Semper Fidelis

“Some People spend and entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference, Marines don’t have that problem.”  — President Ronald Reagan

In August of 1966, my father, then only 18 years-old, enlisted in the Marines.  Six months later,  he was on his way to serve  in Viet Nam.  On December 7th, a Marine and a the Parish Priest arrived at my grandparents front door to inform them that their son had been seriously injured in a fierce battle. He was eventually flown home to Chelsea Naval Base in Massachusetts where he spent nearly a year recovering from his wounds.

My father, John LaPensee, receiving one of his three Purple Hearts.

My father’s experience as a Marine is something that has always fascinated me.  I admire him for making a choice to serve our country during such a turbulent political time.  I know that his time in Viet Nam shaped my dad in many ways.   As his daughter, I am incredibly proud of my father.

You may wonder, now, where a story about my father fits into a blog about pizza.  I’d like to introduce you to two of our most special employees – William (Billy) Sewell and Jordan Rael.

Billy Sewell and Jordan Rael

They are best friends, and both have enlisted in the Marines.  In June, after graduating from High School, they will become property of the Marines and will be serving our country.  (And, believe it or not, Jordan has a twin brother who is also entering the Marines!)

Billy and Jordan are fantastic employees.  They are friendly, polite, punctual, funny and respectful.  They are a “dream team” in many ways.  They work together on a lot of our pizza parties and they move together seamlessly.

How did you first learn about Fresh Brothers?

Billy: I met Adam and Debbie at the Lobster Fest 2009. I was working at Ruby’s’ Diner and they said if I ever needed a job to come on by!

Jordan: I applied for Fresh Brothers once in March of 2010, and turned in a second application in May. Having your best friend work at a pizza place was very convenient. William Sewell introduced me to Fresh Brothers pizza early into his employment. I fell in love. Once he told me there was an available position, I went for it.

What is the best part about working at FB?

Billy: I love our customers. I enjoy spending time talking to them and I love when we get compliments about a pizza that I recommended.

Jordan: The best part about working at Fresh Brothers for me is the atmosphere. Fresh Brothers being my second part time job, it became something I really enjoyed. I loved everyone I worked with. I love the conversations and bonding I’ve had with customers, and the building of friendships. I love the energy, the great vibes, and LOVE my yellow hat. When at home, I use it as my video-gamer hat. The management and owners are nothing like I was used to. I felt appreciated and automatically was part of the team.

Favorite item on the menu at Fresh Brothers?

Billy: Medium deep dish half Fresh Mama’s Favorite with chicken and bacon and half Da’ Works, with ranch for the crust!!!

Jordan: The worst thing about Fresh Brothers narrows down to one thing:  the constant need I have to eat pizza!  My favorite on the menu, and the item most purchased, has to be the Miller Pizza Special. It’s amazing!

Tell us about your life aside from Fresh Brothers.  What do you like to do in your spare time?

Billy: I do a lot of work for the JROTC program at my high school. I also spend time with my friend helping to fix up his 1964 Plymouth Valiant. Also I play Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Jordan:  Outside of work, I’m a normal high school student. I’m the Cadet Battalion Commanding Officer of the JROTC program at Redondo Union High School. Aside from my responsibilities in work and school, I enjoy playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, watching movies, spending time with family and friends, and working out.

When and why did you join the ROTC?

Billy: I moved to California from Minnesota and I met Jordan Rael’s Brother in the office and he said it’s a fun class to join. So I took his advice!

Jordan: I joined JROTC my freshman year in order to receive training that would better prepare me for the actual United States Marine Corps.

Tell about what you do with the ROTC:

Billy: I am the Cadet Sergeant Major or 2nd in command of the battalion. I work hand in hand with Jordan who is the Commanding Officer to guide the cadets in all aspects of ROTC – like Physical Training, Drill Teams, etc.  And, we make sure all of our community services are staffed and carried out.

Jordan: Throughout the years, my role in ROTC has changed. I went from being a regular squad member, to Battalion Guide, the Armed Drill Team Commander, and am currently the most senior cadet (student) in the program. My job is to oversee the activities and conduct of the cadets. I receive information on events, and am responsible for ensuring the task is completed. Mission Accomplishment is primary objective of leadership, and that is what I am responsible for.

How does school work fit in with all that you do with ROTC and Fresh Brothers?

Billy: It’s my senior year and I have had a job since my freshman year. I am very good at doing my work before, after work or on my breaks.

Jordan:  School work is something that I have to coordinate into my schedule. Being a senior, the courses give less homework than that of my previous years,  but studying is a must. I make time either before or after work to do my homework.

What is it about the Marines that is so appealing to you?

Billy: I have always wanted to be the best! I also always wanted to be in the military. Being in a Marine Corps ROTC I learned about the history of the Marine Corps; and I really want to be the one carrying on the legacy of being “The First to Fight” and “Semper Fidelis” which means “Always Faithful.”

Jordan: What really appealed to me about the Marines was that they were the most difficult to get into. I wanted to join the military either way, and the challenge of becoming a United States Marine is what caught my eye. I find there is no true value in life without challenges, sacrifice, and service. The Marines posses those three factors among many. The Marines are the best. A common quote my recruiter Staff Sergeant Chanmugam told me was that, “The Army has tanks, the Air Force has planes, and the Navy, ships. The Marines have all of those. Do you think that the United States needs the Marines? No. The United States WANTS the Marines because the Marines do everything the best.” It went something like that anyways.

How do you feel that this is your last year at home?  Are you scared about what you might face as a Marine?

Billy: I wish this year went faster. I am extremely exited for Recruit Training. I know its going to be hard but it will be worth it! I am willing to go over seas and fight for the country that I love.

Jordan: This last year at home has been the same as the others. I have no fear in leaving home, my family, friends, or civilian life. I don’t fear the possibility of going to combat or death because death is just another part of life. As a believer, for those who understand, this life here is temporary. I have the opportunity to fight and, if need be, die for this country which God blessed me to live in. I have no other passion but serving.

How do your parents and families feel about your commitment to the Marines?

Billy: My Mom and Dad are extremely proud me and my decisions. My brother is a Marine and he paved the way for me.

Jordan: My family is very proud of my brother, Billy, and me for making this commitment. My Mom has been so strong and supportive my entire life and she has faith and trust that God is in control.

Do you know where you’ll go and what you’ll be doing in June?

Billy: I will be in Boot Camp in MCRD San Diego. I will be becoming a basically trained Marine. I will learn and be qualified to shoot a rifle from 500 yards away, and I will be earning the title Marine

Jordan: On June 27, my brother, Billy, and I will be boarding a bus destined for Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA. For 13 weeks, we will be challenged mentally, physically, and emotionally as we continue down our path to becoming United States Marines. 13 weeks of hell is what we will face. We will go in as pieces of coal, being pressed and burned until we finally emerge as diamonds, as Marines.

Billy Sewell, Josh Rael, & Jordan Rael

That we hate to lose them as employees goes without saying.  There will be big shoes to fill when these guys stop working at Fresh Brothers.  We, as a family, cannot help but be in awe of the choice that these two young men have made to serve this great country.  Regardless of your political leanings, you must appreciate the dedication and sense of service these two gentlemen have for our country.

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37 Responses to Semper Fidelis

  1. What a story! Thanks for sharing with us!

    Alara K. Castell
    Your Sassy Spiritual Guide

  2. Fiona Stolze says:

    It’s amazing how these young people have a clear picture of what they want to do with their lives. If everyone had such clarity about where their destiny lies the world would be a very different place. Thanks for sharing.

    Fiona Stolze
    Inspired Art and Living

    • Fiona – I agree. I’m amazed that they really know what they want to do with their lives at such a young age. I really admire both of them!
      Thank you for commenting!

  3. Donna McCord says:

    I love how you shared the story of these young men and are making people aware of their dedication and courage and character. It was also wonderful to hear how much they enjoy working for you and it shows me that you have a very special business there and helps me understand why you are so successful! Our service advisor, George, has a son, David, who is in the Marines and was just deployed to Afghanistan — he is in Germany now awaiting further orders, and I know how difficult this is for George and his wife. David is in my prayers, and I will keep Billy, Josh and Jordan in my prayers too.

  4. I am fascinated to learn about your employees. I have to hand it to Josh Billy & Jordan. Knowing what they want in life, being so sure, and so dedicated; what an incredible gift.
    More so at their young age. A feel good story that inspires me to stay focused on my path.

    Jennifer Duchene
    Home Makeover Mixtress blending lifestyle, laughter and Diva Dens.

    • Hi Jen – The mixtress of all things beautiful and cozy – thank you for commenting on the blog. I’m glad this story about Billy, Jordan and Josh inspired you in some way. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. kathyalice says:

    It’s great to see that they are focused on what they want to do and stepping up to meet the challenge. A lot of young people are lost once they are out of college and not on the academic track.
    Build a Better WordPress Website – Kathy Alice

    • Hi Kathy – Thank you for stopping by the Fresh Brothers blog. These young gentleman inspire me every time I see them. Jordan will not stop calling me “maam.” I have to remind him to please stop!

  6. Julie Labes says:

    Thanks for reminding us about the young men and women who are doing this on a daily basis to protect the rest of us. We all know that they are there and joining etc, but It doesn’t really mean anything until you put a name, a face and a personality to it. Thanks for doing that

  7. Reading about young people who have the courage to follow such a challenging and dangerous path is truly inspirational. How wonderful to profile them and give us a chance to stand in appreciation. It also speaks volumes to your business to have such people working there!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Balance, Boundaries, and New Life Directions Through Writing

  8. I am in awe of the dedication and spirit of these young men. And to look into their eyes in the photos – wow! Thank you for giving us a post reminding us of the commitment young men and women make on our behalf every day. Please thank Josh, Billy and Jordan from all of us on #BloggerMonday.

    Carrie Hansen
    Snuggery Style

  9. What a great tribute to 3 awesome young men. I had no idea what I wanted at that young age – its amazing they are so motivated and commited. Their wanting to fearlessly protect this great country is wonderful. We are very lucky to have them! Thank you guys!!! We wish you all the best. Stay safe and be well. I’ll be looking forward to the post of you as polished diamonds:) Thanks Debbie for showcasing these guys……they deserve it!

    Rita Brennan Freay

  10. Thanks for introducing us to two remarkable young men. My son served in the first Gulf War and it isn’t easy for a parent to have a child serving active duty in the military. And we are proud of them too! Sounds like your business isn’t just about good food, but taking care of your employees. Not too many businesses like that today. Bravo! And thanks for the great pictures. Love the one of your Dad. What a special picture that one is.

    Susan Berland
    A Picture’s Worth

    • Hi Susan – Thank you for the kind words about the blog. I have this amazing photo album that my grandma created for my mom when she married my dad. It’s now falling apart and I want to duplicate it for posterity and so I can share it with my brother. I thought that since you are a photo goddess you may have some ideas…?

      Thanks, again!

  11. Awesome! What incredible boys and such dedication 🙂 Not your typical high school students…
    Brandy Mychals
    Speaker, Author, Communications Coach
    Creator of Split Second Perceptions

  12. Pat Zahn says:

    My first thought in reading your post was that you have a great working environment – it sounds like you value your employees and they feel it. No wonder you attracted such dedicated and loyal young men to work for you. I would think that potential servicemen are the ideal employee. They are team players, they are not afraid of hard work and are loyal. If our schools and parents spent time cultivating these traits in all of our youth we would be heading toward the best future possible. I wish Billy and Jordan much luck in their next phase and Fresh Brothers in finding their replacements.

    • Hi Pat Thank you for taking the time to read our blog! The photo in the blog came from an old album created by my grandmother. It’s falling apart. I’d like to duplicate it and recreate it so we can preserve it. Is that something you can help with?


  13. Love to see such focus and character in young people and admire them very much for what they do. I hope they stay safe while in the military. I love that you feature your employees and you must be very proud of your Dad!
    Louise Edington
    Finding YOUR Freedom

  14. Empowering story – thanks for sharing. And congratulations on your Best Facebook Fan page nomination on Inc. Job well done!

  15. Having been in your store, I can see how these two young men perfectly reflect your brand! Kind, personable, driven, goal-oriented, fun! You are lucky to have them on your staff and their stories are very inspiring. It is so difficult to find good people and both of them are a wonderful example for teenagers and young adults. And, a wonderful idea to feature them in your blog!

    • Hi Laurie – Wouldn’t it be amazing if I end up writing a post about your daughter some day if she ends up working at Fresh Brothers? Thank you for your kind words about this blog post.

  16. It sounds as though these men are assets to your business. Billy and Jordon have given their best to your business and it follows that they will want to give their best in the military.

  17. Thanks, Debbie. NICE! You’ve portrayed their dedication and enthusiasm so well, I thought of driving down there, ordering a pizza, and chatting with these guys. Then I read Donna’s blog about gasoline mileage. Sorry. But one of these days… In the meantime, I bet I’m not the only person to be persuaded to drop in. Nice post!

  18. I was motivated by your post. I mentor future Marines and I will be sharing this with them. Semper Fi!

  19. John Thomas Francis la Pensee' (Papa John says:

    These guys sound wonderful. I’m sure one of their stops on their first leave from the Marine Corps will be Fresh Brosther Pizza, for some great Pizza!!!!

    I’m sure they’ll be a couple of gungy Marines!! Get Some!!!

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