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    Career Change



    Story by Sgt. Yamil Casarreal 

    Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island           

    Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island S.C. — The September 11 attacks were seen on T.V. screens for most, but for a young Michael Longo it was through a car window. After witnessing the most devastating attack on American soil as a child Michael knew he wanted to serve his country. After 20 years, he is now teaching the next generation of warfighters as a primary marksmanship instructor.
    “I was in school when 9/11 happened,” said Longo. “My mom picked me up and was panicking while putting on my seat belt. I asked her if something bad was happening but she said nothing. On the way home we went over the Sea Bright Bridge where you could see two plumes of smoke in the distance. All around me I saw fathers, mothers, and children bent over with tears running down their faces. It was the worst feeling in the world. When we got home, my mom sat me down and explained what happened.”
    Multiple families were affected by 9/11 in his town of Rumson, N.J. Longo recalls the family friends he grew up with being devastated by the event. The world was changed that day; many in the New York metropolitan area were affected. Michael said one of his close childhood friends father died in the towers.
    “Growing up I had friends who were like my older brothers,” said Longo. “After 9/11, I found out that the father of one my friends had passed away in the tower. Their lives were heavily altered that day. That was a big push for me to join the Marine Corps”
    14 years after 9/11, Longo enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2015 as a 0311 infantry rifleman. He knew once he stepped on the yellow footprints that he wanted to make a career out of being an enlisted Marine.
    Longo arrived to his first unit, 1st Battalion 3rd Marines in 2016. After multiple deployments and experience, he reached the billet of squad leader. Being in that position he was put in scenarios where he had to make difficult decisions. His style of leadership and decision making process caught the attention of his company commander.
    “At my first unit I was an infantry squad leader,” said Longo. “I was constantly being put into situations where I had to come up with solutions for issues. There was this one time where I had to meet with my company commander about a certain situation and what we should do as a company. I pitched an idea to him that he didn’t think of before. He then asked me if I ever thought about being an officer; to be honest, I never really had, I all about the enlisted lifestyle and being a squad leader.”
    As Longo’s career progressed, he thought more about what his first company commander had said to him.
    “After multiple deployments and then being stationed on Parris Island, I thought about it more and more,” said Longo. “A driving factor for me was seeing good Marines get out over leadership. I wanted to change that as much as I could. I had looked up to that company commander in my first unit. I want to be just like that, a Marine officer that other Marines look up to.”
    Longo sought out to become an officer and signed up for the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP); a program that offers enlisted Marines the chance to go to Officer Candidate School (OCS) and attend to a four-year college full-time and earn commission by graduation. He hopes to be accepted into MECEP to pursue his new career and dream: to be a Marine Corps officer.
    “I hope to get the opportunity to go to OCS,” said Longo. “I want to be the reason why most Marines stay in and as an officer I hope to accomplish that.”



    Date Taken: 07.21.2021
    Date Posted: 07.21.2021 16:01
    Story ID: 401413
    Location: PARRIS ISLAND, SC, US 

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