ANDERSON, Mo. — They used to defend our nation’s front lines, and now they’re preparing the next generation of service members.

“Thank you for serving, and my answer back is always no, thank you for letting me serve you,” said Cpt. Eric Corcoran, MCHS JROTC Instructor.

After nearly 80 years of military service combined, veterans, Captain Eric Corcoran and John Wales are now working as JROTC instructors at McDonald County High School. Which, according to Captain Corcoran, provides the two with a whole new slate of challenges, in comparison to their times in the service.

“They actually, they test us just about every day, someone will step out of line, but you know I sit here and I see young men and women and golly, they’ve progressed so much,” said Corcoran.

“I believe Captain Corcoran and I have an opportunity to basically take a fresh piece of clay and mold them and give them ideas of what they can do in the future and hopefully some of them come back and do the same as we are,” said John Wales, MCHS JROTC Instructor.

From Iraq to Belize, Captain Corcoran has had “boots on the ground” in 14 different countries. Wales is responsible for bringing some of the first detainees ever to Guantanamo Bay in 2002.

The two veterans discuss what initially inspired them to go into the service.

“My father is a prior service marine, he is and was a great influence in my life. The people he ran with and knew have always been a strong part of my life, my grandfather served in the Navy, so I have a lineage of military,” said Wales.

“I joined for the college money, I mean that’s what it was all about, but it didn’t take me long to realize that we serve for the guy before us. The guy who is back home having coffee with us now, but also the soldiers we don’t know,” said Corcoran.

Captain Corcoran says though it isn’t easy, life in the service is something he recommends to all his students.

“The military, there’s so much and so many opportunities that young people can take advantage of. A lot of them want to join but they have that fear — we’re brothers and are going to take care of each other. That’s the way it’s gonna be till forever,” said Corcoran.