FORWARD OPERATING BASE SABIT QADAM, Afghanistan – Many Marines enlist soon after high school and range in age from 18 to 20. When a Marine joins later, he often has a different perspective of life.
Enlisting four years after the typical age of new Marine recruits, Cpl. Casey Hunter is using his life experiences to better lead his men, while gaining military experience for his life after the Marine Corps.
“I joined when I was 22,” said Hunter, vehicle commander, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7. “I tried school, and I tried working. I figured it was time I did what I wanted and needed to do.”
Hunter, from San Francisco, thought of enlisting when he was 19. After careful consideration with family and friends, he decided not to join the Marine Corps and attend college while working.
“The last job I worked before I joined was at a Lexus dealership,” said Hunter. “I’ve worked at restaurants and was a lifeguard.”
After several years, Hunter realized the best choice for him was to enlist in the Marine Corps. He knew he would be several years older than most of his peers, but he saw his age and maturity as an advantage in the military.
“Joining at an older age definitely helped me,” said Hunter, a graduate of Burlingame High School. “I’m more appreciative of what I’m learning and what we go through. I knew coming in at age 22 that this is what I wanted to do. I had tried the civilian work force for four years and knew it wasn’t for me at the time.”
Because of his maturity and life experience, Hunter was an ideal candidate for many leadership roles.
“My age put me in leadership billets right away,” said Hunter. “When I was going through (recruit training) and (the School of Infantry), I focused on getting leadership billets, taking charge and learning as much as I could.”
Now, Hunter is deployed to Afghanistan as a vehicle commander. His responsibilities include the general upkeep of his vehicle and the welfare of the machinegunner, driver and any other passengers.
“His experience gives him leadership qualities,” said Sgt. Matthew Currao, Hunter’s section leader. “It helps him standout from the other guys, and I’ve seen it help him overcome obstacles in the Marine Corps.”
Hunter tries to advise and counsel his peers and junior Marines. He draws on his time prior to the Marine Corps to express the importance of saving financially for the future and setting themselves up for success whether they decide to stay in the military or find work elsewhere. His unique experience of being on both sides means the Marines listen when he gives advice.
“When I first enlisted, I had a lot of friends who were 18 or 19,” said Hunter. “I tried to help them out by learning from my mistakes.”
Hunter’s enlistment is quickly coming to an end. This will be his last deployment with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines. He plans on moving back to his hometown, San Francisco, and looking for a government job.
“The Marines were great for me,” said Hunter. “My family knows it was beneficial for me. Now when I get out, I’ll have some money saved up and be in a better position for a job.”
He learned from the long hours and hard work he put in as a Marine.
“I always joke about how before I enlisted sometimes my boss would ask me to stay an extra hour, and I would hate it,” said Hunter. “Now, some days we are working 24 hours a day. I have a better work ethic, and I don’t mind working long hours. If I could last five years in the Marine Corps, I won’t have a problem with other jobs.”
He learned from his time prior to the military to be successful in the Marine Corps. Next, he will draw from his experience as a Marine to succeed as a civilian.
“I know he’ll do just that,” said Currao, from Southington, Conn. “He has the maturity and work ethic to excel.”
This work, San Francisco Marine prepares for life outside Corps, by Sgt Timothy Lenzo, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.