CHS Graduate Clayton Joins Marines

Former pageant queen trades in dresses for fatigues


Andy Hebert

Jessica Clayton is congratulated by Marine recruiter Sgt. Adelfo Campos after graduating from Crowley High.

Armani Handy, Feature Editor

Jessica Clayton, a 2018 Crowley High School graduate, recently recalled what the last year and a half has been like since she decided to join the United States Marines Corps on Aug. 23, 2017.

She explained why she decided to join the Marines, instead of another branch. “The Marines treated me like family,” she said matter of factly. “Once they welcomed me into their family, I knew that’s where I needed to be.”

Clayton, who is currently a private first class, mentioned what she did to helped prepare for basic training at Parris Island, S.C. “I attended PT (physical training) twice a week where they trained our bodies for the rigors of recruit training. They tested us mentally by pushing us to our physical limits,” mentioned Clayton. She also worked out on her own.

Clayton stations in Parris Island

Sgt Adelfo Campos, who has been in the Marines Corps for seven years and sevens months, has been a recruiter for one year and three months. He explained how he became Clayton’s recruiter. “I was not the fortunate one to actually recruit her. I inherited her from the recruiter I had replaced.”

He also explained what it was like being involved with Clayton. “It was very interesting. She was a young lady that was very active in her community. I was always busy going to events she was in.”
Clayton also mentioned how Campos helped her prepare for basic training. “He explained the reality of recruit training and what I’d face for the next three months. That set me up for success which allowed me to graduate top three of my company and march my company across the parade deck at graduation.”

Campos mentioned what helped Clayton succeed.“She caught on quickly how things work here! She was so eager to learn and improved extremely fast. She was a model recruit.”

Clayton also described how Campos helped her in other ways. “He has gone above the bare minimum. He has invested a great time in my development as a Marine. He is a prime example of a leadership principle in the Marine Corps, which is ‘know your Marines and look out for their welfare,’ and that’s exactly what he does,” she stated. “He has helped my family and answered any questions my nervous mom might have had while I was in boot camp.”

Campos expressed how he felt about being Clayton’s recruiter. “I enjoyed how willing and eager she was to learn about the Marine Corps. She would always come in with questions and looking for different ways to prepare for recruit training,” mentioned Campos. “The best thing about working with Jessica would be how eager she was about learning. That really made my job easy.”

Clayton also explained how Campos helped her once she graduated from boot camp.“He’s helped me by preparing me for the fleet. Answering any questions I had and supporting me through the schoolhouse.”
Clayton recalled what made Marine basic training so difficult. “The hardest part of boot camp is missing your family! I wasn’t able to pick up the phone and tell my mom about my day. I’d have to wait for letters to come. Honestly, I was so prepared, I enjoyed boot camp and thrived. Everything was of course challenging but I embraced the challenge and enjoyed it and came out stronger on the other side,” she claimed

Jessica Clayton on the left spends time with her military friends

Clayton explained that basic training is set up as four phases. “Receiving (the first month) you’re still new. You’re still learning and this is where you get tested the most mentally. The first phase is spent weeding out of weak. Then comes second phase or the second month. This is where you start qualifying for everything in order to become a Marine. Rifle range, swim, MCMAP (Marine Corps martial arts program) etc. Third phase you’re almost done! You’re preparing for the Crucible, and all of your important inspections are during this time. Fourth phase you’ve become a Marine! Now you’re learning how to be a good Marine.”

She did, however, mention that she did experience being treated differently as a female. “Sadly, some do treat women differently,” she stated. “Only a few think that we are delicate and need assistance or to just let the guys do the job so we don’t get hurt.

Jessica Clayton on the right hangs out with other marines

According to, “The Crucible is a test every recruit must go through to become a Marine. It tests every recruit physically, mentally and morally and is the defining experience of recruit training. The Crucible takes place over 54-hours and includes food and sleep deprivation and over 45 miles of marching.
Clayton mentioned that basic training was exactly like she expected. “My RSS (recruiting substation) prepared me perfectly for boot camp.”

“Thankfully, I’ve had amazing NCO’s (non-commissioned officers) who have allowed me to show them that I’m good at my job and just as capable as the males.”

Sgt. Campos gave his opinion about how Clayton did against her male counterparts. “She is just as good or even better than some male Marines. She is a motivated person and goes above and beyond in many of her tasks she gets assigned. She graduated boot camp fourth out of 600 male and female recruits.”

Once Clayton graduated from basic training, she went to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. for MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) school, which lasted for two months. She is a 3531, which is a motor transportation operator. “I do the same things as infantrymen do. I’m on the ground; I’m combat, except I get to drive the big cool trucks you see in the commercials,” she explained.\

Clayton explained the difference between basic training and MOS school. “In MOS school,you’re a Marine. You’ve earned your stay; you’re treated like a person again. You have freedom and these instructors are here to teach you your job, not how to become a Marine.”

She mentioned that to qualify for her job she had to pass all the tests that come with the job. “If you can’t pass, then you get reclassified to a different job.”

After graduating from MOS school, Clayton arrived in Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Ca. on Dec. 14 to begin her career. She is stationed there for the next two years.

Clayton stated that she is not sure if she will stay with this job for the entire time she is a Marine. “I might move into intelligence,” she said.
Clayton admitted what the military has done for her. “It has made me stronger mentally and physically. I’m more outspoken and headstrong.”

She also mentioned that being in the Marines have provided her with financial stability.
Clayton plans to go to school to receive her Bachelor’s in psychology and then go to law school.
She said she would encourage others to join the Marines. “You will never experience anything better. You travel the world for free doing what you love and you meet the most amazing people along the way.”

Clayton’s favorite thing about the Marines is “the family that I have created along my journey.”
Campos explained what kind of relationship he has with Clayton now that she is a Marine. “Our relationship hasn’t really changed,” he stated. “She has become a Marine and I treat her as a little sister. We have stayed in contact. I mentor her on her career and try to help her out any way I can.”

Jessica Clayton graduates from training

Campos added, “She is a great example on going against the grain. She was a dancer/cheerleader and pageant queen. Not the normal ‘Marine Material.’ However, she has excelled tremendously.”
Clayton also had a final comment.: “Believe in yourself and you will go far. Don’t allow anyone to tell you can’t do something, and if they do, prove them wrong. Semper Fi.”