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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

"Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command"

Twentynine Palms, California
What I've Learned: Rick Shaffer

By Cpl. Dave Flores | Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms | July 4, 2017

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Twentynine Palms -- > I had a pretty relaxed middle-class upbringing in east Pasadena, Calif. It was a nice neighborhood that allowed me and my brother to play outside a lot as children.

> I appreciate the simple life I had more now than I did when I was a child.

> My father sold insurance to large companies, and kept that career his whole life. He had a hard work ethic that he instilled in me from a young age.

> When I was about 10 years old, my mother went back to work for United Airlines. That gave our family the opportunity to travel around the world. We spent holidays in places all across America.

> One year we beat my mother to Washington D.C. So my father, brother and I went to the White House and saw President Ronald Reagan leaving. He waved at our family, it was one of those lifetime experiences I don’t remember, but my father tells me and my brother about it.

> I lived on the top of a very large hill growing up. My friends lived only a few streets away, so we would ride all the way down the hill to the bowling alley. It was a few miles away, so when it came to getting back home, either my parents would pick me up or I’d have to make the steep journey back up the hill.

> I played quite a few sports growing up, but my two favorites were soccer and basketball.

> When high school was coming to a close, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My father was in the business world and had time to play golf three times a week. I thought I wanted to enter the same job field, but I didn’t realize how much hard work he had to do.

> I went to Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., which is a private Christian University. I’m very glad that I went there and was able to enjoy both the social and educational aspects of the school.

> I stayed undecided my first year of college, but eventually made up my mind and got a degree in social science with a minor in history.

> In college, I played both competitive and intramural sports. Intramurals were more fun to me because it gave me the joy of playing sports but also the free time that I still wanted.

> When I graduated college, I took the summer to just travel across Europe. It was an amazing experience that opened my eyes to the joys of travel.

> After traveling through Europe, reality set in and I was working a job I didn’t like too much. I applied for a new job with the Civil War Trust, which entailed protecting Civil War historical preservations.

> It was an interesting job, but I wanted to do something where God fit into the picture of my life. I was looking for a new job for a little over six months when I decided to become a chaplain.

> The first step I took to becoming a chaplain was getting my Master’s Degree in Divinity.

> Right before my wedding, I found out that the school I was going to for my master’s was closing. So two weeks before our wedding I asked my wife, “How does moving to Denver sound?” and she was willing to move to Colorado with me.

> I loved my four years in Denver. While in Denver, I realized that I was ready to join the Chaplain Corps.

> I commissioned as a chaplain candidate in 2008, and I was a candidate for six years. I was selected to become a chaplain in the reserves in 2014.

> The Combat Center is my first duty station and I really enjoy it. My favorite part about being with Marines is there are many different types of people in the Marine Corps and everyone can always use help.

> I love helping and serving people, it’s just a part of who I am. Being a pastor wasn’t always my top priority, but to have people know that I’m there for them is the most important part. That was the biggest appeal of serving in the Navy and not the civilian world.

> I’ve been through some tough stuff in my life and I want to help people and guide them through their hard times, especially when it’s something that’s happened to me.
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