne is a son of a Marine, Willie Payne Sr.

“It’s a family thing. My dad was a Marine, and I grew up wanting to be a Marine,” he said.

He added that his father told him, “he raised me to be a Marine.”

Payne considered waiting to enlist until after going to college. But when college plans fell through, he elected to go ahead and enlist now.

“I wanted to get in as soon as I can and start my career,” Payne said. “I plan to make a career out of it.”

Payne plans to become a combat engineer. He will head to basic training in San Diego a few months after graduating from Chico High School.

“My contract says October, but if a spot opens up before then, I’ll go early,” Payne said.

Payne is not nervous about heading to boot camp. He said he’s anxious to go.

His mother, Sheri, who works at the high school, is proud of her son.

“This is something he wanted to do his entire life,” she said. “He’ll do great things.”

Throughout his time at Chico, Payne has been busy. He played football, basketball, baseball and ran track. He was also a member of the National Honor Society, FFA and FCA.

Tuesday, he was at an FFA show in San Angelo.

“I’m not at home very much,” Payne said.

On top of all that, he’s spent the past year working out as part of the Marines’ delayed entry program.

“I started going to workouts last year,” he said.

“In the Marines, you to go boot camp as a recruit. You’ve got to earn it.”

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