Elizabeth Mauras took a deep breath, hoping it would contain her tears, but as the longtime Freeporter and Puerto Rican native blinked, tears rolled down her cheek. She looked dotingly at her 17 year-old-son, Sebastian Mauras, a senior at Freeport High School.
He’s an active student with a resume full of extracurricular activities, a solid number of community service hours and Honor Roll grades exceptional enough for acceptance, he believes, to an Ivy League university. That is not, however, his plan.
Rather, he will serve his country in the military — specifically, the Marines.
Mauras was active in the Freeport High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, but he was unsure whether he would eventually join the military. His mind started to change over the summer between junior and senior years.
“I thought about the benefits and the title of being a Marine,” Sebastian said. “It rung a bell in my head. Having [the military] to pay for education was big for me.”
Before breaking the news to his family, Mauras mulled over the idea for three months while meeting with a Marine Corps recruiter at the office on Sunrise Highway in central Freeport, near the Long Island Rail Road station. A week before his 17th birthday last November, he wrote a two-page letter to his parents, explaining his decision.
“I know that you’re probably going to get me a phone for my birthday. Thank you,” the letter read. “But what I really want for my birthday is your signature to join the Marines.”
Stunned, Elizabeth and her husband, Sergio, immediately agreed to sign the documents granting their son permission to enlist.
“We were ready to support him,” Sergio said. “It was obvious that this was something that he wanted to do. We try our best to support him, especially because of the type of person he is. He’s always made good decisions.”
Still, they were worried at the start. “We were scared at first,” Elizabeth said. “I was afraid of him joining, and it was just a surprise for me.”
Shortly after Sebastian’s birthday, Elizabeth and Sergio met with the recruiters and signed all the necessary paperwork. Lee, 15, Sebastian’s younger brother, said he couldn’t quite find the words to tell his brother not to enlist, as he had his reservations, but ultimately he supported him.
“He’s my best friend,” Lee said. “We’ve always done everything together, and I am really going to miss him. I don’t know how I am going to deal with him gone.”
According to Sebastian, a major reason to join the USMC was to help his family financially prepare to send his younger brother to college, whom he considers to be the better wrestler. He said he hopes his brother pursues wrestling at the collegiate and possibly the Olympic levels.
After graduation in June, Sebastian will be off to 13 weeks of boot camp, starting Aug. 27, at Parris Island, S.C. At the moment, he is unsure what his military occupational specialty will be. He’s considering a range of possibilities — medicine, communications, engineering, aviation repair or architecture.
“Once I finish boot camp, I’ll get my Eagle Anchor and Globe and come home to tell my family, I’m officially a Marine,” Sebastian said. “By the time I’m 25 or 26, I anticipate I’ll have my degrees and become what I’ve always set out to be, but I’ll be a Marine.”