Nearly 120 recruits for the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard were sworn in together Tuesday morning at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel — the largest such combined ceremony, organizers said.
Celebrities may have brought the paparazzi, but the focus in the ballroom was on the accomplishments and sacrifices of the nation's veterans and 117 new recruits ready to serve their country.
Recruiting offices for all four branches in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding area brought their recent volunteers to the ceremony for the Annual Veterans Celebration Breakfast, presented by the California Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise Alliance.
The event attracted a crowd of 400, including disabled veterans from World War II, and wars in Korea, Vietnam and current conflicts. Also in the audience were stars such as Dennis Haysbert from "The Unit," Doris Roberts from "Everybody Loves Raymond," Joe Mantegna from "Criminal Minds" and David James Elliot from "JAG" among over 30 celebrities in attendance.
Army Col. Don Gonneville swore in the new recruits, including Marine volunteers Nathan O'Bryan, 19, Abraham Leon 19, Jesse Padron, 21, and Alice Morales, 18, who all signed up at the Glendale recruitment center.
All four joined for different reasons, but have spent the past month in physical training sessions together.
Morales, who graduated from Glendale High School this year, is leaving for basic training in February, but some recruits, like Padron, leave as early as next week.
Although Padron is a little older than those he was waiting in line with, he said he had good reason for holding off enlisting.
"I waited to join so I can provide for my kid," Padron said.
He has plans to use the skills he acquires to become a sheriff's deputy if he decides not to stay with the military.
O'Bryan said he is looking forward to serving his nation and currently has an open contract. He does not know what assignment he will have with the Marines.
"I'm a lifer," O'Bryan said. "My stepdad served and I'm very excited to start."
Other recruits, like Susie Binsol from Camarillo, are still in high school and won't begin basic training with the Air Force until next year.
"I don't want to get stuck working a dead-end job, and I want to do something that's top notch," said the 17-year-old, who is signed up to become a structural apprentice. "I know I need this structure, and it's what I want to do."