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A.J. Tigertail graduates from U.S. Marine Corps boot camp

BIG CYPRESS — Three months after telling his family that he planned to join the U.S. Marine Corps, A.J. Tigertail, 19, is now a boot camp graduate.

He graduated on Jan. 31 at a ceremony attended by his parents Sheli and Alfonso Tigertail and other family members on the Marine base where he trained in Parris Island, South Carolina.

A.J. Tigertail in training at Parris Island, South Carolina (Courtesy photos)

“That was the longest three months of my life. It was pretty tough. It was tougher mentally than physically; being away from home, being in a new place and getting used to everything,” said Tigertail, who returned home to the Big Cypress Reservation to visit family and friends after graduation.

Tigertail learned land navigation, firing techniques, and combat training at the grueling boot camp. His next stop will be Fort Leavenworth in Kansas for another two months of training.

A.J. Tigertail in full uniform. (Courtesy photo)

“I am learning a lot, especially in boot camp, I learned so much. I’m definitely going to learn a lot more at this school and training,” he said.

Tigertail’s training will last six months, and then he will join the fleet and be sent where he is needed. His enlistment is four years.

A.J. Tigertail is joined by his family at boot camp graduation. (Courtesy photo)