I joined the United States Marine Corps during the spring of 1982 to broaden my opportunity and to challenge my abilities both physically and mentally. I had graduated from high school three years earlier and was working as a security officer for a local retail chain in Rochester, N.Y. Over the course of those three years, I lost both parents due to health reasons. Given the challenges of life, I was still doing okay. However, doing okay wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more out of life than the usual manufacturing job or my role at the time as security.
My family has an incredible story of service to our country. Much to my grandmother’s dismay, I investigated joining the family business. I met with several recruiters to explore opportunities, but I kept circling back to the Marines. I liked what I heard about God, Corps, and country. The Corps has been around me most of my life. My uncle led the way during the Korean Conflict, and my two brothers and another uncle served during the Vietnam War era. Three cousins followed their lead, and I when I joined, I was the eighth member of my family to step forward and adorn the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. My nephew would make it nine and my son-in-law rounds it out at 10.
I was in boot camp during the attack on Marines in Beirut, Lebanon. I served for over 12 years as a Marine cryptologist and linguist (Bahasa, Indonesia) with assignments that took me as far away from home as Hawaii and Spain. I deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Special Operations Capable (SOC) to Southwest Asia under the command of Colonel Jim Jones in support of Operation Provide Comfort to Zakho, Iraq. Jones would later become the Commandant of the Marine Corps and I’m proud to have served with him and the rest of the 24th MEU.
Why did I serve? The answer is simple. “We, you, our way of life was worth every moment that I served.” The Marine Corps opened doors for a kid from Oviedo, Fla., that grew up in Rochester N.Y. to explore the world and gain the knowledge to allow me access to the life I lead today. A life that would have never been available to me if not for the Corps. It instilled in me the discipline and “can do” attitude that has been at the foundation of my success. I truly believe in the motto “Semper Fidelis,” always faithful, and I strive everyday to represent my family and my Marine Corps brothers and sisters with the respect and dignity of being a Marine.
The U.S. Marine Corps helped me lay the foundation for my life that has helped me throughout my journey. The discipline that was instilled in me during my early adult years is paying dividends in my current segment of my life’s journey at VyStar Credit Union. Lastly, it gave me an appreciation for people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and heritage. By traveling the globe as a Marine, I was introduced to people from all over the world. This has helped me to learn how to embrace and care for others, which is the hallmark of our credit union movement.