Cmdr. Mason looks forward to challenge

Each year, the Pentagon sets goals for the number of people they want to recruit for military service.

In 2011, the goal for the U.S. Navy was set at a little more than 34,000 men and women.

Now a Macomb High School graduate is set to take command of a four state recruiting district based in St. Louis.

Commander Clay Mason looks back to when he joined the Navy in 1988 and he wasn't sure if he would ever wear an officers coat, but he knew he wanted to join.

24 years later, Mason is ready to take command of the Navy Recruiting District St. Louis.

"I knew I wanted to be an officer, didn't necessarily know what it meant. Found myself working my way through the ranks pretty quickly. My dad was in the navy in the 60s so I always had that inspiration and that background growing up I knew what the Navy was about and I knew I wanted to be part of it," Mason said.

The navy tradition in Mason's family runs deep. His grandfather served in the Navy in World War II. His father served during the Vietnam War and now his daughter, who graduated from Macomb High School in 2008, is serving aboard an aircraft carrier and is stationed on the West Coast.

Both his mom and dad plan on being at the change of command ceremony on Monday when Commander Mason takes over the regional recruiting district.

"There are very few mustangs. A mustang is a person who goes from being an enlisted member up the ranks to becoming an officer. I think it's about 1% of the members of the navy. It was part of the seaman to admiral program," Larry Mason said.

Mason said two thirds of the men and women who the Navy looks at for possible enlistment don't qualify for the service because of one reason or another. He also said only 10% of the 17 to 24-year-olds are actually interested in a military career.

But Mason said men and women who are considering a career in the service need to stay in school, stay in shape and stay out of trouble to be considered for the service and he's glad he was able to accomplish that as he begins his newest duty station.

Mason said he will have 50 recruiting stations under his command as well as a staff of 250 throughout his district.