Service: Marine Corps
Rank: Corporal (E-4)
Occupation: Data network specialist/cyber network operator
Time in: 4 years, 2008-12
Deployments: Afghanistan (twice)
Unit: 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division (“Trinity”)
Highest award: Afghanistan Campaign Medal (twice)
Other awards: Marine Corps Sharpshooter Badge, Good Conduct Medal
Military family: Father was in Air Force; brother also a Marine
Profession: Senior at WSU Tri-Cities, majoring in management information systems
Coffee shop: Roasters in Richland
What made you want to volunteer for the service?
I’m a military brat. It was always set in stone that if I can’t find an alternative motive to go to college, then the military was my route. That was set for me and my little brother. We both went into the Marine Corps. My family is Air Force, so I was the first to join the Marine Corps.
You had two tours in Afghanistan. What did you take away from that experience in the end?
Honestly, that’s where I gained most of my skill in (information technology). We were in full control of our network out there. Maintenance, troubleshooting, anything. We pretty much developed our network out there. ... I enjoyed it most out of my enlistment. It was a huge culture shock; that just comes with the territory.
That’s where I developed my friendships in the military, was out there. “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” because once you deploy, that’s where you get connected. ... I would honestly go back, if I had the opportunity.
What did you give up to volunteer? What did you sacrifice?
Friends. Most of my friends went to college right out of high school. The toughest thing for me was being behind them. Everyone was graduating college when I was getting out of the military and getting ready to start my first year. Just giving up the historical trend of getting out of high school, going to college with your friends, living the college life ... I don’t have that. College isn’t fun for me. It is, but it’s my future. I’m focused on getting through it so I can get my job. I kind of felt like I was behind when I got out of the military.
What was the hardest turnaround to make?
When you’re on the civilian side, and you see someone deploy, it’s a big deal. You’re living your nice life here, and if you were to see yourself go from here to Afghanistan? That’s just ridiculous. But as a Marine who trains for that every single day? That’s just another training op for them. For me, the toughest thing was that when you deploy, you branch out to different areas and occupy them, and you deal with whatever area you’re in.
For my job, there were only 12 guys. Say there’s 12 positions, one guy has to be in every position. So instead of having that support from your supervisor or your buddy who may be better, you don’t have that. That was the toughest part — being on my own, and having no support to the left or right of me. My actions could’ve caused fatalities.
What was something you feel followed you back? An emotion, a feeling, even a physical thing, that meant something to you?
I don’t know what it looks like on paper, but religion. God — and my dad — was a big part of the transition of being a Marine, and getting out and going to college, because honestly, I didn’t want to get out. There’s financial security in the military. All you have to do is the same thing you do every day, is just work and be a Marine, you know? It’s not that hard. But I knew there was a better plan for me out of the military, so just being strong in my faith, and sticking to a plan me and my dad developed before I went in.
Was that faith something you had going in?
I grew up in a Christian family, and when I went in, it was independence — I had to find my own way. When I went in, there were some tough times of figuring out who I was, and where I wanted to go. That’s where those deployments solidifed me — my God is my God, and I totally relied him to get out. I’ve had nothing but success after getting out because of it.
What do you say to a high schooler who’s on the fence to convince them to join the service?
There’s a lot of benefits with the military, and I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot of negativity from it. You’re gonna get experience, and you’re gonna meet some of the coolest people that you’ll probably ever meet in your life. I worked at WSU Tri-Cities in admissions, so I’ve talked to a lot of high school students about this. As a college student, I can’t help but preach about the benefits the military has for veterans.
Compiled by Jake Dorsey