Updated: Feb 13
My name is Anonymous and I was a Sergeant in the Marines from 2002-2007, and have been in the National Guard since 2008. Since I was a kid, I have always known that I wanted to be in the military. My dad was in the navy and my uncle was in the National Guard. However, my high school’s offered ROTC branch was for the Marines, so that’s where I ended up.
The change to military life was not a drastic one thanks to ROTC. However, I quickly learned that I had to utilize every moment of the day and that things had to be done quickly and efficiently. Another thing you learn in the military is that there are few activities you actually enjoy being ordered to do; in other words, a lot of orders you receive are going to be for things you do not want to do. However, the hardest part about the military for me was racism. As an African American, I did face quite a bit of racism. There were people from all over the country, including those who had never seen a black man in their life. With this in mind, I was quick to move past all those off-handed comments.
When I was in the Marines, I initially served in Baltimore, then was deployed in Iraq 3 times. Afterward, I went to Japan then Kosovo. I was a machine gunner, then spent 14 years as a sniper, then a machine gunner again. When I was in combat, I was so young that I still had that sense of “immortality;” young people have those thoughts that they don't think they will die. So, I just kept pushing through. In my first deployment, I was a part of the initial invasion of Baghdad. In my second, I was in the battle of Fallujah in 2004. There, I fractured my spine in a Humvee roll-over. I also got hit by a hand grenade 12 feet away. It looked bad, but I was just peppered with shrapnel, and there were no critical injuries. I remember how we were really excited to go home after our first mission. Marines go in and move out, so we were in and out in 5 months.
The people that were racist to me before were just people that weren’t aware of their surroundings. I changed their views during my service, and I made long-lasting friendships. Group chats, Facebook groups, you name it.
My service has really molded my whole life. A quote that summarizes my experience is“when scary sounds are heard, marines run towards it.” Do what you can in the moments. The marines taught me how to do practically everything, from how to wash clothes by hand to how to make a bed you can bounce a penny off of. You do everything by the numbers. Everything has stuck to me, and it's even getting passed onto my kids. I usually refrain from news and media due to how they skew public views of the military. War is what it is. I still have my duties as an NG. I don't have an opinion of war because it would impact my work. I am definitely proud of what I have accomplished. I feel like I am simply doing my duty to my country, and I am just another guy next to everyone else.