PATROL BASE DETROIT, Afghanistan – The Marine Corps is filled with stories of young men and women looking for something different. They are brought together by a bond from the day they receive their Eagle, Globe and Anchor and officially earn the title of United States Marine.
Lance Cpl. Ethan Payne, a machine gunner with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6, realized the Marine Corps offered an opportunity to build his own story.
It was the end of high school when Payne, from Louisa, Va., began to feel the urge to do something more with his life. He had recently quit sports for work, and like other young adults, he wanted to make his own name.
“I felt like I hadn’t done (anything) special,” Payne said. “I just wanted to do something different than what my friends and family had done.”
The Marines meant more than a paycheck to Payne. It meant building his own legacy apart from his family and twin brother, Elijah.
“Growing up (my brother and I) played every sport imaginable together,” Payne said. “(Joining) was my way of doing my own thing while making my family and friends proud of me.”
Payne played a variety of sports including football and basketball and found his brother as an instant rival.
“I’d say my whole family is competitive,” Payne admitted. “My brother and I are the most competitive though.”
Payne uses that same competitive nature while serving in the Marine Corps.
“Anytime we play sports or anything, Payne really wants to win,” said Sgt. Jason Lomeli, Payne’s squad leader. “You can tell he’s never going to give up.”
Payne’s competitiveness also drives him to be better himself in the Marine Corps.
“There are a lot of guys that are better than me, and I want to be better than them,” Payne said. “That’s why I push myself.”
Lomeli saw the benefits of Payne pushing himself firsthand in his squad.
“I never have to tell him to clean his weapon or to work out,” Lomeli said. “He’s a hard worker. He never gives up, and he’s never given me any problems. He’s just a good Marine.”
Payne got his chance to do something his friends and family had not done when his unit deployed to Afghanistan, June 2012. His platoon is currently working in Trek Nawa, a known insurgent stronghold between the Nawa and Marjah districts in Helmand province.
Although Payne’s family worries about him, he does what he can to alleviate their stress.
“I make sure to call my family and brother every chance I get,” Payne said. “It’s for their sake, to let them know I’m good and everyone here is doing fine.”
Payne separated himself from the boy with the twin brother, to the young Marine serving with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. Payne, who enlisted last year, will return home with a new chapter in his legacy.
“I’m really proud to be with the guys I work with,” said Payne. “What we’ve done out here has been pretty great, and I’ll never forget my time in Afghanistan.”
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This work, From Virginia to Afghanistan, Marine develops his own legacy, by Sgt Timothy Lenzo, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.