Cpl. Kaenon Ralls became interested in joining the military because when he was growing up, his mother was a proud Marine and she was his inspiration.

By RIMSIE McCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com

Cpl. Kaenon Ralls became interested in joining the military because when he was growing up, his mother was a proud Marine and she was his inspiration.
“I joined because I wanted to be just like her and make her proud,” said Ralls.
Now the Easton native shares the same job that she did – ground supply for VMM-161 (reinforced). As a ground supply Marine, he inventories and orders items needed for day-to-day operations.
Service is definitely a family passion. Ralls’ brother was a Marine also and two other brothers were in the Navy.

He has served for 2.5 years and his first year was at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California. His second year was spent attached to the 15th MEU.
Recently, he took part in exercise Alligator Dagger. “Alligator Dagger is the largest regional amphibious combat rehearsal. We completed the rehearsal on Sept. 20,” said Capt. Maida Zheng, 15th MEU spokesperson.  
The MEU is the smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) with approximately 2,500 Marines and sailors.
Zheng says the 15th MEU and America ARG are flexible, self-sustained crisis response forces capable of conducting operations from combat missions to humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

Alligator Dagger provided a unique opportunity to enhance capabilities in critical mission sets inherent to the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team.
Marines and sailors rehearsed various water and land-based exercises, ranging from live-fire events and explosive ordnance disposal missions conducted on ranges in the vicinity of Arta Beach, to visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations on static and motor platforms off the coast of Djibouti, Africa.
While deployed, the Marines conduct maritime security operations, ensuring freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in vital maritime corridors throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific and Middle East.

They operate as a U.S. presence forward engaged as the world’s most capable and powerful landing force, which contributes to regional security and displays U.S. commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.
They conduct exercises with regional partners and allies to understand how our militaries can work better together to achieve mutual objectives related to maritime security, humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and regional stability and security.

Ralls looks forward to port calls because it allow sailors and Marines to experience new cultures and serve as ambassadors of the United States.
“I like going and seeing new places, taking lots of pictures and sharing them with family and friends back home,” said Ralls. “Our visit to Singapore was amazing, and Malaysia too.”

“Our sailors and Marines are outstanding representatives of this great nation. So far we have visited India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Guam, Hawaii and Vietnam,” said Zheng.

While attending supply school Ralls took part in a dinner called the “kuwani dinner” where food was provided for all of the homeless children at the event. “Even though we knew what we were doing it for, we couldn’t help but feel like robots while the preparations were happening,” said Ralls. “But as the children came in from the pouring rain outside and I saw their smiling faces, I couldn’t help but feel really happy that I was able to help them and the whole experience was really heartwarming.”

Another memorable moment for Ralls was holding the U.S. flag while out on the field at a San Diego Chargers’ game when the national anthem was played.
Teaching Marine exercises to middle schoolers also made an impression.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Ralls. “We did the event at a military school in Miramar. It was first through fifth grade I believe. We created a bunch of ‘Marine’ games to play with them. It was a heartwarming experience. I loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat.”

As far as being a hometown hero in Easton, Ralls says it’s humbling because his hometown is filled with many hometown heroes in his opinion.
“My mother recently retired from working at a nursing home in my hometown,” said Ralls. “She loved her job because she loved interacting with the people there and helping in any way she could. I would often visit her while she worked and hear some of the stories of the patients there. It was humbling to hear their stories and it made me feel good to listen.”
Ralls’ goal is to get more proficient in his job and earn a black belt in Marine Corps Martial Arts.

“Once I get my black belt I would like to become an instructor so that I can teach the Marines in my section back home when we return from deployment,” said Ralls. “Eventually I would also like to attend the corporal’s course. All the bonds that I have made and thinking back to my mom and how she’s always talking about my service, I am happy to make her proud. I could have picked any job in the world, done anything else, but I chose to follow in my mother’s footsteps. She’s done so much for me.”