News: Idaho Marine follows family roots, guides juniors
Story by Sgt. Earnest J. Barnes
FIRE BASE FIDDLER’S GREEN, Helmand province, Afghanistan — Corporal Thomas J. Endres did not make life easy for himself as a juvenile. It took a father’s tough love and a few Marine Corps drill instructors to set this Paul, Idaho, native on a path where he would not only make his family proud, but also have the Marines of Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, leaning in to learn.
Endres, the battery’s night-shift sergeant of the guard, never saw eye-to-eye with his father growing up. But it did not take away the patriotic nature instilled in him by his father, a former Marine; grandfather, who served in the Korean War; and great-grandfather, who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. Endres is currently deployed to Afghanistan and is setting the example for his Marines.
“I’ve always been patriotic; it goes with the family,” said Endres, referring to his family heritage. “It’s how we were brought up.”
Being raised with a love for country didn’t keep Endres from mischief while in middle and junior high school, even getting expelled from school at one point just 10 days before the end of the school year for fighting a bully, who was making hateful comments about Endres’ family.
Endres said he started to calm down once he entered high school. He met and married his high school sweetheart before graduating, one of the many decisions his father was not happy about.
According to Endres, his father thought he could not do anything right and added, “I was told I would never amount to anything.”
He said he made the decision to join the Marine Corps because he wanted to show his father he could make something of himself. “I did it to prove him wrong,” said Endres, who joined the Marine Corps in July 2008. Proving his father wrong is exactly what Endres did.
Endres didn’t have much time to cause trouble at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. With three to five Marine Corps drill instructors, Endres said the time with his newfound friends was no picnic. Endres proved to his drill instructors he was worthy of the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, the emblem of the Unites States Marine Corps. Several members of his family, to include his father, a veteran of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, traveled to the recruit depot for his graduation.
Endres said becoming a Marine made his father proud. “Since then, my father and I are on much better terms, and we have a great relationship now,” Endres added.
Endres believes no parent wants to see his child fail. He took his father’s comments for what they were – tough love – and used them to push himself through the challenges of Marine Corps recruit training.
“In a sense it was a very large motivational factor,” said Endres. “It seemed to me that he respected me more because I was doing something (productive). It is nice to know he is proud of something that I have done.”
Endres has more than three years of service and is currently on his second combat tour to Afghanistan, with only a five-month break in between each. He volunteered for this deployment, taking a position with Headquarters Battery’s 2nd Security Platoon.
Endres works as the night-shift sergeant of the guard in the Base Defense Operation Center, a job usually entrusted to a sergeant. He is responsible for all of the Marines standing post in positions overlooking the base. His Marines are the eyes providing overwatch, and they report anything out of the ordinary back to him so he can document it and inform his leadership of significant events.
“The SOG is the middleman for the Marines on post and the chain of command,” said Endres. “If you have somebody who is dedicated all the time, listening to what is going on, you’re sure to not miss anything. If anything does come up, (the SOG) can notify the proper people on base as soon as possible.”
Endres added, he likes the job because of the responsibility that comes with the position.
“You know at the end of the day, for a certain period of time, you are directly responsible for everyone on the base; you’re directly responsible for everything that happens on base,” said Endres. “You’re that safeguard. It puts a lot of weight on your shoulders.”
Endres said on an average day the first thing he does when coming on shift is check on the Marines standing post, ensuring they don’t need food, water or new batteries for their equipment. This plays into a theory he lives his life by – if the morale of the Marine is taken care of, then the mission will take care of itself.
Sergeant Pascual Perez Jr., a Miami, Fla., native and Endres’ platoon sergeant, said the Marines of the platoon see his dedication, what he does for the Marine Corps, and the things he does on their behalf.
Perez said Endres’ morale checks give the platoon trust and faith that he is someone they can go to for guidance. Perez, a 2007 graduate of North Miami Senior High School, added the Marines go to Endres and ask him anything from Marine Corps-related questions to family questions. Endres shares his personal experiences to help his Marines in any way he can.
The Marines in the platoon are not the only ones in the battery Endres is looking out for, according to Perez. He said Endres is always looking for opportunities to help others as well.
“I love working on cars, so I’ll go see if the (motor transportation Marines) are working on anything, and I’ll give them a hand,” said Endres. “Since I am a technician, I understand how most of the electronics work that the Marine Corps uses. If the (data-technician shop) is swamped with broken gear, a few guys and I will go down there and just help out to help mission accomplishment.”
Perez has confidence that the once-troubled youth can handle responsibility and knows him as one of the most reliable Marines in the unit.
“He is one of the best noncommissioned officers I have in my platoon. I give him any task, and he will go above and beyond, come back, do it again (double check his work), then finally tell me the task is accomplished,” said Perez of the confidence he has in Endres.
Perez said having confidence in Endres gives him peace of mind and said, “If I were to go down, God forbid, I know I would be leaving the platoon in good hands. I know that with no doubt in my mind.”
Editor’s note: Second Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.