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He had appointments with recruiters from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force.
But when Eddie Antoniewicz left the recruiting office on a cold winter day, it was with the Marine Corps that he decided to enlist with after the recruiter told him to come inside to warm up while waiting for the other recruiters to arrive.
“Here’s the one guy I didn’t have an appointment with,” says Antoniewicz, a senior collector at $312 million asset Simplicity Credit Union in Marshfield, Wis. “I went in, chit chatted with him, and he showed me a recruiting video. And I ended up enlisting in the Marines.”
Because he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps his junior year in high school, Antoniewicz participated in Reserve weekends with a nearby Marine Corps unit until he graduated. After his high school graduation ceremony in June 1995, he left immediately for bootcamp.
Antoniewicz was assigned to an infantry reserve unit and, after completing bootcamp, attended college and drilled with the Reserve unit. During the summers, Antoniewicz attended training for officers.
“I decided against taking my commission as an officer because I loved what I did and so I stayed enlisted,” Antoniewicz, who had a couple of stretches of active duty, but spent most of his time in the Marines in the Reserves while attending college.
Antoniewicz remained with the Marines a few years after graduating from college and achieved the rank of corporal. He received his discharge papers 10 days before the planes struck the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. He had the option to rejoin but decided to stay home and raise his daughter while her mother—who was in the Army National Guard—continued her military service.
“That was my military time. I got to travel all around the country to different schools and meet people all over the place, and did some active time,” Antoniewicz says. “I was at sea for a while. I loved it.”
His time in the Marines reinforced the value of accountability and taking responsibility for his decisions. Antoniewicz also says the Marines instilled in him a “mission accomplishment” mentality.
“You adapt, you overcome, you go through, you go around, and you do whatever you have to do,” Antoniewicz says. “Whether I’m on a project or it’s just a day-to-day goal or task, it’s my job to see it through to its completion the best way possible because there are other cogs in this machine that are depending on me and depending on the job that I have to do.”