I Wasn’t Promised a Rose Garden
“Wow, what a ride!” is all I can say about the 22 years since I graduated from high school (John Jay H.S. 1990). The famous poster that boldly stated “We don’t promise you a rose garden” was brutally honest and accurately described what a life in the Marine Corps would be like.
I am not a recruiter and I was not impressed with the Marine Corps in the early days. I thought the recruiters were salesmen who tricked me into joining the military, but I could not have been more wrong. I guess when you do not have a clear direction in life and are not surrounded by numerous people firmly guiding and encouraging you to grow up and do the right thing, the Marine Corps culture can be confusing and very hard to grasp. However, years later and more mature, I am eternally grateful to all the great Marine Corps leaders (enlisted and officer) who worked hard to mentor and shape me into the responsible person I have become. I even now consider myself lucky and feel extremely proud to have been given the opportunity to deploy to faraway places like Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan. None are popular vacation spots and they all caused family hardships, but I can honestly say they were the most honorable and life-shaping experiences imaginable. Because of all those experiences I am now left with a great feeling of satisfaction knowing that I did my part to support American interests and to make this world a little bit safer.
Now 22 years later and near the end of my military career, the Marine Corps still continues to stay true to its bold statement, and has kept its promise to offer me a challenge by recently assigning me to Twentynine Palms California. Most people would faint at the mere thought of being stationed here in the Mojave Desert, but I am excited about it and I am looking forward to new opportunities. How is possible for me to be optimistic about being stationed in the dessert? Well, I am currently assigned as the Switching Training Section Training Officer at the Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School (MCCES), the largest formal school in the Marine Corps, where all enlisted communications Marines pass through to learn their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Because of that, I now have a unique opportunity to mentor and influence hundreds of young Marines, and provide the guidance I needed when I was 18 years old. To me this is a significant and true privilege to contribute to Marine Corps and actively participate in the professional development of young Marines.
Overall the life of a Marine is tough and full of challenges, just as promised, but in the end all the experiences help build character and values that cannot be taught at home or any school. This I strongly believe helped prepare for me life’s challenges and enabled me to complete a bachelor’s degree, achieve financial security, travel the world, and raise a great family.
I am convinced the Marine Corps can report “Mission Accomplished” with the transformation of my life, because long after I become a civilian, the Marine Corps’ Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment will forever be a part of me.
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