Out by the IWA Jima Monument is a private high school, the Marine Military Academy. It is a college preparatory boarding school for boys for grades 8-12 with a optional post graduate year. Since 1965, MMA is the only private school in the world, based on the values of the U. S. Marine Corp. Boys come from all over the world to attend and are turned into cadets who will reach their full potential in life. They offer a wonderful tour of the campus grounds and several buildings on campus.
We arrived at the Museum to board our bus from the Academy.
We were greeted by our guide. He was dressed in the Military uniform, and had a deep voice that carried through the bus. He was very friendly and full of so much information, that I know I forgot a lot. He is a retired Marine and is employed in admissions. He thinks of these boys as his. A very commendable quality.
We boarded the bus, all 32 of us, and proceeded from the museum across the street to the gate.
The gate was very impressive. Double gates had a large gold rifle mounted in the center. Black fencing surrounds the grounds and the lane is lined with palm trees. As we drove along, we passed the home of the head military person in charge. (forgot his rank)…As you can tell I have NO Military background. We approached the campus and we were in front of all the barracks.
The school at one time housed 500 cadets, but as a sign of the times it has a size of around 225 cadets now. Part of the reason is the cost. It cost $37,000 a school year to attend. Imagine that. The average attendance for a cadet to attend is 2 years. If a cadet attends all 4 to 5 years, he will most likely be guaranteed a spot at West Point or any elite Academy. He will surely be given scholarships for any college. This school had turned out many top notch people, doctors, lawyers, physicians, and even Generals. You are not expected to enlist in the Marines, you can still enlist in any branch of service if you choice too.
We turned and stopped at the front of the Gymnasium.
We entered the building.
It was shiny clean modern gym. On the wall was the MMA Emblem.
The pads under the basket ball hoop said “Fighting Leathernecks”. We were told why the Leathernecks. Long time ago the Marines would stand guard. Their collars were made of leather to help support their head while doing guard duty. Another reason, was during hand to hand combat, the leather collar would also protect their necks from decapitation….Wow….I would have never thought that…..rather gruesome….. Off the side of the gym, we entered a state of the art exercise room.
The cadets spend much time here, and theirs always an adult in duty. They said otherwise the cadets would get so caught up in trying to get buff, they would probably injure themselves. lol. Boys love to build muscles. We boarded the bus again, and proceeded to the back 40. Back their was where they spent many hours doing all the things I would just shudder at. lol.
This is where all the obstacle courses are, mud bogs, zip lines, buildings to repel off, and many other courses spread over the area. This was just like Boot Camp. Next stop was a Class room.
We went into a Math Class. It was a small room, but it was constructed like theater seating. Their was only 3 rows, but each row was raised, so all students could achieve great visual and attention on the teacher. Back to the bus again. On the way he gave us some more info. This Academy is on the edge of the Harlingen Airport. The Airport was at one time a Military base. After it closed the MMA opened bordering the new Harlingen Airport that was formed. Many of the cadets also attend flight training classes. He said their are more students who have achieved their pilot license than have gotten their drivers license. The boys lead a very structured schedule. It is just like boot camp. Every hour is accounted for. It is full of studying time, and the time for sports and physical training. They have to earn time off. Their are no cars or bikes of any kind belonging to the cadets. A family with children lives in each barracks, so they have someone watching or someone to go to if needed. Also on all four corners of the campus, are where all the houses of the teachers, etc. are located. So they have a visual of all the barracks on all four sides at all times. It is all about discipline and learning and self respect……..On to the Cafeteria for lunch.
We were able to eat the same meal the cadets eat for $10.
We went through the line choosing our fruit, main dish, vegetable, dessert and drink. The cadets are not allowed any soda. That is something that is given for a reward…..I would never last…..lol….
We sat in the brightly decorated dinning Hall. It was full of natural lighting from the ceiling. We were waiting for the cadets to come in for dinner. They had finished their morning classes and were in their dorms getting ready for inspection were they would line up military style. We raided the ice cream cooler filled with fudge cycles, ice cream bars and sandwiches, and headed outside to the porch area. The cadets were lining up and getting ready to march in.
Finally, they marched in…..Company by Company….
Our guide has his son enrolled here. He is 16 and his dad was very proud to introduce him to us. Finally it was over. We boarded the bus and was taken back across the street to the IWA JIMA Museum.
Some of us went into the museum and some of the guys had earlier walked around the equipment that is on display. Some went over to the Monument for a walk.
This tour was actually done several weeks ago. Last Friday was a Military Parade at the parade grounds in front of the Monument. My friends Cici, Larry and I went. It was so impressive. The cadets marched from the Academy across the street to the parade grounds. They went through the weapons inspection and all their other routines. The band played, as they did their routines.
The last march they did was to march in front of us in the stadium seats, their commanding officers, and mostly important was the veterans of our past wars. They invited 2 surviving members, who fought at Iwa Jima to attend. The flag was flying half mast for the Ceremony……
……..The Marine Military Creed…….
………And Most Impressive…..A Night Time View of the Iwa Jima Monument…….