HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As seniors around the country prepare to go to college, some of their peers are preparing to go oversees to serve in the United States Armed Forces.
One by one they stepped up to the stage at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki Saturday afternoon to receive a certificate and handshake for their dedication.
"I saw some pretty high-ranking Marines and it's pretty cool to shake their hands and talk to them," said Marine Corps enlistee from Campbell High School Senior Craig Woodward.
Many of Woodward's peers are eager to go to college...but he has something else to look forward to.
"Awww dress blues," he laughed.
For Woodward, along with 79 other Oahu seniors, Saturday marked the beginning of their military mission.
"I feel pretty good that they're honoring us for doing something like this. I wasn't really expecting it," Marine Corps enlistee from Campbell High School Senior Gary Pagdilao said.
Master Sergeant Blake Ferguson said Saturday's ceremony was a way to say "thank you" to those future heroes.
He says it was the beginning of what the all-volunteer non-profit organization Our Community Salutes hope to be an annual event.
"I hope they feel a renewed sense of pride. They already were brave enough to step up and make that decision. So really this is our chance to say, 'Hey, you made the right decision. We're family, we will take care of each other, we have each other's backs, that's what the military is about,'" said Ferguson.
Raynell Yap-Kahala was the only one in her high school at Nanakuli to enlist. She has decided to be a soldier in the United States Army and she says support has been overwhelming.
"From like everyone...people I don't even know like 'good job! Thanks for serving,'" Kahala said.
Ferguson says that's the goal of Our Community Salutes…for the community to rally behind these brave young men and women who have taken an oath to serve and protect their community.