"A little girl like you wouldn’t make it": How US Marine Shannon Ihrke went from acing boot camp to the cover of Maxim
Ex-marine Shannon Ihrke talks about how her military experience gave her life direction and led her to pursue modeling - ultimately landing a Maxim cover gig
Shannon Ihrke joined the United States Marine Corps 10 years ago and left active duty in 2012 to focus on her other interests. However, the blonde beauty says her time in the armed forces gave her life perspective. In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Ihrke said, “I loved it. Absolutely loved it. When I joined, it was 2008 and I was unsure of where I wanted to go, direction-wise. I was working two jobs and going to college at the same time, and I just did not know what I wanted to do.”
Let there be cowgirls for every cowboy Make 'em strong as any man Something you can’t tame, she’s a Mustang The heartbeat of the heartland She’s got a drawl y'all Yeah, she’s the salt of the earth that rocks my world Let there be cowgirls . . . . . #cowgirl#cowgirllifestyle#cowgirlup#cowboy#shescountry#countrygirl#midwestgirl#horsestrainer#trainer#femaleroper#wordstoliveby#quoteoftheday#instagood#instadaily#photooftheday#shannonihrke#cowgirlquotes#minnesotagirl#ranch#ranchlife#ranchlifeisgoodlife#beltbuckle#cowgirlhat#tameasamustang
The 29-year-old decided to join the armed forces while she was working at a clothing store as a part-time job. “I was working two jobs to afford college, and my manager at the clothing store where I was working had a law degree. And I just thought — it was the recession — and I thought if she has a law degree and is working at a clothing store, there aren’t going to be any jobs for me when I graduate college.”
Thinking of ways to avoid debt, the Minnesota native spoke to her college counselor to discuss funding opportunities. “[The counselor] told me two people get college completely paid for — single moms and those in the military,” Ihrke said. “I thought, well … [the first one] is out,” she remembers. “But I thought about the military and so I went to a recruiting fair. The Marines were one of the first people I talked to.”
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Ihrke had always been intrigued by the armed forces despite not having a military background. She knew she had to prove herself when a recruiter from the Marines told her she wouldn't last - considering the Marines Bootcamp is twice as difficult as other branches. “When I was talking to the Marine Corps recruiters, they said, ‘Ours is twice as hard. You probably [would not] make it through our boot camp anyway. A little girl like you wouldn’t make it,’” she remembered. “So I said, ‘Where can I sign up?’”
Ihrke was at the boot camp a week later - pushing herself beyond her limits and enjoying it at the same time. “When I got back I was just like, ‘I loved boot camp.’ I walked straight up to the recruiter and told him and he goes, ‘Oh yeah, I knew you’d be fine,’” Irhke cracked. “I was stunned, but he told me he knew I had an alpha personality and would do well.”
The blonde bombshell says once she got into the military, she loved it, and that she would have re-enlisted if it had not been for her desire to pursue her other passions. She was stationed in South Carolina during her stint, the New York Post reports.
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Meera & I did our first mounted patrol event together last night 👮♀️🐴. I would never have thought I could do and be some many things in my life so: from the Marine Corps to modeling to training horses and now helping my community in a way that brings me so much joy. God has given me so much to be thankful for!. . . . . . . #MountedPatrol#sheriffsdepartment#mountedpatrolhorse#aqha#grullahorsesofinstagram#grulla#mare#thinblueline#sheriff#horsesofinstagram
Ihrke flirted with professional modeling during the final six months of her active duty when she would take leaves on some weekends for shoots, eventually laying the foundation for her journey to Maxim. “Maxim was having this contest called ‘Hometown Hotties,’ and I sent in my pictures,” she said. “I never thought I would win. Once [I made] the final 10, they flew me out to Vegas for another shoot. And when they found out I was military, they said they wanted to do another special shoot with me.”
She did not hear from the magazine again, to her surprise, but found out that she landed the magazine cover after a friend of hers called her at 6 in the morning, to deliver the news. “My friend was at the airport and he called me and said, ‘Congratulations on getting the Maxim cover.’ And I was just stunned. I had no idea.” Ihrke was overjoyed. She ran to the nearest bookstore and bought every copy of the magazine it had. “I was freaking out!” she said.
Pic Left: When I was a lance corporal stationed at MCAS Beaufort SC and about 1 1/2 years into my service. . Pic right: modeling evening wear dresses for the biggest bridal show in Chicago. Had I not built the confidence, discipline, and resiliency that was embedded in me in the Corps, I probably would have never pursued my dream of modeling. You’re always one decision away from drastically changing your life and the Marine Corps set me up for success in ways that I never imagined. Joining the military was the best decision I’ve ever made and I wouldn’t be who or where I am today without it. . . . . #flashbackfriday#neverjudgeabookbyitscover#femalemarinesareugly#usmc#model#femalemarine#marine#shecandoboth
Ever since making the cover, Ihrke's life has transformed completely. She has landed numerous gigs including catalog, print modeling, runway, and even serving five years as a spokesmodel for The Loop, a radio station in Chicago. Although she has left the military and has grown into a full-time model, she misses the armed forces. When Thomas Prusso, a renowned photographer, reached out to her to do a military-themed calendar shoot, she was brimming with happiness.
Ihrke went on to participate in the calendar, which can be purchased on her various social media channels. “It was a lot of fun. I still love the Marine Corps and think it gave me a lot of direction and am glad that I did it,” she said. “I’m still involved in several military charities and work closely with the Chicago Marine Corps Foundation, which supports giving scholarships to kids that have dads or moms that were wounded or passed away in the military."