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    Marine recruiter remembers what is most important during the holidays

    Marine recruiter remembers what is most important during the holidays

    Photo By Sgt. Shellie Hall | Sgt. Colby Heavner, the assistant station commander of Recruiting Substation...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Shellie Hall 

    6th Marine Corps District

    Recruiting duty is one of the most challenging experiences a Marine may endure during their career. Working in excess of 60 hours a week to find the next generation of Marines who meet strict standards and uphold the Corps’ values of honor, courage and commitment can be taxing, but rewarding in many ways.

    “It’s a milestone in your career,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Colby Heavner, the assistant station commander of Recruiting Substation Hattiesburg, Recruiting Station Baton Rouge, and Baldwyn, Mississippi native. “Whether you re-enlist for four years or stay in for a career, you’ll end up doing a special duty assignment. As Marines, we’re always looking for a challenge, and this job is definitely a challenge, but the intangible rewards make up for it.”

    For Heavner, the ability to influence the young men and women he meets is one of the most gratifying things about recruiting duty, along with meeting and working with local community members, including law enforcement, judges, teachers, counselors, parents and students.

    “My favorite part about recruiting duty would be the one-on-one interaction I have with the future Marines,” said Heavner. “I’m the person who talks to them day in and day out until they go to boot camp. For some, we’re a father figure, a guidance counselor or a mentor.”

    Dantrel Gandy, a recruit with Platoon 3012, Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, grew up in a rough neighborhood and joined the Corps to honor his family name and change his life for the better. His story and personality left a lasting impact on Heavner.

    “I used to drive more than an hour to his house to talk to his family or pick him up for [physical training],” said Heavner. “He would turn off the radio while we were driving to talk about his life. At the end of the drive, he would always say, ‘I really appreciate you Sgt Heavner. A lot of people would just shut me out, but I appreciate how much you do for me because a lot of people wouldn’t do this,’ and that meant the world to me.”

    After getting to know Gandy and hearing his story, Heavner was reminded of the hardships he endured during his childhood and remembered that recruiting duty is more than just a job, but also a means of helping his community. These humbling experiences remind Heavner how important it is to be a positive role model for not only the young individuals he interacts with at work, but also for his three-year-old daughter Braelyn.

    Heavner believes that being a recruiter means more than finding and molding the next generation of Marines, but also teaching them to be good citizens, friends and leaders in society. He approaches recruiting and raising his daughter in a similar fashion -- with an end goal of raising respectable men and women. Each day, Heavner is learning not only how to be a better Marine, man and human, but a better father, which is the most important ‘uniform’ he wears.

    “A child is all that I ever wanted,” he said with a smile. “I wanted someone to not only mentor and mold through life, but I wanted the responsibility it takes to raise a child.”

    Though recruiting duty can be incredibly time consuming, Heavner does his best to maximize the time that he does get with his daughter. Unlike many Marines he serves with, Heavner is limited to seeing his daughter two weekends a month, which motivates him to get the job done in order to enjoy the time he spends with Braelyn.

    “At the end of the day, it’s a very demanding duty, and given my situation, it makes me more grateful that I get to spend time with my daughter. I’m thankful for any time I get. No matter how challenging recruiting may be, I’ll always have her at the end of the day.”

    While Marines are accustomed to operating at a high tempo, the holidays are a time of year for them to reflect, slow down, and enjoy what’s most important. This Christmas, Sgt. Heavner intends to do just that.

    “We’re going ice skating in Gulfport; she and I have never been, so it’ll be a good time and on Christmas morning, we’ll open presents and Skype with my family in northern Mississippi.”

    During the holidays, Heavner says he is reminded about how important it is to not only spend time with loved ones, but to make sure he leaves work at the office.

    “No matter how busy or stressful life may be, don’t forget that your family will always be there - so cherish the time that you do have with them, especially during the holidays.”



    Date Taken: 12.23.2019
    Date Posted: 12.26.2019 10:06
    Story ID: 357183
    Location: HATTIESBURG, MS, US 
    Hometown: BALDWYN, MS, US

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