News: Still going strong: Caribbean-born Marine continues serve to corps
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Although Marines are considered America’s force in readiness, many Marines hail from nations outside the United States.
Gunnery Sgt. Jason A. Byron, communications chief, Headquarters and Service Co., Combat Logistics Battalion 1, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, has dedicated more than 20 years to defending the United States, although he is originally from the small Caribbean island of St. Kitts.
The small island of St. Kitts is only about 68 square miles with a population of 40,000 people. Byron, 42 was born and raised on the island.
While he was in high school, Byron witnessed a rehearsal for Operation Urgent Fury, in which U.S. forces secured the Caribbean island of Grenada.
“I was in high school, and there was an amphibious landing on the beach, right there in the town, and I was impressed by their skill,” said Byron of the training evolution he witnessed. “I decided right then that one day I wanted to be a Marine. My grandmother was standing right there and she was like ‘yeah right.’”
After graduating high school, Byron moved to the United States with one mission: to join the Marine Corps.
“I moved to America in ’88, because my father lived here and he was a citizen,” he said. “So I decided to move over here to join the Marine Corps.”
Byron joined the Marine Corps in 1989.
During his first enlistment, Byron was an artillery Marine and deployed to Iraq in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Soon after returning to the states from his deployment, he became a U.S. citizen.
After his four-year enlistment, Byron wanted to change his military occupation specialty from artillery. Unfortunately, the Marine Corps was downsizing at the time, and he wasn’t given the opportunity to move. Byron left the Marine Corps for a year with the intention of returning in order to change his MOS.
After reenlisting about a year later, Byron trained to be a radio operator, and after placing within the top four in his class, he went on to an advanced satellite communications course.
Following the course, Byron served as a radio operator until he became a recruiter in 2004. in Chattanooga, Tenn., from 2004-2007.
“They knew from my accent that I was not American,” said Byron, who added that his Caribbean accent actually made prospective Marines more receptive to someone who was in the Marine Corps and not from the United States.
Today, as a communications chief, Byron still feels the same about the Marine Corps as the day he saw the mock amphibious landing in St. Kitts.
“I have the same enthusiasm,” said Byron. “It’s all about the Marine Corps for me now. I did 20 years already, and I’ve got my retirement soon. I have no complaints. I’ve gained a lot of skills, and I try to pass on what I know to the younger Marines.”