MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms, Calif.- -- In less than a year, they've graduated high school, completed the training required to become United States Marines, and finished in the top 10 percent of their Data Network Specialist Course (DNSC) at the Marine Corps Communications and Electronics School (MCCES). Then they won a car-two cars, really.
PFC John Bentley and PFC Ronald Woody were both waiting for their next level class to begin at MCCES when they had the opportunity to attend "The Price is Right" with the Single Marine Program.
"It was my second trip to 'The Price is Right' with the SMP," said Bentley, an Aiken, S.C., native. "It was great. It only cost me $15 to ride the bus to Los Angeles and back."
Bentley made the trip with two of his friends, and before he knew it, his name was being called.
"I bid $700 on a bunch of electronic Barbie toys," said Bentley. "They cost $706, so I won and got to go up and shake Bob Barker's hand."
Barker showed Bentley a car, asked him if he'd like to win it and explained the rules of the dice game to him.
"I won the dice game and won the car," explained Bentley, referring to the 2003 Dodge Neon that his mother is picking up at a Dodge dealer in Aiken.
Next came the Big Spin where a contestant has to spin a large wheel and come the closest to a dollar without going over in order to move on to the Showcase Showdown event. Bentley's first spin earned him 80 cents out of one dollar.
"I spun again after getting 80 cents, because the woman before me had already spun 90 cents," he said. "My second spin was for 15 cents, and I beat her by five cents."
In the Showcase Showdown, Bentley's luck ran out but not his enthusiasm.
"I passed on the first showcase, and overbid on the second, he said. "All is well though, because I won a car, some toys, and I got to represent the Marine Corps and Delta Company. It was a great experience."
Woody made the trip to "The Price is Right" five days after he turned 18 in October 2002.
"I used to watch 'The Price is Right' when I was a kid, so I was excited to go to the show," said Woody, who graduated from Graham High School in Bluefield, Va.. "I can actually say being on the show was like living out a childhood dream."
Woody was on contestant's row three times before he won a bid and advanced to the stage.
"I was the only Marine out of about 30 in the audience to be chosen," said the Tactical Data Networking Specialist student. "I bid on two Audiovox cell phones, and when I got to the stage, I got to participate in the Cover-Up game."
Woody won Cover-Up and a 2003 Saturn L-200, but was eliminated in the Big Spin.
"I might but have gotten to the showdown, but I won over $22,000 dollars in prizes," said Woody. "I did my best to hold my bearing and show the entire country an example of the discipline all Marines exhibit."
Unable to pay the $3,500 in taxes to pick up his prize, Woody allowed his mother to sell the car to a local Saturn dealer.
"When I get the money from the dealer, I am going to invest some, and maybe buy a cheap used car," he explained. "I'm going to splurge too, just buy a bunch of whatever I feel like buying. When I get the money that is. The dealer said the check is in the mail."
Bentley has different plans for his car.
"I already have a car," he said, referring to his 1979 El Camino. "It is painted the color of my dress blues trousers, and when I pick up corporal, I am going to paint an NCO stripe along the side."
Still unsure of where he will be stationed after he finishes school, Bentley has decided to leave his car in South Carolina.
"My mom can drive it," he said. "She deserves it, and I think she earned it just for being my mother."
Both Marines said they called their families on the way home from the show and had to work hard to convince them they'd actually won a car.
MCCES' Delta Company has participated in a variety of events including providing security for Superbowl XXXVII.
Bentley was part of a group the SMP took to the Skins Game in November, an annual golf tournament in Indio, Calif.
Tiger Woods was there, in addition to golfing greats Mark O'Meara, Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples, he said. "It was at a resort called Landmark. We were there as a security detail, but they gave us a hat, a windbreaker and a collared shirt. Some of us were even to get our hats autographed by the players."
Bentley admits he never thought he would get to do all of these things in California especially while in school.
"The Single Marine Program is awesome," he raved. "It has so many things for us to do, it gets us off base, and the trips they take us on hardly cost us anything at all."
For information about upcoming SMP events, call 830-4SMP.