In May 31 issue, Russell County News
By Derek Aaron
Russell County News EditorABOVE: Contessia Jasmine Meza
There is a war on, soldiers and marines are being killed. There is also a graduating class at Russell County High School and among their bright and promising ranks are those who are voluntarily entering military service.
They are putting themselves in harms way in wars that surveys show the majority of American’s don’t want any of their sons or daughters in. This is the story of one of those joining the ranks, and the battles she has been fighting.
Contessia Jasmine Meza was the commander of the Navy JROTC unit at the high school this year. She was honored by the instructors for her service in that position time and again.
Captain Robert King had high praise for her at the Hall of Fame banquette.
“She set going to the nationals as her goal,” King said. “And with her leadership that’s what the kids accomplished.”
He said she lead them though the qualifying competitions in drill, academics and other challenges both by encouraging her charges and leading by example.
But then that wasn’t a new challenge for her.
Not long after she lost a great-grandmother she was quite close to, Contessia’s mother Carolyn also suffered grievous health problems.
A double aneurysm struck her mother.
“The doctor’s told her I would be child like the rest of my life,” Carolyn explains. “My daughter she refused to allow it. She got mad, she said ‘NOT happening!’
“She pushed me and loved me and kept telling me ‘Mom, straighten up,’” Carolyn said. She credits her daughter with pushing her to return to her place in the family and says she has improved because of it.
Contessia has plans she is pushing herself toward, to go to college and possibly be a police officer.
But right now she is focused on the United States Marine Corps.
Contessia reports to Paris Island for boot camp in July.
“Its kind of a tradition for the commander to go to the Marines,” she says.
Right now she works at Giovanni’s Pizza and helps out around the house, spending her last days with her family and friends.
Aside from her mother she lives with her father Joe and her brothers and sister.
She will be saying good bye to them and her friends, including a boyfriend.
Contessia becomes a little quieter when asked about him.
“He lives in London,” she says. “So we’ve already being doing that long-distance thing.”
Soon it will be a much longer distance and there will be no visits. It isn’t until the last of boot camp that family members are allowed to visit the camp in South Carolina.
Like any Marine she will be subject to being sent to war. She has chosen a job as a legal assistant in the Corps, but first there is boot camp and then there is training in her field before she can take that position.
Contessia said the job will allow her flexibility and room to move up in different related jobs if she makes the military a career, and will provide her useful training if she doesn’t.
But until she heads out for the intense physical trials in South Carolina during the height of summer, Contessia has chores to do.
Like packing up her things.
“Because when ships out for the Marines she knows her mom won’t be able to,” Carolyn said.