OKEECHOBEE — Even as a child, Jacob Dupree knew he would one day join the military, and as soon as he graduated from Okeechobee High School in 2015, he joined the Marines.
“I always knew I wanted to serve my country,” he said. “I felt like it was the right thing to do.” As he got older and the time drew near for him to decide exactly what he was going to do, he thought if he was going to join, he wanted to join the best, and that meant the Marines. “They are the best of the best, so I figured that’s what I would do.”
Basic training was in Paris Island, S.C. followed by AIT in Jacksonville, N.C. where he was trained for the infantry. Basic training and AIT each took three months.
After his training was complete, he was sent to Camp Pendleton. in San Diego, Calif. His unit was the 1st Marine Division 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance. He spent the majority of his time field training. They went to the rifle range a couple times a month. The goal in the training was to keep improving their skills in the event they were ever needed in a battle. They practiced with a basic rifle, a light machine gun and grenades. They were always out training in the field doing simulated battles. “It was almost like paint guns when we were kids, but it’s not like a little one hour battle and it’s over. It went on for weeks and weeks,” he said. “We’d go out in the field and do everything just like we would overseas.”
They did a lot of traveling during training. They went to Twentynine Palms and spent a month in the desert training in higher elevation.
Dupree was never deployed and was stationed in California his entire four years in the service.
For several months, his unit trained with New Zealanders. “We taught them everything we knew, how we fight, how we train. We even sent a team of guys to New Zealand to train with them for three months.”
One of his favorite things about being a Marine was meeting people he would have never met if he had not joined. “I have a brotherhood bond with people from all over the country and all over the world.” Dupree made several friends while in the Marines. “I talk to some of them just about every day and probably will until I die.”
Another perk to his time in the service was being stationed in California. “The weather is really nice,” he said. “We had maybe two weeks in the year where it went over 90 degrees. Pretty much the rest of the year was 60s and 70s, and then it got cold in the winter.”
Dupree was able to come home to Okeechobee at least once a year while he was in the service. He married his wife, Victoria, while he was still in California and after his discharge in 2019, their baby girl, Olivia, was born. Dupree is now a foreman for a construction company in Belle Glade.
Dupree would recommend that anyone graduating from high school join the military. “It teaches you leadership skills and discipline, things you need to know to be successful. It teaches you a good work ethic. I think it is part of the reason I have the work ethic I have now.”