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Ten-hut! BHS student wins Marine training competition

“I wanted to be one of the best,” said John “J.W.” Cowart of hisdecision to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Brookhaven High School senior proved that in October bywinning the 2006 Mississippi Gulf Coast Marine Corps League PooleeCompetition against nearly 200 other recruits.

The competition challenged recruits to a strength and endurancecourse that resembles the Marine Corps physical fitness trainingrequirements. Recruits had to run 1.5 miles and perform as manypull-ups and sit-ups as they could in a set time.

“I got used to the less humidity here and we ran right on thebeach, so it was tough to breathe, but I just gave it everything Ihad,” said Cowart, a native of Vancleave who moved to Brookhavenwith his parents, Pam and Keith Moore, last year.

Staff Sgt. Nester Antoine, Cowart’s Marine Corps recruiter, said”everything he had” proved to be more than enough.

“That was actually a huge accomplishment to compete and winagainst several hundred recruits from across the state,” Antoinesaid. “It just shows all the hard work we and the recruits do toprepare them (for basic training).”

Self-confidence is not something the Marine Corps will have toinstill in Cowart during boot camp.

“On the way down, I told my recruiter I was going to win it, butI was kind of surprised when I did,” Cowart said. “I really didn’texpect to, but I was going to give it my best.”

Cowart’s off-the-cuff remark that he would win the competitionwas bold, but not unbelievable, Antoine said.

“I believed him,” he said. “Cowart and I work out a lot. I’mconstantly pushing him harder and harder. He’s an exceptional youngman and can accomplish whatever he sets his mind to.”

Cowart said he is used to having to prove himself and intends todo so again when he reports to Marine Corps Recruit Depot ParrisIsland, S.C., on June 11. Some of his fellow students shouldn’tdoubt his resolve, he said.

“They don’t think I fit the profile of a Marine,” said the 5’5″Cowart. “Some don’t think I can do it, but that just makes me wantto do it more.”

Cowart said he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve to help payfor college and to receive avionics training.

“I’ll be working on guided missiles, navigation systems andother computer electronics,” he said. “I’m trying to get into theNaval Academy, and after one semester there I hope to transfer tothe officer corps so I can be a pilot.”

At college, Cowart intends to study medicine and become adoctor, but admits he has considered possibly joining the activeduty Marine Corps as well.

The student credits his mother for his determination to excel inall things.

“If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t care,” he said. “Iwouldn’t go to college or strive to improve myself. I would take amenial job and work for low pay,” he said. “But, she put a desirein me to do something for myself, to make something of myself. I’mnot going to let her down.”